Velo Dunajec – the most beautiful cycling route in Poland?

Velo Dunajec: The Most Beautiful Cycling Route in Poland

Velo Dunajec bike route is one of the most beautiful and popular cycling routes in Poland.

The Velo Dunajec bike route cycling trail, running from Zakopane to Wietrzychowice, attracts thousands of enthusiasts of both longer and shorter bike trips each year. What makes this route so special that it consistently evokes emotions and creates beautiful memories? Let yourself be captivated by this inspiring read.

Introduction to Velo Dunajec: Discover the Pearl of Polish Cycling Routes

In the European elite of cycling routes, you will undoubtedly come across the Alpe Adria, the routes around Lake Garda, or the Paranzena. Proudly among these top choices is Velo Dunajec, the Małopolska cycling pearl with its charming Slovak stage. This excellent proposition for long-distance cycling adventures is not only aimed at seasoned cyclists but also offers plenty of enjoyment for moderately skilled enthusiasts. The roads of Velo Dunajec bike route also work well for shorter outings, serving as a reliable part of the cycling loop you have planned. While not entirely a consistent route marked by designated paths, its tourist attractions, as well as its extensive infrastructure, complement its imperfections.

The titular Dunajec accompanies cyclists for almost the entire journey. As with all routes along rivers, it is decidedly easier to trace the route from the source to the mouth. In our case, it’s clear: from Zakopane to Wietrzychowice. However, this doesn’t mean there are no challenging ascents here. Prepare for greater effort, especially in the vicinity of Lake Czorsztyn, before Rożnów, or near Dąbrowa. The proximity of the river, especially one like the Dunajec, guarantees a varied and intriguing landscape. Along your route, you’ll encounter historic castles, majestic rocks, and charming small towns. With such a diverse range of attractions, it’s impossible to remain indifferent.

The river is not the only natural asset of Velo Dunajec. Setting out on this route, expect stunning mountain landscapes – the trail runs near 7 mountain ranges, with the panorama of the Pieniny and Tatra Mountains perhaps making the biggest impression. But that’s not all – there are also 3 lakes, including one of the most beautiful in Poland – Lake Czorsztyn, with excellent cycling infrastructure as part of Velo Czorsztyn. Deciding to embark on a cycling journey along the Velo Dunajec route, be prepared for a true explosion of emotions! And one more thing, Velo Dunajec revolves around, and even intersects, two extremely important natural areas – the Pieniny National Park and the Tatra National Park.

Velo Dunajec: Dunajec River and Views of the Tatra Mountains

Three Key Success Factors:

When it comes to a good cycling route, one cannot overlook signage, cycling infrastructure, and surface quality. Evaluating this trio seems essential when assessing a cycling trail. How does Velo Dunajec fare in this regard? Let’s rush with the answer!

1. Signage on the Trail:

Velo Dunajec bike route, fitting for a good, official trail, has its own logo that accompanies cyclists throughout the entire route. Several times, your position can be determined based on the maps you pass. The signage not only confirms riding along the trail – there are signs indicating the distance to the nearest larger town or important location. The creators did not limit themselves to just vertical signs – look down, and you may be crossing the horizontal trail logo. However, it’s not perfect, and there are moments when you need to rely on the GPX trail. Continuous navigation without GPS support is challenging, although riding along the river significantly aids in orientation.

Velo Dunajec: As befits the best trail, it has its own logo, horizontal trail markings.

2. Cycling Infrastructure

By cycling infrastructure, we mean dedicated Cyclist Service Areas, benches, shelters, repair kits, and everything that makes cyclists feel taken care of. And we must admit that the Cyclist Service Areas along Velo Dunajec are a true masterpiece, and some of them could serve as a model for other trails in Poland. Tables with benches, bike racks, shelters under cover, all in a modern design. It was here, a few years ago, that we first encountered a Cyclist Service Area equipped with a fireplace. Interestingly, as indicated by a photo from 2019, this was in Harklowa, a place known to all fans of Extrawheel bike bags. Why? The answer lies in the headquarter of the company, which is located precisely in this town along the Velo Dunajec route, and its geographic coordinates are an essential element of the logo and modern design of bike bags.

Velo Dunajec: As befits the best trail, it has its own logo, horizontal trail markings.

Velo Dunajec: Cyclist Service Point - Niedzica

3. Roads of Velo Dunajec

This is where we encounter a challenge. On one hand, no one can complain about the quality of the Velo Dunajec trail surface. For the most part, it consists of asphalt or dedicated bike paths, with only short sections where bike tires may encounter rougher terrain, primarily gravel. However, it cannot be said that this is entirely a route designed for families with children, offering safety and separation from car traffic. In this regard, the route is not consistent – cyclists cover dozens of kilometers on public roads. When planning your trip, be sure to take this into consideration. We hope that someday we will ride together on fully separated paths. Yes, gravel paths away from cars are also our dream! You can check the current route here.

Bike Path Section in Nowy Targ

Trail Pill

  • Length: 237 km Route: Zakopane – Nowy Targ – Niedzica – Szczawnica – Nowy Sącz – Zakliczyn – Tarnow – Wietrzychowice
  • Elevation: Approximately 1500 m
  • Cyclist Service Points: 11 + shelters and benches

Take Your Time to Enjoy: Highlights of the Bike Path

There’s no shortage of views along the route, and there are just as many interesting places and attractions to discover. With around 240 kilometers of trail, boredom is out of the question. Instead, you can stretch your journey into long days of unforgettable adventure.

If you’re starting in Zakopane, we recommend a visit to Cafe Piano. It’s a cozy spot where you can relax on the swings at the bar, hydrate, and soak in the atmosphere away from the bustling Krupówki. It’s an exceptional place that we always enjoy returning to when in the area. If you have more time, don’t forget about the Chochołowska Valley. There are several bike-friendly trails in the area that might interest those who love climbs. Of course, keep in mind that these trails are often shared with pedestrians, so extra caution is necessary.

A visit to the southern part of our country is synonymous with oscypek. This cheese, made from sheep’s milk, is known for its intense flavor and distinctive shape. An important piece of information is that since 2008, oscypek has had European recognition in the form of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which means it is protected under EU law. This special designation confirms that the production process and characteristics of oscypek are closely linked to a specific geographical region, in this case, the mountainous area in Poland, especially in the Tatra Mountains.

As you approach Lake Czorsztyn, be open not only to stunning views but also to historical buildings and interesting man-made structures. This is where you’ll capture some of the most beautiful photos along the trail. It’s worth taking a few moments to visit the castles in Niedzica or Czorsztyn or take a stroll along the tallest dam in Poland.

Velo Dunajec Trail - View of Czorsztyn Reservoir and Gorc Mountains

Sromowce Nizne – this is where you’ll cross the border and embark on the Slovak stage of your adventure along the Dunajec River. But before that, make a stop at the Red Monastery. Even if you don’t decide to explore this intriguing place, you’ll come across Slovak snacks and drinks nearby. It’s the perfect moment to enjoy a cold, fizzy Kofola – especially refreshing on hot days. Kofola is a popular carbonated beverage known for its unique blend of herbs and spices. It’s perfect for a hot day, and the Velo Dunajec trail on the Slovak side allows you to taste it straight from the tap.

Velo Dunajec Route - River Gorge

Do you enjoy history and open-air museums? It’s perfect because in Nowy Sacz, you’ll find the Galician Town awaiting you. It’s a place that allows you to travel back in time, encounter living history, and even taste traditional cuisine. The entire Sądecki Ethnographic Park is divided into two parts, and exploring all its nooks and crannies will take several hours. Perhaps this will convince you to stay a few moments longer in this city? Don’t forget to take a souvenir photo by the ruins of the former castle, which was built by King Casimir the Great.

The Sadecki Ethnographic Park - skansen

When you reach the area near Zbyszyce, it’s worth stopping by and visiting the Grodek Vineyard. Not only does it offer wine tastings, but also a stroll through the vineyard and delicious snacks such as cheese and cold cuts – something every adventurer on two wheels enjoys, especially at the end of a long day of cycling. The location, situated on a hill surrounded by the waters of Lake Rożnowskie from three sides, is truly beautiful!

If you enjoy relaxing by the water, Grodek nad Dunajcem is the perfect destination for you. Located on the artificial lake on the Dunajec River mentioned earlier, it boasts numerous beaches. However, note that some of them may require an entrance fee during the summer months, so budget-conscious travelers may want to opt for other spots to cool off. Feeling like your bike isn’t enough? Test your sailing skills, awaken your inner angler, or simply rent a kayak and let the sun even out your cycling tan.

The largest city near the Velo Dunajec route is Tarnow. Although this city with over 100,000 inhabitants is located a few kilometers away from the official route of the trail, it’s worth visiting before completing your adventure. Situated at the confluence of the Biała River and the Dunajec, Tarnów hides several places worth seeing. Starting from the Cathedral Basilica, through Strzelecki Park, and ending at the historic cemeteries. You can enjoy a moment of relaxation in the original Cafe Tramwaj, and feel the solemn atmosphere in the mausoleum of General Józef Bem. From Tarnów, it’s just a short ride to Wietrzychowice, where the Velo Dunajec route comes to an end (or begins, of course!).

The Slovakian Dunajec Gorge: Picturesque Views Along the Velo Dunajec Route

While the Polish section of Velo Dunajec bike route never fails to impress, it must be said that the Slovakian stretch is often considered one of the highlights of this trail. And it’s no wonder, as just moments after crossing the border and catching sight of the towering Three Crowns peaks overlooking the area, you begin your adventure through the Dunajec Gorge. This distinctive section is renowned thanks to the raftsmen who have been organizing river trips there for years. By the way, did you know that not everyone can pursue this profession? If you don’t live in one of the nearby towns along the Dunajec River and you’re not a bachelor, forget about a career in traditional rafting. Nowadays, you can also opt for more adventurous ways to navigate the river – such as rafting or kayaking.

Velo Dunajec: Views of the Three Crowns

We strongly recommend tackling this stretch by bike and advise you to exercise increased caution, patience, and openness to the breathtaking views. Why patience and caution? Because in the area, there are numerous bike rentals, and during the peak season, thousands of cyclists pass through this section every day. It’s no wonder – the proximity to the river, majestic rocks, and now, improved pavement contribute to consistently positive experiences. We’re eager to hear your thoughts on this new surface – let us know in the comments below. In our humble opinion, it has somewhat blurred the last vestiges of the wilderness in this increasingly commercialized location.

Redyk Szczawnica: Discovering Culture and Tradition Along the Bike Trail

If you’re thinking about embarking on the Velo Dunajec route in the autumn, take a look at your calendar; you might have the chance to witness one of the most fascinating events not only in the region but in the whole of Poland. We’re talking about the redyk in Szczawnica, a ceremonial return of shepherds from grazing, where hundreds, if not thousands, of sheep play the leading role. This marks the end of the grazing season, accompanied by the melodies of highland music, the barking of sheepdogs, and an unparalleled atmosphere. Perhaps we’ll see each other at the next redyk?

Roof Over Your Head or Tent on the Bike Trail?

While on the road, one of the main concerns for a cyclist is accommodation. If you’re embarking on a multi-day journey, consider taking a break. Remember, regeneration is essential to complete a long-distance trail smoothly (with the exception of experienced marathoners who sleep for 30 minutes at a stop during their tour around Poland 😊). Your preferences are crucial in this matter. Some prefer camping in a tent, while others need a comfortable bed in a hotel.

Along the Velo Dunajec route, there are many accommodation options nearby, as well as in surrounding towns. Of course, when booking accommodation, pay attention to the period in which you plan to travel. The closer to holidays or long weekends, the more expensive it gets. Places with a large accommodation base include Zakopane, Nowy Targ, Nowy Sącz, Tarnów, and Szczawnica. These are very popular and frequently visited places by tourists. You can easily find a campsite near Lake Czorsztyn, Krościenko nad Dunajcem, or Zakliczyn. And if you like being close to nature, you can take advantage of the “Stay in the Forest” program – check the map; some designated areas by forestry districts are located near the trail. Whatever you choose, it’s best to do it before you start; try to predict your daily distances and plan your accommodation accordingly. Good luck!

And why stop at just Velo Dunajec bike route? Discover other trails with Velo Dunajec as the starting point.

Long journeys, where all your belongings fit into panniers, and a tent becomes your home, are a guaranteed recipe not only for a successful trip but also for a real adventure. Velo Dunajec can be treated as just one stage of a larger undertaking, where the route runs, among others, along official trails. And there are plenty of them in the area. In Wietrzychowice, you naturally enter the Vistula Cycling Route, and Zakopane is an excellent point to switch to the Cycling Trail Around the Tatras. Are you in Nowy Sącz? Check out the so-called Velo Poprad, a route that runs through the Poprad Valley, partly along the border with Slovakia. Mix and match and create cycling memories that you’ll proudly share by the fireplace in winter.

Velo Dunajec route: Where to Start for Other Beautiful Trails like Velo Czorsztyn or the Trail Around the Tatras

Trail in One Go: Cycling Gear for a Comfortable Journey

Long-distance trails, including Velo Dunajec, require preparation – both in terms of fitness and the right equipment. During such an expedition, proper equipment preparation is crucial, especially when it comes to bicycle panniers. Not only do they facilitate comfortable transportation of gear, but they also provide essential comfort during the journey.

Bike panniers offer not only safety but also comfort, space, and functionality due to their features. Their durable materials and applied technology ensure protection against changing weather conditions. Thanks to excellent waterproofing, you don’t have to worry about rainy weather affecting the contents of your panniers. Therefore, it’s worth ensuring proper equipment before a cycling trip, and panniers are an excellent solution that provides not only safety but also comfort and functionality during the journey. Be conscious about managing your gear as well – front panniers not only distribute weight but also facilitate grouping the items you’re taking. And thirdly, always have a small snack with you for emergencies – a crisis can strike at the least expected moment, and nothing soothes a drop in energy like chocolate with nuts!

Let’s leave tips for the daring adventurers embarking on a similar journey for another time, and today, we’ll provide three solutions that work in our case. Make sure to have a backup source of fire on which you can brew your favorite coffee while watching the sunrise over the Dunajec. Are you using a gas stove? Bring along a lonely wolf, meaning a few tin sheets that will boost the energy from dry branches.

Summary of the Adventure on Velo Dunajec bike route: Quality, Experiences, and Memories That Will Last Forever

Undoubtedly, Velo Dunajec bike route is one of the top cycling routes in Poland. The excellent location, and consequently the combination of mountains and rivers, gave a pretty good start to the creators of the trail. And you know what? They didn’t spoil it, but created a true generator of beautiful cycling memories. We’ve ridden through Velo Dunajec several times, rediscovering it each time. We won’t say it’s the perfect proposal, but they say perfection doesn’t exist. With certainty, one can fall in love with it! Fall in love with the views where mountains and water harmonize wonderfully. Fall in love with the places passed, steeped in history and often with the goodness emanating from other people. And finally, fall in love with the route, where very good pavement takes the lead, a calm profile with strong climbs prevents boredom, and dedicated cyclist service areas are a successful combination of modernity and utility. See you on Velo Dunajec, because our return there is more certain than certain!

Famous Nowy Targ Sheep. Nowy Targ Aero Club

Feel free to watch the video from the Velo Dunajec bike path!

With cycling greetings, Bloggers and travelers Loverowi