I recently spent a full weekend in Gdansk, on Poland’s Baltic Coast, for my Dad’s 50th birthday. In February, as you can imagine, the weather was freezing but that didn’t stop us from exploring. Most of the city was destroyed during WWII but has been immaculately restored and is well worth a visit.
If you’re heading for a weekend away or plan on spending longer in the city; here are a few of Gdansk’s attractions that cannot be missed.
St Mary’s Church
A trip to Gdansk would not be complete without a visit to one of the largest gothic brick churches in the world. The church can be seen from pretty much every inch of Gdansk’s old town. Even if you haven’t got a head for heights, you must climb over 400 steps to the top of the tower. The view over Gdansk and the surrounding area is perfect; even on an overcast day.
Mariacka Street stretches from St Mary’s Church to St Mary’s Gate on the Motlawa River. The street itself is narrow, cobbled and lined with shops selling authentic local amber. Make sure you visit at night; as the street turns on its atmospheric charm and is a joy to photograph.
Dating back to 1633, Neptune’s Fountain is probably one of the most popular attractions. According to legend, the fountain once poured with Goldwasser, a must-try liqueur, resulting in many drunk locals. The fountain stands on Dluga Street, part of the Royal Route, with its pastel shade buildings almost identical to those in Amsterdam. This creates a picture-perfect scene.
As you stroll along the Motlawa River, you’ll notice a large unusual looking building overhanging the waterfront. This is largest crane in medieval Europe and was used to load and unload ships. It is said that the crane could lift items weighing up to 2000kg. Now a museum, it is worth a look inside or admiring from across the river.
Located at the western end of Dluga Street, this gate forms part of the old city fortifications. The gate is adorned with eight figures; four on the west side and four on the east side. The four on the west represent Peace, Freedom, Wealth and Fame. On the east the figures represent Agreement, Justice, Piety and Prudency.
Probably the best restaurant in Gdansk and you will definitely need to book a table in advance. The food is of very high quality and the steak was one of the nicest I’ve ever had. I had read a lot of reviews beforehand and it seems everyone is in agreement; this place could have a Michelin star!
This bar on Dluga Street will have you returning more than once. The décor is very quirky with reclaimed industrial items and antique items. This is a great place to drink Polish beer and chill out after a long day exploring.
We were more than happy to stumble upon this basement bar once we had had enough of the freezing weather. This place serves pretty unique cocktails with my favourite being the Bacon Sour. This is a ‘it shouldn’t work but it does’ take on the whisky sour and comes complete with bacon shavings.
If you’ve been to Gdansk and have other recommendations, let me know by commenting below.