Loop along two banks of the Vistula River (Kraków–Oświęcim)
The trail also circumnavigates all current construction, renovation and gravel sections (it will be updated once the work is completed). Apart from the comfortable sections of the Vistula Bicycle Route (WTR) built in the recent years along the river embankments, the rest mostly run along quiet local roads. The exceptions include ul. Bogucianka/Tyniecka at the border of Kraków and Skawina (due to the renovation of the embankments, where a new section of the WTR will be built after completion in spring 2022) and the Zator area, where we will have to ride on a short section of the DK44 national road (due to the construction of the Podolsze bypass). On this right-bank section of the Vistula between Zator and Oświęcim, the trip follows the ‘old’ WTR trail once marked by the PTTK. In some places you’ll even encounter signs maintained in better or worse condition (WTR logo on white background). ‘New’ WTR trace is marked with orange R-4 signs.
Distance: 161 km
Surface type: asphalt 100%
The full loop is a suggestion for a solid all-day ride, mostly on the flat because of the river valley (there are two more solid ascends – in Kamień and at ul. Bogucianka). The loop can, of course, be shortened at will using the available ferries and road bridges, so that it can be tailored to different levels of experience (or simply to spread the whole thing out over a cycling weekend). Most of the bridges/ferries are actually visible from the route, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding them, but if you need to, you’ll find a list of ferries on the bit.ly/velomalopolska map (layer ‘shelters, ferries, other’).
You’ll also find plenty of cafés and bars along the route, and the ride itself west from Kraków along the Vistula is a frequent and popular destination for all sorts of road ‘cofferides’. The list of cycling-friendly ‘pitstops’ located just off the trail includes Przystanek Kolna, Tarasy Tynieckie, Kawiarnia Benedyktyńska, Ranczo Koło Fortuny (Brzeźnica), MUMU grill&pub (Łączany), Kawiarnia Śnieżka and Bożybar.przycupnij (Kamień), Cukiernia Róża (Czernichów).
There are also numerous Cyclists’ Rest Stops along the route.
20 km: at Kościuszko Dam (caution: dirt sections)
42 km: ferry Kopanka–Jeziorzany (free of charge)
64 km: Ferry between Czernichów and Brzeźnica (free of charge)
77 km: Łączany Canal
90 km: ferry Spytkowice – Okleśna (fee PLN 1.0)
120 km: bridge in Jankowice
150 km: Independence Bridge in Oświęcim–Bobrek (access to the WTR via ul. Starowiejska in Gromiec)
161 km: full loop
One last thing: I suggest a tour entirely by bicycle, but you can modify it with rail transport if you wish. Here an important remark: by the end of 2021 the ‘train + bicycle’ access on the entire Kraków–Oświęcim line may not be possible due to on-going renovations and substitute transport between the Oświęcim and Trzebinia stations. Train services from Kraków to Zator are due to return for the 2021 summer holidays. The whole area can also be reached with a change in Mysłowice.
If anyone would be looking for an idea to continue road riding to the ‘east’ of Krakow using all the available section of the WTR, I’d recommend this article and the Zalipie Loop.
Enjoy the ride and may the wind only blow at your back!
Jarek Tarański, velomalopolska.pl