Coast of Poland: Pampering, Vikings and charm is written by Stefan Slothuus
Poland – more than just a big city
When I thought about Poland as a travel destination, it was primarily big cities such as Kraków, Warsaw and Gdańsk that stood out from the crowd. Cheap, respectable cities, all of which would be perfect for an extended weekend.
That's why I didn't quite know what to expect when I was invited to the coast along the northwestern part of the country.
Urgent with a light pack, you can see me hopeful and expectant on the way to the collection point close to Copenhagen Central Station. I have no idea what I'm going to do in the next three days. We have been given an indicative plan for the trip, but I have chosen not to read it through to get a more spontaneous and curious impression.
From Swedish mainland by ferry to Poland
The ferry crossing from Swedish Ystad to the mainland near Świnoujście takes about six hours, so we are invited on a short tour of the ship. First, we visit the captain of the wheelhouse in quiet and technologically modern surroundings, while the sun blazes with its wide range of colors on the way down over Ystad.
More or less the opposite can be said, as we wind our way from top to bottom towards the engine room. Here the big engines rumble with a noise that is similar to putting your ear to the big speakers on the Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival.
The colors are like watching a black and white film from the 40s in reality. I wonder if Poland ranges as widely in diversity.
Kołobrzeg: Two-part tourist destination with a Danish touch
We arrive first in Kołobrzeg, which is Poland's third largest tourist city in terms of number of nights - surpassed only by Kraków and Zakopane. The city is in a rapid development, and a myriad of hotels and apartment complexes continue to be built along the shores of the Baltic Sea. The resort area is separated from the town by the railway track, where there are only two places to cross by car and one on foot.
The city has a fairly modest size with approximately 45.000 inhabitants. There is a smaller town centre, a quite pleasant promenade and a small marina. However, it is clearly not here that the tourists are looking for.
It is not difficult to see where the money is, as the typically Eastern European concrete buildings are replaced by huge 5-star hotels when I cross the railway tracks.
We will be accommodated in the same hotel that the Danish national football team stayed in during the European Championship in 2012, and the foreground of the hotel also bears its mark. The hotels have almost everything the heart desires and are perfectly suited for a pampering spa stay.
The level of service is top notch, and it is not difficult to understand why the tourists stay here.
Wolin: Historic stronghold
I wake up the next day, fill the depots from the huge breakfast buffet and get out of the car unaware of the course of the day.
We drive a little 100 kilometers west, and suddenly I find myself in the Viking Age. We have reached a small village that portrays the island of Wolin's historical time from the Viking Age and the Middle Ages, where a Slavic people lived. Europe's largest German-Slavic Viking festival is held here every year in August.
The local guide tries to create a historical authenticity with her matching attire, and she succeeds – until her iPhone dangles and dangles from the knitted bag. She also answers the call with a slightly awkward and ironic smile.
However, that should not take anything away from the experience in the village, which stands as a fine relic from a time that was also of great importance to us Danes.
Danish Vikings in Poland
The Danes' influence on the place becomes even clearer when we are shown around the history museum in the town of Wolin, a few kilometers from the village. The owner talks about the time when the city was Europe's largest and not least about the bloody history that has marked the place.
Danish Vikings stopped by in his time in the usual way. However, it was not completely unprovoked, as pirates from the area had ravaged the Danes first.
The prints of the Vikings are further made visible with a huge rune stone close to the water in memory of Harald Bluetooth, who allegedly died in the city. Since then, the Swedes also left their mark, while the Germans abandoned their occupation at the end of World War II by bombing the entire city from the large warship that slowly left the site.
Świnoujście: Development at a rapid pace
We take the short trip from Wolin to Świnoujście, where a small ferry sails us over to the island. In a short time, the weather has changed from blue skies and high sun to icy rain. It's a shame, because the city turns out to be where a long walk would be most appropriate. We take the car instead and settle for a short hike after check-in at the hotel.
One of the participants on the tour has an apartment here and therefore takes on the role of guide. He talks about the place's rapid development at a pace that even he finds it difficult to keep up with - even though he visits the place several times a year.
In addition to the construction of huge apartment complexes and hotels, hard work is also being done to make the city itself more attractive. There is a long promenade running along countless restaurants and cafes, and they are building even more of it all.
Characteristic coastal town: Świnoujście, Poland
The expression of the city stands out from the others we have visited. It has the character of something southern European and is significantly more charming than Kołobrzeg in being naturally cohesive and not twofold. We walk 100 meters north, and here is a fantastic sandy beach, which continues to both sides as far as the eye can see. Despite the miserable weather, I can easily imagine the place coming into its own on a hot summer day.
Poland is perhaps best known for its attractive cities and its somewhat gloomy history. However, the Poles have undoubtedly discovered the value in their beautiful coastline, and they try with high service and hospitality to lure tourists there. Whether it's a luxurious pampering trip, historical retrospective or a charming promenade town, there is definitely something to get after.
Have a good trip to Poland!
RejsRejsRejs was invited on a trip by the travel agency PolenGO and the Polish Tourist Board. Opinions and comments are, as always, our own.