Located in northern Poland, right on the Baltic sea is the port city of Gdansk. Don’t be fooled, this industrial city is more than just shipyards and icy cold Baltic winds. An impressive old town, quality restaurants and bars, great hotels and close proximity to other attractions such as sunny Sopot and Malbork Castle make this city an absolutely outstanding weekend break.
Gdansk airport receives flights from all over Europe (check Wizzair, Ryanair, Lufthansa, LOT and SAS) and is just a 20 minute taxi ride from the centre of town. You can also reach the city by train or bus from other Polish cities or even from further afield. A cab from the airport into town is about 32 Zloty (Є7 or £6.30)
We advise staying around the main old town area as this is where you’ll find all the attractions and restaurants. Anywhere from the train station to the end of ‘Long Market’ is perfect.
Hotels are worth a special mention as there are lots to choose from, our particular favourites are:
Radisson Hotel & Suites - amazing value for money, new built hotel with great views over the canal. Rooms are spacious and with all mod cons. There’s a nice bar and restaurant on site too. Check out our Hotel review guide below.
PURO Hotel – Very stylish place with rooftop bar, but the rooms are a bit small.
Craft Beer Central (hotel) – Located next to the train station, this historic building has a great restaurant and brewery in its basement and is perfect if you intend on taking one of the excursions we mention later.
So you’ve arrived, dropped off your stuff and are ready to explore!
Here’s an example itinerary of what to do that encompasses all the main attractions and will keep you busy all day or over 2 days if you have the time:
Long Market – as mentioned earlier, this is the main pedestrianised street that runs the length of the old town. You’ll find all manner of shops, bars and restaurants, but read on for our favourites that aren’t found on the main tourist strip.
Golden Gate – Located at the train station end of Long Market, Golden Gate marks the entrance to Long Market.
Walking down the cobbled street of Long Market, you will soon come to St Mary’s Basilica. This is the world’s largest brick built church and was completed in 1502. Climb the 409 steps to the top of the tower for great views across the city, port and Baltic sea.
World War 2 museum & Polish Post Office – although these attractions are not located next to each other, there is a beautiful 20 minute walking trail that we have put together on our video guide that takes you to both.
The post office was the location of resistance against the Nazi invasion of the city and the WWII museum is a hard hitting, but brilliantly put together exhibit of the impact war had on the city and Europe at large.
Riverside – Walk back into the centre of town from the museum along the riverside. The gentle walk will take you past a big ferris wheel and you’ll see boats making their way out to sea.
Eventually you’ll see the Black Pearl Ship. You can pop on board for a ride out into the Baltic if you fancy it.
You will also pass a reminder of why Gdansk exists – trade. The Crane has been here in some form since the 13th century. Imagine big wooden ships being loaded and off loaded before setting out to sea again.
From here, walk inland under St Mary’s Gate to Mariacka Street. This is perhaps Gdansk’s most charming street, especially so in early evening, when the old street lamps are lit and the glow of the shops selling amber jewellery light the cobbled walkway. This street is a step back in time.
Hala Targowa – The central market consists of 3 floors, but the most interesting for us is the lower level. Here you’ll find sellers of smoked meats, cheese, bread and confectionery. If you are self catering, this is the place for authentic local produce. There is also a colourful fruit and veg market outside.
Most Chlebowy – this cute little bridge is full of love locks and looks over the old flour mill. Its location brings us nicely onto food as it is just a minutes’ walk from our favourite lunch spot in town….
Mandu Pierogi – perhaps Poland’s most famous dish, Mandu serves up plates of these homemade dumplings with an unrivalled choice of fillings. All are freshly made on site (you can see them being made) and the menu changes regularly.
Our favourite is the classic Pierogi Ruskie, meat and potato filling with crispy bacon and sour cream. This place is a hot spot in town, so come early or be prepared to wait for a table.
Gdanski Bowke – the prime spot right next to the canal, makes this place fairly touristy, but don’t expect rip off food and sky high prices, ok, the prices are a bit higher than other places, but the service and quality are worth it. Classic Polish dishes of meat and fish are served, and we have never been disappointed with the slow cooked pork knuckle or ice cold vodka.
Browar PG4 – This is the place we mentioned earlier in the hotel section. It’s in the basement of the Craft Beer Central Hotel. The space is huge over 2 floors and is surprisingly bright and airy. You’ll find a wide range of snacks and mains, but the main reason to visit is the beer that’s produced on site.
If you fancy an after-dinner drink or two, head to Mariacka Street, the one with all the amber shops that we mentioned before. There are quite a few places here that are all as atmospheric as the street they’re on.
Gdansk is actually part of the ‘Tricity’ area. The towns of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia make up this coastal area. It’s well worth making the trip out of Gdansk to explore these areas, the trains are reliable, easy to use and cheap.
Sopot – this coastal town has a long history as a health spa resort and is home to a number of quite high end hotels. We didn't stay overnight here, but we did enjoy the long sandy beach (although the water is cold year round!),
Europe's longest wooden pier and perhaps one of Poland’s best restaurants. Check our video for details, including how to get there on the train. It's really easy!
You don’t want to miss this place if you’re in town.
Malbork Castle – located about a 50 minute train ride from Gdansk train station, it is the world's largest brick built castle. And it is big! Pick up a free audio guide when you get your ticket, we don’t normally bother with these guides, but this one was actually really good and uses gps to know where you are in the castle and gives you information based on which room you’re in, quite clever!
Malbork is covered in our very first Gdansk Guide, yes we have two!
So check that out here.
Poland is always a great option for a weekend away, or as part of a longer tour of the region. We love Gdansk for the food and the charming town. There’s as much or as little to do as you want and nothing is going to break the bank. Flights from London are plentiful and well timed and if you book ahead, you’ll get a great price on these too.
The Polish hospitality is top notch and the comfortable and even luxurious hotels will feel like a treat. If you’ve not visited Poland before, Gdansk is a great choice over the larger and more touristy Krakow. We have visited several times and will be back again soon.
For more other Polish Cities also check out our YouTube Poland Playlist