Located on the northern coast of Poland, almost 600km from Kraków, Gdańsk is famous for its shipyards and historical connections to water. It is here that the Vistula river merges with the Baltic. If you are touring the country, Gdańsk is a great place to spend a few days.
Gdańsk is a pretty city with fresh sea air blowing in from the Baltic and enough to charm travellers over a long weekend. Offering a different take on Polish history, it makes a nice triumvirate with Kraków and Warsaw, with the latter lying almost exactly midway between the other two. With elegant architecture and portside cranes, the story of Gdańsk is etched in its buildings. The city has been subject to an historical tug of war and, like many Polish places, has been pivotal to key events. But overall it is increasingly popular as a place to eat and drink and wander. As such, it makes a relaxing destination to round off a week or two in Poland.
How Much Time Should I Spend In Gdańsk?
Most of Gdańsk’s main attractions are in the compact Main Town, so two full days should be enough time to see most sights and get a good sense of what the city has to offer. It’s a beautiful place to wander, with elegant architecture, and plenty of restaurants selling fresh fish dishes. Attractions such as the National Maritime Museum may not be to everyone’s taste, but new additions of the Museum of WWII and the European Solidarity Centre are both highly rated.
Three days will let you explore more extensively – nearby Malbork is the largest Gothic castle in Europe – and maybe even make it to the beach!
What Should I See In Gdańsk? What Are Gdańsk’s Must-See Attractions?
- Somewhat similar to Kraków’s Market Square, Długi Targ (Long Market) is flanked by beautiful, historical houses, each with a story attached. Here you’ll find the Historical Museum of Gdańsk in the town hall, which also contains a tower for views across the city.
- Nearby, you’ll find St. Mary’s. Often cited as the largest brick church in the world, it is big enough to hold 25,000 people! Dating to the 14th century, the 78m tower can be seen from everywhere.
- For many, Gdańsk is best known for the shipyards that gave rise to the Solidarity movement in the 1980s. The centuries-long history of the port is documented in National Maritime Museum and the massive 15th-century loading crane.
- There are a number of cruises based around the Gdańsk shipyards. You can, for example, take a 70-minute tour on a replica of an 18th-century Polish river ship, getting close to the famous port cranes and unusual vessels, before travelling via canals and the Motława River to the center of the Old Town. Each boat holds up to 12 people.
- For a more modern experience, yacht tours of the Motlawa River last for 45 minutes. Beginning on the left bank of Old Motlawa, you’ll see the Green Bridge, the 15th-century crane, the fish market, Brabank, Gdańsk Marina, Vistula, Polish Hook, the shipyards, before circling back around to the Green Bridge. You’ll also see the remains of Teutonic Castle, the Long Seacoast, Ołowianka Island, and Granary Island.
- Opened in 2016, the National Museum of WWII is one of the city’s most popular attractions. As with many of Poland’s newest exhibition spaces, the building itself is impressive and the scale inside is sometimes breathtaking. Set aside a whole afternoon.
- The red rust exterior of the European Solidarity Centre is another grand feat of architecture. A handy adjunct to the National Museum of WWII, this tells the story of Gdańsk’s post-war fight for freedom. Again, the scale is impressive.
- If you have a day to spare, take the 40-minute train ride to Malbork and visit the Castle of the Teutonic Order. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered the largest castle in the world and was once home to a Catholic order of crusaders.
- Get Your Guide offers an excellent overview of things to see in Gdańsk, with the ability to book entry tickets in advance.
Should I Have A Tour Guide For Gdańsk?
Gdańsk is compact and it’s very easy to find your way around. Hiring a guide, however, takes away the stress of planning and gives the insider’s insight of a local. I’ve booked tours in Kraków and can honestly say they’ve added so much to the experience. There really is no faster way of getting to know somewhere new.
In addition to offering entry tickets and event suggestions, Get Your Guide is a great place to find a tour. There’s a big range of options and prices, and customer feedback means you aren’t taking a risk when you book.
Is Gdańsk Expensive? What Is A Reasonable Gdańsk Budget?
Gdańsk is relatively cheap for a European city. All things considered, you should plan for a similar budget to Kraków. See our How Much Money Do I Need For Kraków? page for a rough breakdown of the costs.
Approximate Daily Gdańsk Budgets (Per Person)
- Budget Gdańsk Trip: 205zł (about US$54, €46, £42)
- Mid-Range Gdańsk Trip: 500zł (about US$131, €112, £102)
- Luxury Gdańsk Trip: 814zł (about US$216, €182, £165)
Is It Easy To Get Money In Gdańsk?
Like the rest of Poland, Gdańsk is very modern when it comes to money. The ATMs accept cards from overseas – check with your bank before travelling – and most give different language options. Shops, museums, and places to eat and drink will also accept cards. Carry a bit of cash as a backup and keep some loose change for public toilets.
How To Get To Gdańsk
Gdańsk is on the other side of Poland from Kraków, almost 600km away. If you’re pushed for time, your best bet is to fly direct via LOT or Ryanair. This takes just over an hour, although you have to factor in getting to and from the airport, and pre-departure times. Assume this is 4.5 hours in total. Costs will vary but if you buy early enough, you can probably get a flight for around €25 one-way.
The train from Kraków will take at least five hours but both stations have the advantage of being near the centre of town. You’ll want the faster Express Intercity Premium trains, which are likely to cost around 125zł (around €27 at time of writing). Get tickets at the train station or in advance from the Intercity booking site. You might also break the trip up with a couple of days in Warsaw, which lies midway on the route.
You can also get the coach via FlixBus for around €20 or drive, both of which will take about 6.5 hours. The bus terminal at both ends is attached to the main train station, close to the centre of town.
See our How To Travel From Kraków To Gdańsk page for more information.
Is It Easy To Get Around Gdańsk?
Yes! Most of the place you’ll want to visit are within reasonable walking distance but, similar to Kraków and Warsaw, there is a reliable, integrated public transport system. Bus and tram both use the same tickets, which can be bought at machines, either at stops or on the vehicles themselves. These accept cards and have options for different languages. There is excellent online and app timetable and ticketing system which makes planning easy.
Most destinations can be reached with a single-journey ticket, which costs 3.80zł at time of writing. Or you can buy a 1-hour ticket for 4.40zł.
Hotel Grano Old Town – image © booking.com
Where Should I Stay In Gdańsk?
Where you stay will depend very much on your budget and what is available for your dates. Use an online booking service like Booking.com to get full information and genuine guest reviews. It’s often possible to reserve a room with no upfront payment and pay when you check out. Most hotels offer the option for cancellations, in case you need to cancel your trip.
When’s The Best Time Of Year To Visit Gdańsk?
Like Warsaw, Gdańsk can be hard work in winter, so avoid November to March. Temperatures jump from April but July and August are probably the best time to visit. The downside is that these are also the wettest months of the year. September is chillier but you may get some bargains. The temperature is moderate here and it rarely strays much above 19°C. The midwinter average is -1°C, although it can be considerably colder at night.
What Should I Pack For A Trip To Gdańsk?
Our packing list for Kraków is a decent guide for anywhere in Poland. It rains more in summer, so make sure you have a brolly and waterproof jacket, hat, and shoes. Otherwise, you’ll get anything else you need from the shops for a very reasonable price.
Is Gdańsk Safe For Travellers?
Aside from the usual warnings about pickpockets and scammers, most travellers report that Gdańsk is very friendly and perfectly safe.
Travel Insurance Is Vital For Gdańsk
All travellers need travel insurance against theft or loss of passport, accidents or sudden illness. It’s quick and easy to book travel insurance online. See Why You Need Travel Insurance For Poland for a full rundown.
Other Polish Cities You Can Visit From Kraków
You will find a general overview of the transport network on our page How To Travel From Kraków To Other Polish Cities. This gives information on how to use trains, coaches, planes, and private vehicles in Poland, and where each type of service departs in Kraków.
- Białystok: In the north east of Poland, Białystok has a lively cultural scene and a handful of tourist attractions, and is close to the UNESCO-listed Białowieski National Park and the oldest forests in Europe.
- Gdynia: Gdynia is also a port city with some lovely sandy beaches, and also makes a great day trip from neighbouring Gdańsk.
- Katowice: For something a bit different, Katowice is very post-industrial. It’s airport and proximity to Kraków make it worth consideration for travellers who want a future-facing (and very green) Poland, with dramatic, modern architecture.
- Łódź: Set in the very heart of Poland, Łódź is coming into its own as a creative city. The city is alive with murals and street art. There’s a great food scene and a nice mix of architectural styles. Right now, Łódź has that exciting feel of the future.
- Lublin: On the eastern side of Poland, Lublin is best known as a cultural and academic city. It has a rich Jewish heritage and was apparently referred to as the ‘Jewish Oxford’ in the Jagiellonian era. There is a nice mix of medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque, with some atmospheric cobbled streets.
- Olsztyn: Up in the north, Olsztyn is often overlooked by tourists keen to reach the more famous Gdańsk. It does, however, have a pretty Old Town and ranks very highly for quality of life. What’s more, the city provides a gateway to some gorgeous wild countryside of lakes and forests.
- Poznań: 300km to the west of Warsaw, youthful Poznań has a lively, friendly nightlife, with plenty of restaurants and bars. The Old Town is brightly coloured and quirkily decorated with bold styles similar to Southern Germany. There’s plenty here to keep you occupied for a long weekend, with a museums, a cathedral, and historical buildings, but the city also makes a great base for exploring Poland’s countryside.
- Sopot: Another seaside resort, between Gdynia and Gdańsk, Sopot is a playground for the rich. With sandy beaches and a pier, as well as the shops, bars, and clubs of Bohaterów Monte Cassino, it can be very busy at the height of the season. Even more than Gdynia, Sopot might be best sampled first as an afternoon out, rounded off with a meal in one of the excellent fish restaurants.
- Szczecin: Close to the border with Germany, Szczecin is off the beaten track for most tourists. The Old Town is pretty and there are a handful of attractions to see. But, mainly, visiting Szczecin is a great opportunity to get to know Polish food and to engage with the culture – there is a fine Philharmonic building and the grand Ducal Castle is now an arts centre.
- Toruń: Largely untouched by the Second World War, Toruń is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Vistula River to the north west of Warsaw. The architectural highlights are dominated by the huge Gothic cathedral and the city feels less hectic than more famous tourist destinations.
- Warsaw: Poland’s capital city is easy to reach from Kraków and makes a good weekend destination. Much of Warsaw was built after 1945. Even the pretty Old Town is mostly reconstruction. But there are excellent museums and places to eat. It’s also one of Europe’s great cities to go out drinking!
- Wrocław: Wrocław is a charming city in the western part of Poland, with islands and bridges criss-crossing the water and a strong Gothic flavour to the architecture. Built out from the 10th century Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island), Wrocław also has a stunning market square, much of which is listed within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Zakopane: 110km from Kraków, Poland’s outdoor capital and winter resort, Zakopane is nestled at the root of the High Tatra mountains. The area is excellent for hiking, skiing, and a range of other activities. However, there is also unique folk architecture and plenty of more spectacular attractions.