Visit Hel at your earliest opportunity. Don’t wait 16 years like I did.
Astonishingly, I’ve been doing the rounds in Poland on and off since 2006 and I had never been to Hel (no pun intended) – before July 19, 2022.
In recent years, I had come rather close to the Hel Peninsula, having visited Rozewie in 2020. A charming seaside village indeed. Hel, however, is in a league of its own.
Want to visit Hel? Book your accommodation well in advance
Frankly, I think my wife and I had a miracle when we found a decent place to stay on Booking a few days before visiting Hel.
I’ve just run a random search on Booking for a one-night stay on Wednesday 10 August. This is around seventeen days away from the time of writing this post.
96% of places to stay are unavailable for your dates on our site.
The four property types that are available in Hel at that time include a caravan, tent, an overpriced quadruple room and Hotel Hel (not cheap either).
How I found a presentable property for less than 500 zl, I will never know. Luck was on my side.
Anyway, Villa Nova 34A was our humble hangout for the night.
The property is on the main road which runs to the end of the Hel Peninsula. However, the traffic dies down by the time you get to the far end of Hel. Our room was on the main road side of the building. Nevertheless, we slept just fine.
All in all, free parking at a nearby location, friendly hosts and well-kept rooms. We couldn’t have asked for more.
Top things to do in Hel
If you ever get the chance to visit Hel, make sure you add the following items to your to-do list:
1. Stroll along Wiejska Street:
The first thing we did when we left our hotel was to walk to the (mostly) pedestrianised Wiejska Street.
Lurking on the junction of Kaszubska Street and Wiejska, and not knowing whether to turn left or right due to the fact that we were overcome by all the charm that Wiejska exudes, we could do little else but stand still and take stock of our surroundings.
Right in front of us – the Fisheries Museum – a branch of the National Maritime Museum. Reviews I had read of the museum were overwhelmingly favourable and I’m usually in decent enough fettle to enter museums. Nevertheless, we didn’t visit Hel to spend time indoors. Besides, it was gloriously sunny and pushing 30 degrees outside.
With a length of 900 metres, Wiejska Street allows you to move several hundred years back owing to intriguing half-timbered fishermen’s houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. These distinctive buildings give Wiejska a special vibe.
Dorsz i Spółka restaurant
Finally, a real gem of a restaurant at Wiejska 54 called Dorsz i Spółka. On the first day, we both devoured the cod fillet in beer batter, served with chips, salad and shrimp mayonnaise. On the second day, my wife had the “Green Meadow” vegan option, while I went for the cod meatballs in dill sauce.
Prices are very reasonable. The service was friendly and not too imposing.
2. Stroll along the Seafront
We left Wiejska Street and sauntered towards the Seafront (Bulwar Nadmorski).
Firstly, we climbed up some steps to stand on a boardwalk which overlooks the beach and the Bay of Puck (Zatoka Pucka). The water was crystal clear, the sand fine and white. What a spectacle, and what an atmosphere.
The Statue of Neptune
Just off the southern end of the seafront, check out the Statue of Neptune.
The original statue of Neptune was casted in Bronze and assembled in Bologna, on the centrally located Piazza Maggiore, in 1564.
Hel’s version of the Neptune of Bologna stands at a height of 5.5 metres, when measured from the base of the plinth to the top of Neptune’s trident.
Neptune, or Poseidon in Greek mythology, was the god of the oceans and seas. He personifies “strength and vigour” through the attributes hidden within the body of a young Roman athlete, and also “wisdom” through the head of a Greek wise man.
Our seafront walk on day one took on a new meaning at sunset:
3. Head down to the Hel Headland
At the southern end of Wiejska Street, there is a roundabout where it’s worth taking the first exit straight onto Kuracyjna Street.
Walking down Kuracyjna, the countless souvenir kiosks and stalls, amusement arcades, taverns and fish restaurants will ably catch your attention.
Approaching the end of Kuracynja, the beach on Hel Headland (Plaża na Cyplu Helskim) comes into view. We hooked a right onto the wooden promenade, constructed in 2013. The walkway wasn’t crowded at all.
“The Beginning of Poland” obelisk
The promenade walkway winds its way around the headland and continues north. Then, a very famous monument – the Kashubian Mound (Kopiec Kaszubów). If you visit Hel, it’s worth taking a picture of this obelisk which honours “The Beginning of Poland” (Początek Polski, as written on the monument).
The idea to emphasise Hel as the symbolic “Beginning of Poland” was born in 2007. It was initiated by Tadeusz Muża – the then President of the Kashubian-Pomeranian Association in Hel, Zbigniew Chmaruk – the then deputy mayor of Jastarnia and Mirosław Wądołowski – the mayor of Hel. The three men also sought to emphasise the unity and identity of the Kashubian community.
In the centre of the monument, one can see the Kashubian Gryphon. The Kashubian coat of arms has a black gryphon with a crown on a yellow shield.
The Kashubian Mound was officially unveiled on June 23, 2013.
4. Walk through the forest to reach the open beach
Day two had dawned. What a gloriously sunny morning it was. We stuck to the plan we’d made the previous day and walked through a beautiful forest to reach the open beach on the eastern side of Hel.
Our hotel was just a few hundred metres from the beginning of our intended trail dead opposite the eastern end of Kaszubska Street. This route is also part of the area’s Military History Trail. Right off the end of this particular trail, there are several military artillery and anti-aircraft batteries.
All in all, we set out at around eight o’clock in the morning and barely saw a soul, both in the forest and on the beach. Blissful peace.
We did notice several beachgoers on our return stroll through the forest.
Visit Hel and be blown away
The four things to do in Hel which I have described above are recommendations based on my own experience in the resort.
Frankly, I didn’t want to immerse myself in the Military History Trail and visit the Coastal Defense Museum. Firstly, due to the glorious weather. Secondly, I think we’ve all had our fill of war in recent months.
All in all, Hel is like paradise on earth.
I’ll be back.