The Oder River rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming part of the border between Poland and Germany. Ultimately flowing into the Szczecin Lagoon it empties into the Baltic Sea. The river is a sanctuary for birdlife and in parts remains unspoilt by the modern world. River cruises go as far south as Wroclau (Breslau) in Poland and as far north as the Baltic island of Rugen. Normally starting in Berlin, cruises travel along the Havel River and join the Oder before travelling north to Wroclaw or south through Szczecin (Stettin) to the sea.
The Oder is 854km long – 112 in the Czech Republic and 742 in Poland (including 187 on the border between Germany and Poland) and is the second longest river in Poland (after the Vistula). Channels connect it to the Havel, Spree, Vistula system and Klodnica. It flows through Silesian, Opole, Lower Silesian, Lubusz, and West Pomeranian voivodeships of Poland and the states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany before entering the Szczecin Lagoon.
The Oder is navigable as far upstream as the town of Kozle, where the river connects to the Gliwicki Canal. The upstream part of the river is canalized. Normally starting in Berlin Potsdam, cruises travel along the Havel River and join the Oder at Frankfurt on Oder before travelling north to Wroclaw or south through Oderberg to Szczecin (Stettin), Wollin Island and the Baltic Sea.
The main branch empties into the Szczecin Lagoon near Police. The Szczecin Lagoon is bordered on the north by the islands of Usedom (west) and Wolin (east). Between these two islands, there is only a narrow channel (Swina) going to the Bay of Pomerania, which forms a part of the Baltic Sea. River cruises from the Oder also travel westward to the Baltic islands of Rugen and Hiddensee and the Hanseatic ports of Stralsund and Greifswald-Wieck that lie close to the mouth of the river.