The largest rivers in Poland: the longest and deepest

Największe rzeki w Polsce

There are about 150,000 in Poland. Rivers, streams and creeks, of which about 26,000. exceeds 10 km in length. This extensive network is an integral part of the landscape and ecosystems, affecting biodiversity, climate and the economy. Rivers play a key role in irrigating fields, supplying drinking water, power generation and transportation. Each has its own unique characteristics, which are due to its geographic location, sources, terrain and the impact of human activity. Let’s look at Poland’s largest rivers and their physical features.

Vistula – the queen of Polish rivers

The Vistula, Poland’s longest river, measures about 1,022 kilometers in length. Its sources are located in the Silesian Beskid, specifically on Barania Góra. It travels north, passing through many cities, including the major metropolises of Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk, before finally entering the Baltic Sea in the Gulf of Gdansk. The depth of the Vistula varies considerably from section to section. In the upper reaches of the river, in mountainous and foothill regions, it is relatively small, often not exceeding a few meters. In the middle reaches, where the river flows through the lowlands, it varies from 3 to 8 meters. It is deepest in the lower section, near Toruń and Bydgoszcz, where it can reach up to 10 meters in places.

1280px Wisla pod Annopolem
pic. Wikipedia/Piotr Bednarek, CC BY-SA 4.0

Oder

The Oder, Poland’s second-longest river, is about 854 kilometers long, of which 742 kilometers run within our country. It flows through five provinces and cities such as Opole, Wroclaw and Szczecin. The river has its source in the Czech Republic, and then flows through western Poland to flow into the Szczecin Lagoon and then into the Baltic Sea. The depth of the Oder River varies from section to section and is regulated by numerous hydraulic structures. In the lower reaches, from the mouth of the Lusatian Neisse River to the mouth of the Oder River to the Baltic Sea, the depth averages between 2.5 and 4.5 meters, which is sufficient for larger inland waterway vessels. In some sections, the depth can reach up to 6 meters. The Oder River is an important transportation route, connecting seaports with inland regions.

Wodne Sprawy 6 2024 18
pic. hunter76/Adobe Stock

Warta

The Warta, ranked third among Poland’s longest rivers, stretches some 808.2 kilometers. Its sources are located in Kromołów, a district of Zawiercie. From this point, the river flows through central Poland until it reaches Poznan, where it joins the Notec River to further flow into the Oder. The river plays a key role in the history and life of Greater Poland, being its main watercourse. The depth of the Warta River shows variability, which depends on many factors, including the region and hydrological conditions. On average, this value varies from 1 to 3 meters, although in some places, especially in the area of large cities or in areas where the river is regulated, it can be higher.

Wodne Sprawy 12 2024 20
pic. Wikipedia

Bug

The Bug, the fourth longest river in our country, is about 772 kilometers long, of which 587 kilometers are on Polish territory. Its source beats in Ukraine, from where it flows northwest and then north, forming a natural border between Poland and Ukraine, and later between Poland and Belarus. Flowing through Poland, it passes such cities as Wlodawa, Dorohusk, Chelm, Hrubieszow and Terespol, eventually entering the Narew River at the height of Serock. The depth of the Bug River varies greatly, ranging from 1 to 4 meters depending on the section and hydrological conditions.

Bug z Gory zamkowej
pic. Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Narew

The Narew is a right tributary of the Vistula River with a length of about 484 kilometers, of which 448 kilometers are on Polish territory. The source of this fifth-largest river is in Belarus, from where it flows west and then southwest until it joins the Vistula near Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki. In Poland, the river passes such cities as Lomza, Ostrołęka and Pułtusk. The depth of the Narew varies depending on the section and hydrological conditions.

In the upper reaches, the river is relatively shallow, often less than 1m. In the middle section, especially near large cities such as Lomza and Ostroleka, the depth of the river can reach 2 to 3 meters. It is deepest in the lower reaches, where it reaches as much as 4 meters in places, allowing small vessels to navigate.

1920px Narew Lomza panorama
pic. Wikipedia/Marcin Sochacki (Wanted), CC BY-SA 3.0

San

The San, the sixth longest river in Poland, is about 457.76 kilometers long. Its sources are located in the Eastern Bieszczady Mountains, in Ukraine, near the village of Ustrzyki Górne, at an altitude of about 900 meters above sea level. The river flows northwest, cutting through the picturesque landscapes of the Subcarpathian region, and flows into the Vistula near Sandomierz. In Poland, it passes cities such as Sanok, Przemyśl and Jaroslaw.

The depth of the San is variable and depends on the section and hydrological conditions. In the upper reaches, in mountainous areas, it is relatively shallow, often not exceeding 1m. In the middle section, near cities such as Sanok and Przemyśl, the depth can reach 2 to 3 meters. In the lower reaches, especially near Sandomierz, the depth of the San can exceed 3 meters, which is conducive to the navigation of small vessels.

sanok 1150708 1280
pic. Pixabay/Demko

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