Mazury, Poland’s largest Lake District covers over 2000 lakes connected with each other through small streams and rivers. This magnificent region is often referred to as the land of thousand lakes stretches over 200 miles and is currently regarded as one of the favourite tourist destinations in Poland. It’s the perfect holiday spot for people looking for outdoor activities or people who are seeking to be close to nature, crave some tranquillity and need a break from busy city life. 

Mazury is often called the land of thousand lakes

Mazury is home to several resort towns and organic farms that offer accommodation. Alternatively, you may decide to stay on a sailing ship or go to basics and camp in the forest. Either way is great to explore the Great Masurian Lake District.  

Best time of the year to visit Mazury 

Every time of the year is good to visit Mazury but of course, everything depends on what you are looking for. Summer is obviously the busiest time of the year to visit Polish Lake District as lots of people want to spend their summer holidays by the lakes, either sailing or sunbathing, swimming and relaxing. However, if you still want to enjoy warm weather but avoid the hustle and bustle of the summer period then you should book your stay around September when there are fewer visitors around. 

Spring and autumn are great if you like to hike or you are looking for a relaxing break from your daily life. Additionally, autumn offers the opportunity to experience wild mushroom hunting which is one of the most favourite Polish activities. 

Finally, winter can be also wonderful if spent in Mazury. Of course, the majority of people would choose mountains (Tatras or Bieszczady) but this is a great opportunity to be alone and pay a bargain for accommodation. 

How to get to Mazury

Mazury can be easily reached from anywhere in Poland

The Great Masurian Lake District is located in the northeastern part of the country and is three hours drive from Warsaw. If passing through Warsaw, the best way to get to Mazury is by train. However, you can get there by bus, car and plane as there are scheduled flights from the capital to Olsztyn-Mazury Airport. In addition, during the summer peak period, there are plenty of various flight connections that make the area more accessible to tourists. Some airlines like Wizzair and Ryanair offer affordable flights. Do check out this website for up to date public transport details and connections from major Polish cities to Mazury.  

Places to Stay in Mazury

Mazury has several accommodation options which range from luxurious hotels to affordable B&Bs. If you are looking for a luxurious place to stay, you could try one of the boutique hotels like Gallery 69, Hotel Mikolajki and Masuria Arte. If you are more of a green, nature-focused person, you could stay in one of the beautiful organic farms. Kwasne Jabiko and Siedlisko Bianki are two farms that offer an exciting agritourism experience with organic food and a friendly atmosphere. Spa resorts like Przystan Hotel and Spa as well as the Glendoria are popular spas that offer a very relaxing stay in Mazury. Finally, if you want to be more independent and looking for accommodation for bigger number of people you can choose to rent Airbnb. 

What to do in Mazury – outdoors activity guide 

Sailing is one of the biggest attractions in Mazury

Polish Lake District is heaven for anyone looking for outdoor activities. Of course, the main attraction of the region is water sports – sailing, canoeing, water skiing and swimming but there is so much more that you can do in Mazury. The region is home to many species of plants, birds and animals (lookout for rare Mute Swans in Luknajno!) that are unique to the Lake District so hiking is highly advisable. Another option is to rent a bike and explore forests surrounding the lakes. Both hiking and biking are great if you want to visit some exciting sightseeing sides – old castles and historical buildings hidden in different parts of the region.

Finally, finishing and mushroom hunting are a very popular choice of spending relaxing time surrounded by nature and tranquillity. 

Places and towns to visit in Mazury

On top of all the outdoors activities, Mazury is also home to some enhancing little towns and villages. Miklajki is a sailing village that is filled with souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. This location is regarded as ‘a must visit’ by many tourists. Another good option is Mragowo which is one of the most beautiful towns in the area. Finally also worth visiting are Reszel castle, as well as the Rezerwat Zakret. 

Irrespectively of your choice, Mazury is definitely worth visiting and exploring, especially in warm months. 

Gołąbek (plural gołąbki) is one of the Polish dishes that appear in the same sentence as pierogi, schabowy (Polish schnitzel) and barszcz (beetroot soup), that is to say, the king of Polish tables. Polish people appreciate this dish so much that it is taken for granted that gołąbki will be included in Poland’s top 10 favourite foods list. Funny enough this dish is far from being uniquely Polish and variations of it can be found in many different countries, but we will get to that later.

What are gołąbki?

Gołąbki are simply cabbage rolls made of mince meat (pork or mix of beef and pork) mixed with rice, onion and spices wrapped in cabbage leaves (almost any cabbage type can be used) and slow cooked to perfection. The recipe changes slightly depending on the region and season (in winter gołąbki will be served on a bed of rich potato mash and covered in a creamy tomato sauce, opposite to the spring version that takes advantage of young vegetables and fresh herbs like dill). It’s safe to say that every family has its own way of preparing this dish and one should never argue who’s gołąbki are better as far as they don’t want to lose their friends.

Where did gołąbki get their name from?

Firstly, you should know that the word ‘gołąbek’ has a double meaning in Polish. It is, of course, our wonderful dish but also a dove (a type of bird). This may confuse a lot of people, including Poles who often question this weird name choice. There is, however, a method to this madness because the word ‘gołąbek’ came to Poland in the 19th century from Ukraine where a very sophisticated dish was served during aristocratic feasts and parties called ‘hołubci’. ‘Hołubci’ consisted of a dove stuffed with other wonderful things and wrapped in cabbage leaves. The idea of hołubci came to Poland and got not only translated but also adopted by poor masses. The dove got replaced with much cheaper mince meat and rice (the poorer the cook, the more rice would be added to the dish) and only the original cabbage wrap was preserved.

Are gołąbki really specifically Polish?

The short answer is no. Very similar dishes are popular in Sweden, Croatia, Germany, Russia, Hungary, Greece, Israel and Turkey. The difference is always down to the type of meat and cabbage used to make the dish and not less important, the sauce that is served with the dish. For example in Jewish cuisine, meatballs are wrapped in cabbage leaves and served with sweet and sour tomato sauce called holiszkes. In Croatia, they use pickled cabbage and their sarma is served with creme fraiche (thick cream) instead of sauce. In Germany, an almost identical dish is served with a dark brown sauce and it’s called kohlrouladen. And in Greece, everyone loves dolmadakia – lamb mince meat wrapped in wine leaves.

Traditional Polish gołąbki recipe

Now, when you know the complicated history of gołąbki it’s time that you make your own. Here is a traditional and hundred times tested recipe.


  • 700 grams of pork mince meat
  • 100g of dry rice
  • 1 white or savoy cabbage
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 spoon of good quality of breadcrumbs
  • 1.5 litters of vegetable or chicken bullion
  • 2 spoons of oil
  • 2-3 bay leaves, salt and pepper

What to do

Start with cooking the rice al dente and peeling and chopping the onion. Heat up oil in the pan and fry the onion on a slow heat until golden. Put it aside and let it cool. Do the same with the rice.

In a big bowl, mix the meat, rice, fried onion, salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs, just enough to make sure everything sticks together.

Now the hardest part: cut the middle of the cabbage (the core that keeps the leaves together). Boil water in a big pot (as big as you can find, 5 litters should be enough for a middle size cabbage). Put the cabbage in the hot water and cook for 10 minutes, then turn it around and cook for few minutes more. Take it outside and let it cool. The leaves should easily fall off.

Stuff each leave with the meat and rice: put the stuffing on one side and roll the top and bottom sides to the middle and then roll it tight to create a roll. Keep up the good work and stuff all the cabbage leaves.

Put some leftover cabbage that couldn’t be used to make the rolls at the bottom of a big pot (for example the one you used to boil the cabbage). Put each gołąbek tight next to each other, leaving as little space between them as possible. Keep creating the layers and poor the bullion evenly over it. Cover the pot and put it on a low heat. Cook it for at least 45-60 mins (if you leave them to cook for longer they will become softer). You can easily reheat them the next day and to be honest, they taste the best the next day.
Serve with mash potatoes and a few spoons of sauce created from the bullion and the meat juices. Add some fresh dill to finish it off.

The cold winter evenings are coming – these are the best Polish drinks to stay warm

Winter is coming and anyone who experienced winter in Poland knows that this is serious. You need to be prepared for the thermal shock and the short, dark days that lay ahead of you. There are a few things that can make this time of year more enjoyable but nothing works better than a good, Polish winter drink. Here is the list of the best beverages that you need to try this winter.

Mulled beer – grzaniec

King of Polish autumn drinks comes as a surprise to foreigners who are accustomed to the idea of mulled wine but not yet heard of mulled beer. If you are one of those people that never heard of mulled beer before, try to forget wine (at least once) and trust the true Polish connoisseurs by supping on grzaniec this autumn season. It is hot, spicy and sweet, with undertones of Christmas spices (cloves and cinnamon) which makes it the perfect drink to enjoy during the cold Polish winter evenings. Some people believe in the healing properties of mulled beer and if you were not yet convinced, this should do the trick.

Mulled wine – grzane wino

Mulled wine

It’s good to be adventurous and to try new things, but sometimes nothing gives more comfort than a classic and familiar drink. Mulled wine is one of them and can be bought in almost every pub, shop or Christmas market across Poland. Similarly to mulled beer, mulled wine brings you this nice warm feeling and smells of autumn holiday. In Poland, you can buy ready spice mixes that can be added to the red wine or even buy ready mulled wine that only has to be heated up. There is no excuse now!

Herbata z prądem

Herbata z prądem literally means tea with electricity or current and thanks to its origins is also referred to as mountain tea. It is a simple drink made of tea and alcohol with an optional addition of sugar and lemon. The most popular version is made of rum but any liqueur or vodka will do. It’s the perfect drink after a day of hiking or skiing or to be used as a medicine if you are feeling ill. Hey, alcohol kills bacteria so why not try it?

Nalewka – Polish liqueur

Nalewka, Polish liqueur made with spices, herbs and fruits usually contains 40-45% of alcohol but according to many Polish people, nalewka tastes much better than vodka. The Old Polish tradition claims that medium-dry and semi-sweet fruit liqueurs nalewka should be served with meat dishes, while sweet nalewka is a dessert alcohol, but Poles also drink it neat so your choices are endless. Interestingly nalewka is one of those drinks that can be made at home and a lot of people prepare it themselves to have something nice to look forward to for when winter comes in and the days become shorter and darker.

Hot chocolate

Not everyone likes (wants to or can) to drink alcohol so there has to be at least one non-alcoholic drink on this list (yes, this is how fair we are!). Hot chocolate is probably one of the most favourite hot drinks enjoyed by Poles in cafes (of course next to coffee and tea). Nowadays there are many specialised places that serve the real thing – thick, smooth and incredibly delicious hot chocolates served with whipped cream and additional spices. Polish people can be adventures too, so don’t be surprised to see hot chocolate with chilli on the autumn menu.

#1 Bigos (hunter’s stew)

With no doubt Bigos is the king of Polish cuisine. This unique combination of cabbage, different meats, sausages, mushrooms and spices cooked for hours (and sometimes even days) is very delicious and filling. You really need to taste it!

Bigos - Polish Hunter's Stew
Bigos – Polish Hunter’s Stew

#2 Pierogi (dumplings)

No comment required, you know the deal (and if not, you probably wasted your life as you have never tested this amazing dish).

Pierogi is one of the most traditional Polish dishes
Pierogi is one of the most traditional Polish dishes

#3 Ogórki kwaszone (pickled cucumbers)

Prepare yourself for the taste revolution as those little odd looking cucumbers are going to blow your mind. The taste is quite strong and particular, but if you like pickled vegs in general, you are going to love those pickled cucumbers. Snack them, cook them or mix with other vegs as they always bring another level of excitement to any dish. And if you are feeling adventurous look for the cucumber soup (zupa ogórkowa) which is made of the pickled cucumbers themselves.

Pickled cucumbers
Pickled cucumbers are great of sandwiches, as a side dish or on its own

#4 Żurek (Sour Rye Soup)

Outstanding combination of flavours, this traditional soup is usually served with egg and white sausage. Żurek very often is served during Easter but can be eaten on any normal day. Lots of believe also believe that it can cure the hangover.

Sour rye soup (source: en.wikipedia.org)
Sour rye soup

#5 Twaróg ze szczypiorkiem (Cottage cheese with spring onion)

Fresh, creamy with a secret ingredient of spring onion, this Polish speciality will change the way you see the white cheese forever. It is great for breakfast, especially when served with fresh Polish bread.

Cottage cheese with spring onion (source: foodmag.pl)
Cottage cheese with spring onion (source: foodmag.pl)

#6 Śledzie w śmietanie (Herrings in cream)

Usually Śledzie w śmietanie are served during Christmas Eve in almost every Polish house. It may seem like a very bizarre combination (perhaps only not to Nordic countries that have a similar dish in their menus) but it works! If you like fish and strong flavours go for it!

Herrings in cream (source: kuchniaagaty.pl)
Herrings in cream (source: kuchniaagaty.pl)

#7 Polish bread

Is there anything better than freshly-baked, warm Polish bread? Probably not. Well, maybe dumplings, but they’ve already been included in the list.

Polish bread comes in many shapes and forms
Polish bread comes in many shapes and forms

#8 Smalec (Lard)

This can be a bit extreme to some people but one of the most traditional Polish things to eat is bread with some lard on it. Smalec is made of pig fat with crispy pieces of pork skin and seasoning. In traditional Polish restaurants Smalec is very often served as a starter or a free snack before the main food arrives.

Lard (source: gotujemy.smaczne-blogowanie.pl)
Lard (source: gotujemy.smaczne-blogowanie.pl)

#9 Oscypek (Sheep Cheese)

Oscypek is a traditional smoked cheese made of sheep milk. It’s made in Polish mountains but nowadays it can be bought in most of big supermarkets just about anywhere in Poland. Try it grilled with some blackcurrant jam.

Sheep cheese (source: wikipedia.org)
Oscypek – sheep cheese

#10 Kiełbasa (Sausage)

Traditional Polish kiełbasa is made of pork, beef or veal meet and there are so many types of sausages in Poland that you may not manage to try all of them even if you really try.

Polish sausage is famous in the world and known as 'kielbasa'
Polish sausage is famous in the world and known as ‘kielbasa’

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