Here, we will break down some of the best things to do in Gdansk. We always recommend tourists visiting Poland to try to see more than just Krakow. Of course, Krakow is the jewel in Poland’s crown, but its other cities have so much to offer—particularly Gdansk.
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Is Gdansk worth visiting?
A very popular question we get asked by tourists on our Krakow free walking tours is, ‘is Gdansk worth visiting?’ The answer is a resounding, yes, it is a fabulous place to visit! It’s a lively and beautiful city, with a fascinating history. We’ll get to some of the great things to do in Gdansk shortly. Firstly…
Where to stay in Gdansk
The area’s “tri-city” layout gives tourists many options of where to stay in Gdansk. If you want a beach holiday with sun loungers on the sand, then you’ll be better off staying in the neighbouring areas of Sopot or Gydnia— closer to the Baltic sea. Alternatively, you can choose to stay in Gdansk Old Town, where there are far more bars, restaurants and local attractions. However, this does mean a short train journey if you want to reach the Baltic sea. There’s much more to see than just the beach, however.
Things to do in Gdansk
The three nearby cities of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia, get very busy with local and international tourists, particularly in the warm summer months. The average daylight temperatures from June-August sit at a warm mid-to-high 20s and can often peak at just over the 30 degrees Celsius mark. Making this part of Poland a popular summer holiday destination.
Gdansk’s fascinating history includes the site of the invasion of the Nazis at the start of World War Two and the former shipyards that became synonymous with the Solidarity (Solidarnośc) worker’s rights movement of the 1980s, which saw Lech Wałensa catapulted to world fame.
World War 2 museum Gdansk
World War 2 museum Gdansk (muzeum 2 wojny światowej gdańsk) opened in 2008 and tells the story of the invasion of the Nazis into Poland. It is a huge, interactive exhibit detailing Poland’s invasion in world war two and its subsequent surrender and failed uprising. It’s a fascinating, thought-provoking—if not at times, slightly one-sided— journey into Poland’s tumultuous past. Well worth a visit.
Visit the Baltic Sea
No weekend in Gdansk is complete without a trip to the beach. The nearby city of Sopot is popular for summer holiday-goers and in particular for its famous wooden pier- Molo w Sopocie. It’s the largest wooden pier in Europe and stretches out 500m into the Baltic sea. Sopot is also famous for its ‘crooked house’ – (Krzywy Domek) which houses a shopping centre and was inspired by Polish fairytale illustrations.
Visit Old Town Gdansk
Old town Gdansk is one of the most beautiful cities in central Europe. The streets are lined with colourful tenement houses and the city is lively and fun— especially in the warm summer months.
Although largely rebuilt after WW2, when around 90% of the city was destroyed, Gdansk was beautifully rebuilt and restored to its former glory. Lying between Poland and Germany— Danzig, as it’s known in Germany, was a hotly disputed territory that has changed hands several times over the years. Leading to a quite complex history.
Nowadays, it is one of Poland’s finest cities and Gdansk Old town is its centrepiece. The former royal route will take you all the way through the main parts of the city.
En route, be sure to see the Golden gate. Also, make sure you don’t miss St. Mary’s Basilica (Mariacki). Speaking of which…
Visit St.Mary’s church Gdansk
Believed to be the largest brick church in the world, the enormous St.Mary’s basilica is a must-see when visiting the city. First opened in 1502, the church’s size is striking. At 105 metres long and 66 metres wide, St. Mary’s can hold over 25,000 people and can actually be seen from space! Okay, it’s not that big, but it’s pretty impressive.
Unfortunately, like much of Gdansk, St Mary’s church was damaged during the second world war and although now rebuilt, the interior has had many of its damaged frescoes white-washed. What is still surviving, however, is the 16th-century clock. St Mary’s astronomical clock is one of the most impressive clocks in Europe and worth a visit. Be sure to catch it at the hour mark, when it puts on a show.
Another must-do while visiting the basilica is to climb St. Mary’s church tower. At 78m, it offers an unrivalled view of Gdansk Old Town.
Visit the European solidarity centre
Among the best things to do in Gdansk is to take a trip to learn about Poland’s recent Communist history at the European Solidarity Centre (europejskie centrum solidarności w gdańsku).
This popular museum is located in the city’s former shipyards and tells the story of politician Lech Wałensa and the workers union Solidarity (Solidarnośc). A movement that helped to bring about an end to Polish communism in 1989.