Gdansk is a colourful and quaint port city located on Poland's Baltic coast. It makes up one-third of the Tri-City - a metropolitan area in Poland that also consists of Sopot and Gdynia. Spending a weekend in Gdansk is easy enough to do. It's a short flight (about 2 hours) from Stansted Airport in London (where we came from).
As Gdańsk is a seaside town where day trips to nearby local cities with beautiful beaches are possible, you might think it's not an appropriate place to visit in colder months. BUT, I am here to tell you that you most definitely can!
I visited Gdansk in November with three other girls. And while yes, it was cooler temperature-wise (in between 6-10 degrees), it was still just as lovely, scenic and welcoming. Bonus, there were fewer crowds and people!
We enjoyed our stay at Celestin Residence in the Gdansk Suite (apartment-like room). This room is excellent, especially for groups of 3-4 people or families with small children. It has four single twin beds, two on each side of the room, which can be pushed together to create two double beds if you wished.
I can't recommend the Celestin Residence, or the room mentioned above, enough! It has modern amenities and friendly staff, is priced reasonably and is in a convenient location. It is situated in the Old Town and near the Motlawa River.
The thing I loved most about Gdansk, and Poland more generally, is how much further your money can go without sacrificing quality and convenience (relative to London, where I am based). It is definitely one of the cheaper countries to visit in Europe. Polish food is also delicious and affordable, and the hotels are usually above average when compared to equally-rated, but more expensive hotels you might find in more popular European countries.
So, without further ado, if you have a weekend in Gdansk coming up soon, then read on for tips and ideas on how to plan your Gdansk itinerary.
The first day of this 2 day Gdansk travel guide is pretty full-on, so make sure you wear a good pair of walking shoes. You will begin your day in the Old Town with a fantastic cup of coffee!
While it might seem like 11 stops is too much for your first day of exploring, a few of the stops involve food and drinks. So, you will have plenty of time for rest and recovery - don't you worry!
I do suggest, though, that you begin your first day nice and early. We started our day around 9 am and didn't sleep till about... 2 am. Interested to learn how we kept the momentum going for so long and the sort of things we did in Gdansk? Then continue reading to find out!
Drukarnia Cafe is a VERY highly-rated speciality coffee shop conveniently located in the Old Town. This cafe is a great place to start your first day in Gdansk as you will be spending quite a bit of time in the Old Town for the first half of the day.
There isn't much to say about this cafe other than their food, coffee and atmosphere are all great! They have a covered outside seating area (blankets provided) which is excellent for people watching.
Do note, if you're not a fan of too much milk, then order a flat white, NOT a latte as it is quite large. They do have alternative kinds of milk available also, such as soy.
St. Mary's Church, also known as the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is thought to be one of the largest brick churches in the world. Its construction began in the 14th century.
The entrance to the church was hard to find as it is not well signed, and the door was closed when we arrived. It was also quite noisy when we visited as there was construction taking place inside. The outside of the church is impressive, but I found the inside to be somewhat underwhelming. The view from the top of the church's tower is, however, nice.
To climb the 400+ steps to the viewing deck at the top of the tower, you will have to pay 10 Zolty per person (about 2 pounds). Beware that there is not much room to move about at the top and it's not exactly a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. Also, watch your steps on the way down as it can be quite narrow and steep at times.
Stara Paczkarnia is THE place to go for soft and delicious Polish doughnuts. If you want to try a traditional Polish doughnut, then ask for the rose-flavoured one.
I had the Nutella doughnut because I am utterly obsessed with chocolate and Nutella in general. They also have savoury doughnuts if you don't like or feel like sweet things.
This shop is takeaway only. So grab your one, two, or many doughnuts, and head towards the Golden Gate. At the Golden Gate, you will be able to take a scenic and leisurely stroll along the beautiful Dluga Street.
The Golden Gate, also known as 'Long Lane' or Zlota Brama in Polish, is one of the most notable attractions in Gdansk. It was constructed in the early 17th century to replace the Long Street Gate.
The Golden Gate sits at one end of Dluga Street - one of the prettiest streets for architecture in Gdansk. Dare I say, all of Poland?
After you finish taking a snap of the gate, continue your walk along Dluga Street towards Neptune's Fountain. Take your time strolling here - enjoy the atmosphere, sites and beautiful architecture.
It is worth a stop for a few moments of appreciation. It isn't the most exciting fountain, but the square it is located in is very picturesque. So, chill in this space for a bit. You will also find several cafes and restaurants in the area, so now would be an excellent time to stop for lunch and a drink!
'Milk bars', or bar mleczny in Polish, are essentially local Polish cafeterias that serve cheap, home-made food. When entering such establishments, do not expect an amazing gastronomic experience. You are going there to do as the Polish do and experience the local culinary culture.
Milk bars were first established in the 1800s and are prevalent in Gdansk, so it is something you should search out and experience while here. I wouldn't personally recommend going to the one we went to as they didn't even have half the Polish food they claimed to have on their menu posted outside (perogies, hello?!).
But you could try Bar Turystyczny, which seems to be very popular and has excellent reviews online.
We stopped into the Plotkin Bistro for some grzane vino (mulled wine) and tea after our lunch stop at the Milk Bar. I also had some hummus here, but it wasn't my favourite taste-wise, and it came with VERY thin and few pieces of vegetable sticks.
Apart from this, Plotkin Bistro was a cute place to stop for a hot drink. We sat upstairs, which was cosy and warm. Sitting outside would have been a pleasant experience as well, I'm sure, but it was full when we arrived. The outside seating area is covered.
Once you are finished with lunch and drinks, walk towards the riverbank (the Motlawa River). When you exit the bistro and your back is facing the bistro, go left. Go left once again once you hit the river.
You'll know if you're going in the right direction if you pass the following popular sites along the way: St. Mary's Gate, the National Maritime Museum, St. John's Gate and Straganiarska Gate. Once you see the Swan Tower, go right until you hit the Wapienniczy Bridge - another scenic spot you can take photos.
You will be stopping many times along the way to enjoy the landscape and snap several pictures, so take your time.
Let me start by saying that I only like certain kinds of museums, war museums being one of them. And even then, I sometimes find myself bored once inside them. So, I'm rather picky about which ones I visit.
Lucky for me, this was NOT the case with the Museum of the Second World War as it was FANTASTIC! The museum goes into great detail about how WWII affected the Polish people. I highly recommend visiting it for at least a few hours.
The Museum of the Second World War is a somewhat newer museum; it did only open in 2017! Ticket prices are very reasonable and well worth the price (23 Zolty per person). You can also rent an audio guide for 5 Zolty, but we didn't as there is lots of information near the displays and around the museum.
The movies are great and informative too, so set aside some time to watch a few of them as well.
Pierogarnia Mandu Centrum is a pierogi restaurant popular among both locals and tourists. Although it looked like it might be a long wait upon arrival, it only took about 15 mins for the four of us to get seated. We're glad we waited!
The restaurant had many interesting Polish pierogi combinations. I tried the following vegetarian options as I don't eat meat:
They were all delicious - number three surprised me the most! The salads weren't anything special, unfortunately.
You will leave feeling stuffed, which is good (or bad?). They don't provide 'tap water' here - you will have to purchase it.
Finish off your night after dinner with yummy cocktails at Flisak '76. It is a popular bar with a busy vibe, excellent service and exciting drinks. Seating didn't take long, but if you're a rather big group, I would recommend trying to book in advance.
Our second morning began at Drukarnia Cafe again, but this time I also ordered their soft cheese sandwich. And so glad I did because it was so good! They don't have a full breakfast setup here, but they do provide smoothie and granola bowls alongside their sandwiches. We also, of course, picked up some more doughnuts from Stara Paczkarnia once again!
Once our coffee + doughnut mission was completed, we made tracks towards Malbork Castle. As the castle museum and grounds close between 3-4 pm on a Sunday, and it was already lunchtime, we wanted to get there as quickly as we could.
Unfortunately, the trains did not run frequently on this day as well. So, we caught an Uber, which cost us about 40 GBP (split between 4 people) and took about 45 mins to reach the castle. The convenience was well worth it!
If you do take a train, note there are different prices and times due to fast and slow trains. If you don't purchase train tickets online beforehand, you should be able to buy them from the conductor at the front. We did this for our return to Gdansk from Malbork Kałdowo train station.
Malbork Castle is a 13th-century fortress and museum that houses medieval artefacts, paintings and an amber collection. It is a vast Teutonic castle that sits on the edges of the Nogat River. It was severely destroyed in the Second World War, but has since been restored.
The castle offers discounted tickets after 1 pm as is it closer to closing time, meaning you will have less time to visit it. Regular tickets are 45 Zolty, and the discounted tickets are 35 Z. An audio guide is included in the discounted price.
Piwniczka Restaurant inside the castle grounds can be seen as just another over-rated restaurant inside a popular tourist spot. However, there is something nice about sitting down and having a tea or drink after you've been walking around for a few hours in the cold. So, head down the stairs to chill for a bit in an underground restaurant before catching the train back to Gdansk.
For our final meal in Gdansk, we ate at Tawerna Dominikanska. It is highly rated on some websites, and I can see why. It has an instagrammable interior and delicious food at reasonable prices. For four mains, an appetiser and four side dishes (tasty salads!), plus alcoholic drinks and a sprite, the total came to about 11 pounds per person. Crazy!
Tawerna Dominikanska is also located on the river's edge, so grab a seat close to the window to enjoy the views. No booking needed - we just walked up, and there were available tables.
While Gdansk is a place you can visit in one day, its charm alone makes it worth spending at least a couple of days in. Don't let the weather or winter stop you from visiting this quaint city. A weekend in Gdansk is a weekend well spent any time of year!
I hope this two day Gdansk itinerary gave you some ideas for your upcoming trip to this beautiful city! Spending more than a few days in Poland? Then consider also visiting another underrated city in Poland, Wroclaw, and the always-popular, Krakow!
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