One of Poland’s metropolis-by-the-sea with beauty that’s both intimate and wild, Gdańsk (pronounced guh-DANSK) has long been often overlooked in favor of Kraków and Warsaw. With a reputation of a boring industrial city, it has reinvented itself as a cultural center with youthful vibe. If you’ve been to Poland before and would like to explore the country beyond the usual Warsaw basics, then a visit to Gdańsk will be a great addition to your trip. It’s a long way to come for just 3 days, but if that’s all you can spare, then this 3-day suggested itinerary will be very useful. There are of course numerous other destinations in this city so you might want to mix and match the suggestions below to create your own itinerary.
Things to remember before traveling to Gdańsk, Poland:
Language – Polish language is the official language of Poland, which is spoken by majority of the population. Younger Polish in the city, especially in Kraków and other main tourists’ spots, speak English so you can absolutely get by without speaking Polish language. Like other countries, speaking at least some Polish phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals.
Money exchange – Poland’s official currency is called Złoty (pronounce as “ZWAH-tee”). Exchanging money in Gdańsk is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Europe. Currency can be exchanged at the banks, as well as Bureau de Change (called Kantor) around the city and airports. Most major establishments like hotels and restaurants in major tourist and business destinations accept credit cards. The best way to get local currency is to use the ATMs (Bankomat), which are widely available in Gdańsk and other major cities.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for Poland. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Observe the same precautions with your personal safety and health as you would in any other country. For medical emergencies, dial 112; and for police services, dial 997.
Transportation – Getting around Gdańsk and the rest of Poland is fairly easy. The city is quite compact so visitors can easily explore its tourist attractions on foot. If you are short on time or you prefer less time walking, the city has efficient trams and bus transport networks. You can also bike on your own or join one of the guided biking tours offered in the city. During the summer months, there are daily ferry service offered from Gdańsk to neighbouring destinations like Gdynia and Westerplatte.
Accommodation – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Gdańsk, from luxury hotels to cheap accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfast. Most accommodation options are located in Mariacka District, the city’s historic district (Main Town). Stare Miasto (Old Town), mainly a residential area, also offers plenty of accommodation options. If you prefer to stay in a spa or resort instead, then the popular spa resort town of Sopot is an excellent destination.
Hotels to consider in Gdańsk:
Detailed day by day itinerary: Best of Gdańsk, Poland in 3 days
On your first day, take in a few of Gdańsk’s most famous attractions and get an introduction to its rich history. Getting to Gdańsk from major Polish cities like Warsaw is easy. Its excellent infrastructures and location make it a place easy to reach by various transportation options. By EIP (Express InterCity Premium) bullet-nosed high-speed trains, the average travel time between Warsaw and Gdańsk is approximately 3 hours. If you are coming from Sweden, specifically the port of Nynashamn, then you can easily reach the historic port of Gdańsk by ferry. Check into your chosen accommodation where you will be staying for three days. Then, set out this morning to see some of the most beautiful attractions in the city.
Begin with tradition, by sampling Gdańsk’s local fire water called Goldwasser at Pod Łososiem (Szeroka 52/54), one of the oldest restaurants in the city which used to house the distillery of Goldwasser in Mariacka District, the city’s historic district (Main Town). Have some fresh fish and a bowl of hot Polish soup at Kubicki, another iconic restaurant in Gdańsk.
Now that your belly is full, stroll through the Main Square of the Old Town, one of the largest medieval squares in Poland and the whole Europe. It is packed with Gothic and Baroque-style buildings, trendy cafes and student bars. Twice the size of Kraków’s main square, the square has buildings built specially for a harbor town. Here, you will find plenty of warehouses and storerooms converted into restaurants, hotels or shops. Aside from the Instagram-worthy townhouses you’ll find here, it is worth paying attention to the Gothic Town Hall, the Neptune Fountain and the Green Gate.
End the day at the Motlawa River (Dlugie Pobrzeze) and stick around to see the Black Pearl of Gdańsk, a pirate ship that looked like an inspiration of the Pirates of the Caribbean. If you have extra money to splurge, then you should definitely join this cruise trip!
On day 2, head to the Muzeum II Wojny Światowej (Museum of the World War II), one of the newest museums in Europe dedicated to World War II. Located in the historic district, the museum showcases the stories of the civilian population which suffered the most during the war with military events as a mere background. Sticking with the history theme, another museum you should not miss is Solidarność (European Solidarity Center). Housed in a not so striking building made of metal, the museum features state-of-the-art multimedia exhibitions of Poland’s fight for freedom.
After getting a unique view of the WWII at the museum, it’s time to explore the Gdańsk Zaspa District. One of the district’s defining characteristics is its artistic wall murals on concrete high-rise apartment buildings. This dynamic street art culture not only presents the artists’ technical skills but also their historical and political perspectives.
In the evening, you may watch one of the world class plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in Gdański Teatr Szekspirowsk (Gdańsk Shakespeare Theater). For performance schedule and ticket prices, visit their official website. You may also avail a guided tour of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theater during the time when there are no performances or rehearsals. The theater itself has a magnificent architecture with an equally interesting history as a former medieval theater. After the play, make your way back to your hotel and get a good night sleep so you have energy for a whole day of adventure the next day.
It’s time to say “Good-bye” to Gdańsk! Start the day at Dluga, a fascinating, sprawling street paved with cobblestones. If you still have time before departure, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the city’s best restaurants along Motlawa River. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping at the market before continue your trip to or other parts of Poland. You may also extend your stay in Gdańsk. The decision is all yours!
Have you been to Gdańsk or anywhere else in Poland? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Old town of Gdańsk with reflection in Motlawa river at sunset, Poland (Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock)