The Masurian Lake District or Masurian Lakeland is a lake district in northeastern Poland within the geographical region of Masuria. It contains more than 2,000 lakes. The district had been elected as one of the 28 finalists of the New7Wonders of Nature. The Lakeland extends roughly 290 km (180 mi) eastwards from the lower Vistula to the Poland–Russia border, and occupies an area of roughly 52,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi). Administratively, the Lake District lies within the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Small parts of the district lie within the Masovian and Podlaskie Voivodeships.
The lakes are well connected by rivers and canals, forming an extensive system of waterways. The 18th-century Masurian Canal links this system to the Baltic Sea. The whole area is a prime tourist destination, frequented by boating enthusiasts, canoeists, anglers, hikers, bikers and nature-lovers. It is one of the most famous lake districts in Central Europe and a popular vacation spot, with the highest number of visitors every year.
The Masurian Lakeland can be reached by train, bus, or car. The nearby international airports are in Warsaw, Gda?sk, and Vilnius. The main transport hub in the region is the town of E?k. There are trains to Masuria from Warsaw, Gda?sk and Vilnius, and buses from many Polish cities. A boat service connects some central towns in the region. Biking and boating are popular ways to get around. Hotels can be found in close proximity to the Great Masurian Lakes, in towns of Gi?ycko, Miko?ajki and E?k among others. There are also guesthouses and campsites in surrounding villages.
Masuria is famous for its lakes and forests, offering a wide range of outdoor activities from sailing to kayaking and swimming. The region includes the largest lake in Poland called ?niardwy. The resort towns include the most popular Gi?ycko and Miko?ajki, W?gorzewo, Ryn, Pisz and I?awa. Gi?ycko is located on the shore of Lake Niegocin. It has an ancient fortress, historic church, bridges, and passenger boats to the towns of W?gorzewo, Miko?ajki and Ruciane-Nida. The town of Miko?ajki is a popular tourism center. In addition to lakes, the Masurian region also has many rivers used for fly fishing, and forest areas that offer many trails for trekking and biking. There is also a variety of wildlife, edible berries and mushrooms, and large protected areas, including the Masurian Landscape Park that includes 11 nature reserves such as the ?uknajno Lake that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, or the Bia?owie?a Forest with a breeding station for European Bisons.
There are four separate boating trails set up along connecting lakes: from Gi?ycko to W?gorzewo and Ruciane-Nida, and from Miko?ajki to Pisz and Ryn. There are also two kayaking trails along rivers, the most popular being the Krutynia River Trail. On top of that, there are several color marked walking trails with numerous points of interest for qualified tourism. They include:
- The blue trail of K. I. Ga?czy?skiego,
- The yellow trail of K. Ma??ka,
- The green round trail (okr??ny)
- Grand Trail of Mazury Garbate (Hunchbacked Mazury trail, to the north of the region)
- The blue trail of M. Kajki
Historical sights include the ruins of Hitler’s fortified World War II headquarters, the Wolf’s Lair, near K?trzyn (former German name: Rastenburg), which has become a major tourist destination.