Suwałki Region and Augustów Forest
The Suwałki Region and the Augustów Forest constitute the two parts of a bike kingdom, which encompasses the north-eastern part of Poland. It is one of the most beautiful areas of the country, famous for its nature, clean rivers, forests and lakes, as well as for frosty winters and hot summers.
This kingdom is amazingly diversified. The northern part of the area is taken by the fabulous Suwałki Region with its numerous deep lakes, including the deepest lake in Poland – Hańcza (108 meter deep), picturesque hills and a green mosaic of fields, meadows and forests. The landscape and views offered by the Suwałki Region have no equal in Poland. This area is protected as a part of the Suwałki Landscape Park.
The Green Velo route runs through the most interesting parts of the Suwałki Region.The first significant point of the route is Bolcie, a village located in a place where Polish, Lithuanian and Russian borders meet (a viewpoint). Further on, the route runs close to a well-known resort called Wiżajny, which is located at the lake of the same name.This area is inhabited by a Lithuanian minority, which is a dominant group in some towns and villages, e.g. in Puńsk. This means that local restaurants offer Lithuanian specialities such as: chebureks, kibinai or kugelis (potato babka). Next, cyclists are led along the edge of the Suwałki Landscape Park, the western shore of the HańczaLake, and down the Czarna Hańcza River valley from the south to go by the hills of the Suwałki Region with its famous Cisowa Mountain and legendary Zamkowa Mountain. From there, along the southern shore of the Szelment Wielki Lake, the route leads near a new winter sports resort to the centre of Suwałki.
Suwałki is the biggest city in the north of the Podlaskie voivodeship. It is a significant economic, traffic and administrative centre of this region. The centre of Suwałki has been renovated recently, and the city itself has an interesting urban layout, historic Catholic and Orthodox churches, a market square with a classicist town hall, the Regional Museum and the Museum of Maria Konopnicka. It is also famous for its gnomes. Cyclists will be surely satisfied with the quality of cycle paths marked around the city.
Close to Suwałki, 10 kilometres south-east of the city, another treasure of this kingdom is located – the Wigry Lake. This area is protected as a part of the Wigry National Park. It is the fifth deepest (up to 74 meter deep) and tenth largest (more than 21 km2) lake in Poland. Moreover, this lake is famous for its game fish, including common whitefish and vendace, its amazingly diversified shore and 18 islands. Over the northern part of the lake, on a peninsula, tourists will find an 18th century former Camaldolese monastery complex with a baroque church, reconstructed after the Second World War. The route runs along the northern part of the lake, almost to the monastery complex. In Stary Folwark, you can visit the Museum of Wigry.
Further along, the route leads to the Augustów Forest, towards the east-west, along the Czarna Hańcza River and the Augustów Canal, to Augustów. Instead of vast panoramas and hills, cyclists can enjoy the atmosphere of a grand forest there. The land becomes and remains flat until you reach Chełm in the Lubelskie Voivodeship.The forest encompasses numerous nature reserves intended to protect the most precious nature complexes. This route section lures cyclists with wonderful views of Czarna Hańcza, one of the cleanest rivers in Poland, and a historic monument of the Augustów Canal dam. It is worth kayaking one way, and cycling back, thus combining two types of tourism in one of the most beautiful corners of Poland.
The last but not least must-see in this kingdom is Augustów. This town is located at the edge of the forest and surrounded by lakes. It has a status of a health resort and enjoys a fully developed tourist base. The green city of Augustów is a Mecca for water sports enthusiasts. It is virtually encompassed by a dense network of cycle routes, including routes running along the shores of city lakes. Augustów is also located on the Białystok – Suwałki railway line. The cycling route runs at the edges of the city, but you can get to the city centre using a connection route compliant with the Green Velo standard.
The tourist facilities of the Suwałki Landscape Park, the area of Wigry and Augustów are excellent. A dense network of wellmarked routes invites tourists to visit many places. The signs direct you to viewpoints, reserves, boulder areas, hills and dams. There are tons of attractions awaiting you! It would be a shame to haste through this area using just the main route. Comprehensive sightseeing of the kingdom takes at least two weeks of fun on bicycles and involves many interesting trips along local cycle routes. In this section, a vast majority of the Green Velo route is marked along or close to the Podlaskie White Stork Trail, a part of Greenway routes.
From Augustów, the route goes further south and runs through the Biebrza and Narew marshes. That is another kingdom, and yet another cycling adventure on the Green Velo route.