One of the biggest mistakes I believe many tourists make when they go on a city break – myself included – is missing out on exploring the lesser-visited surrounding areas. Thankfully, as we had just shy of a week in Gdansk back in 2018, we felt it would be good to enjoy a day trip to Malbork. Was it worth it? A resounding yes. Here’s why.
1. The largest brick castle in the world
Consistently ranked the top attraction in Malbork, it’s clear to see why once you set your eyes opon it. Officially the largest brick castle in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malbork Castle is one of the best preserved castles in Europe, and certainly the biggest I’ve personally ever seen.
I think the fact that it is so well preserved gives a really authentic experience as to what it may have been like living or working on such grounds, and if you’re travelling with children, this can do wonders for fuelling their imagination on your visit.
On a sunny day there are street vendors in the open spaces. We sat and ate ice creams in hammocks by the river which was just perfect, and I’d highly recommend crossing the river to look back on the castle to really understand the scale of its size. For history buffs, don’t miss the guided headphone tour where you can learn about the site at your own pace.
2. Malbork is great for kids
On this particular trip, we took our (then) three year old and let me tell you, she loved Malbork. The castle alone felt safe and contained, yet open – a reassurance if you have particularly active little ones like me. And what child doesn’t love putting on a paper crown (gifted to us by the castle team) and sitting on a throne?
We found the whole town very accomodating for children without being fully centred around them – very refreshing. In fact, whilst eating in the castle’s restaurant, our daughter decided she did not like anything on the menu and the chef came and offered to make her some scrambled eggs. Customer service was second to none and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.
3. There is a dinosaur trail
Don’t be fooled into thinking this one is just going to be a hit with the kids. I think me and Joe loved it just as much as our daughter – and it shows in our family pictures!
Malbork Dino Park is only a kilometer away from Malbork train station, and only a 15 minute walk from Malbork Castle so it’s completely accessible to do a loop of the two attractions in one day if you need to. The park mostly focuses around a trail in a leafy wooded area making it an ideal place to cool off on hotter days. Around the trail are interactive dinosaur and dragon figures and it felt like a lovely contract to the city-heavy activities on our trip so far. We visited in September so the weather was glorious and we enjoyed conker hunting as we went exploring for dinosaurs.
4. Train travel is a thing of beauty
Malbork is only 30 – 60 journey from Gdansk Glowny station depending on which service you take and the trains run frequently throughout the day so you won’t be too restricted on your timings. I love getting public transport on holiday – I know that might sounds odd but there is something about historical train stations, viewing the countryside of another county out of a train window and also appreciating the good value of this type of travel, especially in much of mainland Europe. The trip cost around £8 each and Malbork station itself is beautiful. A neo-gothic red-brick romance of a building, it’s a perfect way to enter the town and for architecture fans is an attraction all by itself.
5. The town is built with history
The whole city of Malbork was quiet and friendly, making is great for families and very easily walkable. Whilst small, it still has malls and restaurants and everything you want from a day trip – only quieter. What stands out the most though is the historical architecture. From medieval ruins to post-war reconstructions, the buildings of this town really help tell a story as to what it’s been through.
In Malbork castle in particular this is particularly clear, as they’ve made a conscious effort to restore any brickwork lost to the war with a different colouring, so you can tell which is original and which areas are restored. It’s a beautiful contrast.
For us, Malbork was a brilliant day trip from Gdansk and they certainly lean in to their medieval origins, so if this is up your street then you’ll find plenty to do here. Have you been to Malbork? Have any other castles or day trips you’d like to recommend? Let me know!
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