advertisement

Elblag (pronounced air'-blong) is the starting (or finishing, depending on the direction of your travel) point of a one-of-its-kind canal in Europe: its only counterpart in the world is the Morris Canal in New Jersey. Boat trips on the Elblag-Ostróda Canal can be described as a calm float coupled with a San Francisco cable-car ride through lush nature, most of which is conservation area. The canal, an engineering marvel, has been singled out by Poles as one of the nation's Seven Wonders, alongside Kraków's Wawel Castle.

Founded in 1246 by the Teutonic Knights, Elblag itself is a humble affair. Though the Old Town has been skillfully restored, where the postwar houses blend harmoniously with the gables of burgher buildings, Elblag is another example of Polish towns whose architectural gems were lost in World War II. Elblag's proximity to Gdansk makes it a good access point to the canal. In addition, the most interesting stretch is the first half of the canal, from Elblag to Madyty. Once you've had enough of pounding Gdansk's cobblestone lanes, a leisure-boat ride on the canal is a welcome rest for weary feet.