Home Sightseeing Oliwa Park, Palace of Abbots and Oliwa Cathedral

Oliwa Park, Palace of Abbots and Oliwa Cathedral

by Maciek Bogdanski

Gdansk Oliwa

Oliwa is one of the most charming Gdansk’s districts and recently it has also become a growing business centre. Until 1926 it was not one of the Gdansk districts, but a separate town. In Oliwa you can visit the beautiful Oliwa Park, Palace of Abbots, Oliwa Cathedral or climb to Pacholek hill to see the panorama of Gdansk. Another attraction is the biggest ZOO in Poland. Let’s plan your visit and check what to see in Oliwa!

Oliwa Park, Pacholek hill, Palace of Abbots and Oliwa Cathedral
Oliwa Park, Pacholek hill, Palace of Abbots, Oliwa Cathedral

Oliwa Park

The whole complex: the Oliwa Park with Pacholek hill, Palace of Abbots, Oliwa Cathedral was owned by the Abbot of the Cistercians and it was Abbot Jacek Rybinski who – in XVIII century – was the initiator of the complex in today’s form.

First, we go to Oliwa Park which is 11 hectares in size and seems to be a perfect place to hide from the sun and noisy streets. In December and January, there are Christmas decorations and illuminations installed in the park, which attracts many people.

In the park, you can find ponds with birds, arbours and botanical and Japanese gardens. Don’t miss the avenue of limes which ends in a pond. The interesting fact is that the pond is not as rectangular as it seems to be when you look at it. It is one meter wider in the end – as a result, you undergo a perspective illusion. In the past, because of the topography, it was possible to see the sea from the end of the avenue and it looked as if the pond ended in the Baltic. Nowadays the view is covered by buildings and trees, therefore the view is a little less impressive.

Oliwa Park - the avenue of limes
Oliwa Park – the avenue of limes

The palm house

The palm house was closed for renovation for quite a while but finally opened again in March 2022 with a 4 years delay. Unfortunately, the 180-year-old date palm, for which the palm house was built, did not survive the renovation. The palm house serves now as a winter garden for other exotic plants that need higher temperature. The palm house may be visited free of charge from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm.

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The Whispering grotto

Finally, you should visit the Whispering grotto (Grota Szeptow). One person should be whispering in one grotto and at the same time, another person standing close to the wall in the opposite grotto will hear everything  – provided no other people stand inside or between the grottos.

Oliwa Park - the Whispering grotto
Oliwa Park – the Whispering grotto

But Oliwa Complex is more than just ponds and grottos – it’s a huge area designed for relaxation. So don’t hesitate to bring here a blanket and put it on the grass in the south-west part of the park. However, drinking alcohol is not allowed here.

Oliwa Park opening hours

May-September5:00 a.m – 11 p.m.
October – April5:00 a.m – 08 p.m.

The entrance to Oliwa Park is free. You mustn’t bring dogs, even if it’s kept on a leash.

If Oliwa Park is not enough for you, the extensive area around is within Trojmiejski Park Krajobrazowy – a forest area with lots of foot and bike trails. The most popular paths lead to Dolina Radosci and Dolina Zgnilych Mostow. Believe it or not, there used to be a Ski Jump on one of the hills, and you may still see the remains. Just look for “Dawna skocznia narciarska w Dolinie Radosci”

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Oliwa Cathedral

Going under the gate towards Nowickiego street you’ll reach Oliwa Cathedral with its famous organ. The Cathedral is 107 meters long,  and this is the longest church in Poland, and the longest Cistercians church in the World. First Cistercians Monastery was built there in the XII century but it didn’t survive the fire. The present Cathedral was built in the XIV century in the Gothic style. It really looks impressive inside.

In XVII century Abbot Jacek Rybinski commissioned the construction of famous organs. At that time it was the biggest organ in Europe and probably in the world.

Oliwa Cathedral inside.
Oliwa Cathedral inside.

You can enter the church and hear the short presentation of organs. The entrance to the Oliwa Cathedral is free.

Oliwa Cathedral organs presentation’s hours:

November – March: weekdays 12:00, Sundays: 15:00

April: weekdays 11:00, 12:00, Sundays: 15:00, 16:00

May, September: weekdays 10:00, 11:00, 12:00,  13:00, Sundays and 03.05: 15:00, 16:00

June: weekdays: 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 15.00, 16.00, Saturdays: 0.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, Sundays: 5.00, 16.00, 17.00

July-August: weekdays: 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 15.00, 16.00 , 17.00, Saturdays: 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, Sundays and 15.08 15.00, 16.00, 17.00

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October: weekdays: 11.00, 12.00, Sundays: 15.00

Palace of Abbots in Gdansk Oliwa

Entering the main gate to Oliwa Park from Opata Rybinskiego street if you go left to the French garden, you will see the Palace of Abbots. This Rococo-style Palace was built in 1754-1756 by Abbot Jacek Rybinski. Nowadays there is a restaurant and the Museum of Contemporary Art inside. The entrance is on the other side of the building – you’ll pass by it when going to the Oliwa Cathedral.

Opposite the entrance, there’s an old storehouse, now the Ethnographic Museum. Both museums are branches of the National Museum in Gdansk.

Oliwa - Palace of Abbots
Oliwa – Palace of Abbots

Opening hours: Museum of Contemporary Art (Palace of Abbots) and Ethnographic Museum 

High season (01.05-30.09)
Tuesday- Sunday10:00-17:00
Thursday (01.06-31.08)12:00-19:00
Low season (01.10-30.04)
Tuesday – Friday09:00-16:00
Saturday – Sunday10:00-17:00

Tickets: Museum of Contemporary Art (Palace of Abbots) and Ethnographic Museum
Regular 10 PLN
Reduced 6 PLN
Friday – free entrance to the Museum of Contemporary Art

Pacholek hill

From the Oliwa Cathedral, you can climb the Pacholek hill. Go Cystersow Street, then turn left to Opacka Street and go towards Spacerowa Street. When going Spacerowa Street on the right you’ll see newly built stairs that go to the top of the hill. There’s also a viewpoint tower on the top. You can see a panorama of Oliwa with its business centre, Trojmiejski Landscape Park and if the weather is good, the Bay of Gdansk.

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Read more about Pacholek Hill here: Viewpoints in Gdansk

View from Pacholek hill.
View from Pacholek hill.

About 1,5 km from the Pacholek hill, in the direction of Dolina Radosci, there’s a XVI century water forge (Kuznia Wodna), still able to process steel – unique in Europe and the only one in Poland. Nowadays is closed for tourists except for some special events like the European Night of Museums in May.

Oliwa XVI century water forge
Oliwa XVI century water forge

Oliwa ZOO

When you get down from Pacholek hill there’s another big attraction in Oliwa – ZOO. It’s about 20 minutes on foot from the hill. Gdansk Oliwa ZOO, covering an area of 125 hectares, is the biggest in Poland. You need at least 3 hours to visit. There’re many species of animals, and they have big enclosures situated in the forest and using the natural topography.

In the summer it could be very crowded as many families go there with their children.

ZOO in Gdansk
ZOO in Gdansk

Gdansk Oliwa Zoo opening hours:

November-December, January-March 09:00-15:00
April weekdays and October09:00-17:00
April weekends, May-September09:00-19:00

The last admission to the Zoo is one hour before closing time

Gdansk Oliwa Zoo ticket price:

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Prices depend on the season:

January, February, March15 PLN10 PLN45 PLN8 PLN + 1 per. free
April25 PLN20 PLN85 PLN18 PLN + 1 per. free
May, June30 PLN25 PLN90 PLN20 PLN + 1 per. free
July, August35 PLN30 PLN110 PLN25 PLN + 1 per. free
September30 PLN25 PLN90 PLN20 PLN + 1 per. free
October25 PLN20 PLN85 PLN18 PLN + 1 per. free
November, December15 PLN10 PLN45 PLN8 PLN + 1 per. Free

You can also buy tickets in the ticket machine (payment only with cards).

The parking costs 5 PLN per hour or 20 PLN/day for cars and motorbikes.

How to get to the Gdansk Oliwa ZOO?

ZOO is quite close to Oliwa centre but if you don’t like to walk you can take a bus from “Oliwa Petla Tramwajowa”. There’s a bus nr 179 which goes all year (only some goes to the ZOO) and bus 622 which runs every day from 01.05 to 31.10. There’s also a bus “G” from Gdynia Pogorze on weekends from 01.05 to 31.10 but it’s better to go by SKM train from Gdynia.

How to get to Gdansk Oliwa?

You can easily go to Oliwa from the city centre. You should go to the main station “Dworzec Glowny” and from there you can go by train or tram. As you get off the tram/train everything is within the walking distance.

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By SKM train

The ride takes 15 minutes from “Dworzec Glowny” to “Gdansk Oliwa”. To the main entrance to Oliwa Park, you need to walk about 10 minutes.

By tram

From the city centre, you can take tram nr 6, 11 and 12 with direction to “Jelitkowo”, “Oliwa” or “Zaspa”. It takes 25 minutes to ” Obroncow Westerplatte” tram stop. From the stop, it’s 2 minutes walk to the main entrance to the park.

Check also our suggestion for GDANSK IN ONE DAY. Another option is Westerplatte and Wisloujscie – a place where the IIWW started and a fortress on the Vistula bank or nearby town Sopot.

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