Being the dynamic capital of the Pomorskie Province, Gdansk offers a fascinating contrast of rich history and modern-day lifestyle, buildings, and amenities. The place is simply packed with leisure and cultural options, and along with Gdynia and Sopot is also a part of the area known as Tri-city. The energetic port city stands proudly on the shores of the Baltic Sea and offers something for each one of its tourists, along with a few surprises, as well. The maritime capital of Poland and one of the largest ports on the Baltic is more than a thousand years old, and all of this makes it a unique metropolis. Yes, one day in Gdansk is bound to be fascinating.
What’s the best time to visit Gdansk?
If you are planning a tour to Gdansk or are interested in any of the other city tours in Poland, the best time to visit is between May and September. The average temperature of Poland in July would be around 25oC, which makes this the warmest month, and about 3oC on average during January, the coldest month.
The city is home to various festivals that are accompanied by interesting activities and entertainment.
The Festival of Chocolate is very popular in this city, among the locals as well as the tourists. It is held every year during early December. Visitors are invited to watch interesting movies, attend workshops and celebrations and also taste the delicious sweets of Poland. So, if you would like to be a part of the festival, you can plan to visit in early December to see the city in its full glory.
A few facts about Gdansk:
Gdansk was a part of Germany for a long time!
Yes, you read it right. The city was incorporated into Poland only after World War II in 1945. Germans were always in pursuit of Gdansk as it was a strong city that had easy access to the Baltic Sea. The city is still a very popular tourist destination among German tourists. You might even hear people speaking German while walking around. This is not a problem with the citizens of Gdansk, as many of them are fluent in this language. And since Gdansk was made a part of Poland following World War II, there are still many people who were born in Gdansk as German citizens.
Gdansk was the only free city in the past!
Just like Vatican City and Singapore, Gdansk used to be a city-state. It was completely independent and free, twice in its history. The first time was during the 19th century, (1807-1814), and the second time was between World War I and World War II (1920- 1939).
Both Poland and Germany wanted to incorporate this city as a part of their respective countries. Interestingly, there are still many people in Germany who are trying to get back to Gdansk – and they wish to make it a free city again.
Many legends about the landmark of Gdansk – The Neptune Fountain
The Neptune Fountain in one of the most important symbols of Gdansk. The big statue is located in the heart of Gdansk’s Old Town. However, there are various legends linked to this object. The most popular of all is the one about ‘Goldwasser’, a popular type of vodka from Gdansk. It is believed that the people of Gdansk were so rich that they kept throwing gold coins into the fountain. They thought it would bring in luck.
However, after some time, Neptune got angry that his fountain was cluttered. He shattered all the gold coins into a fine powder and turned the water in the fountain into vodka! This is how the famous ‘Goldwasser’ was created.
One Day in Gdansk Itinerary:
Explore The Old Town
Have a hearty breakfast in the place of your stay and step out onto the streets of Gdansk. The city is compact, and all the attractions can be quickly covered in the Old Town. However, unlike other Polish cities, you can just endlessly walk and find new beautiful streets. Tourists walk along the main trails, but you can also take a stroll along the parallel path which are not any less beautiful. Here are some of the attractions you should check out in the Old Town area:
Mariacka Street or St. Mary’s Street
This beautiful street was rebuilt after the destruction of World War II. This bustling street has a lot of cafes and restaurants known for their unique stone terraces and a broad stone staircase. Don’t miss the wonderful experience of walking through this charming street.
The Royal Way
Take a walk among the charming tall houses built in Dutch style. During this walk tour, you will also come across some of the most distinctive landmarks in the city like the Artus Court, Neptune’s Fountain and the Golden Gate at the western end of the street.
The Clock Tower of the Town Hall
While walking along the Royal Way, you can find the Main Town Hall. You will easily recognize it by the green Gothic clock tower, and here you can get the best views of the city. The same building also houses the, something history buffs will surely love.
At the end of the Royal Way, you can see the Golden Gate which is an amazing Renaissance city gate. The original gate was destroyed at the time of World War II. This gate was restored in 1997.
Part of the Gdansk History Museum today, Artus Court was a meeting place for merchants during the 16th and 17th centuries. The museum houses stunning paintings and sculptures. However, the tiled stove in the Main Hall is the main attraction here as it’s the tallest in Europe, at 10, 64 meters. Artus Court was also completely destroyed during World War II and rebuilt later on.
Right in front of Artus Court along the Royal Way is Neptune’s Fountain with the statue of Neptune on top of the fountain. It was originally built in 1549. During World War II, the fountain was dismantled in pieces and hidden together along with other local treasures. It was restored and returned to its place later in 2011-2012.
The Golden House
This is an important building where the mayors of the city lived throughout the years. This place is decorated with many beautiful statues. Unfortunately, the Golden House was destroyed during World War II, but was later rebuilt once the war had ended.
Climb the St. Mary’s Church Bell Tower
This is one of the most prominent landmarks of Gdansk, and it’s one of the world’s largest brick churches. You will have to climb around 400 steps to reach the top of the bell tower but the breathtaking view from up there is definitely worth it!
Check out Zuraw (The Crane)
This waterfront crane is from the 15th century and is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city. It was used to raise masts on ships, transfer cargoes, and also as a city gate. It was destroyed during World War II, was rebuilt later, and now belongs to the Polish Maritime Museum.
Visit at least one of the Museums or Westerplatte Memorial Site
European Solidarity Centre
This relatively young museum was built in 2014 but highlights some very important aspects of Polish history. The history of the Solidarity Movement in the 1980s and the anti-communist opposition in Europe is depicted here. The museum also conducts open discussions and debates about social justice and relevant topics.
Museum of the Second World War
This museum features everything about the Second World War. It’s divided into different rooms, and each room shows the different stages of the war. The videos and photos shown in this museum can be very moving.
Museum of Gdańsk Science
This museum is just four minutes away from Surf Burger, Garncarska. Therefore, you can take a walk and burn the calories, plus you can also find various other museums which you can visit the whole day.
World War II began here in Westerplatte. The first shots of the war were fired in 1939, and the Poles recognize this place as an extremely important site that symbolizes the bravery of defending the city against Hitler. It is a memorial site and a historical park today. You can see ruins, shelled bunkers and small museums, which are usually open in the high season.
Go on a Tall Ship River Cruise
Take a tall ship ride through the Motlawa River. This is a pirate-themed ship which can turn out to be a great adventure for the whole family. The ship can also be taken to Westerplatte during the summer months.
Eat from Surf Burger restaurant, Garncarska
You can take a SKM train from Gradowa Station to reach the Surf Burger restaurant. This restaurant was initially a food truck, but it grew into a chain of restaurants. The restaurant is practical and is crowded at peak hours which would make you wait, so you may want to try and get here a bit early. It will be well worth it if you want to have a quick but delicious lunch.
Enjoy the City View from Gradowa Hill
Gradowa Hill is located right behind the railway station, and you can take SKM local trains to reach this destination. Ticket vending machines have English and German language options. The ticket can be used for SKM local trains and then buses. Jerusalem Bastion is located on the hill, and it defended Gdansk from attacks from the west. Grass grows above all buildings and this prevents them from being seen from far. Some rooms contain the information and installations of the parts of the bastion’s activity. In addition to the historical value, this place offers an excellent view of the city.
Go for an Evening Stroll along the Gdansk Embankment
Following the museum visits, you can walk along the embankment. It is a beautiful place for a walk in the evening with the breeze and the city all lit up. If you want, you can do some shopping, have your dinner and return to the hotel where you stay.
Where to stay in Gdansk, Poland?
Radisson Blu Hotel, Gdańsk
Długi Targ 19, 80-828 Gdańsk, Poland
If you want luxury, Radisson Blu Hotel, Gdańsk is the place to stay. This five-star beauty will provide you with an amazing view of the Old Town and luxury rooms whose bathrooms have floor heating. It also has an exquisite French restaurant with a very impressive selection of fine wines. Everything you could want from a luxury hotel is here!
PURO Gdańsk Stare Miasto
Stągiewna 26, 80-750 Gdańsk, Poland
PURO Gdańsk Stare Miasto is located in the center of Gdansk and is 150 meters away from Green Gate and 300 meters from the Long Market. This is a modern hotel and hot beverages can be enjoyed free of charge here. The hotel provides express check-in and check-out service, 24 hour front desk and meeting facilities. This place is ideal for couples to have a beautiful and comfortable stay.
Hampton by Hilton
Lektykarska 4 , 80-831 Gdańsk, Poland
Hampton by Hilton, Old Town is a great place to stay if you’re looking for accommodation in the heart of Gdansk. The location simply couldn’t be any better because the hotel is right next to the Neptune Fountain, plus you can count on excellent breakfast, comfortable rooms, even a fitness center. All rooms are non-smoking and very well equipped.
Day trips from Gdansk
Sopot is around 20 kilometers away from the city of Gdansk. The beach there is a perfect place to take a relaxing walk. You can walk along the leafy neighborhoods that are adjacent to the coast and you will see beautiful wooden houses here. As several trains commute to and from Gdansk to Sopot, you don’t have to hurry to get back. You can relax, sip coffee, travel around, do some shopping, take in the sights, lie on the white sand and then call it a day.
This castle is huge and you would need a lot of time to explore it. It is around 50 kilometers and was brilliantly reconstructed in 2016, it is in perfect shape today. You can take a walk through the various courtyards inside this castle and also the interior rooms like private chambers, kitchen, dining rooms, and chapel. Walk up to the top of the towers for a breathtaking view!
How about hopping over to Russia? Well, to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, to be more precise. Just remember that you will need a visa to get in here. There plenty of interesting things to see and do, and one of the most important sights is the tomb of the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant. Interestingly, the city also hosted some of the matches of the 2018 World Cup, plus you have plenty of interesting foods to try out. You certainly won’t be sorry if you take a day trip from Gdansk to here!
A lovely peninsula that can be reached both by boat and by bus, Hel is a fantastic destination for a day trip from Gdansk for those who just want to take it easy for a while. Sandy beaches, loads of birds, great seafood restaurants… a perfect romantic getaway!
Extra tips for visiting Gdansk:
– The time from June to October is considered to be one of the best times to visit and relax in Gdansk. It is during this time of the year that the city gets the most visitors. During the holiday season, you might experience a shortage in the availability of rooms. So, it’s always a good idea to reserve rooms in advance.
– Small bistros and cafes on the streets are very popular among tourists. You can find them almost everywhere. They offer a rich selection of fresh pastries, meat, salad, and fish dishes. The most expensive dishes might cost more than 7 euros.
– If you are a fan of shopping and would love to buy something from Gdansk, visit the city at the beginning of August. This is when the city of Gdansk hosts the famous St. Dominic Fair. The fair lasts three weeks and is accompanied by numerous sales and cultural events.
– Bus is the most popular form of public transport. You can easily reach anywhere in the city using a bus. A ticket for one ride might cost you around 1 euro. You can also purchase special ticket passes to save up money and travel around the entire day.