9 must-do things to do in Gdansk

9 choses Incontournables à faire à Gdansk

Visiting Gdansk: what are the best things to do and see in Poland’s largest and most touristy port?

On the shores of the Baltic Sea lies Poland’s largest and most important port, the city of Gdansk – nicknamed the Pearl of the Baltic. Once called Danzig (in German), it was one of the largest Hanseatic cities, with cultural and commercial links to Belgium and the Netherlands. This rich era has left its mark on Gdansk’s architecture.

In addition to its economic and commercial importance, Gdansk has attracted many artists throughout its history. As a result, the city has a long tradition of theater and the arts: festivals, cinemas and modern shows, classical music and operas – Gdansk is in constant artistic turmoil!

Last but not least, the capital of Pomerania, like many Polish cities, boasts a lively nightlife with numerous cafés, pubs and discos. To help you plan your visit to Gdansk, check out our list of the 9 must-see things to do in Gdansk:

Also read in the Gdansk guide :

1. The Royal Way

9 choses Incontournables à faire à Gdansk, voie royale

Photo credit: Pixabay – Neufal54

The Royal Way(Ulica Dluga) is Gdansk’s central thoroughfare. Perpendicular to the Motlawa River, it links each of the city’s two ancient gates – the High Gate and the Green Gate. The kings of Poland used to hold their solemn parades along this wide street.

It’s impossible to visit Gdansk without taking a stroll along the Royal Way and adjacent streets: you’ll see monuments such as the Golden Gate, the Neptune Fountain, the Torture House and the Prison Tower. It’s also a great way to discover the city’s history and admire the magnificent buildings rebuilt after the war, some of which date back to the 14th century.

2. Sainte-Marie Church

9 choses Incontournables à faire à Gdansk, église Sainte-Marie

Photo credit: Pixabay – Barni1

Built between the 14th and 15th centuries, St. Mary’s is known as the largest brick church in the world. This immense Gothic building is located in the center of the city and is an architectural gem both inside and out. Inside, you’ll find a 14-meter-high astronomical clock, destroyed during the war and later rebuilt. We also recommend climbing the tower’s 400 staircases, as the breathtaking views over the city are well worth the effort!

3. Mariacka Street

If you’re wondering what to do in Gdansk, we can only recommend a stroll down Mariacka Street, one of the most beautiful streets in the Old Town. Take the opportunity to admire the street’s magnificent colorful buildings, renowned for their romantic architecture. And don’t forget to visit the souvenir stores and, above all, the small jewelry stores: they all feature pieces made from amber, the stone from the Baltic Sea for which the city is famous!

Mariacka Street is also home to some lovely little cafés where you can enjoy a cup of coffee during the day, or a glass of wine in the evening – a romantic must-do.

4. European Solidarity Center

The huge museum is located near the Gdansk shipyards, just behind the Solidarity monument – a must-see memorial. A visit to the museum will give you a better understanding of the history of the Solidarity trade union and how it was able to impose free elections in Poland, in the midst of communist rule. In Gdansk, you can also visit the small building in which Lech Walesa signed the famous August 1980 agreement authorizing the Solidarity movement, which precipitated the fall of Communism!

5. Gdansk National Museum

9 choses Incontournables à faire à Gdansk, musée national Gdansk

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Stako

Every Friday, Gdansk’s National Museum offers free admission – don’t hesitate to visit it to discover not only local and national history, but also some incredible paintings. One in particular is well worth a visit: « The Last Judgment » by Hans Memling.

6. Westerplatte

9 choses Incontournables à faire à Gdansk, westerplatte

Photo credit: Pixabay – Suesun

A visit to the Westerplatte peninsula will give you an insight into the city’s history, as it was here that the Germans launched their assault on the city on September 1, 1939. Today, the peninsula is a large outdoor museum and memorial to these tragic events of the Second World War.

7. Palais des Abbés

Located in the magnificent Oliwa Park, this rococo-style palace is a marvel in its own right. A visit here will allow you to explore the relaxing Oliwa Park and admire the palace’s exterior, but we recommend a tour of the interior too: the « New Palace », built in the 17th century, contains the National Museum’s Department of Modern Art, as well as a gallery dedicated to exhibitions by young local artists. The « Old Palace », built in the 15th century, is also worth a visit.

8. World War II Museum

Opened in March 2017, this museum is Gdansk’s newest attraction. Dedicated to this terrible conflict, the museum provides an opportunity to learn more about Poland during the War, but also aims to nurture the memory of Polish heroes and civilians.

9. Gdansk St. Dominic’s Fair

If you’re planning to visit Gdansk in August, you’re in luck: during the first three weeks of August, the St. Dominic Fair takes place, an exuberant « total festival » dating back to the 13th century. The city streets come alive as never before: traditional music, festive atmosphere and night-time entertainment, all-day market, food stalls – it’s a festival you’ll remember for years to come, and by far the best-known in Poland!

How to get to Gdansk

The best way to get to Gdansk is by plane. There are stopover flights from France to Gdansk’s Lech Wałęsa airport. The airport is about 12 km from the city center. To find a cheap flight to Gdansk, you can search on the website of our partner Ulysses. You can also opt for a bus or train from Warsaw, the journey taking between 4h30 and 5h30.

Where to stay in Gdansk?

If you’re planning a visit to Gdansk, we recommend you choose accommodation around the city’s two main districts: in the historic center around Dluga Street, or in Oliwa, a more residential area home to the famous cathedral of the same name. You can find a cheap hotel in Gdansk by searching on this hotel comparator.

Main photo credit: Pixabay – Makalu

Map of hotels and accommodation – Gdansk,pl