Beautiful landscapes, pristine nature, but also unique tourist attractions – all this can be admired along the Green Velo East of Poland Cycling Trail. You can reach wonderful historic buildings in the three Bike Kingdoms on the Green Velo trail - Roztocze, the Carpathian Foothills, and the Sandomierz Region and Lower San River Valley. A wooden church in Radruż, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the unique Baroque pipe organ in the Cathedral of the Bernardine Monastery in Leżajsk, and the Przemyśl Fortress, an impressive system of defensive structures from the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – you will find all these incredible places when cycling along the Green Velo bicycle trail in Podkarpackie.
You can start your unforgettable journey wherever you want and choose the most fascinating routes and tourist attractions. Here we recommend 3 options for cycling trips.
1. TREES… TREES EVERYWHERE
Roztocze, one of Green Velo Bike Kingdoms, is densely covered by wild forest. If you want to enjoy a peaceful and quiet forest atmosphere and visit the complex of defensive churches, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you should take the Green Velo bicycle route from Horyniec Zdrój to Huta Kryształowa. The route is on flat terrain and is perfect for a family trip or for those who have just started their adventure with cycling. An additional advantage of this trail is the almost nonexistent car traffic.
The route from Horyniec to Radruż (3 km) runs along a well-marked road. After a while you will reach a unique wooden church. A complex of church buildings with the church of St. Paraskeva and a bell tower is surrounded by a stone wall. This historic church is richly decorated with magnificent wall paintings from the 16th century, and is one of the oldest wooden churches in Poland. Legend has it that near the side entrance is the grave of a former headman of Radruż, whose wife was abducted after one of the Tatar invasions. After many years spent in captivity as a sultaness, Maria Dubnievich returned to her home village and her husband, who, convinced of his wife's death, had meanwhile married another woman. After Maria’s return, Vasyl Dubnievich was devastated by the fact of being a bigamist. After this event, Vasyl Dubnievich decided to be buried at the doorstep of the church as a penance, so all believers visiting the church would walk on his grave.
The complex of church buildings in Radruż is open to visitors from Mondays to Sundays, from 11.00 to 18.00.
Travelling further south along the Green Velo cycling trail, you will reach a stretch that is surely the dream of every cyclist. In the middle of a lush green and soothing forest, there is a specially designed path only for cyclists: zero noise, zero smog, total safety, the healing power of nature, and an endorphin shot guaranteed. Heading further to Huta Kryształowa, it is worth stopping for a while at a Cyclists’ Service Area (MOR), and then admire the beautiful, historic avenue of lime trees, which is a remnant of the park once surrounding a manor house. In Huta Kryształowa amazing crystal tableware gracing aristocratic tables was made. Further on, the bicycle trail goes to the picturesque valley of the Smolinka river. At this point, you can decide where to go next: along the Green Velo route, or along the trail towards Basznia Dolna, or maybe back the same way to where you came from. There are many options.
2. OLD AUSTRIAN FORTS AND A PARADISE GARDEN
In Pogórze Karpackie (the Carpathian Plateau), the southernmost kingdom of the Green Velo East of Poland Cycling Trail, there are routes running across the scenic areas of the Przemyśl Foothills Landscape Park, and also the Arboretum in Bolestraszyce and the mysterious and magnificent forts of the Przemyśl Fortress, from the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, located on the nearby trails. If your starting point is equally attractive Przemyśl, it is worth taking the Green Velo cycling route towards Bolestraszyce (approx. 9 km). This section of the Green Velo cycling trail runs mainly across planes, which makes it just as easy to do as the section across Roztocze described above.
The first place you reach after leaving Przemyśl is the former Ukrainian village of Buszkowice. Here you can visit the brick Church of the Care of the Mother of God. After about 10 minutes you will reach Bolestraszyce, a village with a paradise garden (particularly appealing in the spring) and a mysterious fort. These are must-see tourist attractions of the Podkarpacie region. If you are into discovering secrets, you will definitely like it.
The unusual species of trees, shrubs and flowers from all over the world gathered in the Arboretum near Przemyśl will surely captivate you. Among the several thousand varieties of plants you can see Marsilea quadrifolia, an aquatic fern resembling a 4-leaf clover that brings good luck. Scenic avenues, a gorge sunken in azaleas, romantic bridges, and ponds with beautiful flowers offer an amazing sensory experience.
The arboretum in Bolestraszyce (the garden) near Przemyśl is open from 9.00 to 18.00 (from 10.00 to 18.00 on weekends and bank holidays).
Close to the garden is one of the most interesting, most beautifully situated ruins of the grand Fortress of Przemyśl, the monumental Fort XIII San Rideau. There is a grim legend about this place. After World War I, the damaged fort was destined for demolition. Legend has it that during demolition a live Russian prisoner, one of two Russians imprisoned there, was found, after surviving in the fortress for 8 years after the end of the war. A Polish war movie, Fort 13, was based on this horrid story.
Coming from this site along the marked northern part of the Fortress Cycling Trail (green trail, approx. 35 km) you can start exploring other structures of the Przemyśl Fortress. The belt of more than ten fortification structures in the northern part of Przemyśl includes Fort XIII, Fort XII Werner, Fort XI Duńkowiczki, Fort X Orzechowce, Fort IX Brunner, and Fort VIII Łętownia. The Fortress Cycling Trail is a bit more challenging than the Green Velo route. It runs through hilly areas, asphalt forest paths, and in some sections it runs along gravel roads. It takes tourists along a system of old 19th century roads connecting defensive structures. Cycling the northern part of the Fortress Route around Przemyśl takes about 3 hours. If you have more than one day to spare, it is worth visiting the monumental and wonderfully preserved Fort I Salis Soglio in the southern part of the Przemyśl fortifications.
3. THE TOWN OF 6 THOUSAND PIPES
The Green Velo section of the Bike Kingdom of the Sandomierz region and Lower San River Valley runs in the north of Podkarpackie province. A gem on the European scale, worth visiting on the Green Velo Trail in this region, is the Bernardine Monastery in Leżajsk, and the Baroque pipe organ, which is a priceless example of European heritage. If you choose the Green Velo route from Rzeszów, the journey will be slightly longer and you will have to go 60 km to reach Leżajsk.
The Green Velo Cycling Trail from Rzeszów first takes you to Łańcut. This is a very pleasant and easy route parallel to railway tracks, ideal for beginner cyclists. The landscapes on the route are also impressive. After the village of Strażów, on the right side of the route you will see scenic wetlands and meanders of the Old Wisłok River. The trail takes you further to Łańcut, where we recommend visiting the magnificent Castle if you have enough time.
Further north on the Green Velo trail you can admire the picturesque landscape and, and above all, fun to ride areas. Although the terrain becomes more challenging here and you will have to cycle uphill, going downhill will certainly compensate for your efforts. On the way to Biedaczów cyclists can admire the scenic landscapes of the nearby hills, Góra pod Michałkiem and Łysa Góra. After Biedaczów the Green Velo trail turns west, and the road to Leżajsk (15 km) runs across a forested area. After another hour you reach the town of 6 thousand pipes.
Inside the richly decorated Baroque-style Cathedral of the Bernardine Monastery in Leżajsk (Historic Monument) visitors can admire a real treasure - the old pipe organ. This gem of European heritage has 6,000 pipes that produce breathtaking music. In the mystical twilight of the church interior you will also find the late Gothic painting of Our Lady of Consolation, famous for its miracles.
In Górna Street in Leżajsk there is a unique ohel (Jewish grave) of the Hasidic tzaddik and healer Elimelech (Rabi Lizensker). It is believed that on the anniversary of his death the tzaddik descends from heaven and takes the prayers of the faithful to God. Legend has it that the Nazis, who opened the ohel of Elimelech during the war, saw the rabbi's eyes wide open instead of the expected treasures, and after this event they suffered terrible torments. On the anniversary of his death the tzaddik's grave is visited every year by several thousand Jews from all over the world.
We encourage you to travel to enjoy the unique, vibrant and multicultural Podkarpacie region. On the Green Velo cycling trail you can visit spectacular attractions, but also use facilities prepared for cycling tourists. On consistently marked routes there are Cyclists’ Service Areas (MOR), where you can rest, have a meal at a sheltered table, hide from the rain under a roof, or simply get rid of rubbish. In the Cyclist-Friendly Areas (MPR) you will find a secure bicycle parking facility, a bicycle shelter, bicycle repair tools or even accommodation.
Main photo: A. Marciniewicz-Wanarska
Photos: M. Bosek (Horyniec-Zdrój), A. Mróz (Tserkva Complex in Radruż), Marschal's Office of the Podkarpackie Voivodeship (Arboretum in Bolestraszyce), G. Karnas (Przemyśl Fortress), Cultural Center in Leżajsk (pipe organ in Bernardine Monastery in Leżajsk).