Suwałki Landscape Park

Mazovia & Podlasie

The Suwałki Landscape Park is a cluster of pristine lakes and rugged hills that's worth a detour. Covering some 63 sq km, the park encompasses land that was formed in the late Ice Age. The result are dozens of startlingly clear Nordic lakes amid rolling hills and valleys. It's a perfect escape for walking or cycling. The village of Smolniki, 20km north of Suwałki, is the most convenient base for the park, which is about halfway between Suwałki and the Lithuanian border.

There are three good viewpoints of the verdant splendour in the village. One of the numerous well-marked walking options is an hour's walk west to Lake Hańcza, the deepest lake in Poland. With its steep shores, stony bottom and amazing crystal-clear water, it's like being up in the mountains.

The 1:50,000 map Suwalski Park Krajobrazowy (10zł) is good for exploring the area. It has all the hiking trails marked on it, and sightseeing information in English. Three buses make the 35-minute trip (12zł) each day between Suwałki and Smolniki.

The park website lists many places to stay, including rooms at farms. One special sleeping option if you have your own wheels is the remote Jaczno Guest Lodge. This natural hideaway is a series of timbered mountain chalets built around a beautifully restored stone farmhouse. Horses, rowboats and hikes through the woods are among the diversions. It's near the tiny village of Udziejek, about 6km from Smolniki. The restaurant serves dishes made with organic local and seasonal ingredients.