Time for a little traveling! Located in the very corner of northwest Poland, in the Pomerania region of sea and sand, Świnoujście is unique. Unlike any other town in the country, it is actually stretched out over 44 islands, though only three are populated. This wildly romantic setting is home to a bustling fishing port (port rybacki), naval base (baza marynarki wojennej) and beach resort (miejscowość wypoczynkowa, plażowa) and is well worth exploring, at any time of year.
Thanks to its island location, Świnoujście is one of the most beautiful towns on the Polish coast, and it also has one of the most interesting geographical stories to tell. It is spread over 44 islands, of which three – Uznam, Wolin and Karsibór – are populated and developed in terms of infrastructure, transport services and economic bases. Having said this, the services and development are clearly divided between the islands, and as such, each retains its own unique character and attractions.
The local governmental administration and a number of spas and health centers are on Uznam Island. What also makes this particular island interesting is that only 40 sq km of its 420 sq km are located in Poland; the largest part of Uznam is actually located on the German side of the border. 80% of Świnoujście residents live on Uznam-Island. This makes the town and island an interesting linguistic and cultural mixture of Polish and German, which is reflected in the street life, the food and the cultural celebrations.
The island of Wolin, which has an area of 265 sq km, is the largest Polish island and is home to Świnoujście’s industrial area. Since the extremely important ferry terminal is located on Wolin, as is the state railway system, it is the center of economy and commerce and sees continuous naval traffic between Scandinavia and Poland; it is also used as an intersection for international naval traffic. As such, it has a more rough-and-tumble character than the other two islands, as it is the entry point for visiting sailors who are stopping over for a refreshing stay involving beer, music, good food and some female company.
The third island is Karsibór, and it is completely different from Uznam and Wolin yet again: it is known for its crystal clear waters, summer water sports and lush greenery. Bird lovers and agrotourists will also appreciate the Karsiborska Kępa bird reserve which gives protection to almost 140 bird species, including some very rare, almost extinct,. This makes it a must-visit location for ornithologists and photographers.. In the colder months, the appeal of the water and beaches may be limited, but walks through the woods and parks hold a real attraction for visitors all year round.
A point of real pride for the local tourist office is that Świnoujście is a unique combination of the urban and the natural, largely due to the fact that within the town’s boundaries there are 43 sq km of forests as well as numerous parks, including the town’s best- known green area, Spa Park. It was founded 170 years ago, and today it boasts a glorious display of Mediterranean vegetation. Another park that the town promotes is the Wolin National Park, located 15km away from the town itself and which has numerous natural monuments. And finally, for those who wish to explore the German side of Uznam Island, there is the Usedom Nature Park (‘Usedom’ is the German word for ‘Uznam’).
Summer is the non-health tourist high season, and so the entire social life of the town becomes concentrated on the seaside district, especially above the town’s major promenade. It stretches around the shell-shaped concert hall and along the entire stretch of shopping and catering establishments. In the summer, it is essential to take a walk along Władysława IV quayside: boat buffs will enjoy observing the harbour installations and types of vessels which range from small pleasure-boats, to fish cutters; from earnest little tug-boats to massive merchant and naval ships. In the winter, of course, such a walk should only be undertaken by the most hardy – so do plan to end your adventure at a local tavern and warm up with some thick and meaty Polish soup, or a glass of grzaniec (mulled red wine with cloves).
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)