The second part of the Polish stretch of International Waterway E70 described in this guide has an impressive variety of water bodies and a multitude of tourist attractions along its course. Its total length is 280 km (174 mi) in a straight line, if we count the Vistula, the Nogat, and the Vistula Lagoon stretches. But the route may also lead along the Szkarpawa and the Elbląg River. Our trip begins in Bydgoszcz, at km 772 of the Vistula, where the Brda has its outlet, and leads through a number of historic towns, which were set up ages ago in strategic places on the Vistula to perform defensive functions. You can still admire the castles left by the Prussians, e.g. in Chełmno, Grudziądz, Świecie, Kwidzyn or Gniew. After 115 km we reach the village of Biała Góra, where the historic lock bearing the same name separates the main channel of the Vistula from the Nogat and protects Żuławy Wiślane (the Vistula Delta Plain) against high water. The Nogat is the Vistula’s east outlet branch, which used to carry over 80% of its waters a few centuries ago, and is practically devoid of current since the reconstruction at the beginning of the 20th c. We shall follow this route to the Vistula Lagoon and Elbląg, admiring the charming landscape of Żuławy on the way and the splendid Gothic castle in Malbork – the medieval capital of the state of the Teutonic Order. Remaining on the broad waters of the Vistula, however, we will reach Gdańsk – the historic Free City, the cradle of Solidarity and the capital of Baltic Sea amber. The river flows into the Baltic Sea by forming a delta, whose numerous branches make up the so called Żuławy Loop. All these watercourses together provide excellent conditions for water tourism and make cargo shipping possible in the kujawsko-pomorskie, pomorskie and warmińsko-mazurskie voivodeships. The following water bodies are described in the guide:
1. The Vistula River – from km 771.4 to km 941.3 (absolute length – 169.9 km / 105.6 mi);
2. The Nogat River – from km 0.00 (km 886.6 of the Vistula) to km 62 (abs. l. – 62 km / 38.5 mi);
3. The Szkarpawa River – from km 0.00 (km 931 of the Vistula) to km 25.4 (abs. l. – 25.4 km / 15.8 mi);
4. The Elbląg River – from km 0.00 do km 16.3 (abs. l. – 16.3 km / 10.1 mi);
5. The Vistula Lagoon – the length of the Polish section is 35.1 km (21.8 mi).
The largest Polish river surprises with its beautiful natural landscape and impresses with its size. Flowing lazily, the Nogat scenically meanders through the fertile lowlands of Żuławy Wiślane. The Vistula Lagoon, with its maritime aids to navigation, may be an excellent school of sailing before setting out for more challenging waters. All this makes the S-N stretch of IW E70 a perfect place for a water holiday, with something for everyone to enjoy.
GDAŃSK Pomorskie voivodeship
Gdańsk is a port city at the Baltic Sea, at the mouth of Motława River to Martwa Wisła (Dead Vistula River) at Gdańsk Bay, on Gdańsk coast. It is the cultural, scientific and economic center and the interchange of the Northern Poland, the capital of pomorskie voivodeship and of Gdańsk archdiocese and of Białostok-Gdańsk Orthodox diocese.
TCZEW Pomorskie voivodeship
Tczew is a town in the pomorskie voivodeship, at km 904-910 of the Vistula. It has a river museum, the first one in Poland and the third one in the world. The country’s first Maritime School functioned here as well. Music lovers visit Tczew during Grzegorz Ciechowski Memorial Festival.
ELBLĄG Warmińsko-Mazurskie voivodeship
Tourists visiting Elbląg should take a walk along Ścieżka Kościelna (Church Lane), which is a fragment of the original medieval passage between three churches of the old town. Still, this is only one of many historic monuments in the town located at km 3-9 of the river bearing the same name, in the warmińsko-mazurskie voivodeship.
MALBORK Pomorskie voivodeship
Due to the castle of the Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order, nearly everyone has heard of Malbork, a town in the pomorskie province, lying on the Nogat (km 15-20). The castle has been included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, and on its grounds the world’s largest exhibition of siege machines has been opened.
GNIEW Pomorskie voivodeship
Explosive attractions await tourists in the nearly 7,000-strong Gniew, in the pomorskie voivodeship, located at km 876 of the Vistula. At the castle here, it is possible to fire a historic cannon as well as watch knights’ tournaments and battle reconstructions. Apart from the Teutonic Knights’ castle, the town has a palace which King John III Sobieski built for his wife, Marysieńka (Marie Casimire).
KWIDZYN Pomorskie voivodeship
At km 863 km of the Vistula, enthusiasts of history should stop in Kwidzyn, in the kujawsko-pomorskie voivodeship, where three Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order were buried. In the town of 38,000 inhabitants, there is also the castle of the Pomesanian Chapter and the old Consulate of the Republic of Poland – formerly an intelligence post.
GRUDZIĄDZ Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivodeship
Grudziądz, situated in the kujawsko-pomorskie voivodeship at km 831-837 of the Vistula, is famous for the granaries that stretch along the river, dating back even to the 14th c. Another interesting historic monument is the market square with beautiful townhouses. Thanks to the local Flying Club, it is possible to see a bird’s-eye view of the entire 100,000-strong town.
ŚWIECIE Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivodeship
At km 811-814 of the Vistula, in the Kujawsko-pomorskie voivodeship, lies Świecie (nearly 26,000 residents). The castle here is one of Europe’s few medieval water fortresses, and the fara (old parish church) took about 100 years to build, which made it a blend of various architectural styles.
CHEŁMNO Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivodeship
Chełmno is Haenzatic town, incredibly picturesque, at the Vistula River, laid on nine hills on the 84th km of the river. It is an old historical capital of Chełmińskie land. It encourages tourists with its medieval defensive system and a Renaissance town hall. It is also known as a Town of Lovers because of St. Valentine’s relic, which can be found in a Gothic parish church.
TORUŃ Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship
Toruń – the city of gingerbread – is one of the oldest cities in Poland, with beginnings going back to prehistoric times. The city lies between km 730 and 738 of the Vistula. The right-bank side of the city lies in Pomorze (Pomerania) and the left-bank side in Kujawy (Kuyavia).
Toruń has been included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.