“If you want to stay healthy and young, have as much contact with water as you can,” once wrote Andrzej Klimuszko, a Polish monk, philosopher and herbalist who lived in the 20th century. Following his advice, we would like to offer you a refreshing suggestion for hot days: a review of the water reservoirs located in the Małopolska region.
We’ll start our journey in Kryspinów, located on the outskirts of Kraków, not far from the city’s airport. You can get here by city bus, car or even by bicycle. The lagoon is popular among the locals, so on a sunny weekend, it’s a good idea to get there in the morning and avoid the time-consuming search for a place, especially on the main sandy beach (admission is charged).
Several car parks await those arriving by car, and there are also many attractions nearby, such as restaurants, playgrounds, a rope park, a yacht club and even a dog field. Nature lovers can enjoy the wild beach or even the nudist beach, which both lie on the north-western shore of the lake (and are marked on Google Maps). Kryspinów regularly hosts swimming or triathlon competitions, as well as sailing and windsurfing courses. Fans of water sports can also use the offer of the Wake Park, which, in addition to wakeboarding lifts and ramps, offers the possibility to rent SUP boards, kayaks and pedal boats.
Reaching Kryspinów by bike
It’s also easy to get to the lake from the centre of Kraków by bike, taking the Tyniecka Route, which you can enter at the foot of the Wawel Castle. Then we can enjoy a picturesque journey along the Vistula boulevards and embankments. When we get to the viaduct with the bypass, we have to cross by the footbridge to the other side of the river. Next, we reach the village of Piekary, and from there, we take the asphalt road straight to Kryspinów.
Pearls in the Tatras
Mountain hiking enthusiasts should head to the area of Zakopane. The most attractive site there is Morskie Oko, the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains, located in the Rybi Potok Valley. Here you can count on both a metaphysical experience, with a beautiful panorama of the high mountains, and strictly physical experiences, such as eating a meal in the iconic 100-year-old shelter. It’s worth taking a walk to the nearby Black Pond (approx. 60 min. walk) and admire the Czarnostawiańska Siklawa waterfall on the way flowing over the rocks. For dessert, we’ll get a beautiful view of the highest peak on the Polish side of the Tatras: Rysy (2,499 m). Not far from Morskie Oko lake, we can find another place appreciated by enthusiasts of mountains reflected in the water surface: the Valley of Five Ponds.
There are also several other mountain reservoirs in the Tatra Mountains to delight all nature lovers, including the Black and Green Gąsienicowy Ponds. It takes about 3 hours of medium pace walking to reach them; this effort will certainly be compensated by the views offered here. Along the way, make sure to visit Murowaniec, the famous shelter in Hala Gąsienicowa, visited in the past by such great figures of Polish culture as Henryk Sienkiewicz, Ignacy Paderewski, Maria Curie-Skłodowska and Helena Modrzejewska.
Artificial but beautiful!
All those who get goose bumps at the sight of the mountains but would like to enjoy more water attractions should head for Lake Czorsztyn located about 100 km south of Kraków. This artificial reservoir created in the 1970s impresses visitors with its magnificent scenery at any time of the day or year. Above the shore, you can see two magnificent fortresses, the Dunajec castle in Niedzica and the ruins of the fortress in Czorsztyn, whose history dates back to the 14th century. Impressive rock formations pile up on the shore, while on the horizon, you can see the mountain ranges of the Tatra and the Pieniny mountains. Today, the surface of the lake is full of cruise ships, kayaks, pedal boats and SUP boards, which can be hired in many places for quite a low fee.
On the Stylchyn peninsula, there is the Czorsztyn Tourist Settlement: a charming complex of historic houses from the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Unfortunately, their interiors are now closed to the public, but the entrance to the site remains open. If you love old architecture, you can spend an unforgettable time here admiring the magnificent villas that once adorned the surrounding countryside.
When visiting the Czorsztyn area, it’s worth planning a mountain trip to the Pieniny Mountains, especially the popular Trzy Korony peak. To reach the trail, you need to go by bike or car to the village of Sromowce Niżne, located on the border between Poland and Slovakia. It’s a great place to take a break and enjoy a meal at the L’Arte del Sud pub, run by an Italian-born chef. Its Naples-style pizza is considered a delicacy and attracts crowds of tourists every year. In the village, you can also get into a highlander raft and then take a spectacular run down the Dunajec Gorge, admiring the monumental rocks rising 300 metres above the river.
Cycling around the lake
Around Lake Czorsztyn runs a recently opened, very picturesque cycle path with a rich infrastructure (equipment rentals, resting points, restaurants, bars). In Niedzica or Czorsztyn, you can shorten the route (avoiding the need to take the road for cars) and change to a boat that regularly takes passengers with their bikes to the other side of the lake.
Photo for Instagram
If you’re dreaming of the perfect photo for your Instagram account, you should go to the viewpoint in Stylchyn, a dozen or so metres from the Czorsztyn Tourist Settlement. You have to climb a small hill (the way is indicated by a signpost) to discover a wonderful open-air view of the lake, two castles and a nearby shingled modern villa (see the adjacent photo). Friends to whom I have shown this photo often asked me if I had taken it in Scandinavia!
Lake Rożnow and historic monuments
The picturesque surroundings of Lake Rożnow, located close to the town of Nowy Sącz, have for many years attracted tourists from all over the region. The town of Gródek nad Dunajcem, located on the eastern bank of the Dunajec River, is also worth visiting. You can see from here Monkey Island, located in the middle of the reservoir. This place is a wild water bird reserve (unfortunately closed to the public). In the local marinas, we can rent canoes, boats or pedal boats and then observe the richness of the surrounding fauna and flora from the water.
Anyone longing for a sense of luxury should visit the two accommodations located here: the Heron hotel and Lemon Resort. Their grounds offer an open-air view of the water surface, which is perfect, especially at sunset, for a photo to be shared on social media. You can also try the elegant cuisine or visit the spa.
History lovers should head towards the ruins of the Rożen family’s Gothic castle in Grodek. They will also find other interesting attractions in the area. Not far from the nearby Czchowskie Lake, two rebuilt castles attract attention: Tropsztyn, dating back to the 14th century, and the historic Baszta with a reconstructed fortress.
Relaxation by Klimkówka
Tourists who dream of peace and quiet can find it at the Klimkówka reservoir, sitting below the mountainous landscape of the Low Beskids, close to the border with Slovakia. The extremely picturesque location will make you feel a real connection with nature. The reservoir has an area of approx. 266 hectares (5 km long and 1 km wide) and is surrounded by the Pieniny Gorlickie mountains descending straight into the water. It resembles a wide river, which made it once play the role of the Dnieper in the famous film With Fire and Sword.
A cycle path has recently been opened on the western shore and the beach, with a boat mooring pier close by, which has been modernised. The region is also extremely interesting due to its history and the community of Lemkos, an Eastern Slavic ethnic group living here. It’s worth visiting the historic wooden churches scattered around the area, especially the one in Kwiatoń, inscribed in the UNESCO world heritage list.
Water equals health
Enthusiasts of the healing properties of spring waters should go to Wysowa Zdrój, which has for years attracted health resort visitors with its treatment facilities. Once in the town, be sure to try some Lemko cuisine, which is served in the local restaurant, and visit the Old Health Resort House, located in the park, to get dessert. You can also buy delicious local preserves here, and those made of red pine mushrooms are particularly famous. Every year in autumn, a mushroom festival is held in Wysowa, attracting mushroom gourmets from the entire region.