Its position on the Baltic has historically made Gdańsk one of the most important port cities in Northern Europe, and tragically also the scene of a rather disturbing past.
World War II was ignited by a dispute over control of this city. By the end of the war the city lay almost completely in ruins. The German population was expelled and replaced by Poles as the city came under Polish rule and changed its name to Gdańsk. However, the impact of its former German ties are still evident. Although most of the old buildings were damaged or destroyed in WWII, they have been painstakingly restored or rebuilt.
In modern history, Gdańsk is known as the birthplace of Solidarity, the labour and democracy movement that helped to bring down the Communist government in Poland, and subsequently marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The movement was led by the charismatic leader, Lech Wałęsa, who became Poland's first post-Communist president.
Do not be fooled by the fact that Gdańsk is famous for its shipyards, as it is a beautiful city with a charm of its own.
You can find a tourist information kiosk in the tunnel near the main Railway Station (Gdańsk Główny). There is also one just opposite the Town Hall (Ratusz Głównego Miasta) and also one on the main street Długi Targ 28/29 next to Green Gate (Zielona Brama). There's also a tourist information centre at the Lech Walesa International Airport.
At every Tourist Information point you can buy a Tourist Card offering more than 200 discounts and free offers on transport, museums, etc within the “Gdańsk – Sopot – Gdynia - Plus” area.
Lech Wałęsa Airport
Gdansk Lech Wałęsa Airport (Polish: Port Lotniczy Gdańsk im. Lecha Wałęsy), (IATA: GDN, ICAO: EPGD) , is an international airport located west northwest of Gdańsk and not far from the city centres of the Tricity metropolitan area: Gdańsk 12 km (7.5 mi), Sopot 10 km (6.2 mi) and Gdynia 23 km (14 mi).
The following airlines operate service to/from the airport:
Bus 210 — operates between the airport and Gdansk, and makes a stop at the train station, 35-50 minutes away. The fare is 3 zł if a ticket is bought from a news stand or Bilety shop, and 3,40 zł if the ticket is bought from the driver. Note that although the ticket has a picture of a tram on it, it is also valid for the bus. Make sure to get on in the right direction at the airport, because the bus goes into two directions from there. On the way to the airport, the bus picks up on the other side of the road, near the front of the Scandic hotel (look for the signs that have the 210 on them). From the tourist office in the tunnel, turn left, walk until you are outside and head right, go up the stairs, turn right, and the bus shelters will be in front of you.
Airportbus shuttle — also operates a transport service to Gdansk centre for 14.90 zł (you can buy ticket directly in the bus). This is a direct line between airport and city's centre. Bus stop in Gdansk is located in front of Mercure Hevelius hotel (it's 5 minutes walk from Main Railway Station). Journey depends on traffic and takes around 25-30 minutes. Runs only a couple of times per day .
Taxi — Avoid the unofficial rip off taxis who will pounce on you as soon as you have cleared security, unless you know how to deal with them. A Taxi to/from the airport to the city center should cost around 50-60 zł however will cost more in the evenings or at weekends. Taxi drivers will be waiting in the arrivals hall offering fixed price transfers, 60-70 zł is not unreasonable for an evening (after 22:00) transfer to the centre of Gdansk.
Private transfers — MPA Poland  provides transport services around Tri-City and Pomerania region. An airport transfer from/to airport costs 100 zł up to 8 people.
The main railway station, Gdańsk Glowny, is a beautiful historic building, although a rather confusing experience to non-Polish tourists. Information in languages other than Polish is almost non-existent. Please note the station actually operates as 2 separate stations, one for the PKP trains (intercity / long distance journeys) and another for the SKM commuter trains. Each station has separate ticket offices and platforms; the PKP station can be accessed from inside the station and the SKM station is found to the right of the main station (do not go into the PKP station).
Beware of pickpockets and people who may try to intimidate you for money around the railway station, especially late at night.
PKP operates long distance trains to other cities in Poland and Europe. Train timetable is available online. Buy a ticket before you enter the train. It is advisable to write the name of your destination on a piece of paper and then show it to the ticket sales person, as other languages than Polish are rarely spoken. Foreigners trying to pronounce the name of Polish destinations often cause confusion.
SKM operates frequent service between Gdansk and Sopot and Gdynia, 35 minutes away. These trains are located on the right side when entering the station. Tickets may be bought from a vending machine at the platform or from a ticket office in the subway below (access from the street or from the SKM platforms). Never enter these trains without a valid ticket and remember to validate your ticket before getting on the train as ticket controls checking passengers tickets are frequent. As a rule, tickets are valid for travel by one specific type of train only. Don't try to travel on a student ticket unless you have an ISIC student card, even if they sell you the ticket. The ticket inspector also asks for your student card, and if you just have a normal student card, they will likely refuse you.
The centre of Gdansk is very compact and almost everything is accessible on foot, the trams seem to go around the old town so none run through it. Trams and buses are cheap (3 zł/h) and frequent. Tickets can be bought from the driver at trams. Locals are keen to help with directions but always ask several people and see if they agree.
Trams and buses
Tickets are based on travel time, so you need to estimate the duration of the journey or have a few tickets extra to check when the previous expired. The tickets are stamped in machines on the buses.
There is a 24 hr ticket (9.10 zł) valid on all trams, buses during the day and on night buses.
Use the commuter train (SKM) to quickly go to Sopot and Gdynia, ticket to Gdynia will cost 5 zł and Sopot will cost 3.40 zł.
By hire car
MPA. Poland, ☎ +48 515 181161 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +48 58 5549393), . Personalised car hire with driver, or rental cars to self drive.
The huge St. Marys Church
Long Street and Long Market.
The Hall of the Main City. The old city hall has a museum inside showing off a nicely decorated room where the town council once met and some historic exhibits about the history of Gdansk. There are also impressive photos of the destruction after World War II10/5 zł.
Neptune Fountain. statue of Neptune - patron of the city.
Crane over the Motława River.
Długie Pobrzeże (Motława River bank). Impressive houses stand along the river bank. They can be nicely observed from the other bank of Motława.
St. Mary's Street.
St. Mary's Church. One of the largest Gothic churches in Europe and supposedly the largest brick church in the world. There is space for more than 20,000 people in the church.
St. Nicholas Church.
St. John’s Church.
St. Catherine's Church.
St. Bridget’s Church.
Sołdek Ship (Museum).
Royal Chapel. differs from typical Gdańsk architecture.
Oliwa Cathedral, (Oliwa Park).
Shrine of Our Lady Pregnant, (Gdansk Matemblewo).
Hall of the Old City.
New City Hall.
Nowy Port Lighthouse.
Memorial to fallen Shipyard Workers in Solidarity Square.
Solidarity Centre Foundation - Roads to Freedom Exhibition (Drogi do Wolności), ul. Wały Piastowskie 24 (the museum can be found in a converted bunker near the railway station), ☎ +48 58 3084428, (+48 58 3084319, fax: +48 58 3084234), . 10:00-18:00. This offers the chance to see the events leading to the creation of the Solidarity movement.Tickets cost 8zł.
Gdańsk History Museum.
Maritime Museum (Centralne Muzeum Morskie), ☎ +48 58 3018611 (email@example.com, fax: +48 58 3018453), .
IS Wyspa (Instytut Sztuki Wyspa), ul. Doki 1/145 B, . Art Institute on the shipyard grounds. Exhibitions, concerts, performances. A bookshop Zła Buka with selection of books on art and design.
Swim in the sea, Stogi (take the tram ([http://ztm.trojmiasto.pl/rozklady/rozklady/rozklady/rozklady/linia-3.html 3], [http://ztm.trojmiasto.pl/rozklady/rozklady/linia-8.html 8], ...) to its final stop at Stogi Plaża), . Often cold. The Stogi beach is large, has quite clean and fine sand, lifeguards, and several food stands and bars
Free Walking Tour, take a daily Alternative Gdansk free city tour and discover its exciting side with knowledgeable guides. Exploring Gdansk's hidden sights, find out unusual facts, discover local lifestyle and taste what locals eat. The city tour starts everyday at 12.00 pm at the main entrance to St. Mary's Church. Find more information at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alternative-Gdansk/144167645773445
Teaching English is a possibility.
Gdańsk is sometimes called the Amber Capital of the World. The surrounding area is the richest known source of this semi-precious stone, and the product can be found in many of the city's shops. The ones containing insects are much more expensive.
Galeria Sztuki Kaszubskiej (Kashubian Art Gallery), ul. Św. Ducha 48 (near St. Mary's church: one block left when facing church entrance), ☎ +48 503 0059783, . Hand embroidered items in traditional and contemporary designs and colours, including clothing, tablecloths, napkins, curtains, along with other regional folk art souvenirs.
Bar Neptun, (at the middle of ul. Długa (Long Street)). A milk bar serving hearty Polish meals at affordable prices.
You can buy fish on one of bars on Motława River bank (25 zł/meal)
La Cantina, ul. Długa 37/39 (up from Neptune Fountain), ☎ +48 58 3016071. Typical Polish restaurant. Try stuffed cabbage (19 zł) or the Polish sausage with sauerkraut (20 zł). They have heat lamps in the evening so you can sit comfortably outside.
Goldwasser, (on the waterfront just behind Długi Targ), . Hearty Polish fare. End the meal with a Goldwasser.
El Paso, Stary Rynek Oliwski 7, ☎ +48 58 5520641. Mexican restaurant.
Pierogarnia U Dzika, ul. Piwna 59/60 (on Piwina), ☎ +48 58 3052676. Apparently known as the best Pierogarnia (Polish dumplings) in Gdansk. This place is a large restaurant with an outside seating on the street behind the main drag (ul. Długa). Dzik is Polish for boar and this place is done out with all sorts of boar skins and stuffed animals. Try the specialty Pierogarnia Dzika (Wild Boar / Game Dumplings) - 22 zł, other fillings also available. Beer 9 zł.
Soda Cafe, ul. Chmielna 103/104 (across the river after Długi Targ), ☎ +48 58 3051256. Tasteful orange interiors and very tasty food. Try the "Walking on the Moon" goose breast for 21 zł. The lower level night club is open from 7PM "until the last guest leaves". Expect plenty of dance music from the early 1990s, but the punters are up for a good bit of jigging and it's definitely a good laugh with the drink prices not expensive at all.
Swojski Smak, ul. Heweliusza 25/27, . Good value, nice food, in a nicely decorated venue.
Yellow Submarine, ul. Długi Targ 39/40 (near Neptune Fountain), ☎ +48 58 3012233. Beer 8 zł for .5l and żurek soup 9 zł. Nightclub downstairs in the evening but not that good by all accounts, great place to catch the sun during the day with a nice Tyskie.
Restauracja Filharmonia, ul. Olowianka (in Philharmonia Baltica building), ☎ +48 58 3238358, . 12.00-22.00 or until the last guest. "Molecular" cuisine in lovely building with great view on the river. Excellent service too. No vegetarian dishes!~100 zł for 3-course meal.
Fellini, Moltawa area, near Hilton. High-quality Italian cuisine and top-notch service.~100 zł for three-course meal.
Gdańska, ul. Św. Ducha 16, ☎ +48 58 3057671, . An entertaining place to visit. The rooms are filled with antiques according to the principle less is not more, and the waiters are dressed like in the good old days.From 18-100 zł.
Targ Rybny (Fish Market) Targ Rybny 6C, *0-838 Gdansk, Poland. +48 58 320 90 11. www.targrybny.pl. An excellent fish restaurant just set back from the town ferry terminal, Next to the Hilton. Good range of dishes and high quality, popular with families during the day, need to book in the evenings especially weekends. Fresh oysters and lobsters with a bottle of Chardonay - 500 zl for 2, but also many reasonable priced options.
Danziger Goldwasser, root and herbal liqueur which has been produced since 16th century is considered the city's drink (it is now made in Germany though). It's vodka based, creamy and has small flakes of 22 or 23 karat gold in it. Cheaper alternatives include Gdańska Złotówka or Złota Woda.
"Gdańsk national drink" before WWII was Stobbes Machandel juniper vodka. After the war it was rejected and slightly forgotten due to association with German soldiers occupying the city, but today is gaining popularity again. There is a special ritual to be followed while drinking a shot of Machandel with a dried plum for a snack.
Brovarnia Gdańska, Szafarnia 9 (on the other side of the river next to the old city), . A mini brewery making their own really good beers in the basement of a hotel in restored 18 century granary. Food also served.Beer: 10 zł.
Buffet, Doki 1 (entrance through the Historic Gate at pl. Trzech Krzyży), . 12:00 - 23:00 daily. A club on the premises of the famous shipyard. Interesting interiors reminding of PRL times. Parties.
Bar Sphinx, Długi Targ (Main street). Another bar on the main street.Beer: 9 zł.
Cafe Absinthe, ul. Św. Ducha 2 (in the theatre building, on the square), ☎ 58 320 3784, . A crazy little bohemian bar, open almost 24 hours, frequented by artists, actors, freaks, among others, gets very very crowded and people dance on the tables or on the bar. Truly a sight to behold when it gets going good. One of the best bets for an off night too - if there's no people there, there's no people anywhere.
Loft, ul. Młyńska 15 (near Jacks Tower), . Nice late bar / club, no entry charges, free food after 23:00 (weekends), good music and good young crowd.Beer: 6 zł, tatanka 8 zł.
novotel centrum, pszenna 1.
Dom Harcerza, ul. Za Murami (200 m. east of Długi Targ), . Simple but very clean and tidy rooms. Singles at 50 zł, double at 120 zł. Generous breakfast offered by the café in the back at 9 zł.
Baltic Hostel, ul. Walowa 52 (ca. 10 min. walk east of Gdansk Glowny train station., 10 min. walk from Molatawa river/old town), ☎ 48 58 721 96 57 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Simple rooms in a one-story building near the old shipyard area. Dorm rooms at 40 zł, private rooms at 60 zł. Breakfast included. Free Internet (1 shared PC), coffee, tea..
Gdańsk University of Technology, ul. Traugutta 115 (Take a bus 115 or 199 from Gdańsk Wrzeszcz railway station), ☎ +48583471597, . 50 zł/single room, 70 zł/double.
Old Town Hostel, ul. Długa Grobla 7, ☎ +48 58 3513131, . Beds ranging from 40 zł/8 bed dorm, to 150 zł/double room. Free internet and breakfast.
Wolna Chata Hostel, ul. Krzywoustego 8, Oliwa (SKM from Gdansk Glowny to Gdansk Oliwa station, once off the train head in direction Droszyńskiego street, then on the roundabout cross the street and go straight ahead for about 4 minutes and the hostel is on the left), ☎ +48 500 121 809 (+48 58 7463351, email@example.com), . Free internet and breakfast.From 36 zł/night - please refer to website for up to date prices.
Hotel Willa Litarion, ul. Spichrzowa 18, ☎ +48 58 3202553, . This small modern hotel is in the centre, just 150 m from the Długi Targ market. Comfortable, carefully arranged rooms with bathrooms have: TV, telephone, free wireless internet.Prices begin at 255 zł per night.
Hotel Parnas, ul. Spichrzowa 27, ☎ +48 58 3201275, . A quiet, small and elegant hotel run by an older gentleman. Rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated. In the heart of the city. Prices from 300 zł per night.
Villa nad Potokiem, ul. Potokowa 21E, ☎ +48 58 3480341, . Small B&B in quiet area of Tricity Landscape Park protection zone. Comfortable rooms with a bathrooms, internet connection, TV. Friendly atmosphere created by young couple who run the place. Prices from 140zł per night.
Qubus Hotel Gdańsk, ul. Chmielna 47/52, ☎ +48 58 7522100 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Opened in 2009 Qubus Hotel Gdańsk offers richly equipped rooms with a breakfast, free internet access and view of the Motława River and the Old Town.
Hotel Wolne Miasto, Św. Ducha 2, ☎ +48 58 3222442 (email@example.com, fax: +48 58 322-24-47). Helpful staff and central location. 320+ zł.
If you take the usual precautions against pickpockets, you will feel perfectly safe wandering around in Gdańsk. Gdańsk seems very well organized from a tourist's point of view. There are frequent police patrols and visitors usually get the feeling of Gdańsk being a secure and tourist-friendly city.
Don't walk around in Dolne Miasto and old Orunia area. Those areas are very poor and it's unsafe for a tourist to walk there, especially when flashing expensive jewellery or wads of cash.
Westerplatte - where the first shot of World War II was fired.
Bear in mind that many of the boats, to Sopot in particular, end up fully-booked and that you can't buy your ticket at the boat itself. This is a harsh lesson to learn when you have already waited in a huge queue. Tickets for the Sopot ferry must be purchased from an office directly across from the terminal. Also be aware that in Sopot you will need to buy an access ticket for the pier (around 5 zł, even if you already have a return ticket to Gdańsk) in order to board your boat back.
Take the train to Hel. It's at the end of the peninsula opposite Gdansk. SKM trains are the cheaper option. Train from Gdansk Główny to Gdynia every 15 minutes and then SKM diesel to Hel. If you get the 9:45 from Gdansk you have 7 minutes to change about 4 platforms across the underpass. The journey is wonderful - straight through pine forests and sometimes with the sea on either side. Single ticket costs 21.50 zł (get a 5.40 zł single from Gdansk to Gdynia - and then the 16.10 zł single from Gdynia to Hel, just in case you miss the connection.) When you get to Hel have a walk into town - it's just a Polish beach resort full of holiday makers. You should have time for lunch and then get the hydrofoil from the end of the pier at 3.30pm. But make sure you buy the ticket from the office halfway down the pier or you could be walking back! The trip is 24 zł back to Gdansk but it will be the best value trip you can get. It takes 1hr 50 min but the first hour is getting across to Gdansk, then the next 50 minutes is navigating the canals back to the town centre. You could pay a tourist company for this trip - but the cost is in your ticket, you see Westphalia lighthouse where the first shots of WW2 were fired, the huge ships and the massive remains of the former Lenin Shipyards.