, also known as Danzig, its German name, is a city in Poland on the Baltic Sea. It is the capital of Pomerania.
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 the control of the 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 is 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 labor 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 Walesa, who became Poland's first post-Communist president.
Do not be fooled by the fact that Gdańsk is famous for its ship yards, as it is a beautiful city with a charm of its own.
You can find a tourist information centre inside the Gdańsk Glowny railway station. There is also one just opposite the town hall.
Lech Wałęsa Airport, 14 kilometers west of Gdańsk, has become a popular destination for low-price flights. Destinations include Cologne, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Liverpool, London, Munich, Oslo, Shannon, Turku and Stockholm. Domestic flights are also available to Kraków, Warsaw and Wrocław. A connection to Helsinki starts in April 2007, providing great connections to Asia and New York.
Do not change money at the airport unless you have to, since the rates are terrible.
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.
Transfer buses go to the central station about every half hour. Walk right as you exit the airport to get to the bus stop, from where you take bus B. The fare is 4,20 zł - make sure you have some small banknotes or change with you. You will get three 1,40 zł tickets and all three of them must be stamped in the machine at the bus or you will be fined if you are caught. These tickets are sold at news stands or shops marked "bilety". The bus trip takes about 35 minutes, but if you get caught in rush hour traffic this may easily double. Remember this when you plan your home trip. The Bus B drops off right in front of the main train station. On the way back to the airport, it picks up on the other side of the road, near the front of the Holiday Inn hotel (look for the signs that have the B on them).
The main railway station, Gdańsk Glowny, is a beautiful historic building, although a rather confusing experience to non-polish tourists. Information in other languages than polish is almost non-existent.
Beware of pickpockets and people who may try to intimidate you for money around the railway station, especially late at night. There is very little available in the way of food outside of business hours except for a tiny coffee / snack stall at the rere of the station with only one small table outside.
From here you can get to all important Polish cities as well as many other European destinations. Train timetable is available online. Be aware that the trains and offices marked "PKP" operate the long distance routes, for instance Gdańsk-Warsaw. You 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.
If traveling in the coastal area Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia, then look out for the SKM commuter train which connects Gdańsk and Gdynia. It is a 35 minute ride which stops at all the in-between smaller stations that the PKP trains do not. The SKM runs very frequently, about every 15 minutes. As a rule, tickets are valid for travel by one specific type of train, only. At the Gdańsk Glowny (Gdańsk's main railway station) you find the SKM on the right side when entering the station. Tickets may be bought from a vending machine at the platform. Never enter these trains without a valid ticket as ticket controls checking passengers tickets are frequent. Also, don't try to travel on a student ticket unless you have an ISIC student card, even 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 bus station is found immediately behind the main railway station. It is mainly of interest when you wish to visit regional destinations that lack railway connections, like for instance the concentration camp in Sztutowo.
Trams and buses are cheap and frequent. Locals are keen to help with directions but always ask several people and see if they agree.
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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 with insects in are much more expensive!
"Smojski Smak" is good value, nice food, in a nicely decorated venue.
Single room apartment in centre of Gdańsk Old City for rent. Flat is completely furnished, it has cable TV and radio, computer + 24 hours broadband internet access. Also has refrigerator, gas-stove, washing machine and phone. Located in old building on the first floor. Just in the middle of Old Town.
The Hotel Wolne Miasto is very pleasant, with helpful staff, very pleasant rooms and a good, central location.
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.
On the Hel Peninsula:
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