Bicycle kingdoms

Białowieża and Knszyńska Forest

Białowieża Forest and Knszyn Forest
Trails in kingdom:
Places in kingdom:
The region can be described as a kingdom of the bison. Most of the route running between Białystok and Czeremcha leads through two major forest complexes, including the ancient Białowieża Primeval Forest protected as a World Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and National Park. You may be able to spot bison living in the wild, and encounters with elk are fairly common. The Białowieża and Knyszyń Primeval Forests are also home to wolves, lynx, wild boar, red deer, roe deer and many species of birds, including rare raptors, wood grouse and black grouse.

At the start, the trail through the kingdom takes in the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship – Białystok. It is an important railway hub and administrative, educational and economic centre. The city has numerous wide, safe, paved cycle routes and bike racks.

You should take a look at the imposing Branicki Palace and gardens – known as the “Versailles of Podlasie” – and the recently renovated market square and promenade along Lipowa Street, fascinating churches and Orthodox churches, museums, and the modern Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic, which also houses the Regional Tourist Information Centre. There are also several thematic trails through the city, focusing on the churches of Białystok, local wooden architecture and the Branicki family.

Białystok is one of the most important stage points along the Green Velo route. It is the perfect place to start or finish a trip along the northern part of the trail (for example to or from Elbląg) or for heading south to Rzeszów or Przemyśl.

From Białystok, the route leads east, almost immediately entering the dense Knyszyń Primeval Forest, following a paved cycle track alongside the main road. In the Supraśl river valley, in the very heart of the forest, the charming spa town of Supraśl can be found. It has been the setting for the popular film “In Heaven as it is on Earth” and the TV series “Blondynka”. The town’s unusual, smart wooden architecture is dominated by the magnificent Orthodox Lavra Monastery, reconstructed after the Second World War. It is home to a unique Icon Museum, which is a must-see point of any trip. Supraśl is also the perfect spot for sampling local cuisine. In spite of its small size, there are many fascinating historical buildings, and homely agrotourism quarters and tourist accommodation to suit any budget, as well as the highly acclaimed Wierszalin Theatre. A few years ago, the beautiful Supraśl Reservoir was opened by the river, forming a part of the Supraśl Water System dating back to the 17th century. You can also take a canoeing trip on the River Supraśl.

Next, the route leads through the heart of the Knyszyń Primeval Forest, protected as a W. Sławiński Landscape Park. Interesting points along the trail include the historical towns of Michałów and Gródek. The majority of local villages are home to Orthodox churches crowned with distinctive domes. Stop off in Gruszki in the Browsk Forestry to take a look at the herbarium.

Between the Knyszyń and Białowieża Primeval Forests, the trail runs through farmland, and there is a section opening out onto wide panoramic views. After you pass the extensive Siemianówka Reservoir and the village of Narewka, the route leads right into the heart of the Białowieża Primeval Forest along the boundary of the national park to the Old Białowieża range. Set among ancient oak trees, dating back to the reign of King Władysław Jagiełło, the main route turns westwards towards Hajnówka, but it’s worth continuing east, via the forest village of Pogorzelce to Białowieża. Set in an expansive glade, it is the capital of this region and a popular tourist resort which still maintains the atmosphere of a wooden settlement of colourful houses set within the forest. The locals are friendly and hospitable, making all visitors feel at home. There are several restaurants serving traditional regional dishes. While you’re there, the absolute must-see spots are the Nature and Forest Museum, the Bison Show Reserve and the Orthodox church with a splendid iconostasis, while the best walks are through the palace gardens by the former Tsarist residence and a guided hike to the most treasured section of the park – the Protected Reserve.

There are many agrotourism quarters throughout both forests, and a dense network of marked cycle routes. It’s also worth heading away from the main trail to explore the area. Of course you’ll need to set aside more time, but – as ever along this route – it’s worth it!

From Białowieża, the route leads along forest vistas to Hajnówka, where you should visit the Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity. Next, the trail runs across an expansive lowland terrain of the Bielska Plain along the edge of the forest. There are numerous picturesque villages along this section with colourful wooden architecture. The route continues via Kleszczele to Czeremcha, a local railway hub, leaving the wilderness behind to take cyclists to the next magical kingdom along the Green Velo route: the Bug River Valley.

Rozwój Polski Wschodniej Europejski Fundusz Rozwoju Regionalnego

Projekt współfinansowany przez Unię Europejską ze środków Europejskiego Funduszu Rozwoju Regionalnego w ramach Programu Operacyjnego Rozwój Polski Wschodniej 2007-2013