The Best Things to Do in Gdansk, Poland
Sitting on the Baltic Sea, the tri-city area of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia is not somewhere I’d ever thought of going until we had some time booked off work, searched “everywhere” on Skyscanner and found £20 return flights, but we’re glad we did.
How to get there:
We got direct flights from Stansted using Ryanair who operate 2 flights there, and 2 flights back every day but it is serviced by other airports in the UK.
Once you’re there, it’s only a half hour bus journey into the city centre although if you have loads of luggage with you, Uber is cheap enough.
Where to stay:
We stayed in a Novotel very close to the centre because we’re a big fan of the cheap convenience of Accor hotels, which cost us about £120 for four nights. Unlike many cities, I would recommend stay right in the centre as public transport is tricky due to it not being on google maps.
When to go:
If you like cold weather, winter is the time for you! We’ve heard that the Christmas market is nice, although we can’t vouch for that as typically we left the day before it started. A colleague from work tells me, however, that it’s very nice in the summer.
Here are some of the best things to do in Gdansk:
1) Visit the European Solidarity Centre – The Solidarity Movement is a massive piece of Polish history which commemorates the revolution of Solidarity and the fall of communism in Poland and is an absolutely must visit to discover the history of worker’s rights in Poland.
2) Visit the World War II Museum – Easily my favourite museum I’ve ever visited because I always enjoyed learning about WWII at school and from my grandparents. This is a massive underground museum that really doesn’t leave anything out. I was amazed at how much I learned about the involvement of Italy and the Far East which I didn’t learn at school.
3) Go to Shopping Malls – Honestly, I have never been anywhere in my life that has as many shopping malls as Gdansk and they’re bloody big too. It’s not exactly cultural but some of these architectural behemoths are beautifully designed, especially when the Christmas lights are on and if you go in winter you’ll be thankful that you can just jump into one to warm up for a bit. They’re also handy if you want to charge your phone as there are plug sockets and places to sit everywhere.
4) Eat Local Food – I’d never had any Polish food before but after doing some research I knew I had to eat pierogi, being the dumpling fiend that I am. Effectively, pierogi are the Polish version of ravioli and come with a variety of fillings. We decided to stop at Pierogarnia u Dzika on our first night for a feast of Pork Pierogi, Black Pudding Pierogi & Polish Sausage, with a pint of Tyskie of course.
5) Get to the Beach in Sopot – Although a slightly snowy winter isn’t the ideal time to go to the beach, we enjoyed a long walk along the coast and up the long pier, finding it baffling that there were swans in the ocean. It was unsurprisingly quiet in November I have it on good authority from a colleague who went to university in the area that it’s an absolute party town in the summer. It’s also nice walking around the town centre and seeing the weirdly shaped Krzywy Domek.
6) Visit Some Unique and Cheap Bars – We’ll get to the craft beer later but one of the things we absolutely love doing when we visit other places is visiting someone of the cheapest and local bars to get a real feel of the city. Forget the bars and restaurants on the main street and explore the backstreets where you can get a beer and shot for around £3. Some of our favourite places in Gdansk were PijalniaWodki i Piwa, No To CYK, Josef K & Tabaka which were all one street over from tourist land. The most unique bar was Bunkier which is in an old nuclear fallout shelter, which was so cool.
7) Shoot Some Guns – Maybe a controversial one, but I’d always wanted to shoot some guns since we can’t do it in the UK and I stumbled across a shooting range whilst doing some research. DSTeamStrzelnica was a great experience where we got to shoot four guns (A Glock 17, a revolver, AK-47 and another rifle) and it only cost us £18 each to shoot a full clip of each gun. It was a really fun experience!
8) Eat Local Fast Food – Don’t judge me but one of my favourite things to do in other countries is to scope out what the big boys in the fast food scene are doing in other countries and trying regional menu items. I stumbled across possibly my favourite McDonald’s item ever in Gdanksk – Curly Fries with Blue Cheese Dip. Everyone also needs to pop into a Zabka convenience store and get a beautifully cheap hot dog for the road – they’re everywhere so you can’t miss them!
9) Visit the Amber Museum (and buy some) – The Amber Museum was really cool because we got to see so many pieces of art that were sculpted from the natural Amber that is found washed up on the beaches around Gdansk. It’s worth also taking a wander down Ulica Maricka which is known as “The Amber Street” to grab some souvenirs to take back home – the street sellers are willing to haggle, and it’s a lot cheaper than the UK.
10) Check Out the Local Craft Beer Scene – The craft beer scene in Poland is blowing up right now and we found absolutely tons of craft beer bars for a relatively small city. Some personal highlights were Maverick which is owned by Rockmill Brewery as the beer was good and the customer service was simply amazing, Labeerynt which shocked me as they had an imperial stout on hand pump on the bar and Lawendowa 8 which again we got great customer service from. The prices were insane with half litres of New England IPAs coming in at around £3.20. There are so many more craft beer bars, though, which I’ll cover in a larger post at some point but for now, take a look at my friend Amethyst’s blog on the subject.
There we have it, this is how we spent 5 days in the beautiful but cold city of Gdansk. In hindsight, we do think 5 days was a bit too long as there’s not absolutely tons to do especially in a brisk winter, but it is a fun city to wander around.
Have you been to Gdansk? Did we miss anything? Let me know!