You may have heard of Muskauer Park, also known as the Park of Muscau, a must-see destination in the Lubusz region. This historic park is located in Łęknica, Poland, and Bad Muskau, Germany. It covers over 700 hectares on both sides of the Lusatian Neisse River (Nysa Łużycka). It was already considered a horticultural masterpiece in the 19th century, and since 2004 it’s been recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site.
Brief History of the Muskau Park
Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau created the park between 1815 and 1844. His vision was to create a „painting with plants” around his 17th-century Bad Muskau home.He began buying up land in the area, telling local residents of his plans. It soon became a large park, but it differed from other parks of the time in that it didn’t reference the Garden of Eden, but instead used the natural features of the surrounding landscape.
Nowadays, most of the buildings and gardens are located on the German side, while the Polish part is a natural park culminating in the Lord’s Mountain. In order to connect the two sides, there are two bridges: the Double Bridge and the English Bridge.
The park is famous for its old and new castles, the Hermann Neisse (an artificial branch of the Lusatian Neisse River), the mountain park, charming gorges, and scenic paths such as the Helmina Road, the Nightingale Path, and the Clementine Road. You will also find here a 50-acre arboretum with 290 species of plants, including oaks, beech trees, and American tulip trees. Despite the unhappy ending for Prince Hermann, who sold his life’s work because of his growing debt, his park changed the face of landscape design in Europe.
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If you are interested in the park, you may also want to read the article about all the other great places in Poland. Some of them might be nearby: Exploring Poland’s Cultural Riches: A Guide to UNESCO Cities
Muskauer Park – Sightseeing
Entrance to the park is free, and you can start your tour from either the Polish or the German side. Parking is available on both sides, but you’ll have to pay a fee.
Remember that you must follow the rules and regulations, as motor vehicles are not allowed in the park. There are many ways to explore the park. The most popular is hiking. You can also take a ride on a bicycle or a horse-drawn carriage to see the sights.
The Muskauer Park Tourist Center coordinates special themed tours, designed especially for younger visitors. These tours provide an informative overview of the park’s native flora and rock formations. By far the most popular way to see the park is to take a self-guided tour, which allows you to take your time and explore all the little corners of the park.
- Pictures and Google Map Location: Here
Where Do I Begin?
I suggest that you stop by the Tourist Information Office to pick up a map of the park before starting your tour. Begin on the German side by visiting the New Castle, then follow the Castle Park through the Mountain Park and over to the Polish side of the River. To further enhance your experience, there are park guides who may assist you. And the best part of all? Muskauer Park is open 24 hours a day, so you can visit whenever you want.Muskauer Park – bike trails
If you are a biker, you will love Muskauer Park, as several cycling routes have been established here, each offering a unique way to explore the park and suitable for different levels of ability. The most popular route starts in Luknica and takes you through the park and the „Former Babin Mine” geo-trail. For me, it is the most fascinating area of the park.
Other cycling routes include:
- Lęknica to Halbendorf
- Bad Maskau Castle to Muskauer Park
- Muskau Park to Muskau Arc Geopark
- Węgliniec to Muskauer Park and back
- Łęknica to Felix Lake
- Muskauer Park to Rakotz Lake
You’re free to explore and discover your own favorite routes within the park if you prefer to go your own way.
Muskauer Park – Activities
When you visit Muskauer Park is not only about admiring the picturesque Lusatian Neisse River valley, but also about appreciating the stunning elements of garden art and the diverse collection of plants, including both native and exotic species. There are fascinating 19th-century architectural monuments and themed sections that illustrate different types of land uses.
So, here are a few must-sees during your visit:
Luknica is a small town in the Lubuskie region of Poland that shares a border with Germany. It is located about 80 km south of Zielona Gora and 125 km northwest of Legnica. There are many scenic and recreational areas along the Nysa Luzycka River. Despite its small size, there are two natural areas for active recreation. They offer beautiful views.
If you’re a fan of nature and unique landscapes, you should definitely check out the Muskauer Landscape Park. But that’s not all the area has to offer – it’s also home to the UNESCO-recognized Muskau Arc World Geopark. For me this section of the park is truly unique, boasting the world’s only frontal moraine formed during the Central Polish Ice Age that can even be seen from space! The region stretches from Knica to the German border and contains over 350 vibrant lakes just waiting to be discovered. There are plenty of hotels and places to rent bikes and canoes. It’s the perfect destination for those who want to immerse themselves in nature.
- Pictures and Google Maps: Here
The German spa town of Muskau cooperates with the Polish town of Łęknica to maintain Muskauer Park, including land use and tourism. The German side of the English gardens features the historic Bad Muskau Castle with its renovated landscaping, which can be entered for an additional fee. You can see exhibitions on the history of the park and eat something in the castle restaurant.
The Muskauer Park in Kromlau is home to a stunning rhododendron park with the impressive Rakotz Bridge, which towers over the lake. The old railroad bridge over the Lusatian Neisse River in Bad Muskau is a highlight on the German side of the reserve. If you enjoy this type of architecture, there are several elevated river crossings to explore, such as the English Bridge and the Border Bridge. The city also has many bike paths and museums. There is also a zoo, if you like animals.
- Pictures and Google Maps: Here
At Schloss Bad Muskau – Muskau Castle, you can admire the beautiful location of the castle, which already creates an amazing visual experience. To fully appreciate all its beauty, you can take a closer look or even go inside. While exploring the entire park is free, visiting the interior of the building and participating in organized exhibitions may come with additional fees. These exhibitions often focus on the life of the German prince who founded the park and the history of the creation of the natural complex.
You can reach the castle by strolling from the east side. The building is embellished with stunning details like Gothic roof windows, knightly figures decorating the pinnacles, and grand facades. When you reach the top floor, you’ll be able to bask in the views of the sprawling Muskauer gardens.
And while you’re at Bad Muskau Castle, don’t forget to check out the castle’s gardens. They boast a variety of plants, and as of 2012, you can even see pineapples growing here! The story goes that Prince Puckler’s grandfather was the first to grow this fruit. There are also greenhouses and a kitchen garden where you can admire various herbs and vegetables.
- Pictures and Google Maps: Here
One part of the Muskau Landscape Park that everyone will love, regardless of age or weather, is the Rhododendron Park in Kromlau. It’s the largest park of rhododendrons and azaleas in the country, and its design is credited to Count Egloffstein-Arklitten, who managed and developed the area in 1889.
I think May is the perfect time to visit this place. You will witness the stunning pink blossoms that make the scenery look like something out of a fairy tale. But the beauty of the park isn’t limited to the flowers, it also includes a magnificent arched stone bridge made of basalt blocks, which towers over the Rakotzlake.
At a height of 35m, the bridge is reflected in the water, providing stunning images for more than just professional photography. The bridge was inspired by romantic English designs, and it perfectly captures that mood. In addition to the bridge, this area of the park includes the Forest Railway Station, the Hunting Castle, and the Swiss-style Cavalier House.
„Former Babin Mine” Geotourism Trail
In the past, there were coal mines and other excavations in Luknica and New Herons, that were filled with groundwater after the end of mining activities. You can take a tour of the former Babin mine and enjoy the fascinating landscape it created. You can admire geological formations and the natural environment among the colorful bodies of water. One of the must-sees is the 24-meter-high observation tower at Lake Africa, which offers a beautiful view of Lęknica and the picturesque Bad Muskau in Germany.
Here you have the opportunity to explore a 5 km long trail starting at the Babin Mine in Nowe Czaple. The trail runs parallel to the forest railway. It crosses a number of embankments, terraces, and hills. Along the way, you can see the ever-changing colors of the lakes caused by the presence of different minerals and chemical compounds.
The water in the area of Luknica is so polluted that no living thing can survive in it. The route is part of the Muskau Arc Geopark. It takes about two to three hours to cover it on foot, or in the winter, on cross-country skis. You will see boards along the way that provide information about all the geological formations.
The Boulder Park is another must-see attraction in Muskauer Park. It’s home to about 7,000 specially imported erratic boulders from Scandinavia, scattered throughout the hills. The area is full of hills that boast a diverse range of over 10,000 flowers and plants, mostly low shrubs, perennials, and short trees.
The park is divided into seven zones that are visually different from each other:
- Steppes (Stepy)
- Little Scandinavia (Mała Skandynawia)
- Forest Lake (Leśnie Jezioro)
- Heath (Wrzosowiska)
- Moor (Torfowiska)
- Rocky Mountain (Skalniak)
- Garden by the Pond (Ogród nad Stawem)
I think it’s a fantastic family destination, and children will love playing in the desert-like wood, stone, and mud playground. They can run all over the place, hop on the rocks, and explore the hidden nooks and crannies. Those who enjoy treasure hunting can go gem hunting and play geologist prospector in the park!
What Is the Ticket Price?
Adults pay 6 EUR and children 2 EUR to enter this part of the park. The park is open every day from March to November from 10:00 to 18:00, except in November when the park closes at 17:00.
Muskauer Park – Getting There
To get to the reserve from the Polish side of the border, go to Leczyca. You can get there by taking the A4 highway towards Jędrzychowice and then exiting at Żary. From there, road no. 12 will take you to your final destination. If you’re coming from the north of Poland, for example, from Zielona Góra, just follow a similar route.
For a hassle-free trip to the reserve, consider taking an intercity bus. If you’re coming from southern Poland, it’s best to start your tour on the western side of the park and head toward Görlitz, then take Route 115 to the Neißedamm parking lot. There are parking lots on both the Polish and German sides of the park, but there is a fee.
If you’re in Łęknica, stop by the Muskau Arc Geopark Association’s Tourist Information Center. You can get more information, maps, and a guide to the entire complex. And if you’re on the Bad Muskau side: Visit the Visitor Center. The friendly staff can help you with any questions you may have, and you can even book a tour of the gardens in German or Polish.