Life's a Beach: Poland’s 12 Most Memorable Beaches
#travel in poland
default, A beach from a bird's-eye view, Władysławowo, photo: Kacper Kowalski / Forum, plaze-kowalski-forum.jpg
The golden sand of the Baltic beaches is undoubtedly one of Poland’s best tourist attractions... But the seaside isn't the only place that the people fond of days at the beach should visit. Follow Culture.pl to find Polish beaches in surprising places!
The international NGO called Foundation for Environmental Education in cooperation with local authorities and ecological organisations examines the swimming places all over the world and awards the cleanest ones with the Blue Flag. The recipients of the certificate meet the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness (toilets, dumpsters), are environment-friendly, accessible to the handicapped and safe.
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The beach in Świnoujście has received a blue flag, the world’s highest mark in cleanliness, each year for many years. But there is more to this place than its cleanliness and well-designed infrastructure. Świnoujście boasts the broadest natural beach in Poland – it reaches up to 200 metres (over 656 feet) in width (about two football fields!) over the span of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles).
According to meteorological statistics, it’s also the warmest beach in the country.
2. Rudnia, Siemianowskie Lake
Siemanowskie Lake is an artificial basin and the third biggest lake of its kind in Poland. It was created in the second half of the 20th century as a damming reservoir for the waters of the Narew River, but in time, it became an attractive recreational destination. Today, it’s fitted with numerous attractions for visitors – bridges, observation towers, playing fields and water equipment rentals.
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But the beach at Siemianowskie Lake has one additional advantage: its unique location within Podlasie’s forest. Only around a dozen kilometres separates this place from the invaluable primeval forest, the Puszcza Białowieska, and the surrounding area is populated by numerous species of mammals and birds. The National Association for Bird Protection even built a special observation tower near the lake for avid bird-spotters. All this makes the Siemianowskie Lake beach a place not only for relaxation and sunbathing, but also for becoming one with nature.
3. The All-Year Sports and Leisure Centre, Olsztyn
Olsztyn is a place unlike any other on Earth – its administrative borders contain 15 lakes which span over 725 hectares, or more than 8% of the city’s area. And since an additional 21% comprises of forests, Olsztyn and its surroundings make for a landscape that is especially friendly for people looking for rest, relaxation and a breath of fresh air.
The biggest lake in Olsztyn is the Ukiel (also called Krzywe, meaning ‘crooked’). Its surface is 412 hectares (1791.51 acres) large, and in its deepest spot it is 43 metres (141 feet) deep. The basin itself is extraordinarily beautiful, and in 2014 it was enhanced by a modern All-Year Sports and Leisure Centre.
The complex designed by the Dżus GK Architecki studio changed the way inhabitants of the city spend their free time. The buildings, made of wood and glass, serve many functions, from housing sanitary facilities, through equipment rentals to cafés. There are also bridges, running, cycling, walking and cross-country skiing routes, as well as the biggest inland beach in Poland. The construction of the All-Year Sports and Leisure Centre in Olsztyn ‘turned’ the city towards the lake, allowing it to take full advantage of the incredible opportunity provided by having such a big lake in the city centre.
Lakeside Holidays in the 50s
4. Poniatówka Beach, Warsaw
A wild beach in the middle of a capital with a population of two million people? That’s only possible in Warsaw! Experts have known for a long time that the natural, wild and unregulated right bank of the Vistula river in the middle of Poland’s capital is extremely special and is a treasure worth appreciating.
Contemporary Varsovians only discovered the magic of this wild beach, when the city was hosting the Euro 2012 football cup. The beach became a recreational area for fans leaving the nearby National Stadium. Back then, hanging out at ‘Poniatówka’ (as it is commonly called today) was something spontaneous, but today the area has a well-developed infrastructure and attracts more and more people.
There are cycling routes, playgrounds, sports fields and equipment rentals, but the part about it is the fact that you can actually sunbathe on a ‘real beach’ in the centre of Warsaw.
5. Grodzka Island beach, Szczecin
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Wały Chrobrego, with its monumental buildings and a intriguing urban layout, is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting and most beautiful places in Szczecin.
Today, you can relax and enjoy a view of the Odra riverbank on a beach located on Grodzka Island, right opposite Wały Chrobrego. This municipal beach is open in the summer and has sand, lounge chairs, bars and even potted palms. In the evenings, beach-goers can listen to a concert, watch a film or take part in different kinds of meetings and workshops.
6. Mountain beaches
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Nowy Targ, Krościenko and Poronin are towns usually associated with mountaineering. Now, they can be a destination for beach-lovers too! More and more recreational spots have been popping up near mountain streams in recent years. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to call these recreational areas beaches, but a quick dip in freezing mountain water is equally, if not more, refreshing then a swim in the sea!
There is also a beach at… Gubałówka, a 1,120 m (3615 ft) high mountain in Zakopane. After a difficult climb, tourists can enjoy the sun and relax on the sand or in beach chairs.
7. Ciszyca beach
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There are people who believe that Ciszyca, located mere 20 km (approx. 13 miles) away from Warsaw, has one of the most beautiful beaches in Poland. Świderskie Islands is a reservation created as part of the Natura 2000 programme and the Middle Vistula Valley Area for the Special Protection of Birds.
This biologically priceless territory contains vast picturesque, sandy beaches, which are best reached not by car but by bike –the routes go through extremely charming landscapes. Moreover, the Vistula beaches of Świderskie Islands are located right next to Otwock, a city full of historical buildings, which makes for a great sightseeing trip.
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Płock, one of Poland’s historical capitals and a city picturesquely located on an elevated Vistula embankment, is home to a delightful beach. It has Poland’s only pier, which runs parallel to the shoreline, a vast sandy terrain which hosts several important music festivals every year, and a roofed amphitheatre where concerts and plays are organised throughout the summer.
Relaxing at this sandy beach by the river can be the perfect opportunity for a visit to one of Poland’s oldest temples, which towers over the riverbank from the top of the elevated embankment. The Płock Cathedral is not only an important example of the Gothic style, but also the resting place of two Polish rulers.
9. Lake Śniardwy
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Standing on one of the beaches by Śniardwy lake may make you feel like you’re at the seaside – the water reaches beyond the horizon. Śniardwy is Poland’s biggest lake. It stretches over 114 km2 (44 square miles), matching cities like Toruń and Radom in size.
Although it is quite shallow (23 metres, or about 75 feet, at the deepest point), the lake is rather deceptive as its bottom is covered with huge erratic boulders and there are often strong winds blowing over its waters, generating high waves and the so-called ‘white squalls’. Moreover, the lakeshore is very marshy and covered in reeds, which makes it difficult to access.
Despite the imperfect conditions, the picturesque area is a popular destination for campers – the Śniardwy area offers beautiful, primal natural landscapes. A real Mazury beach getaway means camping next to the water listening to the rustling sounds of the sweet rushes.
10. Orłowski Cliff, Gdynia
Lakeside Holidays in the 50s
A high, precipitous coastline, with sand drifting down from the cliffs and trees perched dramatically over a steep ledge – this seaside landscape is far from the idyllic image of a golden beach. But such dramatic scenery also has its admirers – the Orłowski Cliff in Gdynia is often visited by strollers and beach-goers bored with flat and sandy areas.
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It is believed that Queen Marysieńka, the wife of Jan III Sobieski, also like to walked along the elevated coastline. But she strolled in a different place back then – the clay cliff moves towards land at a pace of a metre per year due to coastal erosion.
11. Artificial beach, Jarosławiec
Located halfway between Ustka and Darłowo, at first glance, Jarosławiec looks like one of dozens similar seaside tourist destinations. The open sea and the yellow sand is enough for most beach-goers to enjoy a perfect summer holiday, but local authorities decided to provide the visitors with even more attractions. The sand extracted through silting (the process of maintaining and widening the beaches) made it possible to create an artificial beach in Jarosławiec. As a result, the area of the sandy shore was increased by three hectares and is planned to undergo a further expansion of 2.5 hectares.
A couple of years ago, media all around the world wrote about the archipelago of artificial islands in the shape of a palm created in Dubai. The artificial beach in Jarosławiec may be somewhat less sophisticated shape, but it’s particularly popular among tourists, unlike the Dubai islands, whose ill-designed refuse disposal system created a not-so-pleasant aroma of sewage.
Panoramic Sea Happening - Tadeusz Kantor
Every summer, Polish media is dominated by a discussion about beach screens. Although the phenomenon is quite old, it has recently led to vivid debate. The critics of the practice consider the use of screens on a beach an attempt to take over parts of public space. Advocates, on the other hand, claim that the soft and thin sand of Polish beaches makes it necessary to shelter oneself from flying sand.
Whether you’re a fan of screens or not, there is no denying that their dense arrangement can be very… photogenic. In 2009, a World Press Photo award was presented to Kacper Kowalski for his series of photos taken when paragliding over the beach in Władysławowo. One of the most popular Baltic beaches seen on a summer day from above, resembles a surrealist jigsaw puzzle, a surprising geometric composition of wavy and broken lines of densely arranged screens, colourful umbrellas, towels and toys. Kowalski’s pictures show that by using an open space people can accidentally create works of art.
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Originally written in Polish by Anna Cymer; translated by MW, Jun 2019