Gdansk is just so fantastically beautiful, I could wax lyrical about it!
If you’re on a quick city break to Gdansk, like I was, I recommend focusing your attention on the Old Town because there is enough there to definitely fill your time! If you have a bit of wiggle room in your schedule, I recommend venturing out of the city centre to the Oliwa Cathedral, the Krzywy Domet (in Sopot) and Lapalice Castle.
SEE / DO:
But back to the old town: first you must walk along Mariacka Street, Gdansk’s most famous cobbled street. On both sides of you will see cool burgher houses and insanely intricate gargoyles. In the post war reconstruction, the facades were only changed slightly on the houses. Lining the street are carts selling amber. In fact, I’ve never seen so much amber in my life as I saw there! Baltic Amber is big business and Gdansk is the historic heart of the European trade. After walking down Mariacka Street, head in to Bazylika Mariacka (St Mary’s Church) for a look around (it’s free!). I have a whole separate post about St Mary’s later on so this is just a taster for now.
Other extremely interesting and beautifully photogenic things in the area are Zbrojawnia, Artus, Long Market and the Fontanna Neptuna. There are several legends about the Neptune Fountain. Here’s my favourite: it was a rumour that the people of Gdansk had so much money that they kept throwing gold coins into the fountain for good luck. The God Neptune eventually become angry that his fountain was being so cluttered and littered that he crushed all the gold coins into powder and the water in the fountain became vodka. (That’s where vodka brand “Goldwasser” got it’s name.)
I hugely recommend Gdansk for a city break. For one thing, it’s easily seen in a weekend. For another, it’s extremely affordable. I nabbed my flights return from Leeds for under £15. I spent less that £30 on bus tickets, food and attraction passes for the two days. I also stayed in a private room at a hostel called Guitar for the equivalent of £17. (Since I was traveling utterly alone I wanted it to be as cheap a trip as possible, so I only looked at hostels. But because I’m getting old, I only wanted a private room. None of that dorm business for me.) The staff at Guitar was super lovely, my room was spacious and it was definitely good value for money. All in, I spent around £65 for this city break.
I’d also like to add that as a female traveling alone, I never felt uncomfortable. I was always on my guard, but I am even when walking around somewhere super familiar to me at night. I found that the people were super friendly and willing to help, and that once I expressed the fact that I knew zero (literally zero Polish), everyone I spoke to was kind enough to switch to English.
The only thing that was moderately difficult was getting from the airport to the city. (I was flying in quite late at night.) I didn’t want to take a taxi into town (to save money) and both buses and the train are less than the equivalent of £1. However, I found the train utterly incomprehensible to use. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get from the airport to my correct stop via the train. (And this is with the directions that I’d printed out from the hostel). But a super kind Polish woman, who wasn’t from the area tried to help me with the train ticket machine and she couldn’t figure it out either which makes me think the train system is just confusing for everyone. So if you are going from the airport to town, don’t do what I did at first and try to take the train. Do what I ended up doing. Go straight outside the airport and plop yourself down at bus stop #1. Take the 210 bus into the city. From the main train station (bus stop Dworzec Glowny) the Old Town is like a 6 minute walk.
As Sam knows, I am a pierogi fiend. I can gobble them like it’s going out of style. And thanks to the recommendation of Jordan, I knew that I had to go to Pierogarnia Mandu (Gdansk Centrum) to fill my boots. They were dream pierogis; I had one order of the traditional cheese and potato stuffed ones topped with onions, bacon and a side of sour cream. You get 10 pierogis per order and they are filled to burst. Try though I might, I couldn’t get through all 10 alone. (And I did try. Valiantly.) My food order was under £5 and it was delicious, plus I’d eaten so much that I could barely move. If you’re in Gdansk, go there. My only tip is to make sure you leave a lot of time for your meal. They make the pierogi dumplings to order so you can wait around 30 minutes for your food to arrive, even when they aren’t busy. Now I just want more pierogis.
Gdansk is so insanely beautiful and reasonably priced. I say book, book, book your flights! It was never on my travel bucket list before but I’m so glad that I went!
Have you ever traveled anywhere totally unexpected before?