Grodno is a substantial city with a population of 366,000 near to Belarus’s borders with Poland and Lithuania, and is the centre for the interpretation of those parts of the Augustowski Canal within Belarus. The remainder of the canal is in Poland where tourist facilities are focussed on the town of Augustow.
The 102 km canal was built between 1823 and 1839 from the Biebrza river near Dębowo in Poland, to the Neman river near Sapotskin in Belarus, and has been compared with the almost contemporary Caledonian and Göta canals. With other waterways it provides a link between the Black Sea and the Baltic. It passes through landscapes of outstanding ecological interest, and tourism along its banks began in 1901 with the organisation of hiking tours. The canal was restored after suffering damage in both World Wars of the twentieth century, and in 2005 an agreement concerning its management was reached between the governments of Belarus and Poland.
Visitors planning to visit the canal have visa-free access to Belarus. They are able to explore the National Landscape Reserve and the Grodno Forest, and can take cruises on the River Neman.