Gdansk is a very popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists and one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. In this article I would like to help you with a few hints and tips for Gdansk. And if you click here, you will get to my list of the most beautiful sights in Gdansk. The best way to explore the Pomerania region is with this article.
Gdansk tips – Climate and Weather
The climate in Gdansk hardly differs from that in other countries at the Baltic coast. December, January, February are the cold, quite frosty months. From June to August it is usually pleasantly warm, but: Gdansk summers can be moody, i.e. it can be quite hot for days or very fresh for weeks. On the other hand, the rainy days are evenly distributed throughout the year. According to statistics, it rains every third or second day – but it feels like the sun is always shining in Gdansk!
Gdansk – the best time to travel
Most visitors come to Gdansk in July and August. My favorite time to visit Gdansk is May/June and September, when it is sunny and warm, but the city is not yet crowded or not so crowded. But a winter walk along the Baltic Sea beach, which the sun knows how to bathe in quite wonderful light, is also beautiful. If only the winter days were not so short …
Important events in Gdansk
Gdansk’s calendar of events is tightly packed. Therefore, here are only three highlights of the year:
From the last Saturday in July, Gdansk’s city center is really crowded. Then the Dominican Market takes place there – a Gdansk tradition. The market was first mentioned in the middle of the 14th century. In the Middle Ages, the Dominican Market was one of the largest trade gatherings in Poland. Up to 400 ships loaded with precious goods from all over the world are said to have docked in Gdansk at that time. Today it is a fair with many stalls, snacks and flea markets. The hustle and bustle in the city center is accompanied by numerous events.
Gdansk Music Summer
Music is in the air! Classical music concerts are held in Gdansk every summer: Chopin on the banks of the Motława, Mozart in Oliva Castle Park, church concerts in the old town or the international organ music festival in the imposing Oliva Cathedral. An overview of all concerts of the Gdańsk Summer of Music (Gdańskie Lato Muzyczne) can be found on the website of the Gdańsk Philharmonic Orchestra.
The sound of the sea, sunsets on the beach and an open-air cinema on the pier in Sopot. Every year in July and August, current international films and Polish classics are shown on the big screen at sunset – in the original and with English or Polish subtitles. Admission is free, but you have to pay the usual fee of around 2 euros to visit the pier.
- Long Lane and Long Market – Gdansk’s promenade and historic city center
- On the Mottlau – The maritime flair of the old trading and Hanseatic city can already be felt on the Mottlau, which flows into the Bay of Gdansk a few kilometers later.
- Frauengasse – probably Gdansk’s most romantic alley with many small amber stores
- Marienkirche – Supposedly the largest brick church in the world, but certainly the most important place of worship in the city
- Solidarność European Center – A museum of European significance that tells the story of the Solidarność trade union movement
- Museum of the Second World War – No less important is the huge exhibition on the history of the Second World War
- Westerplatte – A very symbolic place: World War II began with the shelling of Westerplatte on September 1, 1939
- Langfuhr – A lively, up-and-coming district and once home to Günter Grass
- Oliva Castle Park and Cathedral – An idyllic park for anyone looking for peace and relaxation or to listen to a demonstration of the imposing cathedral organ
- The old city and the sea – Gdansk’s city beaches are the perfect place for long walks
You can find out more about the sights in Gdansk in ourarticle on the most beautiful sights in Gdansk.
How to get to Gdansk?
How do you get to the city by the sea? By boat, of course! Unfortunately, this only works if you book a Baltic Sea cruise or have your own boat. Regular ferry connections are currently only available to Nynäshamn in Sweden.
Gdansk Lech Wałęsa Airport is located around ten kilometers west of the city center. You can get to the city center either by S-Bahn (SKM) with a change in Wrzeszcz or by bus 110 (to Wrzeszcz) and 210 (to the city center) or the night bus N3. The journey takes a good half an hour, but sometimes a little longer if there is a traffic jam. From Germany, there are currently direct connections from Frankfurt, Cologne/Bonn and Dortmund.
Once a day there is a direct train between Gdansk and Berlin (approx. 5 1/2 hours) and between Gdansk and Vienna (approx. 10 hours). I personally like the connection from Berlin via Szczecin to Gdansk. It takes a good two hours longer, but is very cheap even without a saver ticket.
The highway and expressway network in Poland has been undergoing major construction in recent years. This means you can now get from Germany to Gdansk relatively quickly. You can either drive via Szczecin and use the S6/E28 expressway (now completed up to Koszalin) or you can use the highway via Poznań and Bydgoszcz (the highway is not yet finished before and after Bydgoszcz). Part of the route from Gdansk is subject to tolls.
Gdansk local traffic
There is a wide range of public transport in Gdansk: streetcars, buses, night buses, ferries and the SKM light rail. However, you don’t need them for your explorations in the city center, because many of the sights are within walking distance. One of my Gdansk tips: Concentrate on the streetcar, with it you can get (almost) everywhere. For trips to Sopot or Gdynia use the SKM.
The easiest way to get tickets (bilety) is from a ticket machine. They are located at the most important streetcar and bus stops – but unfortunately not at all of them – and have a menu in German. You can pay in cash or by credit or debit card. A one-way ticket costs 3.80 złoty, a day ticket 14 złoty. If necessary, you can also buy your ticket from the driver for a small surcharge. If you are 70 years or older, you are very lucky: you can use public transport in Gdansk free of charge.
A major annoyance for years has been that tickets for buses and streetcars (ZKM) are not valid on the trains of the SKM rapid transit system – nor on local transport in Sopot or Gdynia. For SKM trains, tickets must be purchased at the station, either from a ticket machine or at the ticket counter.
Polish belongs to the family of West Slavic languages. So if you know Czech, you will understand a few words of Polish. Even if you know a few words of Russian, it will help you. Polish is not an easy language to learn, so the Poles will be even happier if you make an effort and learn a few words:
|How are You?
|Jak się masz?
|Jak she mash?
|Nice to meet You
|Miło cię poznać
|Miou tshe posnatsh
|I (don’t) understand
By the way, you’ll get on very well with English; young Gdansk residents all learn the language at school. Many can also speak German.
By the way, if you want to swear properly or learn some funny Polish words that you won’t find in any dictionary, then take a look at the Polish Slang gibberish book from Reise Know-How Verlag*. My colleague Markus published it a few years ago for precisely this purpose.
Food in Gdansk
Polish cuisine is quite hearty. Meat, white cabbage, beet and mushrooms are almost irreplaceable. And since Gdansk is located by the sea, fish in all variations is also one of the typical dishes. But no stereotype is irrefutable: Gdansk restaurants serve quite modern, creative and delicious dishes. Even vegetarians and vegans have long had their own restaurants.
The main local dishes
- Bigos – stew with sauerkraut, mushrooms and meat
- Pierogi – filled dumplings, which are available either sweet or salty.
- Barszcz czerwony – beetroot soup originally from the Ukraine
- Żurek – sour flour soup with egg
- Śledzie po kaszubsku – herring fillets in sour cream and jacket potatoes, Kashubian style
Where to eat in Gdansk?
There are really many good restaurants in Gdansk. The following small selection is therefore completely arbitrary and only due to my own preferences:
- Perła Bałtyku, ul. Oliwska 65, a small family restaurant where mother and son work together in the kitchen. They serve incredibly tasty Polish home cooking in their cozy little restaurant. It is far off the beaten tourist track, but that is by no means a disadvantage!
- Alanya Kebab, ul. Kołodziejska 2 My favorite kebab in Gdansk. The owner comes from the former Yugoslavia, but learned his trade in Germany for many years. A big plus: the store is open late into the night, especially at weekends.
- Cukiernia Sowa, ul. Długa 16/17. Honestly, it’s better to skip a meal and enjoy the large selection of delicious cakes at Konditorei Sowa on Langgasse instead. I, for one, find it difficult to just walk past it.
- Avocado vegan bistro, ul. Wajdeloty 25/1. Delicious vegan cuisine can be found in Wrzeszcz on Wajdeloty Street, where you will also find other cafés and restaurants with vegan options.
- Dom Muzyka*, ul. Łąkowa 1-2. The Haus des Musikers is a simple hotel in a former Prussian barracks, about a 10-15 minute walk from the old town. There is an in-house restaurant and a small garden where you can have breakfast. Whenever I stay in a hotel in Gdansk, I always stay here. The only drawback is that if you get a room facing the main road, it can get quite noisy at night with the windows open. The only thing that helps is to close the windows or change rooms.
Beautiful and affordable vacation rentals, apartments or private rooms are also available in Gdansk on Airbnb*. If you register via the link, you’ll get up to 50 euros off your first booking and I’ll get a small bonus. We can use it to co-finance our next blog trip. It won’t cost you anything extra.
No, Gdansk is really not dangerous. Not even your car is given special attention here! As in all tourist areas, you should be a little careful with your backpack and bags and pay close attention to the exchange rate at the exchange office.
Should something happen, you can call the emergency numbers. Often someone on the end of the line speaks English:
- Police: 997
- Fire department: 998
- Rescue service/emergency doctor – 999 (from cell phone – 112)
- Card Blocking: 116 116
The tourist hotline of the Polish Tourist Organization provides tourist information on sightseeing, cultural and emergency assistance, for example, if you lose documents, need medical help or have a breakdown:
- 0048 22 278 77 77
- 0048 608 599 999 (cell phone)
The hotline is available daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. between June 1 and Sept. 30 (except public holidays).
If you need medical help in Poland, you can choose between contract doctors of the Polish National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia – NFZ) and private doctors. Treatment by contract doctors of the NFZ is usually free of charge for those with statutory health insurance upon presentation of the European Health Insurance Card. If you go to a private doctor, you must initially pay the costs yourself, but you can submit the bill to your health insurance company. Nevertheless, it is advisable to have travel health insurance, because it does not cost much and protects you from being stuck with high treatment costs in the end.
- Copernicus Hospital, ul. Nowe Ogrody 1-6. Centrally located hospital with round-the-clock emergency services.
- Apteka Ratuszowa, ul. Długa 54/55. Very centrally located pharmacy on Langgasse. As a rule, the employees also speak English.
There are ATMs on every corner in Gdansk. It is important that when withdrawing money you do not choose the conversion to euros, but to the local currency, the złoty. Otherwise, the bank will use a supposedly guaranteed exchange rate, which is always much worse than the actual one.
There are many places in the city center where you can exchange money (kantor). Pay close attention to the exchange rate, sometimes it is absurdly low without it being immediately apparent (instead of 1 : 4.22, for example, a rate of 1 : 4.022 is offered). Some bureaux de change charge an additional commission, so it’s best to ask beforehand. When I exchange money in Gdansk, I always go to the Petrus exchange office on ul. Piwna 67/68 directly opposite the Great Armory.
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. Almost all stores and restaurants have a terminal. GooglePay and ApplePay work without any problems. VPAY cards can also be used without any problems.
Telephone and Internet
Fortunately, for some years now, making calls in other EU countries has cost no more than at home. If you want to save your data volume, you can use the open Wi-Fi network “Gdanskwifi” in many places in the city. Simply dial in and accept the user rules.
Do you have any other tips for Gdansk? Feel free to write them in the comments! And if you would like more Gdansk tips from me, want to experience the city’s most beautiful sights and find out about the city’s history, then take a look at the CityTrip Gdansk*, which I published with Reise Know-How Verlag.