When researching into places to visit in Poland, we decided to head to the slightly lesser known city of Gdansk – and what a great decision that was. When heading to larger tourist destinations such as Rome or Paris, you have a slight expectation. Something I love about going somewhere a little different is that it can totally and utterly surprise you, and boy did Gdansk do just that. It’s a beauty. If you’re looking for somewhere to go in Poland for a short city break and want to avoid the tourist hotspots, then head straight to Gdansk. You won’t be disappointed by this Polish seaside town located along the Baltic sea! Here’s how we spent our time.
Firstly I just want to cover prices. Almost everyone loves a bargain, right? Well this whole trip cost us less than £500 – and that’s including all the food we ate whilst there (and we ate a LOT of food). There’s also a great Uber service in Gdansk – it’s quite new but it seems to have really caught on and is incredibly cheap.
The historic old town is small and compact, perfect for exploring on your own two feet. If you’re staying near the city centre then you’ll be able to access everything by foot. I’d recommend starting with a stroll down Dlugi Targ, which is also known as the Long Market – it’s very picturesque and perfect to grab a coffee in one of the many beautiful cafes nearby. It isn’t huge, but it’s a must see when in Gdansk. Start at the Golden Gate and walk towards the waterfront.
Gdansk Old Town is beautiful in general – with each building carrying a story of it’s own. From the seemingly “medieval” facade close to the Golden Gate (painted by Soviet authorities), to the statues on top of buildings that have been rebuilt after the Second World War. Whatever you do in Gdansk, just make sure you take a slow stroll and look up!
Whilst in Gdansk, I can’t recommend heading to Sopot Beach enough. We had originally planned to hop on a train which takes 30 minutes and costs pennies. But we soon realised just how cheap and amazing Uber is! Just a 20 minute journey and we ended up in Sopot, blessed with beautifully crisp sunshine and golden sands. We took a little walk along the pier – get to the end and look back – it’s definitely a good place for a little photo opportunity. Be sure to wrap up, even in the summer it can get chilly due to sharp winds from the Baltic sea. We then wandered onto the sand, fed some friendly swans and stopped by a cute cafe for a burger, followed by waffles! This was definitely one of my favourite days whilst in Gdansk.
St Mary’s Church and viewpoint
If you’ve followed by blog for a while then you may notice we always have to find a good viewpoint. I love being up high (apart from when on an aeroplane – strange). So it was obvious we had to climb to the top of St Mary’s Church and check out the beautiful 360 views. St Mary’s is the biggest brick-made church in Europe and so if you do find yourself in Gdansk, visiting inside is a must. When entering the church you’ll see the entrance to the tower on your left – it costs 8 PLN which is approximately £1.50. The steps up are quite narrow and can leave you feeling a little claustrophobic, but you soon reach wider steps and the bells – which are still working so if you manage to time your trip well then you may hear the hourly chime close up.
A few things about Gdansk that took me by surprise – one was the lack of tourists. We didn’t come across one single British person and I loved that. I remember a lady in a shop realising we were from England and being so excited.. and then confused as to why we were in Gdansk and not London. Well, I’d pick Gdansk any day! Another thing that surprised me was the food – we ate out more than we usually would, mostly because the food was such good value, but also because it was SO.DAMN.GOOD. I had the best burger I think I’ve ever had whilst in Sopot.
Where WW2 began
The history of Gdansk is also something that drew us in. September 1, 1939, is forever engraved in history books as the day the world went to war. The world would never be the same again, and it started in Gdansk as the opening act in Hitler’s vile plan. At 4:48 am, a German battleship let off the first shots starting World War Two – these were fired on the peninsula at Westerplatte. On the same morning, German Nazi troops also stormed the Polish Post Office in Gdańsk, killing innocent workers. We went to the Westerplatte briefly – a strange moment to think we stood exactly where WW2 began all those years ago.
I’m so glad we picked to visit Gdansk. We went with our gut and wanted something less touristy and more off the map. I’m not sure it will last that way for long though – with it being so pretty and easily accessible, I’m certain in a few years it’ll be up there with Warsaw! You can see a video of our trip below and lots more photos! If you have any questions about where to go, what to eat or what to see then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I could talk about all things travel for hours on end and never get bored.