Gdansk: One of Poland’s Must-Go Destinations
When people talk about holiday destinations or places to add to a backpacking itinerary, Gdansk is not one that often seems to be mentioned but it really ought to be. The northern Polish city is a wonderful and inexpensive place where you can spend a long weekend or even a lengthier break. While many visitors to Poland choose to head to Krakow in the south, we suggest you also consider looking north.
It’s conveniently located airport is well connected across Europe and bargain tickets are regularly available. For those travelling around Europe by rail, there are trains every two hours or so from Poland’s capital Warsaw with a journey time of around five hours. Alternatively you could go straight from Berlin – changing once in Gniezno – and be in Gdansk in a little under seven hours.
There’s plenty do for travellers of all ages in this fascinating city, and don’t worry about the language as it’s common for Polish citizens, particular younger ones, to have a good understanding of English.
What to do in Gdansk
If the sun is out and the temperature is high, you simply must go to the seaside. The golden sand beaches that stretch along the coast of Gdansk are very popular with the locals and it’s the perfect spot to sunbathe or play some beach games. The neighbouring town of Sopot is also a well-loved place for beachgoers and its range of beachside restaurants, some serving freshly caught fish, should not be missed.
The Stadion Energa Gdansk was built specifically for the UEFA European Championships 2012 which was held across Poland and Ukraine. Poland has ensured the stadium has not turned into a white elephant however and visitors still flock there on a regular basis.
Now the home of Lechia Gdansk, it’s a wonderful place to watch some Polish football and cheap seats are always available. When the football isn’t on, the stadium has a range of activities such as go-karts, trampolines, laser quest and zip wires which are perfect for anyone seeking a fun-filled day.
For something more educational, the European Solidarity Centre is an incredible interesting and well-presented museum that explores in great depth the history of the Solidarity movement. It provides the background to what Poland was like under communist rule, how the fight against the oppressive Soviet regime took place and how eventually Poland became a free nation. Adults can get in for around £4, while a family ticket (up to five people) costs around £11. Audio guides which are strongly recommended can be collected free of charge and come in a range of languages.
Eating Out in Gdansk
The rise of Polish supermarkets across the continent has helped increase familiarity with some Polish favourites but you can only get a true taste of what Poland is like when you are there.
From their traditional beetroot soup (Borscht) to a range of freshly cooked dumplings (Pierogi), you never have to walk far to get a taste of authentic Polish cuisine. One of the best places to go for a meal out is the beautiful Old Town which is vibrant with colour and character.
Main meals can cost as little as around £4 and unlike in some other countries, there tends to be excellent options for vegetarians. With numerous options for those on all budgets, whether you’re travelling on a shoe-string or looking for a little luxury, you will not be disappointed.
When to visit
There’s rarely a bad time to visit Gdansk as even in winter the place looks stunning dusted with glistening snow. Going during St Dominic’s Fair, which takes place for three weeks around July/August, is the best time to go if you want to see Gdansk at its most thriving point. During the festival, the heart of the city will be bustling with market traders and cultural open air events which can stretch long into the evening.
Where to stay
As with eating options, there are hostels and hostels to suit all tastes and budgets in Gdansk. For backpackers on a tight budget, you can get a bed in a dorm for as little as £11 a night (as the 3City Hostel, whereas backpacker favourites Hostel Mamas&Papas and Old Town Hostel Gdansk are great options that cost from around £25 a night.
If you are seeking something a little more salubrious, there are the usual suspects such as the Hilton, Ibis, Novotel and so on, whereas there are great value 4-star options like the PURO Gdansk Stare Miastro (from around £65 a night) and. If really pushing the boat out, there’s a very elegant Radisson Blu hotel in the Old Town, or how about the Hotel Gdansk Boutique, housed in a restored 18th-century granary on the marina – and it even has it’s own spa and brewery!