Bory Tucholskie (eng. Tuchola Pine Forests) is a large forested area in northern Poland, between Pomeranian and Cuiavian-Pomeranian voievodships, full of pure lakes, rivers and nature reserves. With little industry it offers many attractions to spend a time in the nature. Area is mainly famous for its kayaking possibilities and the National Park. Most of the region is included in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of 3195 km sq. (1234 mi sq.).
Bory Tucholskie area has low quality soils, so the wood production and fishing were major economic activities since medieval times. Landscape of the area is relatively flat, with small hills and river valleys. Pure rivers and lakes are of the biggest natural value, and some attract tourists, especially kayakers.
Bory Tucholskie have complex and well developed nature protection areas network. The Bory Tucholskie National Park is the biggest strictly protected area. Within the Biosphere Reserve there are 25 nature reserves as well, altogether 78,8 km sq. are strictly protected. There are four additional Nature Parks (Tucholski, Zaborski, Wdzydzki, Wdecki) that protect 1046,3 km sq.
Virtually all forests are pine woodlands, mainly planted by men. Richer forests may be found only in river valleys, on lake shores and inside several nature reserves. Due to low industry and agriculture, as well as sparse population, the region offers many recreation and nature exploration activities.
There are three major ethnic groups in the area. In the north-western parts live Zaboracy, a sub-group of Cashubians. They are known for strong ethnic identity and use of Cashubian language. Eastern part is dominated by Kociewiacy, an eastern-pomeranian Polish speaking group that lives along Vistula river from Świecie to Gdańsk. Central and south-western part is inhabited by Borowiacy, an ethnic group indigienious to the area.
Virtually all inhabitants speak Polish. In the north-western part native language is Cashubian, closely related to Polish, but with some distinct characteristics that make it hard to understand for Polish speakers if spoken fast. It is rarely heard in this area though, and only some writings with some letters not seen in Polish may remind you of it.
All information is provided in Polish, but there are more and more places where you can find information in English and/or German. Knowledge of English may be low in more remote areas and among elder people. Several people do speak some German or even Russian, but do not expect it in general. In general in tourist sites and information centres you should find people speaking some foreign languages though.
Major backbones of the region are Brda and Wda rivers going north to south to the Vistula river. The biggest town is Chojnice in the western edge of Bory Tucholskie. There are few other small towns located within the area: Tuchola, Czersk, Brusy and Czarna Woda. The area is relatively remote, and it is well advised to use a map.
Due to its location and remoteness, temperatures are lower than in neighbouring regions and are similar to the south of Scandinavian Peninsula.
Winter is three to four months long and usually several weeks are snowy, with temperatures below 0°C, occasionally reaching -20°C. In December there is a little more than 7 hours daylight. Summer lasts from June to early September and is relatively warm and humid, with temperatures around 25°C, with few days above 30°C. You may expect precipitations though, especially in July. Days are long, and in general sunny – in June there is over 17h of daylight.
The best time to come and enjoy good weather in Bory Tucholskie is between May and September, and summer months of July and August are the peak season.
Closest international airports are to be found in Gdańsk and Bydgoszcz.
Region has surprisingly well developed railways network, but often there are only few trains per day. Major railway interchange nodes are in Chojnice, Czersk and tiny villages of Laskowice Pomorskie and Wierzchucin. Other railway stations in vicinity of the region are Kościerzyna, Tczew, Piła and Szczecinek. Trains are usually of good quality and relatively cheap.
From Bydgoszcz there are many trains to Tuchola via Wierzchucin, and some go further to Chojnice. Rail company operating this line is Arriva.
Laskowice Pomorskie are the railway station on a major rail line from Gdańsk to Bydgoszcz, and many long distance trains stop there. The station has local connections with Czersk via Osie or Wierzchucin and with the city of Grudziądz. Rail company operating lines to Bory Tucholskie from Laskowice is Arriva, Bydgoszcz and Gdańsk are connected with trains of PKP Intercity and Przewozy Regionalne (recently rebranded as POLREGIO).
The town of Kościerzyna, in the northern limit of the area, is pretty well connected with Gdańsk and Gdynia by Pomorska Kolej Metropolitarna, and provide the direct connection with Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport.
There is one intercity train per day from Gdynia to Gorzów Wielkopolski via Gdańsk, Tczew, Chojnice, Piła, Krzyż, operated by PKP Intercity company. Gorzów Wielkopolski has a direct train connection with Berlin in Germany.
Chojnice have local train connections with several railway interchange nodes: Tczew, Bydgoszcz, Piła, Szczecinek and Kościerzyna. Rail companies are Przewozy Regionalne (rebranded POLREGIO recently) and Arriva.
It is possible to come to the region on a bike. There are several marked long distance bike trails from Bydgoszcz and Toruń.
There is a marked with white-blue-white signs 160 km long “Brda” trail from Bydgoszcz to Konarzyny via Tuchola and Bory Tucholskie National Park.
A car may be the easiest way to get to the region, especially if you want to stay far from major towns and villages. Along the eastern edge of the region goes A1 motorway connecting Gdańsk with Toruń, Łódź and south of Poland. Other major road is DK 22 that goes from Elbląg to the border with Germany in Kostrzyn via Tczew, Wałcz and Gorzów Wielkopolski. Regional road 240 was previously a national road and connects Chojnice with Świecie via Tuchola. From Bydgoszcz you have to take national road DK 25 and take one of regional roads between Koronowo and Człuchów, depending on your final destination.
There are many ways to go around. The best way is by kayak, bike or foot. The most effective is by car, although some places have relatively good public transport connections, especially in summer.
Kayaking, especially along Brda, Wda and Zbrzyca rivers, as well as Great Brda Channel, is a very popular form of recreation. There are many companies that rent kayaks, and along those major waterways there is well prepared infrastructure with camping sites or holiday houses. Renting companies offer also the transport, so usually you can start and end in every place, where the driver can come.
For more adventurous tourists it may be a great experience to rent one-person kayak and try one of smaller rivers and creeks, that are not prepared for mass tourism and have little infrastructure.
It is a great experience to explore local area on foot, although the landscape don’t vary much. There are many marked trails, especially around major tourist places like National Park, Wdzydze Lake, or Tleń Lake. All regions are connected with long and medium distance trails, so within few days you may visit many major attractions. All trails are marked by white-colour-white signs, where the colour may be blue, green, red, yellow and black. No trail can cross other trail using the same colour, there’s no other reason of this distinction.
There are several biking trails prepared in the region that connect many areas. It is probably the best way to go around, and you can freely use non marked roads as well. Be aware though, that several roads can be sandy.
A good idea is to take your bike by train. You can rent it on place if you wish.
The region has relatively well developed railway network, but the trains are often rare, and don’t go to major tourism sites. The rail line from Tczew to Chojnice was major railway of German Empire before WW1, and the line from Bydgoszcz to Kościerzyna during inter-war period; nowadays they lost importance, especially the latter one. Major interchange nodes are Chojnice, Wierzchucin, Laskowice Pomorskie, Czersk.
There is well developed bus network, but number of connections may vary depending on season and location. Major bus interchange stations are Chojnice, Kościerzyna, Starogard Gdański, Tuchola, Świecie. In Chojnice there is also relatively efficient urban and suburban bus network.
There are many regional roads connecting towns and villages of the region, and travelling by car is quite easy. Only major roads, like DK 22 or 240 have heavier traffic. Several local roads are dirt roads with paved sections, but majority of villages and all towns have asphalt road connections.
Bory Tucholskie is known for its nature, but you may find some historic and cultural sites as well.
Cultural and historic sites
Major tourism villages
Every village should have some shop where you can buy groceries and some basic equipment. In bigger villages or towns there are some supermarkets as well.
The region is known for trout, and you can find many places where they serve fresh fish grilled or fried.
In tourist villages on the lake shores there are some taverns. Some places to go drink you may find in Chojnice as well as in some tourist villages.
There are many possibilities to sleep in village houses and tourist resorts. Major resorts are in Charzykowy, Swornegacie, Sokole Kuźnica, Tleń, Wdzydze Kiszewskie among others. Many places are closed during winter.
Bory Tucholskie are one of the safest areas in Poland. Take the usual precautions anyway.
Due to its remoteness internet access is relatively limited. Also, post offices you may find only in towns and major villages. There should not be a problem with mobile phone range, but there are some areas with weak coverage.
Major source of income are forestry, agriculture and highly seasonal tourism. There are few wealthy people there, although life is not bad. Respect their openness and way of life.