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Olsztyn is famous for dozens of magnificent lakes which are favourable for refreshing swims and water sports during the summer. However, the capital of Warmia and Masuria is attractive for "water loving" people also away from the beach season.
Olsztyn's lakes cover a total area of 725 ha and constitute 8% of the overall area of the city. What is more, the Łyna practically flows through the centre of the city – being supplied by its two tributaries – the Wadąg and the stream Kortówka. Thus, the close surroundings of Olsztyn are rich in water reservoirs and water flows.
Sunbathing on the beach
In Olsztyn and near its borders, there have been established four municipal swimming complexes (facilitated with changing rooms and toilets) and two guarded beaches – which are used by the city's residents and tourists.
Half of these swimming zones is located by the largest lake in Olsztyn – Ukiel (the so-called Krzywe, meaning "curved" in Polish). There are: the municipal beach at Kapitańska 23, "Słoneczna Polana" (The Sunny Clearing) at Sielska Street and the bathing area behind the "Omega" hotel. Nearby to the first two there are also recreational water equipment rentals offering their services.
A charming beach in the surroundings of the green campus has been arranged in Kortowo by Kortowskie lake (adjacent to a water equipment rental). Other complexes can be found by Skanda Lake, just near the city border, and by Bartążek Lake that lies just behind this border.
The bathing areas are open from the end of June till the end of August, but usually the lifeguards can be found earlier on the municipal beach.
Water attractions not only in the summer
If someone wants to enjoy the charm of Olsztyn's baths and swimming in the off season, he or she can choose from five indoor swimming pools. Two of them belong to Olsztyn universities (the one at Tuwima Street belongs to UWM and the one at Bydgoska Street to OSW) but they are also available to people from outside of the university.
The remaining three are the property of the City Sport and Recreation Centre. The oldest swimming pool is located at Głowackiego Street, while at Mariańska Street there is a modern sport's swimming pool. The majority of attractions can be found in the Water Sport and Recreation Centre "Aquasfera" which is divided into a sport's part with an olympic swimming pool and a recreational part. The second offers i.a. power showers, saunas, jacuzzis, cascades and water slides.
In most of the objects, one can not only swim, but also have the opportunity to e.g. take lessons to improve one's swimming skills or attend aqua aerobics.
Under sail and in a kayak
People who prefer some sort of a watercraft rather than swimming will also find in Olsztyn something for themselves. These are the people towards whom is directed the offer of the havens by Ukiel Lake (the Water Sport's Centre "Sunny Clearing", the water rest area KKS "Warmia", the Scouts' Marina "Bryza") and Kortowske Lake (the marina in Kortowo). One can rent here a sail boat, a rowboat, a windsurfing board, a kayak or a pedal boat. These havens also offer specialist aquatic courses.
Quite popular are the kayak trails on the Łyna via Olsztyn. There are several companies in the city and around it which offer organizing of such trails. It is also possible to go for a longer trip along the Łyna or one of its tributaries (the Wadąg, Pisa Warmińska, Dadaj, Kośna, or Kanał Kiermas) in the communes near Olsztyn. Depending on the chosen variant, the close contact with nature while on the picturesque trails may last from several hours to several days.
Under the water and not only there
There is also a suggestion for those who want to swim but are not eager to paddle or struggle with floats. For them, a good solution can be a water tram trip over Ukiel Lake.
As for people who are not satisfied with simple, "surface" baths, they can learn the secrets hidden in the depths of the Olsztyn lakes. These are the ones at whom are directed the offers of diving clubs and schools. For those who are interested there is the opportunity to explore the underwater world and attend diving courses. Among the variation of these courses, for children, youth and adults, one can also find courses that are for the disabled.
Enthusiasts of a more extreme diving experience can go for the spring "Skorpenowy Spływ" on the Łyna. Moreover, there are other events connected with water held at the city water reservoirs e.g. occasional dragon boat races, or sailing regattas.
In the winter on the municipal beach, one can find the Olsztyn enthusiasts of winter swimming (so-called walruses) who as part of their "Bathing in winter" enjoy the charm of the frozen reservoir! Meanwhile, most of the people rather prefer going to the skating rink or possibly to flit over the frozen lake by ice boat.