The Hel Fortifications Route

Until recently, Hel was associated by tourists with beautiful beaches, a unique climate and a seal aquarium, today these attributes of the place include fortifications that attract enthusiasts, but also walkers who have had enough of sunbathing and want to take a walk in the seaside forest.

Historic bunkers, shelters, fire control towers, German artillery positions, concrete fortifications and cannons of the Hel Fortified Area attract more and more tourists every year. There were so many enthusiasts of trips through the forest to look for remains that a walking trail was created, which allows us to easily reach the most interesting objects.

The trail is built on the “backbone and bones” principle and starts at the railway station and ends near the Hel cape. The main path, marked in blue, forms an incomplete loop with a length of approximately 10 km, and from it there are shorter routes – “bones” – leading to the most important points. An additional advantage of the trail is the possibility of completing it both on foot and by bike; the route leads mainly along dirt and forest roads.

Hel fortifications, photo: Pomorskie.Travel/M.Michalska

Hel fortifications, photo: Pomorskie.Travel/M.Michalska

Side trails are marked as follows:

  • red trail (walking) – to the fortification structures of the very tip of the Hel Peninsula
  • yellow trail (walking and cycling) – to the 21st anti-aircraft battery
  • black trail (pedestrian) – to the remains of a German anti-aircraft battery on the beach
  • orange trail (walking and cycling) – to the 33rd “Danish” battery
  • brown trail (walking) – to the dunes with the air defence battery positions
  • green trail (walking and cycling) – to Swedish Hill
  • grey trail (walking and cycling) – to the grenade launcher
  • purple trail – connects to the main one, we can choose it to shorten the route

Starting the hike from the railway station, it is worth going about 400 m towards Jastarnia, along the exit road, where there is one of the most interesting objects on the trail, the Coastal Defence Museum. It is located on the site of the world’s largest German coastal artillery battery, Schleswig Holstein. Unfortunately, the cannon was taken away by the Germans to France in 1940, but it is worth visiting the bunker rooms, which contain interesting exhibitions presenting life in the army, medical assistance at the front, as well as the history of the “32 days of the defense of Hel in 1939”.

Around the battery, in a forest setting, there is an open-air artillery museum presenting 12 guns related to the history of Hel, mines, torpedoes, guard bunkers and various military equipment. An additional attraction is the active narrow-gauge railway that takes you to the Hel Peninsula Railway Museum. There, in a huge reinforced concrete shelter, once used as an ammunition warehouse, we can see an exhibition about the creation and operation of the Hel railways. The upper floors of the tower offer a unique panorama of the Bay of Puck.

After visiting the headquarters, it is worth going to the other side of the street, where in the forest there is a 30-meter high fire control tower of the Schleswig Holstein 406 mm battery, with an armoured dome at the top.

The most important military facilities of the Second Polish Republic are located on the very cape, and you can visit them by following the red trail – “Around the fortifications of the Hel cape”. It is on this path that we will be able to see the most famous Polish battery from World War II – Battery named after Heliodor Laskowski, post-war facilities, including the 13th and 27th Permanent Artillery Batteries, as well as four 100 mm gun positions of the 27th Permanent Artillery Battery, built in 1956, located on the sea shore.

The main elements of military facilities starting from the headland

  • Promontory Battery
  • 27 BASS
  • 3 BASS
  • 21st Anti-Aircraft Battery
  • German Anti-Aircraft Battery
  • 33rd Danish Battery
  • 22nd Air Defense Missile Squadron
  • Swedish Hill
  • 13 BASS
  • 32 Greek Battery
  • 34th Artillery Battery, the so-called from “Gryf”
  • Coastal Defense Museum

Over recent years, employees of the Coastal Defense Museum and fans of the Hel fortifications have managed to take over more and more objects from the army. They are cleaned and prepared so that those traveling along the trail can easily reach them. The trail is marked and there are many information boards about the facilities along its route. An additional attribute of every seeker of Hel militaria may be the published tourist map “Fortifications of the Hel Peninsula”. So are you ready to search for bunkers, shelters and firing positions in the Hel forest?



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