The first mention of Kurzętnik comes from 1291. The town obtained city rights in 1330 and lost them in 1905. From the Middle Ages there is still the town's old town layout, the church of St. Maria Magdalena (from around 1300) and the ruins of the castle of the Chełmno chapter on a high hill.

On a hill in Kurzętnik an astronomical observatory was erected, thanks to the Nicolaus Copernicus Foundation. The Foundation popularizes the achievements of natural, mathematical and astronomical sciences, as well as introduces the life and work of Nicolaus Copernicus. By the path leading to the hill there is a monument commemorating the creation of the first Copernicus Trail.

Kurzętnik is located by the Drwęca Riverwhich covers the entire length of the nature reserve borders and constituties an attractive kayaking route. The tributary of Drwęca - the Wel River is also popular among kayaking enthusiasts.

In Kurzętnik there is the "Kurza Góra" ski resort with the longest ski routes in the region (about 2.5 km in total), an amusement park for children, an ice rink, equipment rental and a ski school.