Witaj (welcome) to Gdansk! This small city on Poland’s Baltic coast may not be on every tourist’s radar, but its rich history, sea-side location and array of accommodation, bars & restaurants that won’t break the bank, make Gdansk an ideal place for a good value weekend getaway.
We visited in March 2019 for a very quick weekend break and had a great time! This is our top ten things to do during a visit to Gdansk.
Welcome to Backpacks and Beverages!
Hi there ! We're Joe and Nat.
We both share a passion for drinking around the world and our aim is to explore as many countries as possible.
How to Get There
We picked up one of Nat’s best flight deals to date, with return flights from the UK for only £37 each with Whizz Air. Even though we went out of season (March 2019), return weekend flights from the UK, even up until the end of June are on average £50 each, so still a great deal!
The airport is only a 15-minute drive to Gdansk City Centre, so the easiest option is to grab a taxi. We would suggest downloading the Bolt ride sharing app (similar to Uber) to make sure you’re travelling with a legitimate firm. If you’re a new user, use our promo code G9TSF to save yourselves some money off your first trip!
Another (cheaper) option is to catch the train to Gdansk Glowny Station (Gdansk’s main train station), which will cost around 3.80zl (£0.75) and takes 30 minutes. Just be aware, not all trains travel directly to the main station, you may need to change at Gdansk-Wrzeszcz, but this journey still only takes 45 minutes.
There’s also City bus line 210, which will get you to the city in about 35-50 mins. Tickets are 3.40zl (£0.67) one way and can be brought on the bus from the driver.
Accommodation in Gdansk is abundant and affordable, from cute little apartments to exclusive hotels like Hotel Gdansk, that counts the FC Barcelona squad amongst some of its former guests. The whole central district of the city is easily walkable, so you won’t have to worry too much about where to stay.
We opted for Dom & House Apartments (Expedia.com, £45 for 2 nights) a cute little apartment located on Wyspa Spichrzów, an island just 5 mins walk to the Old Town and Long Market.
Gdansk is generally very walkable, to get from one side of the historic centre to the other will only take around 20 minutes. Plus, walking through the city is the best way to find great hidden spots that could make your trip!
For those of you who still don’t feel like walking while on a weekend away, we would suggest sticking with Bolt as its cheap and reliable.
The 10 Best Things to do in Gdansk
Now that we have the essentials out of the way, these are our 10 picks for the best things to do when visiting Gdansk. We were only visiting for two days so unfortunately we didn't manage to cross everything off our to do list.
This list is a combination of things we enjoyed during our visit, as well as suggestions from others that we didn't manage to get around to.
1. Visit the Old Town
Priority number one after you arrive should be to head down to the historic old town and begin exploring! We headed down to Long Market/Dulgi Targ to start our trip. Long Market is the main pedestrian walkway through the old town and is home to some of the cities’ most recognisable landmarks, as well as a host of bars and restaurants, although these can be slightly pricey being in the centre of town. Priority number one also being a coffee for Nat 😉
While here you will want to check out Neptune’s Fountain and the Town Hall (pictured). The hall was built in the 14th century, but partially destroyed in WWII. Luckily, the building was rebuilt following the war and is now home to the Gdansk History Museum, which you may want to have a look around. You can also climb the tower for great views of Dulgi Targ. This is a great starting point to get your bearings and allows you to take in the beautiful scenery of the city before really getting into your day of sightseeing.
2. Check out Gdansk Crane (Zuraw)
Zuraw is one of Gdansk’s most recognisable landmarks. Formerly the largest working maritime crane in the world, it was used to raise ships masts and unload cargo back when Gdansk was Poland’s main trading port.
Almost fully destroyed in 1945 during the battle of Gdansk, the crane was carefully restored post-war, making it the only one of its kind remaining in the world.
Now, it’s part of the National Maritime Museum, and if you’re interested, for an entry fee of 8.5zl you can go inside and explore the inner workings of this medieval machine. If not, the photos are equally great from outside!
3. Bar-Hop Down Piwna Street
If like us you’re interested in having a few drinks while in Gdansk, you’ll want to spend some time on Piwna (Beer) Street. This block in the Old Town used to be home to several of the city’s historic breweries, and nowadays the entire street is lined with a dozen craft beer bars and pubs serving up an endless selection of local and international beers, as well as quirky cocktails and wine!
Our personal favourites were Café Joseph K (picture 1), The Old Gdansk Beer Pub, Browar Piwna and Kafebe (picture 2).
4. Climb St Mary's Basilica
Next up is to climb the 409 steps to the roof of St Mary’s Basilica for some panoramic views of the city. The Basilica was built in the 14th century and is one of the largest brick-built churches in the world, with alleged space for up to 25,000 people inside. For only 10 zloty, it’s worth making the leg burning climb up the 700-year-old winding staircase for some of the best views Gdansk has to offer.
An alternative viewpoint which still has great views over the Old Town that include St Mary’s Basilica is St Catharine’s Church. A less arduous climb, the bell tower at St Catharine’s still offers great views of Gdansk but it is only open to the public during the summer months.
5. Walk Along the Motlawa River Waterfront
There are plenty of great bars and restaurants from the Green Gate all the way up to the Wapienniczy Bridge. Further up the river you will stumble across the Gdansk Sign and The Gdansk Panoramic Wheel, which offers great views over the Old Town from 50m up.
Seeing as the waterfront is one of the most picturesque areas of the city, it would be a shame not to walk the length of the river up to The Museum of the Second World War, which is only a 10-minute walk from The Crane. Most people don’t know that on September 1st 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland at the Westerplatte Peninsula, only 7 miles from the centre of Gdansk, beginning the second world war. There are far too many exhibitions and exhibits to talk about in detail here but for only 23zl (£4.60,) the museum should be on your Gdansk itinerary.
While up in the northern areas of the city you might also want to check out the Eurpoean Solidarity Centre, a museum and library which tells the story of the Solidarity Movement of the Polish Trade Unions and the opposition to communism in Eastern Europe during the 20th century.
6. Shop for Amber on Mariacka Street
A stroll along the cobbles of Mariacka Street is a must! It is one of the most picturesque streets in Gdansk. Walk through St Mary’s Gate from the waterfront and check out the cool cafes and small shops selling Amber Jewellery, famous in the Baltic region. Keep your eyes peeled for the gargoyles that double up as rainwater pipes and spray water out into the street.
7. Try Craft Beer at Gdansk's best Micro-Breweries
We know that Poland is famed for its Vodka, but Gdansk was once the centre of Polish beer production, with an estimated 400+ breweries in the 16th Century. Unfortunately, there isn’t quite that many left nowadays, but there are two microbreweries that we think should be up there on your to do list.
Hotel Gdansk and their award-winning microbrewery Brovarnia is a must for any beer lovers visiting! They use only water, yeast, malt and hobbs to make their beer. They produce 3 kinds of excellent beer; Brovarnia Light, Brovarnia Dark and Brovarnia Wheat Beer, these can all be tried on the Brovarnia tasting board (see picture below.) There is also a range of bottles, cocktails and spirits to choose from (and the food looked damn tasty as well!) So, if anyone you’re travelling with isn’t keen on beer, they can still find something while you treat yourself to the alleged ‘Best Beer in Gdansk’.
If you find yourself over by Gdansk Glowny train station, you MUST call in to Browar PG4. This two-storey ‘micro’ brewery and restaurant offer 4 homemade beers on draft that are brewed on site in the huge vats that you can explore while enjoying your drinks fresh from the keg.
Try the tasting board first to decide which of PG4’s brews are your favourite before diving in to one of their larger offerings, a yard of ale or souvenir tankard perhaps? Another beer lovers dream! The food menu is also not to be missed with classic polish fare (dumplings! 😊) as well as traditional beer snacks.
8. Eat some Dumplings
If you are even remotely interested in taking a trip to Poland, dumplings (or pierogi) are likely already on your to do list!
The best in Gdansk are at Pierogarnia Mandu Centrum, where you can watch this local delicacy being freshly made to your order by expert and friendly staff. Your taste buds will thank you for making the 15-minute walk from the Old Town over to Oliwa District!
9. Enjoy one more cold one at Cathead Multitap
For a brew with a view, you must head back down the river to Cathead Multitap.
Just a short walk from Long Market’s main square, with 28 taps, over 90 bottled beers and great bar staff to help you choose, Cathead is a beer lovers dream!
Take your pick from hoppy IPAs, Polish stout, Danish sour ale or strong Belgian-style wheat beer to name a few, and enjoy outside on Cathead’s terrace overlooking the river for a great afternoon drink to round off a days exploring.
10. Take a Day-Trip to Sopot
If you are lucky enough to have longer around Gdansk, getting out of town and to the nearby seaside city of Sopot is a great day trip idea if you do have that extra day to spare. Travelling between the cities is straight forward, you should take SKM kolejka (a commuter train). They run every 10-15 mins during the day and through until midnight, just less frequently.
Tickets can be bought from machines on the platforms or from the conductor on the train (tickets are normally cheaper purchased from the machines.) Ticket prices to Sopot will cost around 4.20zł (at the time of writing) and the journey takes about 20 mins.
When you arrive, you’ll want to check out the Sopot Molo, the longest wooden pier in Europe that stretches out 511 meters into the sea. Sopot is a great place to relax on the beach and it’s also famed in the Tri-city area for its nightlife and party vibe.
So there we have our recommendations for the ten best things to do in Gdansk. Hopefully this will convince you that you need to book yourself a budget friendly weekend in one of Poland’s lesser known gems!