This post will tell you what to see in Slowinski National Park on the Baltic Coast of Poland. Slowinski is famous for its sand dunes that move 10 meters a year, pushed by the wind. Some of the dunes get high like hills and you can climb on them, on the soft sand.
In cooperation with: Polish Tourist Organisation
To get to Slowinski National Park we made a day trip by car from Gdansk. Another option would be to take the train to Leba that is the closest resort to Slowinski, and rent bikes there go get to the national park. That, too, is a very good way to explore the moving sand dunes.
On the way back from the dunes we had a late lunch in a country palace, Palac Ciekocinko.
The highest dune rises more than 40 meters above sea level , and the moving sands leave stumps of dead trees behind them.
Slowinski National Park Day Trip on the Map
The map shows the location of Slowinski National Park on the Baltic coast and our driving itinerary from Gdansk. Between Gdansk and Slowinski there is an area called Kashubia. Some words about it:
The drive from Gdansk to Slowinski is a pretty long one, two hours one way and for that reason we didn’t want to stop much. But after seeing a glimpse of this white church in the small village of Wicko we instantly wanted to stop and look at it.
The village church of Wicko lies on a small hill and looks very pretty. As the church was not open we couldn’t get inside, but we could see some of the interior through an iron gate.
Behind the church was a graveyard that looked very pretty too. All Easter flowers in yellow and red still existed.
The village was really small with only a few houses, and somebody was burning leaves in his garden. Another house had lots of fruit trees all of which were painted white, to prevent insect damage. And there was a colorful village store and a nice leafy park behind it.
The other villages along our route were “normal” country villages that you just drive through, not anything special so there was no reason to stop more times. But if you would take still smaller country roads you should be able ti find many more pretty villages like Wicko. That’s what Kashubia is famous for, old villages.
So this region is Poland’s Kashubia where a language called Kashubian is spoken. I must be very much like Polish. Because on all road signs the village names in two different languages looked almost identical.
Kashubia belonged to Germany until 1945 and is now a part of Pomerania, Poland. Despite the change that made a big difference for the area Kashubia has kept its own food culture and traditions.
In the village of Leba you’re almost there, in the national park. Leba is a seaside resort with accommodation in houses and on a camping ground. The village also has restaurants, a marina and a railway station.
During summer local trains from Gdansk run up to Leba and it takes two hours, the same as the car trip does. If you arrive by train you can rent bikes in Leba. So if you don’t want to rent a car, simply take the train to Leba and rent a bike to visit Slowinski National Park.
In Leba the inhabitants have to face the fact that their surroundings are changing. The shifting sand nearby on the dunes is every year getting a bit closer to the village.
Slowinski National Park
Slowinski National Park stretches from Leba in the east to Rowy in the west. Its greatest attraction are the shifting sand dunes. In addition there are two inland lakes and some forests. Slowinski National Park is on the UNESCO list of World Biosphere Reserves.
These pictures show an inland lake between the sand dunes and the mainland. It’s Lake Lebsko. The lake is very shallow and its water far from being clean enough to swim, but there are more than 250 species of wild birds around. That makes Lake Lebsko an ideal location for bird-watchers.
Further away is one more lake, Lake Gardno. As Slowinski National Park and its sand dunes is perfect for hikes there are 140 km of marked hiking trails and 30 km of bike trails through the park.
Then comes Rabka, the place where you have to leave the car. We parked the car and took an electric car to the dunes, it was like a small train.
There were many groups and families cycling and walking, everybody was on the way to the dunes. The distance to the dunes from the car park is not long, about 5 km.
As Slowinski National Park is a nature destination, there are no services within it, just some simple toilets and picnic tables.
Before the dunes begin there is a large forest area. Since this is a national park, fallen trees are left exactly where they are. Despite the many fallen trees the forest looks very pretty on a sunny day. But the forest is in severe danger as the sand is slowly moving towards it . Finally after some years the trees will be destroyed by the sand.
Slowinski Shifting Sand Dunes
Now we are on the dunes and these trees have already been destroyed. For me this looks like Lapland, snow, snow and snow everywhere, but no – it’s sand, soft white sand.
The sand is moving 10 meters a year, pushed by the wind. Today the highest dune rises to 42 meters above sea level. We had good luck with the weather when visiting, the day was not windy at all and there were no sandstorms, and no moving sand that day..
We spent a nice hour or two on the dunes, walking towards the sea and returning along another walking route. The sand was so soft that it was hard to walk. That made many people take off their shoes and if you walked with your shoes on you got loads of sand inside them.
I was wondering if snowshoes or skiing could make it easier to get around here? Or if you could use snowboards to get down the dunes?
On the seaside there was a beautiful, enormous, wide beach where families were sitting and having their Saturday picnic.
The dunes are great. We really should come here again in the summer, and spend the whole day on the beach, and then hike on the marked trails and see more of the national park.
Slowinski National Park was a great nature experience and worth a day trip from Gdansk. If you got interested in this nature wonder, read more about it on the website of Slowinski National Park >>
From Slowinski we took narrow country roads east where our next destination was Palac Ciekocinko.
Palac Ciekocinko is a restored palace located in the tiny village of the same name Ciekocinko, half-way between the bigger villages of Sasino and Zelazno.
After the long Communist period the Palace of Ciecocinco was in a very bad condition but a Polish couple wanted to buy it to save and restore the building. There was practically no floor and there were big holes in the roof.
They worked and worked and it took eleven years to rebuild the ruined palace. As the couple wanted to do everything well they used good architects and quality materials in the reconstruction.
Then finally Palac Ciekocinko became a fine hotel resort with four different restaurants and travelers in the region can enjoy old-style luxury.
Lunch at Palac Ciekocinko
We had a lunch outside on the balcony. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and there was a lot of birdsong in the trees that were just beginning to get their leaves. There was no other noise here in the countryside, just the singing birds. The lunch was delicious, especially I liked the dessert I took, Yorkshire Rhubarb, the one in the last picture above.
Here is one more picture of the palace and their horse stables. For more pictures and the exact location of the palace check out the website of Palac Ciekocinko >>
Then after the lunch it was time to head back to Gdansk, this time along those beautiful small Kashubian country roads.
In Kashubia trees mostly line the road on both sides. But what looks so pretty can be so dangerous. With today’s traffic they would have to make the roads wider but with those trees they can’t. Most people drive slowly but also met some cars with a very high speed which was a bit frightening. So drive safely and carefully in Kashubia!
Back to Gdansk
Soon we came to the Gnydia-Gdansk motorway and drove through huge suburbs and shopping districts. Many of the huge apartment blocks dating from the Communist period had been restored afterwards and painted in strong colors, but many others were still grey as they were.
Slowinski, Kashubia and the palace of Ciekocinko was a nice day out from the city. If you have any suggestions where else to visit in this region please share your knowledge.
Our trip to Gdansk was made in cooperation with the Polish Tourism Board, but like always all opinions shared in our blog posts are our own.
More about Pomerania
The Pomorskie Travel website knows more places to visit and tells more about sights and tourist routes in Pomerania. See the Pomorskie Travel website >>