Recently, we have been observing an increase in the popularity of leading a healthy lifestyle in Poland. If you are looking for an easy and pleasant sports discipline or just want to exercise a little after hours spent working at your desk – cycling is for you. More and more popular, a relaxing ride in the bosom of nature or routes requiring more effort – everyone will find something for themselves in the Nowy Sącz region.

Cycling is one of the most effective forms of active leisure in the fresh air. It makes us use nearly all of the muscles, particularly thighs and calves, and in the case of more bumpy trails, also hands and abs. At the same time, we oxygenate the body, which does not happen when we do sports in enclosed spaces. We can improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system and metabolism, and burn excess calories. Riding for about 90 minutes with an average speed of 20 km/h means 1,000 calories burnt. The more difficult the terrain you are riding, the bigger the number, but you are the one to decide which route to choose – the possibility of matching the intensity of exercise to your preferences is yet another chief asset of this sport. It is also a relatively inexpensive form of physical activity – apart from buying a bicycle and protective equipment, there are no other costs, such as tickets or passes.

Choose your trail

Bike trails in the Nowy Sącz region are nearly everywhere. The huge number of local, mostly asphalt roads form a network of varied trails crisscrossed by streams and rivers. The monuments of wooden architecture along the trails make trips around this charming part of Poland expand the visitors’ knowledge about the region. Remember that when riding these trails, you should follow road signs. Domestic bike trails are marked with white squares with a black bicycle symbol and a stripe in the colour of the trail, while international trails – with the letter R and the number of the trail. You should be careful, however, as there are signs out there which do not follow these standards, particularly along older trails.

New routes

Each year, the Nowy Sącz region gains new bike trails, as more and more people go in for this form of active leisure. A bike route from Szczawnica to Jaworki is planned, along with the modernisation of the route towards the Red Monastery on the Polish side. The EuroVelo 11 and VeloDunajec routes are to be completed by 2023. EuroVelo 11 is a bike trail which is about 6,000 km long and runs through: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece. In Poland, it leads across Małopolska, where it connects with Slovakia, and further on across the Świętokrzyskie, Masovian, and Podlaskie Voivodeships, in the case of the latter – along the Latvian border. VeloDunajec, in turn, runs along the Dunajec River valley and stretches across more than 250 km. The first stage of the project in Poland assumes the construction of a route about 110.5 km long, starting in Nowy Sącz and ending beyond Proszowice, on the border of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. It will include the Nowy Sącz powiat and border on the Limanowa powiat. The second stage (about 45 km) will run along the Poprad River valley, between Muszyna and Nowy Sącz. VeloDunajec, about 142 km long, is a trail leading from Zakopane to the intersection with the Vistula Bike Trail (WTR). It includes the Tatry, Nowy Targ, Nowy Sącz, and Tarnów powiats. A considerable part of the trails running across the Nowy Sącz region is a chance for the development of tourism in the area. Cyclists will gain the opportunity to reach all the attractions and monuments quickly and safely thanks to the properly marked out trails.

At the starting line

Competition adds flavour to every kind of sport, including cycling. One of the most prestigious international sporting events organised in Poland is Tour de Pologne. The multi-stage road bicycle race was an amateur one from 1929 to 1949, but after its organisation was taken over by Czesław Lang in 1993, it became a fully professional race and is now included in the UCI World Tour series. The total length of all the stages of the Tour de Pologne route is about 1,200 km, leading from the north to the south of Poland. Two years ago, the 72nd edition was recognised as the best sporting event of the year 2015 in Poland in the “Przegląd Sportowy” magazine and TVP television poll, and its fourth stage – the section from Jaworzno to Nowy Sącz – as the best-organised one and the one with the largest number of spectators. As a result, in 2016, Tour de Pologne passed through the Nowy Sącz region yet again, even though many cities applied for its organisation. Not only did the 3rd stage of the race end here, but the next one began as well, causing Nowy Sącz to be the only city to play host to Tour de Pologne for two days. In 2016, the first women’s edition of Tour de Pologne took place. It was held in the Tatras and began a day after men’s Tour de Pologne.
However, you don’t have to be a professional cyclist in order to check your skills and stamina against others. There are many races and marathons for amateur cyclists organised in the Nowy Sącz region. The Jacek Bugański Carpathia Bike Marathon, held annually for 8 years now, is addressed to everyone who likes cycling and offers three routes: a road one, a cross-country one, and a recreational one. Everyone can turn up at the starting line in Nowy Sącz. As the promotional slogan says: “Beautiful views and an unforgettable experience will compensate for the effort put into completing the race”.

A dose of happiness

During a bike trip, even if you get caught in the rain and the wind is blowing in your face – you will be happy. How is it possible? Already after about an hour of moderate exercise, your brain begins to produce endorphins – the happiness hormones. They make you feel calm and fulfilled. At the same time, they minimise the feeling of physical effort and muscle fatigue, as they are natural opioids produced by the body. Riding a bicycle also reduces the level of stress and improves concentration. You can easily check that by swapping your car or crowded city buses for a bicycle. You will additionally save money spent on car maintenance or public transport tickets.

The most attractive areas of the Nowy Sącz region

Recommended trails

  • The main Carpathian Bike Trail (133 km), divided into 3 sections: the first one from Leluchów to Nowy Sącz, the second one, the so-called “Łososina Variant” (from Nowy Sącz via Łososina Dolna to Wytrzyszczka), and the third one from Nowy Sącz via Rożnów to Wytrzyszczka.
  • Connecting trails of the Carpathian Bike Trail: The Nowy Sącz Bike Trail from Muszynka to Nowy Sącz.
  • The Multicultural Bike Trail from Przełęcz Wysowska (Wysowska Pass) to Sędziszowa.
  • The Wine Bike Trail from Konieczna to Tropie.
  • The Royal Bike Trail from Biecz to Przełęcz Przysłop (Przysłop Pass).
  • The Cross-Border Bike Trail from Długie to Muszyna.

By: Eliza Dunikowska