Introduction

Augustów (aw-goos-toof) is a small but appealing town straddling the Netta River as it enters Lake Necko. It's the gateway to the Suwałki region and, with its close proximity to a number of natural wonders, it's a popular base for holidaymakers.

The town itself has retained little historical character due to WWII effectively resetting the clock – during a two-month battle in 1944, the town switched hands several times and 70% of it was destroyed. Its history, however, dates back to the time of King Zygmunt II August, who in 1557 founded the town and modestly named it after himself. Despite the strategic location, its development only really began in the 19th century after the construction of the canal bearing the town's name, and was further boosted when the Warsaw to St Petersburg railway was completed in 1862.

Today, Augustów largely survives on tourism, booming in the summer and effectively dying in the winter. Bear in mind that it's a highly popular Warsaw weekend destination during the summer, so book in advance for Friday and Saturday night accommodation to avoid disappointment.