Masurian Lakes, Poland
Classic European Countryside
If you join some merry campers at a bonfire in Poland's Masurian woods, sooner or later you'll hear them break into a popular sailing tune that celebrates the Masurian Lakes region.
"The song lists the many treasures we cherish here," says Maciej Milosz, who co-owns a boat rental company, "including lots of fish to catch, wild mushrooms to eat, and unimaginably vast forests."
Stretching across northeastern Poland 125 miles north of the capital, Warsaw, the Masurian Lake District claims some 2,000 lakes, many connected by rivers and canals. Always popular with Polish vacationers, the region remains a quintessential example of the simple pleasures of traditional country life.
In summer months Masuria's lakes ripple with sails, while the red-roofed resort towns of Giz˙ycko and Mikołajki teem with boaters and bathers. If you prefer solitude, head over to Nidzkie or Łuknajno Lakes, nature reserves free of motorboats, where you easily will find a quiet waterside spot. Don't count on being alone, however. The lakes' navy blue waters attract diving cormorants, mute swans, and clamoring storks, while deer, moose, wolves, wild boars, and the elusive lynx roam the Pisz Forest, a remnant of a pristine wilderness that once covered much of northern Poland. It all adds up to even more to sing about. —Adam Robinski
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