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Tours of VeloMałopolska together with Outdoor Magazine

Tours of VeloMałopolska together with Outdoor Magazine

Mapa wycieczki po VeloMałopolska razem z Outdoor Magazyn
Please find below the suggestions for four excursions that we have prepared for you and the readers of Outdoor Magazine. The common feature of these ideas is that they use some of the infrastructure built as part of VeloMałopolska. They’re linked with railway stations and form loops of 100–150 km, so the more advanced cyclists can cover it even in one day, while the others should probably spread it out over a minimum of a weekend, exploring everything along the way in peace and quiet. Trekking or gravel bikes are sufficient here, and there are no really steep elevations. Well, maybe apart from the ascend to Obidza, which we’ve added on purpose as an additional attraction and to get out of the river valleys for a moment.

Table of contents:

  1. Podtatrze Eight (gravel / road variant)

  2. Dunajec–Poprad Loop (gravel variant)

  3. Zalipie Loop EV4 + VRaba + WTR (gravel / road variant)

  4. Loop in the footsteps of ‘the buildings on the rocks’, i.e., Prądnik Valley + WTR (gravel / road variant)

1. Podtatrze Eight

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158 km / difficulty: easy / duration: 10 hours / bike type: trekking, gravel (90% asphalt, 10% improved dirt road)
Here you’ll find a variant for road bikes (GPX)

Over the last few years, the Podtatrze region has seen the development of a network of decent cycling infrastructure. Everyone has probably already heard of names such as Around the Tatras Route, VeloDunajec or VeloCzorsztyn. This tour is a suggestion on how to ride all the fanciest sections of these routes within one big loop. It’ll be quite an easy ride, and although the Tatra and Gorce Mountains are basically always in sight, the trail itself is traced through the nooks and crannies of the rather flat Nowy Targ Basin. It is the capital of this region, i.e., Nowy Targ, that we recommend as a starting/finishing point and possibly an overnight stay if someone wants to break down this trip, e.g., over two days of a perfect cycling weekend.
    What are the other reasons to recommended this trip to virtually anyone? For more than 75 km of this tour you’ll be cycling on asphalt roads (the rest consists of smooth asphalt and decent gravel roads), and the biggest ascent sections of the route will be bypassed thanks to the Gubałówka cable car and the boats sailing between the castles in Czorsztyn and Niedzica (all these modes of transport also accept bicycles on board).

VeloDunajec - zapora we Frydmanie
    
Between Nowy Targ and Zakopane, you’ll test sections of the VeloDunajec route, which runs along the river on ordinary roads parallel to the perpetually jammed ‘Zakopianka’ (DK47). It’s not an ideal section, as you’ll have to cross the national road a few times, but if you’ve so far seen these parts of the Podhale region only from behind a car window, I’d recommend taking this route at least once (you can also cover this section by train). A thorough sightseeing of Zakopane is not planned; a short walk along Krupówki Street, where cycling is prohibited anyway, will lead us to the lower station of the cable car to Gubałówka. If you come here in the middle of the season, please note that you’ll probably still have to walk a bit on the upper promenade, but this will quickly turn into a gentle descent on two wheels towards Nowy Targ, taking advantage of the branches and the main route of the Route Around the Tatras. Don’t forget to look back and sideways regularly, as this section will be accompanied by views of the Tatras all time long. In Chochołów, be sure to look out for the classic Podhale architecture; there are also a couple of commendable restaurants here. Leaving Chochołów, you already enter the main line of the Route Around the Tatras, i.e., one of the first adaptations of the former railway tracks to a first-class cycling route in Poland. However, to make it slightly less simple and flat, in Ludźmierz we’ll go down to the next branches of the Route to see the Tatra Mountains from them and take side roads to finally reach the market square in Nowy Targ. We’ll start the second part of the loop with perhaps the most picturesque section of the entire VeloDunajec route, which will take us all the way to the marina below the Niedzica Castle, the walls of which you’ll see as you descend the already quite famous ribbon of red asphalt winding in the background of Lake Czorsztyn. Remember that the water transport between the castles runs with a specific timetable and sometimes you have to wait for it (the gondolas are the most efficient).
The section from the Czorsztyn Castle back to Dębno is already a peaceful ride along the shores of the lake. After the obligatory visit to the church in Dębno, you’ll enjoy gravel sections that will take you to Nowa Biała, where another iconic site, the Białka Gorge, is located. From here, we return to the main trail of the Route Around the Tatras and, all the way along it, we return through the woods of Bór Nad Czerwonem to Nowy Targ.

The slight elevation of the entire route will make it possible for the more skilful cyclists to complete it in one day, but we sincerely recommend breaking down the trip to a minimum of two days in order to be able to truly enjoy all the sights and attractions along the way (castles in Czorsztyn and Niedzica, churches in Dębno and Harklowa, Tetmajerówka and the manor house in Łopuszna, and the Kasprowicz Museum in Zakopane).

2. Dunajec-Poprad Loop

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101 km / difficulty: medium / duration: 7 hours / bike type: trekking, gravel (90% asphalt, 10% improved, dirt road)

A proposal to mix and match sections of the new cycling routes that have been created in the Sądeczczyzna region along the Dunajec (VeloDunajec) and Poprad (EuroVelo11) rivers and the AquaVelo trail. The first two will guarantee us relative flatness for most of the trip, and the latter will add some spice by making us sweat hard on the Obidza ascent (according to altimetr.pl, it is ranked 10th on the list of the most difficult cycle ascents in Poland). However, it is worth the effort, as it guarantees incredible views on both sides of the pass and is really the only possible link between Piwniczna and Szczawnica to make the trip form a loop. Fair warning: tyres with at least a minimum of tread will become useful especially on the descent into the White Water Valley, but the rest of the trip runs along firm asphalt road that’s comfortably and largely free of vehicular traffic, too.
    We start from the railway station in Nowy Sącz, where, after a little bit of sightseeing we arrive atop the river embankments that have been asphalted in recent years as part of the VeloDunajec and EuroVelo11 routes. The routes diverge in Stary Sącz after the footbridge over the Poprad River, but before you steer yourself upstream and take the EV11 to Piwniczna, we suggest visiting the local ponds and the architectural gem known as Bobrowiska.
Bobrowiska Stary Sącz

As the trail runs fairly strictly along the river valley, the ascent into Beskid Sądecki will be fairly straightforward and pleasant, but we suggest a rest somewhere in Piwniczna before facing the ascent up to Obidza. For this purpose, you can use, for example, the new recreation centre that has been built in the Piwniczna green area called Nakło. After enjoying the famous ascent, you can stop and have a bite at the local shelter before continuing on towards the Gromadzka Pass and the mainly dirt road descent towards Jaworki. Although as part of the works on the AquaVelo trail the biggest potholes were patched, it still remains a heavily off-road ride all the way to the White Water reserve where you’ll finally reach the nice white gravel descent, interspersed with numerous fords. Bridges can also be used, if necessary, but why would you give up the most fun part? Once on the asphalt road, you’ll reach Szczawnica in the company of regular car traffic. In Szczawnica we suggest that you go to see the Health Resort Park and only then return to the Grajcarek, along which you’ll easily cycle down until you reach the rafting harbour by the Dunajec River. As you can easily guess, you’ll also enter the VeloDunajec route here. Now, briefly, some important ‘construction’ information. Some sections of this route between Krościenko nad Dunajcem and Zabrzeż may still be under construction. Until the cycling section along DW969 is completed here, we’ll have to cycle in quite heavy general traffic for about 6 km of the voivodeship road. The tour track will also be continuously updated on the website along with the progress of the work. The completed section of this route now begins near Łącko and will take you all the way to Stary Sącz with several footbridges and bridges from one side of the river to the other. However, before you hurry along, we recommend taking a detour into the centre of Łącko along a very pleasant connector that was created as part of the so-called active leisure centre. We will finish our trip on the atmospheric streets and market square in Stary Sącz, from where, after short bit of pedalling, we reach the railway station.

3. Zalipie Loop EV4 + VRaba +WTR

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133 km / difficulty: easy / duration: 8 hours / bike type: trekking, gravel (91% asphalt, 9% improved dirt road)
Here you’ll find an extended variant for road bikes (GPX)


A proposition for those who like it really flat. The tour will make a large loop around the only such large lowland region in Małopolska, which stretches from the Niepołomice Forest through the Tarnów Land. Our cycling itinerary will once again be marked out by the main routes of the VeloMałopolska network, which take their names from the rivers along which they run, making use of their embankments and natural slopes, i.e., VeloRaba, Vistula Bicycle Route and VeloDunajec. This large, flat triangle of Małopolska is bounded on its southern side by a railway line and the A4 motorway, so in order to complete our loop we’ll also take advantage of the VeloMetropolis route, which between Tarnów and Brzesko leads along the ‘service’ roads of this transport arterial linking the two largest cities of the voivodeship. Don’t worry, covering this 30-kilometre section also has its charms, but if you don’t feel like it, we suggest you to cover this section along the gravel roads without leaving the forests, or simply take the train.
Zalipie

The obligatory ‘non-bicycle’ means of transport will be the two river ferries on the Dunajec, which will serve us to leave the bicycle routes and visit probably the most Instagrammable of Polish villages, namely Zalipie. Bicycle is absolutely the best means of transport here, allowing you to roll through all the nooks and crannies of this picturesque village at an unhurried pace. Our suggestion guides you through its main attractions, but feel free to wander around in your own way. What else awaits us here? Mainly peace, quiet and a sea of green, because apart from local roads and the already mentioned A4 service roads, it’ll be mainly riding on asphalted and gravel river embankments.

4. Loop in the footsteps of buildings on the rocks, i.e., Prądnik Valley + WTR

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159 km / difficulty: medium / duration: 10 hours / bike type: trekking, gravel (94% asphalt, 6% improved, dirt road)

Here you’ll find a variant for road bikes (GPX)

A proposition for those who like to mix cycling with a pinch of history, spiced up with plenty of nature and views of vineyards and a ride along rivers and old railway lines. The latter, by the way, can still be used to take a ride in a bicycle rail car. There won’t be many off-road sections, and those that do exist can easily be bypassed on local roads, so with only slight modifications this trip is also suitable for road bikes. The main goal of setting it out was to combine within one trip the Małopolska ‘buildings on the rocks’ (the castles of Wawel, Ojców, Pieskowa Skała, Tenczyn, Janowice and the Abbey in Tyniec), make use of the river (Prądnik and Vistula) valleys and travel through most of the landscape parks north of Kraków. All that in one fairly easy loop, which, of course, we recommend breaking down into a minimum of two days. We take off under the Wawel Dragon; the trip from Kraków into the Prądnik Valley itself may not be the most exciting experience in your cycling career, but you have to get out of the city this way or another. In Zielonki, we conquer the first ‘landscape bump’, which offer us a not very busy and quite scenic road to reach the Prądnik Valley. Note! The descent through Kwietniowe Doły to the valley can get muddy after it rains, but you can always bypass it on the asphalt road through Januszowice, and visit one more castle (Korzkiew) on your way. Cycling through the Ojców National Park is great on its own, and there really is plenty to see along the way, so I recommend switching to the ‘extra slow’ mode here. After conquering the castle in Pieskowa Skała, we head towards the Kraków Valleys to reach the Dulowa Forest that hides yet another castle, which has undergone an amazing metamorphosis over the last few years and has literally risen from the ruins. We are obviously talking about the Tenczyn Castle in Rudno. You’ll have to cycle up a rather steep incline to see it in all its glory, but it’s really worth it. We chose the asphalt version but you can also bike your way up off-road.

Zamek Tenczyn w Rudnie

Sightseeing completed? Then let’s continue downhill along the old railway line straight into the valley of the Vistula. We recommend trying out the above-mentioned rides by rail car in Regulice and also visiting the Czak vineyard (the two attractions are linked). When we reach the banks of the Vistula, we’ve already entered the trail of the Vistula Bicycle Route, which we’ll basically follow all the way to Kraków. ‘Basically’, because part of this route is still under construction, so from Skawina to Tyniec the trail still runs along a bypass. This will also lead us to cycling up to the very entrance gate of this famous monastery. You can stop by for a coffee, or stretch your legs a few kilometres away while watching the canoeists struggle on a special track at the Kolna OSIR site. Starting from here, the rest of the route is a pleasant ride on asphalted embankments all the way to the Wawel Castle. On the way, you can admire other buildings on the rocks, i.e., the Camaldolese monastery on Skałki Bielańskie and the castle in Przegorzały.