There are three core criteria that, in my opinion, amount to a successful city break; a short flight, affordable prices and interesting things to see.
Gdansk comfortably ticks all those boxes and contributes a fourth criteria that isn’t often viable especially when it comes to European city breaks; it’s not hugely ‘touristy’.
Sat on the Baltic coast of Poland, Gdansk often gets overlooked by friends looking for a cheap getaway or lads heading off for booze fuelled stag weekends in favour of its big sisters; Warsaw and Krakow.
And thankfully so, because it has left Gdansk an untarnished gem of getaway destination. A historically important and tourist trap free city that can be easily enjoyed away from the ‘Brits abroad’ reputation of other Polish cities.
Flying: Around 2 hours non stop
The most frequent flights from London to Gdansk are run by Wizz Air and Ryanair – to be honest, neither are great options. But for a quick hop across the North Sea, these budget airlines do the trick if you can bear the tight leg room and nonsense ‘Priority Boarding’ policy RyanAir have instilled if you want to carry more than a handbag with you.
Money: You can get a lot for your Zloty.
Poland surprisingly doesn’t use the Euro and their national currency is Zloty (PLN) which at the moment 1pln equates to around 20p.
This makes things pretty cheap, particularly if you’re used to a London price point when you buy a pint. To give you an idea of just how cheap, here are some examples:
Half a pint of beer – 7pln or £1.40
Pint of beer – 9pln or £1.80
A mojito – 20pln or £4
Dinner – Two mains, two starters, two drinks (approx) – 90pl or £20
An Uber ride from the airport – 35pln or £7
The main old town of Gdansk could probably sit in Soho in the space between Shaftsbury Avenue and Oxford Street, making everything in easy walking distance if you have well located accommodation. It’s easy to see everything in a couple of days.
Take a free walking tour
We took a walking tour of the city ran by a company called Walkative for free (tips welcome).
They leave from the ‘Golden Gate’ in the town daily and there is a choice of a Main Town tour or a Solidarity tour. The first being a general historic overview and the second a look at Gdansk and its role in WW2 and the collapse of communism.
It’s a great way to see the city on your first day as the knowledgable tour guides show you around the main parts of town and give handy tips about great bars and restaurants along the way.
Museums…except on Mondays
There are A LOT of museums in Gdansk, so if you’re that way inclined you’ll have a whale of a time. There’s a National Museum, a Maritime Museum, a Ship Museum, the Gdansk Historical Museum and an Archaeological Museum but be aware they are all closed on Mondays.
We did the walking tour on a Monday and planned Tuesday for museums, but for us there was only one that we wanted to dedicate our time to which was The Museum of the Second World War.
Intimidatingly large and housed in an impressive building the museum plays homage to the lives lost and lessons learned during WW2 which many may not realise actually started in this small Polish shipping town.
Chronologically laying out the war and its effect on Poland and Europe from it’s beginning to the fall of communism, this isn’t a light hearted afternoon visit and you should dedicate a good four hours to experiencing it all.
Take in the views
It’s not a city break without dragging your boyfriend to the top of a tall structure because you heard that ‘you get a lovely view of the place from up there’.
Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Edinburgh has Calton Hill and Berlin has the Fernsehturm.
But Gdansk more modestly has St Mary’s Church and a harrowing 400 step climb up winding wooden staircases to the top.
The ascent isn’t for the fainthearted but when you emerge through the roof of the church onto a tiny platform at the apex of what the locals proudly told us several times was ‘the largest church made of brick in Europe’, the view really is quite something.
Would be happy to give answer any questions about Gdansk if you’re planning a visit! Hit me up here: firstname.lastname@example.org.