City Trip Report: Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk (Poland) was the destination of my recent city trip. Together with my brother I decided to explore this history-charged city in Poland together as a short trip over the weekend (Saturday until Monday).

First something about the city itself.

Gdansk has a really long history. First evidences of human settlements in the region of the city are dated back to the first century a. d.. In the following centuries it was influenced by a lot of European people from Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and many more. The city’s port has been one of the most important European sea ports and was part of the Hanseatic League. During World War II big parts of the historical city have been destroyed, but the residents have rebuilt it to keep the historical charm. Today Gdanks is still an important city and sea port for the economy of Poland. Beside that the city is a center of tourism and a perfect location either for a city trip or to go to the beach. Ahead of the European Soccer Championship in Poland and Ukraine the airport of the city got a new Terminal to be better prepared for more tourism in future.

Our trip

We came in to Gdansk on AirBerlin and had a very pleasant flight. Due to the small size of the airport it didn’t take long before we were standing in the arrival hall looking for a transfer to our hotel. As we didn’t want to wait for the bus we were ending with a taxi in the end. The trip to the city center is not far so that the price was around 19€ including tip. We stayed at the Scandic Gdansk, a modern ecolabled hotel in the very heart of the city. We had a good stay here and felt like home all the time. The location of the hotel was perfect for our plans: opposite of the main station so that most trains, trams and busses had a stop nearby; right next to a small shopping mall that was also open on Sunday and not far from the city center, we reached it after a 10 minute walk.

After arrival and bringing our bags to the room we decided to roam through the neighborhood to look out for some good food. We immediately noticed the historic townscape. No matter if we walked through a small alley or along a big street, historical building are present throughout the whole city and are partly renovated in really good condition.

We finally decided for a restaurant called Bioway. A place for organic vegetarian food with really good quality but fair prices. We enjoyed some burritos and vegetable pie and were now strong enough to start exploring the city.

As I forgot my travel guide in the plane (shame on me) we were just spontaneously walking through the city center. After walking though some streets with nice architecture from the 18th and 19th century we reached the Long Market Square. Standing on that square you feel like being back in the time of the Hanseatic League. The Neptune Fountain is the center of the square and it is surrounded by a lot of historically important buildings such as the Artus Court, a building used as a social meeting place for the merchants and the population in the past. Today a lot of restaurants and bars are located in the ground floors of the old houses.

From here on we went on to the Moltawa River. Along the river there is a nice promenade with a lot of nice shops, cafés and restaurants. The most important sight here is an ancient crane which has been used to load and unload ships. Today it is restored and equipped with a lot of boards to read about its history. If one walks right through the gate underneath it is possible to take a look at the technique and the huge rope that have been used.

We decided that this was enough sightseeing for the first day and went to the nearby supermarket to get some beers. For sure after drinking them and having some snack at the main station we started to check out the nightlife in Gdansk:

The city center offers a huge variety of bars, brewery pubs, clubs and restaurants to go to. During this Saturday night we decided to visit a bar first. We had some local beer and vodka which was excellent before we stopped by a student bar to have some more drinks.

Our experience was, that the people have always been very friendly and open and we have never felt unsafe walking through the streets at night. The prices for drinks and meals are below the prices in Germany but you always get good quality for it.

After a long night at the bar and not too much sleep we really enjoyed the breakfast the next morning. As we decided to go to the beach it was perfect to fill our stomach before leaving.

We took a tram from the main station and it took us about 25 minutes to reach the beach. The tram was stopping only 50m away from the beach. Even if it was cold (around 0°C / 32°F) we walked down the beach until we reached the pier of the public beach of Gdansk. While we were wearing winter jackets and beanies, there was a group of people going to have a bath in the cold Baltic sea. We decided not to do so as we already got some wet shoes due to taking pictures near the water which was cold enough. Anyways the beach is a great opportunity to relax, have a walk or visit one of the cafés around, not only in summer, but also in winter. On the way back to the tram station we stopped at a small café with really nice modern interior to have some coffee and cake.

As Gdansk is not far from the Russian boarder (to Kaliningrad) and more north than our hometown it was getting dark earlier than usual for us at around 03:30 pm. To have a nice view over the city before sunset we decided to go up to the so called Krzyz Milenijny, a giant cross throning on a hill over the city. From here we had a great view onto the whole city and the port. It was impressive to see the size of the port which isn’t really visible while walking through the city. On top of the hill, there is also a museum of the military history of Gdansk as barracks were located on this hill.

After that we had some food in a restaurant serving regional dishes at the Long Market Square. It was called Velevetka and is a really good place to have some regional food and drinks when you are in town. We had a soup, and a main dish with sausages, bigos, potatoes and mustard which was delicious. If you like savory food and good beer, the polish cuisine is something you should definitely try.

After having some beer and watching a movie in the hotel room we went to bed as we had a long trip ahead back home the next day.

On our last day we decided to just look out for some shops to get some souvenir vodka to bring back home. For sure we found some as prices for alcohol are much lower than in Germany. This time we took the bus back to the airport. The trip takes 35 minutes from the city center but is only 3 Zloty which equals approximately 0.70€ or $0.90. We enjoyed to see some parts of the city outside of the center and reached the airport perfectly in time to reach our flight.

How to get to Gdansk?

From Europe Gdansk can be reached either by train or by plane. A lot of low cost carriers offer connections to the airport of Gdansk (Wizz Air, Norwegian, Ryanair). If you come from abroad, there are four carriers offering connections for you: Lufthansa (worldwide through Frankfurt), LOT Polish Airlines (North America and Asia through Warsaw), SAS Scandinavian Airlines (North America and Asia through Copenhagen) and Airberlin (from the USA through Berlin Tegel).

I hope I was able to give you some insight on our trip and some ideas for your next one. If you have any questions or need some tips, please write us an E-Mail to thealterlookout@freenet.de or post a comment below.

Hendrik

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