When I booked my citytrip to Gdansk, I must say I was a bit sceptical and didn’t expect much from it. But in February it reached the top 3 of best European cities 2017. With Porto coming in first and Milan second. So as you can imagine, this definitely raised my expectations. If 426,859 voted for Gdansk to come in 3th, there must be something to it, right? And having been there last week I can confirm that Gdansk is an amazing city, with lots of character, friendly people, beautiful architecture and an extended history.
In its thousand years of existence Gdansk has played a crucial role in world history several times. At the ‘Westerplatte’, close to Gdansk, the first shots of World War 2 were fired. And in the shipyards of Gdansk arose in the 80s the union “Solidarnosc”, that shook up the communistic regime, with it’s call for freedom. But despite troubled times, lots of the medieval architecture has survived or has been rebuilt and taken care of until today.
To start of at the airport, Gdansk’s airport is one of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. The airport is really new and modern and definitely build for the future. These days the majority of the incoming flights is still domestic from within Poland, but I think certainly with the 3th place in the ‘best european city 2017’ competition, the number of tourists from all over the world will increase rapidly.
It is really easy and cheap to get from the Gdansk airport to the city centre. You can take the bus or the train, getting out of the arrivals, there is a digital board with the next trains and busses and the times. From there you follow the coloured lines on the ground, one leads you to the trainstation, which is on the airport itself and the other line takes you outside to the busstation in front of the building. The airport falls in the same Zone as the centre of Gdansk, so you can buy a normal single ticket (3zl), a one hour travel ticket (3.60zl) or even buy a 24h day ticket, with which you can get to and from the airport and around town for 24h for only 12zl!!! You can buy you busticket at the ticketmachine outside the terminal, next to the busstop or at the busdriver himself. If you buy your ticket at a ticketmachine, remember to validate your ticket in the bus, so it is stamped with the date and time.
Once in the city itself, I would recommend you to go and see everything by foot, as all the attractions are closeby the city centre, so you can enjoy it to it’s fullest. Gdansk is also a great city for biking, being dutch I know how to recognise a good cyclable city when I see one and Gdansk is definately one! You can rent a bike at about 40zl for a day.
What To Do?
First time in Gdansk? Begin the journey by visiting Gradowa Hill. Getting there from the downtown takes only 20 minutes by foot and the view is absolutely stunning. Gaze upon the vibrant city and choose your next step.
European Solidarity centre
The museum tells the story of Poland’s postwar fight for freedom and the gradual fall of communism across Europe, from the strikes of the 1970s to the round-table negotiations of the late 1980s and beyond.
Walk the Royal Way
When the king would come visit Gdansk, he entered the city throught the Upland Gate, to continue through the Golden Gate via Ul. Dluga and Dlugi Targ (the market square) all the way to the Green Gate. This street takes you maybe 20 minutes to walk, it is a beautifull street with amazing architecture and lots of character.
St Mary’s Basilica
St Mary’s Basilica is believed to be the largest brick church in the world, it can hold up to 25,000 people. The 78 metre tower has had a 3.3 million euro renovation. Now you can climb the 405 steps to reach a viewing platform with amazing views of old Gdansk.
Walk along the river ‘Motlawa’
If you ask me, this is the most beautifull part of Gdansk. It kind of reminds me of Kopenhagen and Amsterdam, but then it definately got its own identity as well. You should walk here in daylight and in the dark, as it is both equally beautifull. Halfway the river you find ‘the Crane’ which is one of the defining symbols of Gdańsk and represents what little is left of the city’s great trading age.
Daytrip to sopot
Gdansk in part of what the locals call a Trojmiasto (tri-city). The Tri-city is made of of three cities: Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia. Sopot is one of the country’s most famous and fashionable towns. It all began with a retired french doctor in Napoleon’s army building a bathhouse as spa. Since then it became the summerhome of many Europe’s ruling classes. It’s sandy beaches, beautifull hotels and spa’s give the town a luxury feel and together with the kilometres of cycle routes and forest paths makes it the perfect place where you can come and relax.
So all and all a very versatile city. Great for a citytrip or even for a week or so in the summer, visiting the surrounding beachtowns like sopot. You can go here with some friends enjoy the cheap food alcohol or go on a romantic get-away with your partner. So why don’t pick Gdansk for you next citytrip, before it get’s discouvered by mass tourism??