When planning a trip to Gdansk it’s well worth considering that there are plenty of places within day trip distance of this historic city.
You could, of course, go further along the seaside and see a view like the picture above. Any of the other towns in the “trojmiasto” (tri-city), which consists of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot, would suffice for this and getting the train to any of these is easy enough. But that really isn’t very adventurous now, is it?! Sopot is an escape for the rich and is equipped as such – Gdynia…isn’t.
The places that we recommend that you go to are things that are out of the ordinary, the sort of places that will make people say “I thought you went to Poland?” – a reaction that we have got quite often after showing the photos.
Huge sand dunes cover this town on the baltic coast, slowly sweeping their way in land. The journey to the end of the road, where the main sand plateau lays, takes you past trees that have almost been buried and by the end you will be standing above the tree line, looking down on the forest that the sand dune is, year-on-year, creeping towards.
The walk from the parking all the way to the plateau at the end (the first photo) is quite a long one, definitely over an hour long and that’s if you don’t wander off to have a look at the surrounding area (the second photo). We walked one way and took the train back and believe this to be the best way of doing it.
You have to be quite forceful in terms of the land train as people do not seem to form any kind of recognisable queue and it can quickly result in a free-for-all. Therefore it may be better getting the train to the end and then walking back, since people will have more patience at the start.
Originally built by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, it started life as Marienburg, the same name as the town that grew around it. Both of these later became a part of Royal Prussia. After completion in 1406 it was the world’s largest brick castle and was made a UNESCO site in 1997.
You can just about see from the picture above that there are markets held in the castle grounds (right of the picture) where you can buy all manner of medieval wares – although we found nothing that particularly grabbed our interest.
As you can see from the final photo, at the end of the second world war the castle had paid a heavy price – much like the entirety of the Polish lands. As such it is not only impressive that it is such a fantastic looking building, but that it was repaired in the first place.
Although not the most attractive place, it is at the very least an interesting one.
Lying, or perhaps swimming, 33km from the Polish mainland is the Hel Peninsula. We drove to see the sunset from the tip of it and were somewhat underwhelmed by it all. We drove along the only road there is and had expected to see glorious views of the sea either side of us, sadly that wasn’t to be.
Either side of the road, all the way to the end, is lined with trees on some sort of bank, and when they finally disappear all you can see is the elevated train track. Maybe the view from the train is better, but driving along was rather disappointing.
Once you reach the end then it is like any other seaside town you have ever cared to visit, which I realise is not selling it too well – but that isn’t why we went. We went for the novelty factor. At least we can now say that we have been on the highway to hell – and we somewhat enjoyed it. It is, however, apt that at the end of the highway to Hel is a rather glib seaside town.
Hel is an interesting place, but not somewhere you would want to stay for a particularly long time. But it is quite close by and therefore not a bad option to tag on to a day trip to Leba.
In conclusion, Leba and Malbork are definitely worth going on day trip to, but they are in opposite direction from Gdansk – roughly two hours north and south respectively. It is definitely possible to do them both in a day if you have the will power.