In an effort to enjoy the unseasonably sunny Autumn weather here in Northern Europe, last weekend we took the opportunity to pedal some of the gravel back roads of Northern Poland connecting several of the Teutonic Castles and Cathedrals between Olsztyn and Malbork. Friday we took the TLK train to Olsztyn and set out early Saturday morning to a sunny but chilly start.
Not only was Olsztyn our starting point, but it was our first stop. We spent about an hour checking out the Old Town and poking around the outside of the Castle before we headed North into the Autumn sun and along some very nice roadways and through the farmlands and back roads. We spent most of the day along cobbled and gravel roads, admiring the countryside and snapping pictures.
After pedaling around Poland for the past 2 years we have done a wholesale change in our bike touring philosophy: It’s all about the back roads. Normally we have found the back roads to be much nicer to cycle along not only because the paved roads are often too rough and drivers too agressive, but also we get to see some places out of the normal view. These sections did not disappoint. There were a few sternly cobbled forest roads to be dealt with. Sort of a Polish Pavé type of experience, but just like their Belgian brethren these Pavé tend to have a small dirt track on the shoulder to allowing us to avoid the rougher sections. With only one truly sustained cobbled section (about 2.5k) the route alternated between smooth dirt, soft sand/mud, cobbles and paved road. A true mixed terrain experience. We were in heaven!
Originally planning to pedal to the castles in Olsztyn, Lidzbark-Warminski, the cathedral in Frombork and then back south to the Castle in Malbork we mapped a tour covering about 230k. After seeing both Olsztyn and Lidzbark we set off through a rather unpopulated forest area which seemed to go on forever. Unfortunately a routing mishap put us about 20k to the south of where we needed to be for our turnoff north to Frombork. A quick reassess and we decided to just make a beeline West toward Pasłęk for the evening as it was late in the day and Frombork now a little too far out of reach.
Sunday morning we awoke to a chilly foggy ride for the remaining 60k to Malbork. We quickly covered this distance in part to maximize our time at the Castle, but also to stay warm since the fog was dense and the air temp hovered at around 10C. Arriving at Malbork about 12:45, we were rewarded with a spectacular sightseeing adventure around the Castle. If you haven’t been, we heartily recommend it. Beyond being the largest Gothic Castle Complex ever built, Malbork boasts a fascinating history and stunning architecture. Well worth a couple hours of your time.
After a tour of the Malbork Castle and a hearty lunch of Pierogi and Apple pie we jumped on the train with our bikes for the trip back to Warsaw. A weekend well spent.
Too bad Autumn comes only once a year. The combination of cool temps, glorious fall colors and the amber light make us very happy to be outside riding our bikes. Hopefully you got out to enjoy some of this weather too.
As always feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this route or bike touring in general.
In the meantime, check out the slideshow below…