Malbork Castle is Poland’s most famous castle. It’s also the largest castle in the world, classified by surface area. Located just a short distance from Gdansk and easily accessible by train, Malbork Castle is one of the best day trips to take from Gdansk.
In this article, get a brief history of the castle, learn how to get here, and learn how to have the best experience at Malbork Castle.
A Brief History of Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle, also called the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, dates back to the 13th century. This castle was built by the Teutonic Knights, German Roman-Catholic crusaders. The Teutonic Knights dominated the area around Malbork and Gdansk (called Danzig at the time) until 1457, when King Jagiellon and Polish forces captured the castle.
Over the next 500 years, the castle changed hands several times, bouncing back and forth between German and Polish ownership. During World War II, more than half of the castle was destroyed.
After World War II, the castle once again became part of Poland. The castle underwent a major restoration and now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
View of the bridge leading from the middle castle (on the right) to the high castle (on the left).
How to Get to Malbork Castle from Gdansk
The easiest way to get to Malbork Castle from Gdansk is by train. From Gdansk Glowy, the main train station in Gdansk, it can take between 28 and 55 minutes to get to Malbork Castle, depending upon the type of train you choose.
Regio (R) trains: The slowest and the cheapest option. This type of train makes several stops before arriving in Malbork and the journey takes 43 to 55 minutes. However, you only pay PLN 13.50 one way (about $4 USD). Seats are first come, first serve and there is a chance that there may only be standing room only.
You can view the timetable and book your tickets in advance on the Polregio website.
TLK trains: Slightly faster than regio trains and will only make one or two stops on the way to Malbork. This journey takes approximately 37 minutes and ticket prices start at PLN 17 one way (about $6 USD) for 2nd class and PLN 23 (about $8 USD) for 1st class.
You can view the timetable and book your tickets in advance on the PKP Intercity website.
EIC trains: The fastest option. They are direct to Malbork and only take 28 minutes. However they are also the most expensive, starting at PLN 29 one way (about $10 USD) for 2nd class and PLN 89 (about $30 USD) for 1st class.
You can view the timetable and book your tickets in advance on the PKP Intercity website.
To see the entire train schedule for the day, go to the DB Bahn website and enter your date of travel. This will give you the train timetable for all three train types to Malbork.
You can purchase your tickets at the main counter in the Gdansk train station the day of your visit to Malbork Castle. If you do this, expect to stand in line for up to 10 to 20 minutes, depending on crowd levels.
What We Did: We bought our tickets at the counter in the Gdansk train station. We were able to get tickets for the next train, it just happened to be the slower regio train. Until the train made its first stop, several of us had to stand, but seats opened up once people got off. The regio train is a commuter class train with unassigned seats. It’s nothing fancy but it was cheap and ran on time.
During the train ride, you will get your first view of Malbork Castle as you glide by it on the way to the train station.
From the Malbork train station, you can either walk to the castle or hire a taxi. It is a 20-minute, 1.7 km walk to get to Malbork Castle. Or, you can take a 5-minute taxi ride, costing roughly PLN 15, about $5 USD.
How to Visit Malbork Castle
Plan Your Visit
The summer season runs from May 1 to September 30. The winter season runs from October 1 to April 30.
- Summer Season: PLN 39.50, concession ticket PLN 29.50
- Winter Season: PLN 29.50, concession ticket PLN 20.50
- Tickets include the cost of the audio guide
- Summer Season: 9 am to 7 pm
- Winter Season: 10 am to 4 pm
On Mondays, admission is free although you will have to pay PLN 8 for an audio guide. However, the interiors of several of the castle rooms are not open so you will only be allowed to walk the grounds of the castle and visit select rooms. Click here to learn more.
There are also tours of the castle at nighttime, when the castle is illuminated and you take a tour with a guide dressed as a Teutonic Knight. These tours are offered on select nights. Click here to learn more.
Visiting hours can change if it is a public holiday so I suggest clicking here to get the updated museum hours for the day you plan to visit.
How Much Time Do You Need?
If you follow the audio guide, a typical visit here lasts 3.5 hours.
Touring Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle is huge. It’s the largest castle in the world so you will need to be prepared to do some walking. To get to several of the rooms, you will have to walk up and down several staircases and some of them are a bit steep and narrow.
The audio guide does a great job directing you through the castle. It knows your location by GPS so there is no pushing of buttons or searching for the next number on the wall. After it is finished giving you the scoop at one spot, it tells you how to get to the next place. Once you arrive there, it gives you the next bit of information.
There are three parts to Malbork Castle: the lower castle, the middle castle, and the high castle. You will quickly pass by through the lower castle and spend most of your time in the middle and high castles.
Without going into a ton of detail about the tour (since you will get this with the audio guide) here are the highlights of a visit to Malbork Castle.
Entrance to Malbork Castle
Best Things to do at Malbork Castle
Entrance Gate. You will enter Malbork Castle through the entrance gate in the lower castle. The walls and the drawbridge here were important fortifications of the castle.
From the lower castle, you will pass through a series of bridges and gates to enter the middle castle. You step out into a large courtyard that is surrounded by medieval buildings, a gift shop, and a restaurant.
Statues of the Grand Masters (and Kara)
Grand Masters’ Palace. This palace is one of the grandest sections of the castle. You will walk through a series of medieval rooms that were used as a royal residence, dining halls, and meeting rooms.
The Grand Refectory
Amber Collection. Learn about the history of amber in Poland in this museum.
West Terrace. There is a small, sheltered courtyard located near the rooms of the Grand Masters’ Palace. The audio guide will direct you here, but strangely, we saw few people here. It was quiet and peaceful and a nice break from the tour groups. There is also a mill here that you can tour.
To enter the high castle, you will walk across yet another drawbridge. The high castle is the oldest part of Malbork Castle.
Courtyard. The courtyard is the center of the high castle. The well that stands near the center of the courtyard was placed here so the Teutonic Knights would still have access to water in the event of a siege.
Chapter Room. This room was used for meetings and to elect the next Grand Master.
View from the Tower (Wiezna Glowna). For the best view over the castle, climb the tower. This is easily missed because it is not mentioned on the audio guide. On the second floor of the high castle, you will have to purchase a separate ticket. It costs just a few extra zloty and then you will have to climb a series of staircases to get to the top of the tower, but you get a nice aerial view over the castle.
Best View of Malbork Castle
When you exit the castle, cross the pedestrian bridge to the other side of the Nogat River for the best view of Malbork Castle.
Where to Eat
The Gothic Café is the place to eat in Malbork Castle. Have lunch prepared by a world renowned chef and dine on Polish cuisine. This place gets very busy at lunchtime. I recommend getting here before noon or making a reservation in advance. The Gothic Café is located in the middle castle.
How to Have the Best Experience
The best time to visit the castle is right at opening time or a few hours before closing time. By 10 am, the ticket line starts growing and by noon it can be an hour wait (or more) to get your tickets and audio guide.
To avoid waiting in the ticket line, purchase your Malbork Castle tickets online in advance.
We were hoping that taxis would be lined up in front of the castle to take people back to the train station. That was not the case in our situation. Be prepared to walk back to the train station at the end of your visit. But maybe you will be luckier than us!
If you arrive at Malbork Castle at 9 am, by 12:30 you will finish the tour, perfect time to have lunch at the Gothic Café. Take the train back to Gdansk, arriving in mid-afternoon. You should still have some time to do a little sightseeing or have a drink at one of the many outdoor cafes.
Are you planning a trip to Malbork Castle? Comment below if you have any questions or any advice for our readers.
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