“Starogard girl, my Starogard girl” – self written song.
After my time in the beautiful city of Gdańsk, I knew it wasn’t quite off the wall enough in Poland for me. I needed another Polish city with a few less tourists and some new charms. In my first two weeks in Gdańsk, I took two side trips – first to Gdynia for a food tour and then to visit the sand dunes at Slowinski National Park. But again both places had other tourists. My next adventure was a bit more whackpacking instead of backpacking! Travel was crazy again! #StarogardGdański
Next up I decided to head to the town of Starogard Gdański. It was an exciting adventure. Beforehand, I didn’t know much about Starogard Gdański, but in the end, I loved the town. I even compared it to my own hometown and I’m glad to be the first travel blogger to properly cover a backpacking visit to it! Such a brilliant visit that I got featured on the front page of the local newspaper here, Gazeta Kociewska.
My Journey to Starogard Gdański
To get to Starogard Gdański from the city of Gdańsk, I decided to get the bus, though train is also an option, but the bus seemed easier to me as it goes closer to the town centre of Starogard Gdański. There are two bus options as far as I can tell. Both buses have a lot of stops on the way and generally it takes just over an hour from Gdańsk Główny.
- Arrivia Linia NR 51
- PKS Linia 400
Either you get the Arriva Linia Nr 51 bus or you get the PKS Linia 400. To mix things up, I got the Linia 400 on the way into Starogard Gdański, but coming back I got the Linia 51. The oddest thing was the Linia 51 is more like a coach – it’s the most comfortable of the two options, but it was the cheapest too! The Linia 51 cost me 6.90 złotys and the Linia 400 cost me 8 złotys. Oh, I was a little bit tired when I arrived…
Where to Stay in Starogard Gdański
In Starogard Gdański, there are no backpackers hostels or even any backpackers, so I checked into the Noclegi Rekord! This is kind of an odd hotel, as it’s connected to the sports stadium and club. It was a perfect spot for me for 3 days though, breakfast and WiFi included. It also has a kind of mini football museum, making it another ridiculously up my street bed location from my endless journeys.
About Starogard Gdański
Starogard Gdański is a town of about 48,000 people. It is inland but has the river Wierzyca flowing through it. It is in the Pomerania Province. Starogard has been the capital of Starogard County in Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, but was previously a town in Gdańsk Voivodeship from 1975 to 1998. For me, the town has a beautiful name and it was a sentimental enchanting journey here.
Starogard Gdański reminded me of my home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland somehow. But I later found out it is twinned with Limerick in the Republic of Ireland! The name Starogard, you can work out – it means “old city” or “old stronghold” in the Pomeranian language. Again interesting as I have been to lots of cities and towns with a similar name – even Machu Picchu translates as “old mountain” and weirdly again, my birth town is the opposite – its name is Newtownards – the “new town in Ards”. The reason they added the word Gdański in the 20th century is because Gdańsk is the largest nearby city, therefore this differentiates Starogard Gdański from other cities also known as Starogard. Literally, as someone learning Polish this translates as the Starogard of Gdańsk.
These are my top 20 things to check out when you backpack this off the wall gem.
1.Rynek (Main Square/Market Square)
The Rynek is of course the main square and heart of this town. It has a happy vibe and there are very rarely tourists here. Around the Rynek are some cool bars, cafes and shops. There are also two of the churches on this list, plus the Ratusz – the Town Hall.
The square is of perfect size, 107 x 107 metres. Allegedly the Town Hall is connected to dungeons and subterranean ways behind the city wall. There’s a little mystery in the air.
The River Wierzyca runs through Starogard Gdański and you have many options to cross the river. There are lots of bridges and canals. I actually was staying on an island – Noclegi Rekord is on a mini island in the city! But you wouldn’t really know that when you are on it. You can go canoeing on the canals or jogging in leafy parks alongside the river.
3.Kościół sw Katarzyny (St. Catherine’s Church)
This is easily the most distinctive church in Starogard Gdański, right on the corner by the Rynek and appearing in most photographs to promote the town. The city centre has a holy and pleasant feel and this church gives the place a real peace. It was quite soothing walking past this one every day.
At a guess, I’d say it’s also the highest building in the city.
4.Parafia Rzymskokatolicka św. Mateusza (St. Matthew’s Church)
The Oldest Church in Starogard Gdański is St. Matthews. Inside it has a huge mural and outside a few plaques. I went into this one to pray during my time in Starogard Gdański.
The Gothic features decorate from outside the inner forms, with baroque furnishings inside. It is considered to be the most valuable monument of medieval architecture in the town.
5. Kazimierz Deyna Stadium
A really cool yet surprising fact is that one of Poland’s greatest ever footballers came from Starogard Gdański, Kazimierz Deyna, an outstanding Poland international who died in 1989. The local stadium is named after him and I was staying beside it! From my hotel room I could see the pitch and there was a huge tribute section to him there too.
In the stadium grandstand you can meet Deyna himself, wearing a Polish national football team T-shirt, holding a football, looking at the pitch and encouraging young footballers who train there! Yes he has a statue in the stands!
Unfortunately it is only the monument to the famous sportsman. It is of life size and it was made by a local artist and put on the grandstand to underline that one of the Poland’s greatest football players came from Starogard Gdański, this little known town. I was told that the team that play here, Włókniarz Starogard Gdański are now in the Polish fourth division.
6.Ratusz (Town Hall)
The Town Hall is of yellow paint and red brick and distinctive in the heart of the Rynek. On the gable flies a flag of 1339, the year when Starogard got its coat of arms. Yes, this is an old town.
7.Urząd Miasta (City Hall)
Confusing? The odd thing about the name Urząd Miasta is that it means “City Hall” rather than Town Hall and yet there is already a Town Hall in the Rynek. This building is bigger and about 7-8 minutes walk north from the Rynek. It’s more like a council building but a pretty one none the less.
You probably will have noticed that every now and then, I whack a shopping centre into my top sights. The reason for this is I love to contrast the old to the new. I’m not totally against commericalism of course. I just prefer small businesses doing well for themselves.
Galeria Neptun does have Subway and some brand name shops like H & M, but this Northern Irish dude loved the coffee shops for blogging. Free Wi-Fi, cheap coffee and only a few minutes walk from the Rynek. A big Carrefour nearby gets your shopping needs.
I did a separate Thirsty Thursdays on Starogard Gdański’s top bars as I did some cool partying here but if you only have time for a quick beer – Browar is the one! A bar that brews its own beer, has a nice interior, friendly staff, Wi-Fi and good food!
Thanks to Gregorgz, Paulina, Marta and Ola for your hospitality!
Right next to my hotel was this place – at first I didn’t give it much notice, but when I read up on it I realised this was an elaborate place that sadly is no longer open. You can only admire it from the outside.
It was built by Franz Wichert in the 19th century. It’s an eclectic villa with a huge entrance arch and five statues at the front. It is also one of the sights on Starogard Gdanski’s tourist trail (all of which I “ticked off” of course).
11.Baszta Gdanska (Gdansk Bastion)
You could be forgiven for walking past this and missing it.
It is a relic of gothic architecture from 1325 and was a strong defence point for the old city. Today the bastion defends and presents the treasures in the museum next door.
12.Muzeum Ziemi Kociewskiej
This museum (next door to the Bastion) gives you the history of the region Kociewie, an ethnocultural region in the eastern part of Tuchola Forest. Check out the webpages at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kociewie and http://www.muzeum-kociewie.gda.pl/historia/historia.htm
Buildings with character are notable on your walk through the city. This one, the Sąd Rejonowy is the district court house. It’s on the tourist trail as well and worth checking out.
There are quite a few War Memorials in Starogard Gdanski so I’m putting them in as one sight here.
For some brilliant ice cream and waffles, head to Słodka Dziupla which has tables by the river in an idyllic setting. The ice cream is hugely popular.
16.Beer Garden in Rynek
Perhaps this was a summer line only, but I was able to relax on deck chairs in a mock beach, sip beer and listen to live music in the square. Seriously amazing!
With the meaning “Wardrobe Cafe”, this is a cosy place to relax and drink coffee. It’s only a few minutes walk from the Rynek and also has WiFi, good food and serves wine.
18.Parafia Rzymskokatolicka św. Wojciecha (Wojciech’s Church)
This church is south of the town centre and a leisurely dander through a park which also features a statue of Pope John Paul. I mistook this for a Russian Orthodox Church at first due to the shape, but it’s definitely a Roman Catholic Church.
A second Bastion on the list is called Baszta Tczewska. Rather than red brick, this is a white and black building attached to where the old town walls once where.
20.Wrzoskiewicz Lodziarnia Ice Cream Parlour
I hope I have spelt this correctly. While walking through the city centre, I encountered the Wrzoskiewicz Ice Cream Parlour so I went in for coffee and ice cream. The lady working here, Claudia let me try some beetroot ice cream, which was good! This is probably the first time I have included two ice cream parlours in a top 20 post, but the bars will be in a separate article, this Thursday so look out for that!
Here are some more photos of Starogard Gdański, as you can tell I really enjoyed my time here. I made a lot of new friends here and one of my travel buddies actually hails from a village nearby here (Kokoszkowy) so it was also cool to check out her town, though sadly she Ola Mueller wasn’t able to meet me or help out when I visited her town. I had to make some new friends instead and managed to get front page in the local newspaper too. Nearby, I also visited the village of Rywald, the town of Tczew , famous Malbork and holy Pelplin.
My trip to the town of Starogard Gdanski was inspired by Starogard girl Ola Mueller who played a big part in my journey to this town. She moved to Poznan in July just before my trip, but I hope to meet Ola someday for a drink in her town as we didn’t get the chance on this trip.
Here are some videos from my time backpacking in Starogard Gdański: