Slow life: 10 Experiences To Enjoy Sustainable Travel in Pomerania, Poland
Do you feel drained from the fast paced daily routing? Chased by commitments? You can’t remember when you just let it go for a few days or invested in developing your creative skills? That’s at least how I felt in the last months. Always rushing, no time to reflect.
Well, it might be about time to visit Pomerania, Poland and to immerse in the wonderfully slow life of a region covered by lush forests, colorfully intriguing culture and warm-hearted hospitality. Re-discover the slow life with these 10 sustainable travel experiences in Eastern Pomerania, Poland.
Your first question might be: why Pomerania, Poland? Let me give you my reasons in crispy bullet points:
- The colorfully Kashubian culture is as lively and vibrant as ever. It’s pure delight to see how its bright colored motives are painted on houses, clothes, porcelain and everyday culture.
- Nature remains mostly untouched. That means long walks in forests and fun sailing trips in over 3000 lakes.
- It’s at only a stone’s throw from Gdansk, one of the most beautiful European towns after Bruges or Paris.
- It’s cheap for Western Europeans and Americans! Prices for Rooms in the qualitative, rural complexes can start at 29€ per double room (!) Check here the best prices for hotels in Polish Pomerania
The Pomeranian Voivodeship or Pomorskie, in Northern Poland is the perfect location to enjoy the slow life and slow travel. Its people, both Polish and Kashubian, still uphold their traditions and connections to their cultural heritage. It is thus the perfect day trip from Gdansk.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t have to commute or live in the same stressful world as others.
However people in the Pomeranian countryside, you’ll get to personally know some of them in this post, made the active decision to cherish their culture by revering centuries-old traditions and practices such as baking bread, making butter, doing traditional craftwork or cultivating medicinal plants. The lifestyle in East Pomerania, Poland is about finding a compromise of keeping a rich cultural legacy in an increasingly “westernized” and standardized environment.
The Kashubian are Key to the Pomeranian Folk Art
The cultural legacy of Pomeranian Voivodeship is mostly rooted in the Kashubian ethnicity and folk art.
So, who are the Kashubs and where is Kashubia? Kashubia is a language and ethnic area in Pomerania whose inhabitants, the Kashubs speak the Kashubian language, closely related to Polish. Kashubs are thus ethnically and linguistically different from the Poles, but without a separatist movement. They are living on the Baltic coast and Eastern Pomerania since 7th century AD. A colorful culture developed during centuries. Gdansk is the largest city of Kashubia.
A popular legend says that God created the land of the Kashubians with the leftovers he had after creating the world. Indeed you can find over 3000 lakes, hills, ski slopes, a beautiful coast and dense forest in the Kashubian region.
Folk art is celebrated everywhere in Kashubia, the traditional embroidery and pottery being the most important ones. It’s motives are easily recognizable and include just 7 colors: green, red, yellow, black and 2 shades of blue.
Traveling, especially sustainable travel, is about learning and cultural exchange. Visiting Pomerania, Poland allowed me to learn about alternative life models and the importance of cultural legacy to feel rooted. A cultural legacy that’s been expressed in countless forms such as gastronomy, craftwork, fashion, wellness, and well-being.
Let’s dip into the slow life in Eastern Pomerania, Poland and find a new cultural rooting by these 10 sustainable travel experiences.
Find all locations in a map at the end of the post!
Geographic situation: The historical region of Pomerania on the southern Baltic shore is split in between Germany and Poland. Eastern Pomerania, also known as Pomeranian Voivodeship or Pomorskie, is the land of the Kashubians, an ethnic and linguistic minority.
Language: Polish. English is widely spoken.
How to get there:
- By airplane to Gdansk Airport. Book here your airport transfer to your hotel
- Rent a car to drive from Gdansk to Kashubia and rest of Pomerania. Check rental car prices here
- Visit Pomerania and Kashubia with a day trip from Gdansk or when spending several days in Krakow
Activities: Agriculture (forestry, fishery, the cultivation of cereals, sugar beets, potatoes) and industrial food processing. Since the late 19th century, tourism has become increasingly important, primarily in the numerous seaside resorts along the coast. Read more about tourism and things to do in Bialowieza forest, Poland.
Where to stay in Pomerania, Poland
|Slow Life and Family Owned Properties|
|Hotel & Beer SPA Browar Kościerzyna ***
|SHERATON Sopot Spa Hotel *****|
|Dwór Oliwski City Hotel & SPA *****|
1. Wellness on a Lavender Farm
This must be the purple paradise on earth. Lawendowa Osada, the Lavender Farm, is surrounded by untouched forests and you’ll feel like you’re in a Southern French movie set.
The violet idyll with the omnipresent smell of lavender has been created by Barbara and Bartosz, who quit their jobs to pursue their dreams of creating a place for others to be happy. One day, the couple was thinking about what they could do to live a more fulfilled life and spend more time with their children. Eventually one of the two found the key: “LAVENDER!” That’s how the wellness and agro touristic complex Lawendowa Osada was founded.
The guest houses are surrounded by wide lavender fields that bloom in mid-june. They avoid pesticides and chemicals, harvesting and processing are done in the traditional way. The claim of doing things organically goes way beyond the lavender process: the bread, lavender jam and lavender honey of your breakfast is handmade, butter comes from the farm next door. Even the goat cheese and typical lard spread, traditionally eaten with a pickle on your sandwich, is produced in accordance with ancient traditions.
You’ll be spoilt for options when it comes to well-being and creativity at the Lavender Farm. There is a hot Jacuzzi, a sauna and a swimming pool just at the forest’s edge. They invite to relax and listen to the sounds of the surrounding woods.
The SPA treatments can be continued in the Salt Cave with 40 centimeters of salt on the floor and Himalayan salt fragments on the walls. Here you can enjoy aromatherapy to treat your lungs and respiratory tracts. They say it feels like getting a new pair of lungs.
Barbara offers several workshops that are more or less linked to lavender. As a former chemist, she’ll teach you about the health benefits of lavender, how to process lavender, how to create your own natural cosmetics. Another workshop is about women’s happiness.
You think that’s all? Oh no! Can you believe that Barbara and Bartosz built an astronomical observatory with a massive telescope? It will be Bartosz pleasure to give you an introduction to the Pomeranian starlit sky.
Why you should stay at Lawendowa Osada
The rooms of Lawendowa Osada have been decorated with great care and the violet theme of lavender is present in every detail. The architecture of the half-timbered guest houses are representative for the Kashubian culture in Polish Pomerania and every cottage has a kitchen, several rooms and a bathroom. There are 24 beds in total.
To me, each cottage and every corner in their interior looked like a perfect Pinterest pin. It’s all so simple but yet incredibly beautiful and rooted. Support small business and book your stay by calling or emailing them.
Młyńska 6a, 83-047 Przywidz, Poland
Tel.:+48 511 975 929
2. Traditional Craft in the largest Ethnographic Park in Poland
The Kashubian Ethnographic Park in Wdzydze Kiszewskie is not only a must-visit when traveling to Pomerania, Poland, but also the perfect place to disconnect and learn about Kashubian traditions in the numerous workshops of the museum. The landscape with abundant woods and immense lakes is ultimately relaxing.
The open-air museum was founded in 1906, the first of its kind in Poland. It consists of 22 ha next to the vast Gołuń lake and holds over 50 buildings of regional architecture including a school, windmills, a church (the only one in town and having service on Sundays), cottages, manors… Inside the houses you get a valuable insight in the daily life in the Kashubian culture as all of them are authentically refurbished with the household items of that item.
The Kashub Ethnographic Park offers several workshops proliferating Kashub folk art and learning about former crafts like spinning, weaving baskets, embroidery, wood carving, singing, drawing…
I had the privilege to do a paper flower workshop. Kashubs are masters in the art of making paper flowers. I had absolutely no idea that making paper flowers could be even considered as an art. Even nowadays you can find them in an household, church or graveyard. Sometimes you really need to take a close look in order to see whether it’s a real or fake flower.
Against my expectations, I ended up loving the paper flower workshop. It made me realize how much I missed to create something with my hands and see the immediate result. The glass painting with traditional Kashub motifs was great fun and even relaxing.
You can book your workshop directly at the entrance of the museum and prices range from 2-10€, depending on the workshop.
Kashubian Ethnographical Park
ul. T. i I. Gulgowskich 68
Estimated Visit duration: 2-3hours
Where to eat: there’s a superb, traditional restaurant in the museum complex
Entrance fee: 16 PLN (~4€)
3. Kashubian Pottery Workshop
Pottery is one of the most ancient Kashubian crafts which has a centuries-old tradition since the middle ages.
A clay or pottery workshop is a great way to learn about Kashubian culture and create a meaningful item with your hands. Admittedly, I underestimated the relaxing effect of forming vessels from clay, but finally it gave me a deeper understanding of pottery as a Kashubian cultural expression.
I had the pleasure to do a clay workshop with Asha from Gospodarstwo Zielony Kot in Lipuzc. After working on Polish national TV, she decided with her husband to create a more fulfilling and slow-paced lifestyle.
That’s how they renovated his grandmother’s rural house and created a Bed&Breakfast with an open space for creative workshops such as pottery, sewing, painting or theater science. Not only the couple, but the entire atmosphere at their guest house is absolutely warm-hearted and ultimately relaxing.
If want to learn more about the Kashubian pottery, make sure to visit the Necel family company and museum.
Hieronima Derdowskiego 4, 83-424 Lipusz, Poland
Tel.: +48 506 505 503
4. Folk Painting on Glass and Pottery
As many ethnic minorities, the Kashubian express their cultural identity through folk art forms such as embroidery, pottery or paper cutting.
A great form to value the heritage of the Kashubian culture, is to teach how to paint the Kashubian motives on glass or everyday items. Asha from Zielony Kot in Lipuzc offers a workshop during which you paint the colorful motives on mugs or vases.
The Ethnographic Park offers workshops to paint Kashubian motives on glass. Both workshops were absolutely rewarding experiences as it allows you to gain a privileged insight in the Kashubian culture. If you are interested in Polish traditions, I recommend reading why you must visit Eastern Poland.
Did I mention that each of the 5 Kashubian colors has a symbolic meaning: the 3 shades of blue, dark blue for the Baltic Sea, medium blue for the Kashubian lakes, and light blue for the sky. Green is for meadows and forests, the color red is for the blood that was shed in defense of the homeland, and black represents the Earth.Yellow represents the color of the Sun and amber, which is mined in this region.
5. Indulge in Pomeranian Food
Pomeranian celebrate food (a lot!), but they only use the freshest ingredients to prepare their meals. As the soil is fertile and the coast is always nearby, you can find a lot of food variety in any restaurant you may visit. The Pomeranian cuisine is hearty and, what I call, honest. The vast majority of the meals we had were made of organic ingredients without using pesticides and only local produce.
Lunch and dinner are very important moments in Pomerania: it is celebrated among friends and the perfect occasion to understand Pomeranian hospitality.
Some of the most popular ingredients are cod, herring and salmon from the Baltic Sea, trout from the rivers, potatoes, mushrooms and all kind of vegetables. Sugar beet and Pomeranian goose are particularly renowned in the area.
The traditional dishes that you can’t skip on your visit to Pomerania, Poland are
- sausages and other smoked meat
- the legendary sandwich with lard spread and pickles on top
- goose meat and liver
When it comes to drinks, every meal finishes with a wodka sharing among friends. They say it brings bad luck if you don’t finish a bottle. Pomerania is also one of the biggest exporters of honey wine, that you should absolutely taste once during your visit. However I was glad to find many non-alcoholic and healthy alternatives in most restaurants like fresh lemonades and homemade fruit juices (try the kompot with all kind of red fruits).
I indulged in Pomeranian food in the following locations and I recommend every single one as they all include regional and organic ingredients:
6. Bread Workshop with Award-Winning Karola
The moment you enter the house of award-winning Karola, you’ll step into a the magical wonderland of bread baking and more. Karola’s home is not only her bakery, but also a museum where she treasures up recipes and baking forms from the 19th century. The queen of bread-baking is living in Lipusz where she produces over 300 breads. Every day.
Once you passed the doorstep of the traditional Kashubian house, you’ll be confronted with the compelling mix of ethnic Kashubian embroidery and porcelain, piles of centuries-old baking forms and towers of hundred year old cooking books.
Karola even has one of the earliest Dr.Oetker baking forms (she still uses it today!) that dates back from early 1900. Many of her cultural artifacts cannot be found in any other part of the world, and yet they were commonly used in every household before the Second World War.
In that way Karola preserves recipes and the 400 molds as witnesses of a time period and makes a major contribution to preserve both Pomeranian and Kashubian heritage. Did I mention that her household also includes over 1700 ancient tapestries?
The best part of visiting Karola are her baking workshops during which you follow 100 -150 years old recipes. All the ingredients are locally grown. She knows over 9 bread recipes by heart and her bestseller is the multigrain buttermilk, with linseed, fennel, black cumin and sunflower seeds for which she won an award
People from all over the world visit Karola for her famous bread workshops. Feel free to contact the Pomorskie Prestige Organization or Michal, our guide for Kashubia.
ul. Bytowska 28, 83-424 Lipusz
tel. +48 605 449 569
7. Explore Pomeranian Nature
The Pomeranian woods and lakes are some of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen. The colors and settings reminded me of Scandinavian countries. The forests are mostly untouched and there are over 3000 lakes in Pomerania region.
Therefore you’ll be spoilt with options to enjoy a slow-paced life: long walks in the woods during which you can easily spot deers, wild boar and even wolfs. Pomerania is thus a paradise for observers and photographers of wild animals.
Who loves to go mushrooming? According to our guide Michal, picking mushrooms is a national sport in Pomerania. People wake up in the early morning to pick the best ones and prepare delicious soups and sauces. The season starts in early September and you should definitely contact a guide to join you on your mushrooming tour. I highly recommend Michal as your guide.
Those who prefer the slow life on water, you’ll have the choice among relaxing activities such as sailing, canoeing in Kashubian Switzerland, swimming, fishing… in one of the over 3000 lakes. No wonder that the region is also known as the Pomeranian Lake District. The most important lakes can be found in the Ecological Park Wdzydze Landscape Park and National Park Bory Tucholskie.
8. Polish Beer Tasting in Stary Browar Koscierzyna
What would be a trip to Pomerania, Poland without tasting its local beer? Beer has a centuries-old tradition and a beer tasting is an authentic flavor experience to learn about a local produce.
The perfect place to learn about the Pomeranian brewing tradition is the brewery Stary Browar in Kościerzyna which perfectly manages the gap between preserving traditional and interior design based on the latest trends. The entire building has been built up from ruins and has a 150-year old history.
Located in the center of the quaint town Kościerzyna , the brewery pours nine types of beer everyday: Indian Pale Ale, Wheat, Cranberry, Keller, Dark Beer, Red Lager, New England Wheat, Lemon and American IPA. The hops and malts come mostly from Polish plantations and they use water from their own intake. The beer is not filtered or pasteurized.
The brewery counts with an absolute up-to-date, stylish hotel (with a beer spa!) and a restaurant where traditional Kashubian food is served with a modern touch. The menu includes seasonal dishes and their cod even won a culinary award.
Stary Browar Kościerzyna
ul. Słodowa 3, 83-400 Kościerzyna
Tel. +48 58 680-07-75
9. Wellness & Spa Treatments in Sopot
Sopot is the most exclusive seaside resort in Poland and the perfect place to disconnect from daily routine and pamper yourself. The resort has a hundred-year long tradition for being a health-spa destination due to its mineral springs.
Besides its numerous wellness resorts, Sopot boasts the longest wooden pier in Europe stretching out on 515,5 metres into the Bay of Gdansk in the Baltic Sea. I particularly liked the Baltic coastline because it was not very windy and because temperatures were unexpectedly very warm. Surprisingly even during autumn, thermometers can hit over 24°C!
Nowadays Sopot is mostly visited by Polish, but in the last century foreign important personalities like Marlene Dietrich, Fidel Castro or even Hitler stayed in its luxurious resorts. The historic center is perfectly maintained, even refined and some of the constructions are over 100 years old. The main street Monte Cassino is the promenade for people watching and enjoy a cocktail with pierogi (filled dumplings).
Sopot is only a 15 minutes train ride away from Gdansk (I don’t recommend to go by car as not many parking options) and the perfect place to enjoy the pleasures of a young, vibrant seaside resort.
The most reputable spa resorts in Sopot are:
- Sheraton Sopot Spa located in the legendary Grand Hotel
- Marriott Sopot Resort & Spa
- Malia Anglia Spa
Where to eat in Sopot: Sztuczka Bistro
10. Shopping Local Folk Art
I have to admit I love to spend money on clothes and accessories when I am on the road. Whereas I don’t go shopping when I am at home in Luxembourg, I enjoy bringing local fashion as a souvenir. On top it is a great way to support the local community and entrepreneurs.
If you just love shopping “on the road” as much as I do, you’ll be in heaven in Pomerania. You can choose among local fashion brands displaying the Kashubian embroidery, traditional pottery and porcelain, handmade accessories…
My favorite thing to bring were the hand painted and embroidered sneakers and shirts by Farwa.pl. All of their clothes are just so colorful and playful. On top, I feel like the traditional Kashubian motives are a discreet way to display your fondness of having visited this region.
Another typical souvenir to buy while visiting Pomerania and especially Gdansk is amber, also known as the gold of the Baltics.
It has been one of the most important regional exports for over thousands of years. Designs and possibilities seems to be endless: necklaces, rings, sculptures, bracelets… the choice is yours. However, please make always sure to buy amber from a reliable source.
I hope some of these, admittedly very personal, highlights of my visit to Pomorskie region, could convince you to include Eastern Pomerania, Poland in your travel plans.
Have you been in Pomerania? Did you enjoy it? I would love to hear about the things you loved (or loved less) in the comment form.
Pomerania Map: Slow Life Experiences
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with HeyMondo.
To make the most of your trip, I recommend Lonely Planet Poland
In order to get more information on tourism in Eastern Pomerania, Poland, I recommend the site of Pomorskie Prestige . If you’re looking for a guide onsite, I fully recommend Michal, he was to most adorable and wise guide.
Some of the pictures in this article have been taken by the talented Kostas Deko