Charming seaport town Gdansk is known for its colorful old town, beautiful beaches and budget travel options. After visiting there a few weeks ago I have to say that Gdansk really lives up to its hype. Even if February was quiet month and many places were closed or under maintenance I enjoyed every minute in Gdansk and in Poland.
In Gdansk itself lives about half million people but if the close by suburbs like Sopot there there is over million residents. Still at least for me Gdansk felt like cute little town with a lot of things to experience. Even if the city itself is interesting you shouldn’t forget to make day trips to neighboring cities.
You can find everything from budget hostels to luxury hotels from Gdansk. What I found interesting was that the cheapest options were often on best places and near the old town. I recommend taking private room from the one of the hotels/hostels in small islands next to old town. These are cheap but right next to the most important attractions.
You can find very cheap rooms and especially in winter time accommodations are almost empty. Some places are even closed at this time because there is not enough tourists and business for everyone. Check through Google Maps first where your accommodation is located because I ended up booking place from very suspicious small side alley. It was nice place but walking alone at darkness was something I would have liked to skip.
One of the things I loved most in Gdansk was the city’s cheap buses and trams. With ISIC-card using trams and buses for 24 hours costed only 6,5 PLN (about 1,5€) and even without discount day ticket would have costed about 3 euros. How the heck can it be so cheap? Where I am from it costs over two times that to even make one trip by bus.
There is good tram network going around Gdansk and if you want to visit the suburbs like Sopot it is easy to do by bus. I just recommend downloading tram and bus maps to your phone before starting the trip. It is hard to find these maps or good information about the routes from Gdansk itself. Maps and other information to get around Gdansk you can find from their transportation website.
There is also ferries that are on of the good ways to enjoy your warm summer day in Gdansk. These ferries go between some of the most important tourist attractions.
Talking about money and Gdansk is easy. This is perfect budget travel destination especially for students. Students traveling to Gdansk will be happy to hear that with international student card (ISIC) you can get amazing discount. Firstly you get half price when using public transportation in Gdansk and its suburbs. Secondly the local museum cost almost nothing for you.
Even if you are not student Gdansk will feel like cheap travel heaven for you (at least if you are from expensive country like I am). The currency used in Poland and Gdansk is zloty (PLN). It is hard to pronounce and the coins were extra hard to use. I had no idea how much money I had as coins because some of them looked different but had same number in them. My tip for using coins: buy tram/bus tickets with them from the easy to use machines. One zloti is about 0,25€.
I had a few interesting meetings with the locals during my short stay in the city. They are kind and helpful but also very enthusiastic and talkative. If you aren’t careful visiting tourist shop may end up with you buying too many things you didn’t even want. Don’t try to argue with the locals because you will lose (I learned this lesson when trying to buy umbrella from one of the old town’s tourist shops…)
Younger people and workers in touristy spots known English but especially older people can only talk Polish. That doesn’t stop them from trying to communicate with you. Like I said the image I formed during my trip was that people living in Gdansk are very intense and they don’t give up easily. A few times people just tried to talk for me again and again even if I clearly stated that I couldn’t speak Polish.
Even then I never felt myself threatened (lets not count walking alone at evening) and everyone were kind and tolerated my tourist like appearance.
- Old Town: I would say that the most important attraction of Gdansk is the city’s old town. As old town lover (if you have been reading my blog for some time now you may know that I am addicted with old colorful neighborhoods full of small alleys) Gdansk’s old town charmed me right away. I had to walk through it to get to my hotel and it took only seconds from me to know that I would love this city.
Gdansk’s old town consists mainly of two streets: Dlugi/Dluga Street and Chlebnicka Street. Also you shouldn’t forget to walk around the small island in the end of Dlugi and promenade running next to the river. Main sight is all the colorful old buildings you can see when walking around this part of the city. However there is also handful of museums, cute cafes, tourist shops and some street art that is worth seeing.
- Museums: Because I was visiting Gdansk outside of the tourist season I stumbled into surprising problem: Most of the museums were closed and changing exhibitions. At summer time you can enjoy many different type of museums but at winter you will only have a few to choose from.
Gdansk’s National Museum, Amber Museum, European Solidarity Centre, National Maritime Museum, Centrum Hewelianum and Centrum Sztuki Wspołczesnej Łaznia 1/2 are only a few museums I want to mention. You just have to choose where to visit and do you want to get to know the local history or see amazing art.
- Shopping: Poland is cheap country so shopping is something you should try. There is many malls and shopping areas in Gdansk. Galeria Bałtycka is one of the biggest malls with over 200 shops. Klif is known for its high-end shops and brand clothing stores. Fashion House Outlet Centre is bigger area with many shops, cafes, restaurants and most importantly: discount clothes.
If you are not into shopping generally visit at least the tourist shops and get some souvenirs and see locals in Hala Targowa food market. Place where they sell amazing sweets and cheap clothes. When you are at it I recommend small shop named Lokaah on the other side of the street than Hala Targowa market. Their collection of tote bags and funny souvenirs is incredible.
- Beach/Sea: Take quick tram towards the sea and enjoy perfect seaside beach experience. Gdansk’s beaches are well known summer destinations that you shouldn’t skip while in town. Even at winter time you can visit Molo Brzezno Pier and enjoy hot cup of tasty tee watching stormy blue sea.
- Murals Gdansk Zaspa: This one could be in museums but I fell in love so hard and deep that it deserves its own mention. Gdansk’s murale neighborhood full of street art/graffiti is something I have never seen before. Basically Zaspa is are full of normal apartment houses that just happen to be decorated with huge wall graffiti. It is totally free to visit and definitely the best place in whole city. (Forget that old town! If you want to do one thing in Gdansk it is visit to Zaspa…)
- Sopot: Sopot is one of Gdansk’s suburbs, not really part of the town, but so easily accessed and close that you will not even notice it. Sopot is best known for its beautiful pier and beach resorts. Nowadays many people choose Sopot as their destination over Gdansk because of the luxury beach resorts and relaxing spas. Whatever you decided to stay in Gdansk or Sopot traveling between these two cities is must thing to do.
I would recommend Gdansk for all budget travelers who are trying to find city with relaxed atmosphere but good opportunities to be tourist. You can get cheap light around Europe to Gdansk. My flights costed only about 20€ from Stockholm to Gdansk. You can see the major attractions in a few days but I recommend staying at least 4 days.
If you travel at summer take bikinis with you because the beautiful beaches are one of the best places to visit. And even if you go when it is rainy and cold walking around the empty beaches (with umbrella) is something magical. Even if some of the museums may seem a little boring I think it is worth paying that cheap price. Every museum in this city has its own charming feeling.
All in all I think Gdansk is perfect travel destination that has a lot of experiences and attractions waiting for adventurous travelers. Just remember to take that not so used path and check out some of the more unknown parts of the city.
Have you ever visited Gdansk or Poland? Also this was my first time writing city guide like this and I would love to hear your opinions. Do you want more posts like this? (Even if you say no you will probably get a lot of these because I had so much fun writing this.) All comments are welcome like always.
After not writing for too long I am now back and have a little more time to give for my lovely blog. So, sorry once again but I will try to be better writer! Also if you want to get some extra travel stories and photos check out my
I hope you are having an amazing day!