Hel (Poland): 17 Places To See & Things to Do (Local’s Guide)

Update: July 25, 2023 r
Hel Poland what to see what to do
Hel Poland what to see what to do

Looking for attractions to see and things to do in Hel (Poland)? Hel is a famous town at the tip of the Hel Peninsula – a paradise for kite surfers, beachcombers and history buffs. The town is well-known for its sandy beaches on the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Gdansk (Zatoka Gdańska), which meet at the Hel Peninsula, a must-see when visiting Hel. It’s not just beaches and the sea – you will have a lot to to do here even in poorer weather.

The tourist life of Hel takes place along Seaside Boulevard (Bulwar Nadmorski) and Morska Street. Children love the famous Seals Sanctuary (Fokarium) and occupy the unique Fisheries Museum (Muzeum Rybołówstwa). In the forests around, military monuments from World War II and museums await.

Although Hel is one of the most visited places by the Polish seaside, you’ll find peace on beaches even in high season. During a train journey around the Hel Peninsula, you’ll simultaneously see the sea and the bay. In the guide, I will share 17 attractions & places to see & things to do in Hel.


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Check package “Hel + Baltic Sea” with attractions, beaches, restaurants, cafes and accommodation. Works on phone & computer (Google Maps).

1. Visit the end of Hel Peninsula (Cypel Helski), where the Baltic Sea meets the Gulf of Gdansk

You should start your tour of Hel from the Hel Headland – a small ‘prow’ in the southern part of the town. The Hel Headland is the last point of the Hel Peninsula and the place where the “main” Baltic Sea meets the waters of the Gulf of Gdansk. The point changes position slightly depending on the water level and sea currents.

How to get to the end of Hel Peninsula? A seaside promenade leads to it. You reach it by heading south along Morska Street. The route circles over the dunes and turns into the woods, where you will return to Hel’s centre. You can go there by bicycle or use a pushchair.

Walking to the headland, you will pass the Kashubian Mound (Kopiec Kaszubów), symbolic of the beginning of Poland. Next to it are the foundations of the former Fire Station No. 1, one of the elements of Hel’s fortifications. From the footbridge, you can walk down to the beach and reach the Headland itself and then spread out with a blanket on the beach.

The promenade overlooks the sea and ships entering the Bay of Gdansk. Along the way, you will notice several information boards with the attractions of the Hel Spit. I come here whenever I’m in Hel – sometimes as soon as I arrive by train.

2. Look for military objects from the Fortification Trail (Szlak Fortyfikacji) in the woods

From the promenade by the Hel Peninsula, I recommend you to go back to town along Kuracyjna Street, which leads through the forest. On both sides of the street, you will see traces of the former military guarding the Hel Peninsula. Hidden in the forest are shelters, firing positions, artillery batteries and fire control points.

Many of the sites you can only see from the outside. Inside, you can visit one of the shelters with the exhibition “Macabre of the 20th Century”. Over a dozen rooms tell the dark story of the 20th-century wars. The site is run by the local activist group “Alternatywny Cypel”.

You can buy tickets to the “Makabra XX wieku” before entering the shelter. Look for an information board on Kuracyjna Street directing you to the attraction (a few dozen metres from the beach). The dark and gloomy interior may not be an ideal attraction for young children.

On the other side of Kuracyjna Street, inside another bunker, the association runs an exhibition called Morskie Tajemnice, aimed at families with children. There you will see, among other things, a large aquarium with Baltic fauna and a model of a pre-war harbour. Kids will also be able to assemble their fishing boat.

You can also walk to the well-preserved 21st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battery at entrance 66 to the beach. I recommend you rent a bike and track down the military sights on the more than 10 km long Fortification Trail (Szlak Fortyfikacji), whose main blue path starts at the railway station. Cycling is an excellent way to explore the area.

3. Visit the Seal Sanctuary (Fokarium) and learn about the habits of Baltic seals

Thick and moustachioed seals are much-loved inhabitants of the Baltic coast. They can sometimes be found in their natural habitat, near the mouth of the Vistula River on Sobieszewska Island (I went there while looking for the best holiday destinations on the Baltic), but they have another home in Hel. At the Seal Sanctuary (Fokarium Stacji Morskiej), they preserve their population in the Baltic Sea.

The Seal Sanctuary belongs to the University of Gdansk and is a tourist attraction a bit ‘by the way’. The primary aim of the Seal Sanctuary is to learn more about Baltic seals’ habits and treat those in poorer conditions. Due to harmful human activities, the number of seals is decreasing yearly.

See the website for tour details (ticket prices and opening times – in Polish). Prepare two 5 PLN coins per person – you will need them to pass through the gates at the entrance.

I enjoyed listening to a lecture about seals (only in Polish). I recommend attending it – it takes place twice daily, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. After the talk, you can see the seal feeding and the exhibition. You can also donate to the Seal Sanctuary.


Looking for exciting places to see in Hel on the Polish coastline? Want to save time on planning?

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4. Check out the view from the lighthouse in Hel

Hidden in the Seaside Landscape Park (Nadmorski Park Krajobrazowy) forests is the historic lighthouse, open to tourists during the holiday season. It is the highest vantage point in Hel. You can reach the lighthouse from the town centre via Bałtycka Street, which leads through the forest.

You can buy tickets to the lighthouse in Hel at the ticket office before the entrance (you can pay by cash or card). If you prefer to avoid crowds, come here early in the day (around 10:00, and holidays around 9:00) – before the biggest groups of tourists arrive.

There are over 200 stairs leading up to the top in a spiral staircase (precisely the kind you associate with films). In high season, you will probably have to queue to get in, as the lighthouse is one of Hel’s most popular attractions.

The top of the lighthouse is a glazed viewing point – you can’t go inside to the outside platform. There is air conditioning at the top, but it’s still hot in summer. Your reward for climbing will be a view of the forest and waters surrounding the Hel Spit on three sides. And on windy days, it won’t blow in your face. 😉

5. Take a walk along the Seaside Boulevard (Bulwar Nadmorski) and Dune Park (Park Wydmowy)

When visiting Hel, take a walk along the Seaside Boulevard, which will take you to the Sealarium, the Sea Fishery Museum and the Dune Park. Get ready for a bustling atmosphere and crowds of tourists in the summer, as this is the centre of the town’s tourist life.

The Dune Park is a small park where, instead of trees, you will see dunes covered with coastal vegetation. A footbridge passes over them with several shelters and a descent to the beach. From the footbridge, you can see the Bay of Gdańsk – it is also a good spot for watching sunsets.

Parallel to the Seaside Boulevard, there are Morska and Maszopów streets with restaurants, food trucks, ice cream stalls and various shops. In high season, you sometimes have to wait a while for a free table. For good fish, check out the Stara Wędzarnia or Dorsz I Spółka.

At the end of the Boulevard, next to the entrance to the harbour and the Sea Fisheries Museum (Muzeum Rybołówstwa Morskiego), stands a statue of Neptune. Its author modelled it on a statue of Neptune from Bologna, Italy. The figure looks good with the former Evangelical Church of St Peter and St Paul in the background. Natalia recommends taking a photo here in the evening. 😉

6. Visit the Sea Fisheries Museum (Muzeum Rybołówstwa Morskiego)

The building of the former church of St Peter and St Paul now houses the Sea Fisheries Museum. The exhibition occupies the adapted interior of the 15th-century church. The building suffered damage during the Second World War but was successfully rebuilt and became a museum after the war.

Before visiting, check the museum’s website for current opening hours. The exhibition takes up several floors, but you can move between them by lift (it also takes you to the observation deck).

In the Sea Fisheries Museum in Hel, you will learn about the behind-the-scenes work of fishermen from the area. You will see, among other things, the workshop of a boat-builder, i.e. a specialist in shipbuilding; you will learn how to catch fish and see antique boats. It’s a unique opportunity to see the boats… inside the church. 😉

Also, climb the observation tower, which used to be an essential navigational point for ships coming to Hel. You get a good view of the immediate surroundings from the wooden tower – the busy harbour, the streets of Hel and the Bay of Gdansk. If you want to see more, I recommend you climb the lighthouse.

7. Look for old fishermen’s cottages on Wiejska Street

Today’s Hel is a modern holiday resort. However, it is possible to find traces of the old days when Hel was a fishing settlement with consistent and almost identical buildings. Start your search on Wiejska Street.

The history of the old fishermen’s houses on Wiejska Street dates back to the first half of the 19th century. They had characteristic features: half-timbered construction (the so-called half-timbering, i.e. wooden beams and white brick walls), gabled roofs and front walls facing the street. To distinguish them from each other, fishermen mounted wooden ornaments (so-called crowns) on the roofs.

Look at the Maszoperia restaurant at 110 Wiejska Street, housed in two historic houses. Inside, you will immediately notice the rustic décor in the atmosphere of an old fisherman’s hut with lots of wood. At Maszoperia, they serve fish and seafood. I recommend the place’s speciality, pike-perch in a delicious chanterelle sauce.

See also the building at Wiejska 78 (the seat of the Hel branch of the Kashubian-Pomeranian Association). The half-timbered structure can still be found in the contemporary-built Porpoise House at 4 Portowa St. The building used to be part of the Sea Fishery Museum but is now closed.

8. Explore military history at the Coastal Defence Museum (Muzeum Obrony Wybrzeża)

In the interwar period, tourists were not allowed to enter Hel. After Poland regained its independence, the Fortified Region of Hel was established at the peninsula’s tip (from the borders of Jurata to Hel). You can learn about the history of military Hel and the battles on the peninsula at the Museum of Coastal Defence (Muzeum Obrony Wybrzeża).

Tip: The best option is to buy a pass to visit all the sites. It also includes the Hel Museum, the Hel Railway Museum with a train ride, the Fire Control Tower, and the Hel Peninsula battery. You can use it in a few days (there is no validity period). Look for “KARNET na wszystkie obiekty” on the website to check the price.

The museum tells the story of the construction of the Fortified Region, the German expansion during World War II and the activities of the Polish military during the communist era. It occupies the former buildings of a German artillery battery, which adds to the authentic atmosphere. The MOW is part of the Hel Museum Complex (see map of facilities).

The facility is named after Zbigniew Przybyszewski, who commanded the heroic defence of Hel in September 1939 (the beginning of the Second World War), which lasted over a month. Here you will visit historical exhibitions and see old military equipment. You can find free parking along the main road leading to Hel.

9. Take a ride on the narrow-gauge train to the Hel Railway Museum (Muzeum Kolei Helskich)

The military presence on the Hel Peninsula and around Hel required good logistics. The coastal forests were covered by a network of tracks by which supplies were to reach essential points in the Fortified Region. You can learn more about the significance of Hel’s narrow-gauge railways at the Hel Railway Museum.

Start your sightseeing adventure by riding on the narrow-gauge military railway from gun emplacement B2 (Bruno). You can also reach the Hel Railway Museum on foot (by walking along the main road to Hel) or by car (about 1 km from the Hel Museum, towards Jurata).

Please note: operation of the narrow-gauge railway is temporarily suspended. However, it may be available in the 2023 season – ask about it when you visit the museum. However, you can still see the Coastal Defence Museum and the Hel Railway Museum without restrictions.

From the exhibition in the former ammunition depot, you will learn more about, among other things, the use of the railway in supplying weapons and equipment to soldiers fighting during the coastal defence and its importance for communication with commanders.

10. Look at the Hel Peninsula from aboard a train

The train route from Władysławowo to Hel is one of Poland’s most beautiful railway lines. The tracks run parallel to the Baltic beach and the road to Hel. In the narrowest parts of the Hel Peninsula, you can see from the windows both the Baltic Sea and the waters of the Bay of Gdansk.

I love the holiday atmosphere always evoked when I travel by train to Hel. There are seasonal trains from many corners of Poland and daily services from the Tricity. The trains can be crowded in high season, and regional trains do not have seat reservations. Hel has no ticket office – you buy your tickets onboard.

You can take the train to the most important points on the Hel Peninsula – Jurata, Jastarnia, Kuźnica, Chałup and Władysławowo. From the stations, you can reach the beach in a few minutes. The Hel Peninsula is narrowest at the sections Władysławowo – Chałupy and Kuźnica – Jastarnia. There you have the best chance of seeing the Baltic and the Gulf at the same time.

11. See the record-breaking sculpture in the Kashubian Sculpture Park (Park Rzeźby Kaszubskiej)

Adjoining the railway station in Hel (built-in half-timbered technique – just like the old fishermen’s houses on Wiejska Street) is a park where you can see the world’s longest sculpture made from a single piece of wood. It is part of the open-air Kashubian Sculpture Gallery.

Between the alleys stand a dozen wooden sculptures made in the Kashubian style. Everything is consistent here – the benches and even the enclosures for the waste bins are made of wood. The most prominent attraction is the more than 15-metre-tall sculpture ‘Rzepka’.

The sculpture alludes to a poem by famous Polish poet Julian Tuwim – the turnip is being pushed to its side by wooden characters I still remember from my childhood. “Grandson for grandmother, grandmother for grandfather, grandfather for turnip.” 😉 A tree knocked down by lightning was used to create the sculpture.


2 maps: best places to see – Baltic Sea + Hel for €11.9 instead of €17.8. 

Check package “Hel + Baltic Sea” with attractions, beaches, restaurants, cafes and accommodation. Works on phone & computer (Google Maps).

12. Take a cruise on the Baltic Sea or use the water tram to the Tricity (Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot)

From the port of Hel, some ships will take you on a cruise on the Baltic Sea and bring you quickly to the Tricity. Such an excursion will add variety to your holiday full of sunbathing and sightseeing. You can choose between sea cruises and a water tram that goes to Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot during the season.

The water tram runs on weekends from May to September and daily during the holidays. Travelling along the Gulf of Gdansk is twice as fast as driving to the Tricity by car along a scenic but crowded road in high season. You can check the cruises available on a given day in the port of Hel.

What about heading out into the Baltic Sea to fish for cod or salmon? You can enjoy sea fishing trips in Hel. You don’t need any experience or equipment – the crew will train you and lend you all the necessary equipment.

You can also set off on a cruise ship on the Baltic Sea or enjoy a combined Hel – Gdynia – Hel cruise with sightseeing. If you are ready for an extreme experience (and a more significant expense), take a water taxi speeding up to 100 km/h and reach the Tricity in 15 minutes.

13. Watch the sunrise on a beach in Hel

On holiday, you don’t necessarily want to get up in the middle of the night and watch the sunrise, but I assure you that the experience is worth a sacrifice! In July, the sun rises over Hel’s beaches a little after 4 a.m. Dress warmly, as mornings can be chilly and windy.

Where to watch the sunrise in Hel? The sunrise will look most beautiful on one of the beaches. You can come to the Hel Peninsula or walk through the woods to the entrance of beach number 66. Sometimes there are beach yoga classes in the town (also at sunrise) – check out the Joga na Helu (Yoga in Hel) profile.

14. Take a cycling tour around the Hel Peninsula

The route along the Hel Peninsula is one of Poland’s most beautiful cycling routes and an excellent idea for a day trip in the area. It leads close to beaches, seaside forests and military monuments (the route starts along the Hel Fortifications Trail).

There are several bicycle rental companies operating in Hel during the season. Look for them on Wiejska Street (e.g. Ottobike at Wiejska 133) and near the railway station. You will be most comfortable riding a mountain bike on forest paths, but a regular “lady” bike will do just as well.

The route runs through the Seaside Landscape Park (Nadmorski Park Krajobrazowy) and past the nature reserve Hel’s Dunes (Helskie Wydmy). You can walk it along a short educational trail. By bike, you will reach the lighthouse ruins on Szwed’s Mountain (Góra Szwedów), which operated from 1936 to 1990.

The forest cycling path from Hel to Jurata is about 10 kilometres long, so you will cycle it slowly in less than an hour. You can continue towards Jastarnia and Chałup or return to Hel along the same road. If you get exhausted, you can always take the train on the way back.

15. Learn more about history and culture at the Hel Museum (Muzeum Helu)

The Hel Museum is the third part of Hel’s museum cluster, which you’ll find at the entrance road to the village. Unlike the military-focused Coastal Defence Museum and the Hel Railway Museum, this facility tells the traditions and history of Hel.

The Hel Museum has two main permanent exhibitions – dedicated to ethnography and nature. From the former, you will learn more about the mysterious history of Old Hel, which was submerged by the conquering waters of the Baltic Sea. You will see the former town on a model.

The Hel Museum is open in spring and summer – check opening hours and ticket prices in advance. I recommend buying a pass to visit all five parts of the Hel Museum Complex.

Another mock-up shows the luxurious German cure house (Kurhaus) “Hela” from 1896, which did not survive the Second World War. In the museum, you will also see a traditional Kashubian cottage, learn about local sculpture and embroidery, and find out more about the craftsmen of the past. After the tour, take a stroll through the peacock-dominated botanical garden.

16. Discover the shipwrecks of ORP Wicher II and Grom II

When you want to take a little break from the bustling centre of Hel, become an explorer of the area and head to the beach to the west of the War Port (Port Wojenny). The beach is much less popular than the one in the centre of Hel, so even in high season, you can feel like you’re in a wild corner of nature here.

The beach is about 2 kilometres from the railway station in Hel – walk west along Sikorskiego and Helska Streets. At the coast, you will discover the wreck of the ORP Wicher II ship embedded on the beach and the Grom II sticking out of the water next to it. Both ships were sunk deliberately to become part of the breakwater of the military harbour. They became an attraction in the process.

I recommend you walk a little further north to the tree-hung swings overlooking the bay. This is an excellent and unique photographic motif – only some people want to wander up to them. You’ll come across military sidings in the woods, which you’ve already learned more about at the Hel Railway Museum.

17. Take advantage of ideal conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing

The Hel Peninsula is a Polish mecca for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Nowhere is the wind more favourable than around Hel. On windy days, you will see dozens of kites on the Bay of Gdansk, lifting surfers into the air. Why not try to become one of them? 😉

There is a Funkite school at Camping Kormoran where you can sign up for individual and group kite- and windsurfing courses. You can acquire basic skills in two hours (I haven’t tried it yet). So you can quickly and at little cost see if these are the sports for you.

If you want to get into all-in kitesurfing, sign up for a 14-hour course that follows International Kiteboarding Organisation guidelines. Costs will be lower if you sign up for the training in a group of two or three people. Maybe it’s a good idea to have fun together with your partner or friends 😉

Visiting Hel – what’s worth knowing? My practical tips

You already know about all the attractions and things to do in Hel. However, that’s not why I spent some time in the city to keep the practical tips for myself. From my experience:

  • get around Hel on foot, by bicycle or melex – the small town receives many visitors during the holidays, so there are sometimes parking problems. It’s also a shame to spit out exhaust fumes unnecessarily in such beautiful natural surroundings. In my experience, getting to even the furthest attractions is not breakneck 😉
  • visit attractions as soon as they open – unless you want to get stuck in a queue at, for example, the lighthouse or the Sealarium. Tourists don’t want to get up too early (I know something about that). You can set your alarm clock even earlier and plan to watch the sunrise!

Where to sleep in Hel near the sea?

You can walk through the centre of Hel in a dozen or so minutes. Whatever hotel you choose, you should be close to the town’s main attractions – the Sealarium, the Fisheries Museum or the Seaside Promenade.

When choosing accommodation on Hel, check whether it offers free parking (essential in high season, as Hel can be crowded). Free beach equipment rental and breakfast included in the price of your stay are welcome. The closer to the forest, the quieter it should be.

How to get to Hel?

You can get to Hel by car via the road from Władysławowo, the parallel railway line and the seasonal water tram from the Tricity. Cars can get stuck in traffic jams during the holidays, as the number of people eager to visit Hel is always high.

You can get to Hel by direct trains from many corners of Poland. It was by rail that I came most often to the peninsula. Seasonal night trains pull sleeping cars, making a long ride more comfortable. There are regional trains from the Tricity (Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot) all year round. Check the timetable on Portal Pasażera.

I have already written about the water trams in the attractions section. You can get to Tricity by train, hop on board a ship and sail to the port of Hel in this way. You can get to the hotel by the melex popular on the coast.

We decided to travel by car, as I wanted to realise my big dream – a road trip through the Polish coast. In two weeks, we drove from Krynica Morska to Świnoujście, visiting the most important attractions of the Polish Baltic coast.

How much time should I spend visiting Hel?

You should spend at least two days exploring Hel. It will be convenient for you to stay in Hel for one night.

On the first day, you will visit the town centre attractions and the Hel Peninsula while seeing the military attractions hidden in the forests.

On the second day, you can take a cycling tour of the area. You will then look at the Museum of Coastal Defence, the Hel Museum and the Hel Railway Museum, reach the Hel Dunes reserve, see the Swedes’ Mountain and discover shipwrecks around the harbour.

I have shared everything I know about the attractions and places to see in Hel. With this information, you will be able to plan an unforgettable holiday. The Hel Peninsula is one of the greatest natural treasures of the Baltic Coast. I wish you a good time at the Baltic seaside!


Looking for exciting places to see in Hel on the Polish coastline? Want to save time on planning?

Get a map of 70+ best places to see & things to do in Hel. Works on your phone & computer (Google Maps).

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