I arrived early to the Cruising Krakow bike shop, so I stopped into the salon next door for a quick trim. Once everyone had arrived, we got on our bikes and pedaled around the Planty towards the castle and the bike route along the Vistula river. A new cycling path had recently been completed, which made the first half of our ride super easy. Within 10 minutes, we had left the edges of the center of the city and were cycling along the river with fields of flowers to the other side. The first spot of interest we saw from a distance was the Camaldolese Hermit Monastery, a very elusive religious institution that only male monks have access to except about 12 days of the year when it is possible for common people to gain access… Our guide told us he had tried a few times to no avail. So, obviously, this was not the monastery we were riding to see. My favorite cycling tours are not the common city center easy rides that are preferred by many tourists, but rather those that take you outside of the city center and show you something you may never have encountered when exploring on your own.
The next sight we came across was just that – a man made water chute where people could practice surfing down the river. Our group stopped for a few minutes to watch the surfers attempt to navigate the tricky man-made waves, then we continued on to a cafe once we arrived in Tyniec. After a refreshing cold beer, we went almost directly uphill, half cycling/ half walking to the Benedictine abbey. The abbey was originally founded in 1044 and provided a gorgeous view over the Vistula river. Our guide told us that those at the abbey were usually the first to warn Krakow about invading enemy ships coming down the river. Next, we went inside the monastery to hear the monk’s chant, the main tourist draw at the monastery, as there were many other visitors waiting to do the same. The chant is an impressive sound, yet would drive one to sleep if listened to for any length of time – so after a few minutes we left the church and continued on our way.
Heading back towards town, we cycled through some beautiful old woods and arrived at Kraków Zakrzówek, a large water reservoir formed at the site of a former quarry. Our guide told us that swimming is prohibited in the reservoir, yet some people insist on diving into the clear waters anyways. Unfortunately, due to the unsteady paths on the high rock cliffs, many people have slipped to the death, or chosen to jump to their death at the reservoir. On a more interesting and positive note, the reservoir is a popular diving destination, at the bottom divers can see old vehicles and structures which were a part of the quarry.
High up on the cliffs overlooking the reservoir, we cycled a bit further to an outlook point over Krakow. As the sun was setting, we enjoyed a sweeping view over the old town and city center in the distance. As the light started to fade, we biked back down and back across the river into the old town. I would highly recommend taking the Country Tour from Cruising Krakow. During 4 hours, you cover a decent amount of miles (I would estimate 15 – 18), get to visit an ancient abbey, and enjoy some of the best views of Krakow you’d have a hard time finding on your own.
Although tired from visiting the mines, then doing the cycling tour, I didn’t want to miss out on experiencing the city’s nightlife with my new friends, so I quickly ate and showered and prepared to head towards the Jewish Quarter for another night out on the town.