Gdańsk, a city that harmoniously melds historical significance with maritime allure, stands as a true gem on Poland’s northern coast. Its intriguing blend of rich history, captivating architecture, and vibrant cultural scene beckons travellers to delve into its tapestry of stories and experiences. In this comprehensive guide, we embark on a journey to uncover the treasures of Gdansk, Poland, from its storied past to the practical insights that ensure a memorable and enriching visit.
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Gdańsk is an important port city in Poland and one of the largest ports along the Baltic Sea coast. Therefore, it is aptly known as the maritime capital of Poland. The city’s motto, “Nec Temere, Nec Timide,” is not just an eternal slogan; it embodies the wisdom accumulated from Gdańsk’s history. While the city has experienced declines during times of war in its history, thanks to its advantageous location, it has always managed to recover its former prosperity. To this day, Gdańsk remains a major hub for shipping and industry in Poland.
In short, Gdańsk is a beautiful and historic city with a lot to offer visitors. If you are planning a trip to Poland, be sure to add Gdańsk to your itinerary.
Brief History of Gdańsk
Gdańsk, Poland, boasts a rich history rooted in the 10th century, evolving from a fishing village into a vital centre of the Hanseatic League’s trade dominance during the Middle Ages. It played roles in both the Solidarity movement that catalysed Poland’s shift from communism in 1989 and the Protestant Reformation. Ruled successively by Poland, Prussia, and enduring wartime devastation, the city was rebuilt and now thrives as a bustling hub of commerce, industry, and tourism, boasting a population exceeding 460,000.
An Overview of Gdańsk
Gdańsk is a beautiful port city in northern Poland. It is located on the Baltic Sea, at the mouth of the Motława River. The city has a long and rich history, dating back to the 10th century. It was a major center of the Hanseatic League, a trading alliance of merchant guilds that dominated trade in northern Europe during the Middle Ages. Gdańsk was also a major center of the Solidarity movement, which led to the collapse of communism in Poland in 1989.
The city has a population of about 460,000 people. It is a major centre of commerce and industry, and it is also a popular tourist destination. Gdańsk is home to a number of historical landmarks, including the Old Town, the Gdańsk Shipyard, and the European Solidarity Centre.
Where is Gdańsk, Poland
Gdańsk is located in the northern reaches of Poland, nestled along the tranquil shores of the Baltic Sea. Situated approximately 250 kilometres away from the bustling heart of Warsaw, Gdańsk stands as a distinct gem in Poland’s geographical tapestry. Furthermore, its strategic position near the border with Germany adds to its significance as a crossroads of cultures and a gateway to exploration between neighbouring nations.
How to Get to Gdańsk
There are a few different ways to get to Gdańsk. The closest airport is the Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport, which is about 12 kilometres from the city centre. There are also train and bus connections to Gdańsk from major cities in Poland and Europe.
Poland’s other cities or major cities in Europe have flights to Gdańsk. Regardless of whether it’s a code-sharing or full-service airline, they all land at Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport (airport website). From the airport to the city center, visitors have the following options:
- Train: Gdańsk Airport station is located adjacent to the T2 passenger terminal and is connected to it by a dedicated pedestrian bridge. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket machines on the platform.
- Bus: Daytime buses include No. 210 (to Gdansk Główny), No. 120 (to Gdansk Lostowice), No. 110 (to Gdansk Wrzeszcz), No. 122 (to Sopot); nighttime bus N3 (to Gdansk Główny). Tickets can be purchased inside the station or from the driver. One-way fare is PLN 4.80 (2023 price).
- Taxi: You can take Neptune Taxi (website) for a taxi ride.
The train station is just a 10-minute walk east of the city centre. If the price of the connecting flight isn’t too expensive, we recommend taking the plane – after all, the journey from Kraków to Gdańsk takes a lengthy 7 hours. For travellers who have ample time and wish to experience a train journey, this is a little tip: please be cautious of the speeding cars on the road in front of the station; use the underground passage. If you prefer not to walk, you can also take a tram or bus from here (the bus stop is right behind the train station).
Polish State Railways (PKP) Polish Rail Network Schedule: http://www.pkp.pl/ (Remember to use Polish spelling!)
One of the best ways to visit Gdańsk is by renting a car. In fact, we believe that self-driving is one of the best ways to explore the entire country of Poland. Renting a car in Poland is not only affordable but also provides a comfortable way to get around. There are several parking lots outside Gdańsk, so you can easily find a parking spot and walk into the city.
› You can park your car at Parking Centrum (Wolny)（Google Maps）
What to Plan for Your Trip to Gdańsk
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Gdańsk:
- The best time to visit Gdańsk is during the spring (May-June) or fall (September-October). The weather is mild during these months, and there are fewer tourists.
- If you are planning on visiting Gdańsk in the summer, be sure to book your accommodations early. Gdańsk is a popular tourist destination, and hotels can fill up quickly.
- Polish is the official language of Poland, but English is widely spoken in major cities.
- Gdańsk is a relatively affordable city to visit. You can find good food and accommodations for a reasonable price.
- Be sure to try some traditional Polish food, such as pierogi (dumplings), gołąbki (stuffed cabbage leaves), and bigos (hunter’s stew).
- Gdańsk is a safe city to visit, but be sure to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions against petty theft.
Top Attractions in Gdańsk
Gdańsk’s array of attractions seamlessly blend its historical grandeur with contemporary charm. Here’s a map of attractions not to miss when you’re in Gdańsk.
Długi Targ or Long Market
Długi Targ, commonly referred to as the Long Market, is the vibrant heart of Gdańsk’s historic Old Town. Encircled by captivating architecture, this bustling pedestrian thoroughfare is adorned with ornate facades that whisper tales of centuries past. At the heart of the market stands the majestic Neptune’s Fountain, a symbol of Gdańsk’s maritime heritage. Lined with charming cafes, shops, and colourful merchant houses, the Long Market exudes an enchanting ambiance that invites visitors to wander, shop, and immerse themselves in the city’s rich history and culture.
Brama Zielona (Green Gate) is a city gate located in the Old Town of Gdańsk. It was built in the 16th century and is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city. The gate is made of red brick and has a green roof. It is decorated with statues of lions and other animals.
Along with the Golden Gate (Złota Brama) and the Highland Gate (Brama Wyżynna), Brama Zielona extends along the Long Street (Ulica Długa) and the Long Market (Długi Targ), known as the Royal Route (Droga Królewska). The architect behind it is Reiner, who came from Amsterdam. Today, the Green Gate houses the National Museum and hosts various exhibitions and conferences.
Motława River Embankment
Both sides of the Motława River offer unique charm: On the side of the Old Town, historic buildings with their original styles and colours stand as remnants of history. On the other side, a more modern ambiance prevails, featuring chain hotels, bars, and restaurants, evident even in the construction of the riverside promenade.
The Old Town’s side boasts a cobblestone path, while the more modern side utilises a smooth wooden boardwalk concept. We recommend strolling along both sides, gazing from one side to the other, as each offers its own captivating scenery. During specific times, you can even witness how the bridges on the river “fold up” to allow sightseeing boats to navigate the waters.
On the embankment, the most eye-catching structure is a historical building resembling a “crane.” The “crane” and several water gates are popular photo spots. The Gdańsk Crane stands as a remarkable illustration of a medieval harbour crane, unparalleled in Europe, and serves as the sole surviving twin-tower gateway in Gdańsk.
Ulica Mariacka is the central location in this city where people purchase amber. The Baltic Sea contributes to over 80% of the world’s amber production, and although there has been ongoing debate among the coastal countries about who truly holds the title of the “Amber Kingdom,” there’s no dispute that the reputation of the “Amber Capital” firmly belongs to Gdańsk. Gdańsk’s significance lies in its representation of the highest level and tradition of amber culture and craftsmanship worldwide. There are nearly a hundred stalls and shops of all sizes here, selling mostly famous Baltic amber and amber honey, along with some European antiques. Of course, there are also many counterfeit goods here, and whether your purchase is good or not depends on your own knowledge and discernment.
This 17th-century fountain is a landmark of Gdańsk. It depicts Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, standing on a shell-shaped chariot pulled by sea horses.
Bazylika Mariacka is the world’s largest and most grandiose brick cathedral, also one of the largest brick Gothic buildings in Europe. It measures 105.5 meters in length, 66 meters in width, and can accommodate 25,000 people. According to historical records, until the 20th century, both the interior and exterior of the church were well-preserved, but during World War II, it suffered severe damage when the Soviet Red Army attacked Danzig. The wooden roof and windows were completely destroyed, and most of the ceilings and 14 large vaults collapsed. Reconstruction work began in 1946 after the war, and the interior reconstruction has been ongoing since then.
Ulica Długa (Long Street) is a historic street in Gdańsk, Poland. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The street is lined with colourful townhouses and is home to a number of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Ulica Długa was first mentioned in 1342. It was originally a trade route that connected the Old Town with the Motława River. The street was rebuilt in the 17th century after being damaged by fire.Ulica Długa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its beautiful architecture and its lively atmosphere.
At one end of the street is Złota Brama (The Golden Gate). It is is an ancient city gate and one of the main landmarks of Gdańsk. Originally named “Brama Długouliczna,” it features Dutch architectural style. On both sides of the gate, there are attics symbolising the qualities of the citizens. The west side depicts Peace (Pax), Freedom (Libertas), Wealth (Fortuna), and Honor (Fama), while the east side (facing the Long Street) depicts Concord (Concordia), Justice (Iustitia), Piety (Pietas), and Prudence (Prudentia).
Getting Around Gdańsk
Navigating Gdańsk’s enchanting streets is an experience best enjoyed on foot. The city’s compact layout beckons visitors to leisurely explore its historical corners, charming alleys, and bustling squares. For destinations beyond the city centre, Gdańsk’s efficient tram system and reliable buses provide a convenient mode of transportation.
Where to Stay in Gdańsk
Gdańsk offers a diverse range of accommodations that cater to varying preferences. Boutique hotels, modern lodgings, and charming guesthouses are thoughtfully scattered throughout the city, ensuring proximity to prominent attractions and immersive experiences. Those seeking to envelop themselves in Gdańsk’s historic ambiance might opt for accommodations within the Old Town.
MONTOWNIA Lofts & Experience
Liberum Residence Old Town
Fama Residence Gdańsk Old Town
What to Take Note of When Visiting Gdańsk
- The Old Town of Gdańsk is a pedestrian zone, so you will need to walk.
- There are a number of churches and cathedrals in Gdańsk, so be sure to dress appropriately when visiting them.
- Gdańsk is a port city, so be prepared for some wind and rain.
- The city is very walkable, so you can easily explore it on foot.
- There are a number of free walking tours available, which are a great way to learn about the city’s history and culture.
Visiting Gdańsk as a Muslim
For Muslim travellers, exploring the historic beauty of Gdańsk offers a unique opportunity to experience the city’s charm while respecting cultural and religious preferences. While Gdańsk may not have a significant Muslim population, the city is increasingly aware of the importance of catering to diverse needs. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your visit while adhering to your values.
- While Gdańsk may not have a large number of mosques, some cities in Poland do have mosques that you can consider visiting for your prayers. It’s recommended to research the nearby cities and their facilities in advance. Additionally, some larger hotels in Gdańsk may be able to provide you with a private space for prayer upon request.
- Although Gdańsk’s dining scene may not be predominantly halal, you can still find suitable options. Look for seafood and vegetarian dishes at local restaurants, which are likely to align with your dietary preferences. While Gdańsk may not have dedicated halal restaurants, larger cities in Poland, like Warsaw and Kraków, offer more choices.
- Immerse yourself in Gdańsk’s vibrant cultural scene. While not directly tied to Islam, cultural exploration can offer a unique perspective on the city’s history and heritage. Visiting museums, exploring local crafts, and participating in cultural events can enrich your understanding of Gdańsk’s diverse identity.
- Researching in advance will help you locate prayer facilities, suitable dining options, and any specific needs you might have. Connecting with local Muslim communities or forums can provide you with valuable insights from those who have travelled to Gdańsk before.
- It’s heartening to note that while Gdańsk’s Muslim population may not be prominent, the city’s efforts to accommodate diverse needs reflect an inclusive mindset.
You can also read more tips about travelling in Poland as a Muslim here.
Before Your Departure to Poland
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