Tall Ships’ Races 2013 – Szczecin, Poland

April 8, 2013 in Accomodation, Attractions, Events, General, Leisure, Polish Matters, Transport, Travelling Poland

Tall Ships Races 2013 300x213 Tall Ships Races 2013   Szczecin, Poland

© Alvov – Fotolia.com

Another major event is coming up in Poland – the finish line of the Tall Ships’ Races 2013 in Szczecin. The famous competition of great tall ships from all around the world is taking place on the Baltic Sea this year, and all the wonderful vessels will end their struggle for first place at the beautiful Polish seaside. It’s a happening no sailing fan can afford to miss!


The 4th of July, 2013 will mark the beginning of Tall Ships’ Races 2013 starting with the city of Aarhus in Denmark. After two races, separated by a cruise-in-company track, the vessels will make their finish line on the 3rd of August in Szczecin (also known as Stettin) in Poland. Approximately 120 great frigates and yachts will make port in and around the Polish harbor, with five of the greatest tall ships anchoring right in the city, for the public to view.

Apart from being a major event for the sailors and all the youth taking part in the event and learning teamwork on board of a sail ship, the Tall Ships’ Races make for a great public attraction. It is assumed that about 2,5 million tourists will visit Szczecin for this particular summer weekend.

What are the Tall Ships’ Races?

The Tall Ship’s Races are a friendly competition started in 1956 by a British lawyer. Since then, the races have become a tradition and take place every four years, although always on slightly different routes. Even though most of the races have a European taste, with most or all harbors being placed in Europe, there have also been transatlantic races in the past.

The event has grown over the years and at present, over 100 tall ships and other sail boats, including yachts over 10 meters in length, take part in the race. Tall Ship’s Races are being hosted and organized by Sail Training International – a non-profit organization aimed at offering young adults the possibility to become part of a team on board of a great ship. The purpose is to have fun, learn the challenges of being a crew member, have an lifetime adventure and improve overall team working skills. The foundation is big on assuring equality and making sure that the group is diversified with respect to race, gender, religion and economic situation of the young people.

The event has been sponsored by different companies throughout the years, with the city of Szczecin being a major sponsor for this year’s event. It’s worth noting that this is the second time that the tall ships will visit the Polish harbor – previously, we were honored to host them in 2007.

When the ships make port, they can be viewed and visited by the general public. At the same time, the host cities make sure that no-one is bored by providing concerts and several other attractions for tourists from all around the world.

Why come to Szczecin for the Tall Ships’ Races 2013?

Szczecin is one of the major sponsor for Tall Ships’ Races 2013 with the cost of the event being in the proximity of 15 mln PLN (roughly 5 mln USD) and an additional 5 mln PLN (approx. 1,6 mln USD) needed to be gathered from additional sponsors.

It is expected that 2,5 million people will come to Szczecin for the weekend of the 3rd of August. There will be two free concert zones and one with tickets available for sale. It is not yet known which artists will participate, but we can expect world famous singers from all over the world. Of course, I will keep you updated whenever the list becomes known to the public.

Five tall ships will be anchored directly in the Szczecin harbor and available for the public to visit. It will be a fair, with all the typical attractions you will normally find during a fair.

On top of that, Szczecin is very close to the beautiful Polish seaside, with sandy beaches on the Baltic sea. So, if you get bored of watching the ships and listening to shanties (although I can’t imagine you will), it’s a great opportunity to spend a wonderful summer time at the sea.

The route in 2013 and where is Szczecin?

The first part of Tall Ships’ Races 2013 (known as Race One) starts in Aarhus, Denmark and finishes in Helsinki, Finland. It’s a fairly long distance in the north part of the Baltic Sea. From Helsinki, the ships will depart in a non-race leg (called Cruise-In-Company) to Riga, Latvia. From there, Race Two will start with the finish line in Szczecin, Poland.

Szczecin is located in the very north western corner of Poland, by the Baltic Sea. Even though the city itself is not directly by the seaside, the distance is short and you can travel to the city of Świnoujście, which is directly by the German border, and right next to the beach.

Here is the location of Szczecin on Google Maps:

How to get there?

Szczecin does have an international airport, which will make the direct journey for some of you a little bit more convenient. For the time being, you can fly to Szczecin from a few airports in the UK and Ireland (London, Bristol, Dublin, Liverpool and Edinburgh) as well as Norway (Oslo and Stavanger). There are also regular flights to and from Warsaw, which means that you can fly to Warsaw and take a connecting flight to Szczecin.

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There are also at least a few airports which you can fly to both with low cost and legacy carriers, and which are in reasonable distance from Szczecin. These are (the closest one first):

  • Herringsdorf – 114 km, a small airport on the Usedom island in Germany (right next to the Polish city of Świnoujście, and there are no borders as you may remember). Not too many airlines fly down here, so be sure to check out the airports website here. However, you can to Herringsdorf from the main cities in Germany, Poland and a few other countries. That’s probably most convenient.
  • Berlin – 150 km, I don’t think I need to tell you that you can fly to Berlin from just about anywhere in the world. The distance is short and there are German highways almost all of the way. Also, you will find coaches and trains.
  • Poznań – 246 km, this is not quite as convenient, but you can still make the distance easily via car. Also, there will be much more train and coach connections than there are from Berlin. Some low cost and legacy airlines fly to Poznań.
  • Gdańsk – 347 km, this is already quite a distance. However, I still recommend it because I would encourage you to stay a bit longer and visit Gdańsk while you in Poland. It is a beautiful, old city not far from the sea, with a great harbor. It has also played a major role in the Solidarity uprising in 1989 and is home to the Polish Nobel Prize Holder and former president of Poland, Mr. Lech Wałęsa. The current Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Donald Tusk also lives in Gdańsk. The city has a big airport and is easy to get to. You will find Wizzair, Ryanair, SAS, Lufthansa and LOT having connections to Gdańsk. Also, I greatly recommend to rent a car and drive along the Polish seaside. Take your time, let the journey last 2 or 3 days (although you can do it in about 4-5 hours if you want) and visit some of the small Polish towns by the sea. You will be surprised by the great beaches and a variety of attractions those towns have to offer during the summer.
  • Warsaw – 605 km, this is very far. I don’t really recommend to fly through Warsaw (except when you catch the connecting flight to Szczecin), unless you’re in for a bigger holiday in Poland and the Tall Ship’s Races 2013 is supposed to be only one of the many things you would like to see. The distance is great, and whether you’re intending to rent a car and drive or take a train, the journey will be a nuisance. On the other hand, it can be done of course and you will find plenty of trains and coaches which will bring you to Szczecin in 8 – 10 hours.

Compare all cheap flights with Skyscanner Tall Ships Races 2013   Szczecin, Poland

There are car rentals all over Poland, so you will not have a problem with getting a car to get around. Also, I recommend my posts on driving in Poland – they may be useful.

Where to stay?

There is, of course, a ton of hotels in and around Szczecin. However, as I wrote earlier, Tall Ship’s Races 2013 is supposed to be visited by about 2,5 million tourists, which means that hotel space will run out quickly. Try booking.com to find your hotel rooms in the city or around it.

If you don’t find anything in Szczecin directly, you can look for great deals and rooms with a sea view in Świnoujście, Międzyzdroje, Goleniów or Herringsdorf. There will also be a great camping site set up in Szczecin for tents and campers alike.

If you’ll be driving, I also recommend to stay in Kołobrzeg. This is about 135 km from Szczecin, so not all that close, but it’s my favorite seaside town, and it has a ton of great hotels with, pools, spa and everything you may want to enjoy during a summer trip. It is also wonderful for travelling Poland with kids, as they will find a million attractions in the water and outside of it. There are great restaurants with food well suited for adults and children. Be sure to check out all the deep fried fresh fish from the Baltic Sea!

Who’s visiting and the Polish tall ships

A total of about 120 vessels will be taking part in the Tall Ships’ Races 2013. Of course, the main players are the tall ships, most of which are regulars during the event. The must see ships this year include:

  • Dar Młodzieży (from Poland)
  • Shabab Oman (from Oman)
  • Mir (from Russia)
  • Sedov (from Russia)
  • Kruzeshtern (from Russia)
  • Danmark (from Denmark)
  • Gulden Leeuv (from Holland)
  • Baltic Beauty 1926 (from Sweden)
  • Joanna Saturna (from Sweden)
  • Black Diamond of Durham (from Great Britain)
  • Prolific (from Norway)
  • Wyvern (from Norway)

Apart from the “Dar Młodzieży”, Poland will be represented by the following vessels:

  • ORP Iskra
  • Pogoria
  • Fryderyk Chopin
  • Kapitan Borchardt
  • Zawisza Czarny

Will you be visiting the Tall Ships’ Races 2013? If so, will you come to Szczecin or would you rather choose some of the other host cities? I hope you’ll come and I’ll see you there!