Oh Gdansk, it's so obvious why you have been chosen destination of the year: your pretty pastel house fronts, your delicious Pomeranian and Polish cuisine, your Flemish inspired architecture, your soft colored coast... There seems to be no reason why anybody ever wants to leave Gdansk!
However the Polish city on the Baltic coast is surrounded by one of the most pristine and enchanting landscapes in Northeastern Europe: the Pomeranian Kashubia also known as the Kashubian Switzerland.
Enjoy untouched Polish nature and quaint Kashubian towns by exploring the surroundings of Gdansk. So here they go, the 10 best day trips from Gdansk.
After writing extensive posts about slow life in Pomerania and a self-guided free walking tour of Gdansk, it's about time to go beyond the city borders of Gdansk. Even though you can easily stay 2-3 days in the picturesque town and wander through its cobbled streets, I strongly recommend to save at least 1 day trip in your travel schedule to visit one of these gems in the surroundings of Gdansk.
Gdansk is the largest city of Eastern Pomerania, home of the Kashubs. The Kashubs are an ethnic and linguistic minority. They have their own embroidery, traditions and language. However they consider themselves as Polish, they don't want to separate from Poland.
Kashubia, the land of the Kashubs, is also known as the Lake District as it counts over 3000 lakes. It's thus a paradise for nature lovers and sustainable travel enthusiasts. Let's turn exploration mode on and discover some of the best Kashubian attractions by going on a day trip from Gdansk.
Geographic situation: Gdansk, Polish city on the Baltic coast, capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and Kashubia, Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area. Complex history with periods of Prussian or German rule, of self-rule as a "free city".
Language: Polish. English is widely spoken.
How to get there:
- By airplane to Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport.Airport. Book here your airport transfer to hotel
- By train from Warsaw, Gdynia or Sopot. Check railway prices here
- By long-distance bus (super cheap here) from Warsaw and other Polish cities.
- Rent a car to drive from Warsaw or to explore Kashubian Switzerland. Check rental car prices here.
Activities: Formerly trade and shipbuilding, amber processing and export. Major tourist destination with many national tourists visiting the Baltic coast
Where to stay in Gdansk, Poland
|Marina Club Hotel|
Stay Inn Hotel *** (recommended because of its excellent
|PURO Hotel **** (great interior design)|
|Radisson Blu Gdansk *****|
|Hotel Gdansk Boutique *****|
Sopot is the exclusive and most famous beach resort of the Polish Baltic coast. As the resort has never been destroyed by the bombings of the Second World War (not as Gdansk which has been entirely destroyed), its original architecture is still well preserved.
Sopot has a century of history when it comes to wellness and spa tourism. The health benefits of its coveted mineral fountains are well known and thus even famous personalities like Fidel Castro, Marlene Dietrich or even Adolf Hitler stayed in the grand hotels of Sopot.
The main attraction of Sopot is the wooden pier which is the longest in entire Europe (entrance fee is about 2€ in summer). There's a lovely bar at the end of the pier and you'll enjoy fabulous views on the Baltic coast, Sopot's legendary Grand Hotel and Hel peninsula.
The main pedestrian street Monte Cassino is the place to be seen and obviously for people watching. It's filled with numerous terraces and shops, the most famous building being the Crooked House.
Sopot is also a great place to indulge in Polish food and I highly recommend Sztuczka Bistro which serves traditional Polish cuisine with a modern touch. The watermelon salad and ceviche with local cod were heaven!
2. Kashubian Switzerland
The region of Kashubia, also known as Kashubian Switzerland, stretches over an area counting more than 3000 lakes and several hectares of untouched woods. Even though Gdansk is the largest city in Kashubia, the capital of the Kashub region is disputed among Kościerzyna and Kartuzy.
The Kashubs are ethnically and linguistically different from the Poles, but without a separatist movement. They are living on the Baltic coast and Eastern Pomerania since 7th century AD. A colorful culture developed during centuries where pottery and embroidery are the main arts.
Due to its extensive forests and vast lakes, the Kashubian Switzerland is a playground for nature lovers and active travellers.
Indeed you can choose among a large many outdoor leisure activities such as sailing, hiking, trekking, mushrooming (according to our guide the national sport of East Pomerania - never go mushrooming without a guide btw!)...
Canoeing from one lake to another (they are often connected) is a sport with a long tradition in Pomerania. Almost on any lake you visit, you'll find a canoe or kayak rental service. There are over 133km of water routes to be explored. Canoe rental stations can be found in Wdzydze or in Kociewie.
An extensive cycling network covers most parts of Kashubia. It's thus perfect to cycle from one town to the next one. Many lakes have lake side bars inviting to relax and enjoy peaceful views.
The most popular lakes in Kashubia are Lebsko Lake, Biale Lake and Klodno Lake.
Book here your tour to Kashubian
3. Wdzydze Ethnographic Museum
The Ethnographic Museum is definitely one of the most educational day trips from Gdansk. It's the first and largest open air museum in Poland and hosts over 50 buildings showcasing the traditional Kashubian architecture, among them a church (service is still held on Sunday) and a school.
Here you can learn about the traditional lifestyle of the Kashubs and about their daily grind including weaving, food preparation, fashion, spinning.
This valuable knowledge which sometimes risks to become forgotten is transmitted to the museum visitors in interactive workshops.
Book here your
tour to Kashubian Switzerland
There is a wide range of workshops that you can choose from: spinning, clay and pottery workshops, painting traditional Kashubian motives on glass or making paper flowers, one of the most emblematic Kashubian traditions. On top the crafts make a good souvenir from your excursion to the Kashubian Switzerland.
I was lucky enough to a paper flower and painting workshop and against my expectations I never felt more relaxed. The ladies organizing the workshop were super patient (with me being rather clumsy...) and were an incredible source of knowledge. The workshops are held in the exposed buildings of the museum and you can pop in spontaneously or ask at the reception.
On top there is an excellent restaurant onsite. They serve traditional Pomeranian food including fish from the surrounding lakes and the mandatory dumplings (pirogi). The interior is decorated with Kashubian items like colorful paper flowers and you can purchase traditional pastry at the bar. I absolutely recommend their kompot juice which was prepared with more than 4 different kinds of berries.
Book here your tour to Kashubian Switzerland
You should calculate at least 1-2 hours to visit the museum (without doing a workshop)
ul. T. i I. Gulgowskich 68
4. Lawendowa Osada - Lavender Farm
The Lavender Farm, Lawendowa Osada, is one of the most intriguing day trips from Gdansk. This purple paradise has been created by Barbara and Bartosz because they were seeking a more fulfilling and slow-paced lifestyle.
They built 4 beautiful guest houses, all of them with the lavender and Kashubian theme, where you can spend the night but also learn about the health benefits of lavender.
Indeed Barbara offers workshops like proceeding lavender, cooking workshops but also workshops about women's empowerment.
The offer of Lawendowa Osada is completed by the wellness and spa facilities. There's a salt cave onsite with salt from the Adriatic sea, a jacuzzi located at the edge of the forest, a sauna and a swimming pool.
The most surprising attraction is however the astronomical observer (!!) with a massive telescope. Bartosz will be pleased to give you a short introduction on the Polish starry sky.
I highly recommend to spend at least 1 night at the Lavender Farm to enjoy their offer to the fullest and live the slow life for some time.
On top you can't leave without trying Barbara’s lavender cheese and honey, she definitely served the best Polish dinner and breakfast during my trip to Kashubia. Pay a visit, you won't regret it.
Młyńska 6a, 83-047 Przywidz, Poland
Tel.:+48 511 975 929
5. Wdzydze Watch Tower
The Wdzydze Watch Tower will provide you the most beautiful views on the Kashubian Switzerland and on its biggest lakes Jezioro Jelenie and Jezioro Golun. The Wdzydze Watch tower is located only a 5-minutes drive from the Kashub Ethnografic Museum, it can thus be easily combined.
The Wdydze watch tower is strategically located on the intersection of several lakes. It will give you a good sense of the vastness of the Pomeranian highlands.
Book here your tour to Kashubian Switzerland
The observation tower offers a breathtaking panorama view and there are camping facilities in the immediate surroundings. You'll also find a bar onsite which serves delicious Polish soups and the traditional pirogi (dumplings). Its terrace is very inviting to relax and enjoy the views.
In case you want to get active, you can even rent a canoe or a windsurf next to the watch tower and explore the lakes by canoeing.
Wdzydze Kiszewskie 29,
83-406 Wąglikowice, Poland
Lipusz is know to be the capital of bread. Indeed the bread of the quaint town is known all over the area. Even though the town has only about 2500 inhabitants it is famous for rural tourism. It’s thus the perfect location to slow down and enjoy the beauty of Kashubian Switzerland.
Book here your tour to Kashubian Switzerland
In case you want to fully immerse in Kashubian culture, I recommend to do a breadbaking workshop with Karola in Lipusz or a pottery master course with Asha from Gospodarstwo Zielony Kot. Both crafts are emblematic elements of Kashub culture.
I am missing the words to describe breadbaking Karola: she bakes over 300 bread leafs every day and won several awards for the best bread in the region. She is also an avid collectionner of ancient baking molds and recipes. Some of the over 400 molds go back from the First World War. She even holds the oldest Dr.Oetker mold. To book a workshop with her, feel free to contact the Pomorskie Prestige Organization or Michal, our guide for Kashubia.
The clay workshop with Asha from Gospodarstwo Zielony Kot is a great way to learn about Kashubian culture and create a meaningful item with your hands. Admittedly, I underestimated the relaxing effect of forming vessels from clay, but finally it gave me a deeper understanding of pottery as a Kashubian cultural expression.
7. Koscierzyna, the Kashub capital?
The title of being the capital of Kashubia is disputed by several towns, among them Koscierzyna located 50 km from Gdansk. The history of Koscierzyna goes back to the end of the 13th century and is situated in what was once called West Prussia, in the Kaszuby district.
I particularly liked the Market Square of Koscierzyna because it is composed by pastel colored houses. Its benches invite to relax and observe the Polish daily grind.
Koscierzyna is famous for its accordeon music and nowadays it is a hub for furniture.
Book here your tour to Kashubian Switzerland
However my favorite place in Koscierzyna was the Stary Browar brewery where you can learn about the Pomeranian brewing tradition. On top the restaurant and hotel perfectly manages the gap between preserving traditional and an interior design based on the latest trends. The entire building has been built up from ruins and has a 150 year hold history.
The brewery pours nine types of beer everyday: Indian Pale Ale, Wheat, Cranberry, Keller, Dark Beer, Red Lager, New England Wheat, Lemon and American IPA. The hops and malts come mostly from Polish plantations and they use water from their own intake. Feel free to ask for a beer tasting.
There is a direct railway connection from Koscierzyna to Gdansk.
An excursion to the Westerplatte is one of the classic day trips from Gdansk. Located on the Baltic Sea coast mouth, it was the location of a Polish Military Transit Depot until 1939.
Westerplatte is famous for the Battle of Westerplatte, which started the Second World War as it was the first clash between Polish and German forces during the invasion of Poland.
During your visit of the Westerplatte you can spot the former defenders' barracks and guardhouses. One of them was converted into a museum and a monument to the events has been unveiled in 1966. A museum dedicated to the battle of 1939 opened in 2015.
Gdynia is one of the 3 cities forming the so called Tri-City (Gdansk, Sopot, Gdynia). It is one of the fastest growing towns in the area and doesn’t really have a historic center. It’s now one of the youngest and trendiest places to live in the region.
Book here your daytrip to Gdynia
The city was only founded in 1926 and is famous for its harbor and the longest sea boulevard of Poland. Nowadays it’s the main port for cruise ships. The two 130-metre high Sea Towers are the symbol of Gdynia.
The most important tourist attraction are the historic vessels moored at the quayside: the only preserved Polish pre-World War II ship, and the oldest destroyer in the world today and the over a 100 year-old Dar Pomorza a former merchant vessel, today a museum-ship.
How to get there:
30 min by train from Gdansk
10. Hel Peninsula
A day trip to Hel peninsula is not as hellish as it might sound first. The 34km strip reaches in the Baltic Sea and is not wider than 500m.
The peninsula is dominated by the 2 fishing ports, Hel and and Władysławowo at its base. Chałupy, Kuźnica and Jurata are tourist resorts during the short summer season and can be quite packed from July to September. The northern shore is famous for its beautiful beaches which are mostly deserted.
Hel island is famous for its delicious seafood restaurants and due to its rare bird species it’s a paradise for birdwatchers.
Hel peninsula can be easily reached from Gdansk by train or bus and from Sopot by ferry.
I hope some of these, admittedly very personal, highlights of my visit to Gdansk, Poland, could convince you to include Gdansk in your travel plans.
Have you been in Gdansk? Did you enjoy it? I would love to hear about the things you loved (or loved less) in the comment form.
Day Trips from Gdansk
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You'll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. I travel with a FUJI XT2 (mirrorless, takes amazing photos) and our Action Camera GoPro HERO5 Session (takes beautiful photos in the most extreme situations, sim & lightweight) – all of the cameras are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- Since a few weeks I am the proud owner of a Galaxy Note 9. It has the best phone camera on the market and quality is similar to DSLR camera, I absolutely love it.
- To edit photos and answer mails while traveling, I usually take my Touchscreen 2-in-1 Business Laptop with me.
- When spending a lot of time on the road I love to wear my trekking sandals.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with World Nomads.
Some of the pictures in this article have been taken by the talented Kostas Deko
Disclaimer: I have been a guest of Pomorskie Travel and the Polish Tourism Board. All my opinions, as always, are my own. This posts contains affiliate links. In case you purchase one of the items, I'll receive a small commission. The price remains the same for you.