The heart of Mazury lies in the vast expanse of lakes, rivers and forests to the north and east of Olsztyn, a land of tiny villages and unspoilt nature. It’s paradise for hikers, and offers perfect conditions for sailing and kayaking. Because of the absence of large towns, Mazury can be tricky to explore if you don’t have your own wheels. In summer, the biggest lakes – Mamry and Śniardwy – attract the biggest crowds. One option is to base yourself in the lakeside village of Mikolajki, from where you can set off into the countryside or onto surrounding lakes – the smaller ones will inevitably be quieter: as a general rule, tranquillity increases as you travel east.
Buses from Olsztyn run to Mikolajki six times a day. The tourist office is on pl. Wolnosci (April–June & Sept Sat & Sun 10am–6pm; July & Aug daily 10am–6pm; t 87/421 6850). There’s no shortage of accommodation in the village itself, although some guesthouses are only open in the summer. You’ll find dozens of small pensjons on ul. Kajki running eastward along the lakefront; try Krol Sielaw at no.5 (t 87/421 6323, w http://www.krolsielaw.mazury.info; 150zł), a friendly place with en suites above a popular pizzeria. A number of bars and inexpensive restaurants pop up in the summer along the waterfront, and you can get fresh bread and tasty pastries at Cukiernia on ul. 3 Maja.