Thanks to its enchanting architecture, gorgeous waterways, and complex history, the city of Gdańsk impresses all those who journey there. You can easily spend several days in Gdańsk making your way through its attractions, but there’s plenty more of Poland to discover from the city if you decide to do some day trips. The best day trips from Gdańsk showcase other sides of the country and include castles, beaches, and a wide range of different cities. Many of the best places to visit from Gdańsk should be on your Poland itinerary anyway, so these day trips will really allow you to make the most of your trip.
How to Get Around
Although many of these day trips can be undertaken with public transport, consider renting a car for the day to give yourself more flexibility and independence. Your own four wheels allow you to be in control of your time and schedule, and depending on how many people are in your group, renting a car might even work out cheaper than other forms of transportation. You can compare car rental deals and find the cheapest prices at Rentalcars.com, an aggregation site that searches and displays prices and availability from hundreds of car rental companies so that you can be sure of getting the best possible car for your budget.
Don’t want to drive or deal with the hassle of public transport? No worries, we’ve listed the best tour for each day trip (where available).
By far the most popular day tour from Gdańsk is the trip to see Malbork Castle. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest castle in the world by area, Malbork Castle is a one-of-a-kind historical attraction and one of the best places to visit in Poland. Touring the castle you can learn about its history with the Teutonic Order and its time as a Polish royal residence. There’s so much to see within the different parts of the castle and around its grounds, but highlights include the Grand Refectory, the Low Vestibule, and the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. Be sure to take a stroll across the Nogat River to enjoy the view back to Malbork Castle, because it’s the best way to appreciate the castle’s scale and grandeur all at once.
Getting there: It takes less than 30 minutes to reach Malbork from Gdańsk by train and around 50 minutes to get there by car. If you’d prefer to be shown around the castle and not have to worry about transport, then a guided tour is the way to go.
2. Stutthof Concentration Camp
Auschwitz may be the most infamous concentration camp established by the Nazis during World War II, but Stutthof, a concentration camp east of Gdańsk, was their first in Poland. From September 2, 1939, Stutthof was used for Polish political prisoners and academics and later for Jewish prisoners as well. Today the site of the camp hosts a museum where visitors can learn about the horrific conditions experienced by those who were imprisoned and died there. A tour of the site includes a walk through the camp quarters, the commander’s villa, the gas chambers, and the crematorium. Visiting Stutthof is bound to be a heavy, emotional experience but an important one nonetheless.
Getting there: Stutthof Concentration Camp is a 45-minute drive from Gdańsk , but if you don’t have your own transport, you can also visit with a guided tour.
Gdańsk belongs to a collection of three coastal cities and towns known as the Tri-City metropolitan area of Poland. One of the other members of this area is the small resort town of Sopot, which is found just north of the city, making it an easy pick for a day trip. Sopot offers visitors a brilliant white sand beach divided by a massive, old-fashioned wooden pier that leads out to its marina. By the pier, you’ll find an unconventional mix of landmarks around Skwer Kuracyjny Square, including the distinctive Sopot Lighthouse and the town’s palatial Grand Spa House. One final attraction worth hunting down is the Crooked House, a uniquely warped piece of architecture housing several cafés.
Getting there: Sopot really is a short trip from Gdańsk, taking just 15 minutes to reach by train or car. However, if you wish to be shown around it and other parts of the Tri-City area, consider visiting with a guided tour instead.
The other member of the Tri-City area is the port city of Gdynia, which is usually overlooked because of its two southern neighbors. However, those who journey up to Gdynia will find that this modern city features plenty of attractions to keep you entertained. It’s down by the city’s waterfront that you’ll find many of its standout attractions, starting with the City Beach that gives Sopot a run for its money. Nearby at the marina, you’ll find the excellent Gdynia Aquarium, as well as the National Maritime Museum, which has several historic sailing ships for you to walk about. For some fantastic views you can either climb up to the Kamienna Góra viewpoint or take a walk down the city’s Promenada to the forest and beaches of Redłowo.
Getting there: Getting to Gdynia from Gdańsk takes a little over 20 minutes by both train and car. Again, a guided tour is a good way to see more of the Tri-City area in a single day without having to worry about finding your own way.
5. Hel Peninsula
One of the more unusual things to see in Poland outside of Gdańsk is the scenery of the Hel Peninsula on the Baltic coast. The peninsula is a long and narrow spit of land that juts out 35 km (22 miles) into the Gulf of Gdańsk and along which you’ll find popular seaside resorts, old-fashioned villages, and endless expanses of sandy beachfront. Hel is the main town on the peninsula, where you’ll find several local museums, the bright red Hel Lighthouse, and a generally relaxed atmosphere. While the Baltic Sea is certainly chilly, many brave the cold for swimming in summer, as well as for activities like sailing and windsurfing. Cycling is also popular on the Hel Peninsula, allowing visitors to reach other popular destinations like Jastarnia and Kuźnica.
Getting there: To reach the town of Hel from Gdańsk, visitors can either travel 2.5 hours by train, two hours by ferry, or a little under two hours by car.
In terms of culture and sights, the Polish capital has to be one of the best side trips from Gdańsk. You could easily spend several days in Warsaw exploring the city, but a day trip there should allow you enough time to see the highlights. Start your visit by heading to the observation deck of the monumental Palace of Culture and Science to see its sweeping views and get your bearings. From there, take a walk through the city center along Nowy Świat past the Presidential Palace to reach Castle Square in the city’s restored Old Town. Here you can see Warsaw’s Royal Castle and Sigismund’s Column, two symbols of the city. Further in the Old Town on the beautiful Old Town Market Square stands the other symbol of the city, the striking Mermaid of Warsaw statue.
Getting there: The quickest way to get from Gdańsk to Warsaw is by train, with the journey taking a little over 2.5 hours. Interestingly, driving to Warsaw takes much longer and the trip is closer to four hours.
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and visit somewhere off the beaten path, there’s no better candidate than the port city of Elbląg. One of the oldest cities in northern Poland, Elbląg rewards intrepid day trippers with a gorgeous Old Town district. Popular attractions in the heart of the city include the impressive St. Nicholas Cathedral and the solitary Main Gate, not to mention the tenement houses that will instantly remind you of Gdańsk. Those curious about the history of the region won’t want to miss the excellent Museum of Archeology and History by the riverfront. Elbląg is also quite well known in Poland for its brewery scene, giving you the perfect excuse to do a round of the city’s bars and pubs.
Getting there: Elbląg is an easy train trip from Gdańsk, with frequent connections and a travel time of roughly an hour. However, it’s quicker to reach by car, with the drive only taking 40 minutes.
Those looking for another charming city to explore should definitely consider Toruń for their Gdańsk day trip. The small city in northern Poland is best known as the home to famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, but it also boasts a superb historical center that’s easy to stroll around. Begin a visit to Toruń with its central Old Town Market Square, where you’ll get a sense of the city’s distinct brick architecture with buildings like the old post office and the Artus Court. In the center of the square lies the city’s Town Hall, which is worth visiting for its museum and the views from its tower. Elsewhere in Toruń you’ll find the Copernicus House, where the astronomer was born in 1473, the old city walls with their very own leaning tower, and the remains of the old Teutonic Castle.
Getting there: It takes roughly 2.5 hours to travel from Gdańsk to Toruń by train but only a little over 1.5 hours by car.
While not one of the best known cities in Poland among international travelers, Bydgoszcz is a destination full of surprises. The city’s Old Town is where you’ll spend much of your time, but to reach it you’ll first need to cross the Brda River. Take the Jerzy Sulima–Kaminski Bridge to get there and you’ll be treated to the best views of the city’s gorgeous riverfront lined with traditional granaries. Popular attractions in the Old Town include the sprawling Old Market Square, Bydgoszcz Cathedral with its vibrant interior, and the utterly unique Museum of Soap and Dirt. Just next to the Old Town sits Mill Island, a former industrial area with water mills that now serves as the city’s cultural and museum precinct.
Getting there: To reach Bydgoszcz from Gdańsk takes a bit under two hours either by train or by car.
Poznań is one of Poland’s most popular city destinations and with good reason, making it worth the longer trip needed to get there. While Poznań is another historical destination, the city in western Poland has a very different look and feel to Gdańsk, adding some variety to your trip. Upon arrival, make your way to Poznań’s Old Market Square to see its colorful and distinct architecture, the standout being the beautiful Town Hall. Other attractions in the historical center to seek out include the magnificent Parish Church and the fresh-faced Royal Castle, the latter of which locals refer to as the “Smurf Castle.” If you have time, it’s worth straying from the Old Town to visit Poznań Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Poland, and the Stary Browar Shopping Center set inside an old brewery.
Getting there: It takes around 3.5 hours to get to Poznań from Gdańsk, whether by car or by train.
11. Kashubian Switzerland
A destination in northern Poland that offers plenty of freedom to tailor a day trip to your interests is the region known as Kashubian Switzerland. Found to the west of Gdańsk, Kashubian Switzerland is part of the Kashubian Lake District and home to the Kashub ethnic minority group. Some visitors to the region may want to spend their day with outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking to explore its picturesque landscape of lakes and forest. Others may prefer to delve into local Kashubian culture and traditions by visiting villages such as Chmielno and Szymbark. The town of Kartuzy is seen as the gateway to Kashubian Switzerland and features insightful ethnographic exhibits at the Kaszuby Museum.
Getting there: Travelers can reach the town of Kartuzy by train from Gdańsk in 1.5 hours, but to explore more of the region, it’s best to visit with a car.
Those are just some of the many places in Poland that you can visit from Gdańsk as a day trip. They should at least give you an idea of what’s possible if you have an extra day or two in Gdańsk during your trip.