Colours of the Vistula

Autor: dr Joanna Angiel    

No doubt, the Vistula is different when you look at it into the light, and different again if you look in the opposite direction; different in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. At dusk, when the sun is low above the horizon, the colours of the Vistula and its banks become ‘warmer’ when seen in the sun’s rays, as opposed to the strong hues seen at midday. In the morning, particularly in autumn and in spring, a fog over the Vistula envelops the river with grey and white shroud. The colour of the Vistula is dependent on many factors, including on the weather, the clouds and humidity in the air. The level of the riverbanks and their habitat contribute to this.

Colours of the Vistula and its banks change depending on the seasons. When in autumn the leaves of trees growing by the riverbanks turn yellow and red, their reflection in the water mirror those colours. In spring water on the riverbanks seems yellow or light green, and in summer dark green, sometimes even navy green. White poplar trees with green and grey leaves make the water nearby shimmer in silver and grey hue. The Vistula’s colours in winter are equally interesting. Snow lying on its riverbanks and sandbanks has a golden sparkle in the sun’s rays, and the frazil clusters floating on the Vistula during heavy frost look like a white porcelain table service with shining plates and bowls moving along the water’s surface.

Colours of the Vistula change with the changing volume of water that flows along the riverbed: when the Vistula carries flood waters the river is murky, and its colour looks like that of milk coffee. When there is not much water during low tide, sandy yellow sandbanks emerge from Vistula’s riverbed.

When the wind is blowing and making ripples or bigger waves on the water’s surface, the colours of the Vistula have greater intensity and are more varied.

The project ‘Protecting the habitats of priority bird species of the Vistula Valley under conditions of intensive pressure of the Warsaw agglomeration’ ( has received a grant from the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+) and from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.