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 some hints and Gdansk tips. And if you click here, you will come to my list of the most beautiful Gdansk sights. You can explore the Pomerania region best with this article.
Visit Gdansk – 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! Every summer there are series of classical music concerts in Gdansk: Chopin on the banks of the Motlawa River, Mozart in the Oliva Castle Park, church concerts in the Old Town or the International Organ Music Festival in the imposing Oliwa Cathedral. An overview of all concerts of the Gdańsk Summer of Music (Gdańskie Lato Muzyczne) can be found on the pages of the Gdańsk Philharmonic Orchestra.
The sound of the sea, sunsets on the beach and open-air cinema on the pier in Sopot. Every year in July and August, at sunset, current international films and Polish classics are shown on the big screen – in the original and with English or Polish subtitles. Admission is free, only for the visit to the pier must be paid the usual obolus of about 2 euros.
- Ulica Długa and Długi Targ – Gdansk’s promenade and historical center of the city
- On the Motlawa – The maritime flair of the old trading and Hanseatic city can already be felt on the Motlaue, which flows into the Gdansk Bay a few kilometers later.
- Ulica Mariacka – Gdansk’s most romantic alley with many small amber stores
- St. Mary’s Church – Supposedly the largest brick church in the world, but certainly the most important house of worship in the city
- European Solidarność Center – A museum of European significance telling the story of the Solidarność trade union movement.
- Museum of the Second World War – No less significant is the huge exhibition on the history of the Second World War.
- Westerplatte – A very symbolic place: the shelling of Westerplatte on September 1, 1939 marked the beginning of the Second World War
- Wrzeszcz – A lively, up-and-coming district and once home to Günter Grass
- Oliwa Castle Park and Cathedral – An idyllic park for those seeking rest 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 learn more about Gdansk sights in our article about the most beautiful Gdansk sights.
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 cruise or have your own boat. Regular ferry connections are currently only available to Nynäshamn in Sweden.
Lech-Wałęsa Airport in Gdansk is located about ten kilometers west of the city center. You can get to the center either by suburban train (SKM) with a change in Wrzeszcz or by bus 110 (to Wrzeszcz) and 210 (to the city center) or the night bus N3. The trip takes a good half hour, but sometimes a little longer if there is a traffic jam. There are numerous direct flights to Germany, the UK and Northern Europa and also some connections to Ukraine, Western Europa, Mallta and Cyprus.
Once a day there is a direct train between Gdansk and Berlin (about 5 1/2 hours drive) and between Gdansk and Vienna (about 10 hours drive). 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 city is also well connected to Warsaw by a fast train.
The central bus station in Gdansk is located just behind the main train station. There are several daily connections from Western Europe and to other Polish cities, for example with Flixbus* or Eurolines.
The highway and expressway network in Poland has been undergoing major construction for several years. You can now get from Germany to Gdansk relatively quickly. Either you drive via Szczecin and use the S6/E28 expressway (now completed to Koszalin) or you use the highway via Poznań and Bydgoszcz (before and after Bydgoszcz, however, the highway is not yet completed). Part of the route from Gdansk is subject to tolls. Connectons to the south of Poland and Warsaw are also well.
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 most convenient way to get tickets (bilety) is from vending machines. They are located at the most important streetcar and bus stops – but unfortunately not at all – and have a menu in English and German. You can pay cash or with a 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 extra charge. If you are 70 years or older, you are very lucky: then you can use the local transport in Gdansk for free.
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:
|Hello!||Dzień dobry||Dshin dobre|
|Good Morning!||Dzień dobry||Dshin dobre|
|Good evening!||Dobry wieczór||Dobry vjetshur|
|How are You?||Jak się masz?||Jak she mash?|
|Nice to meet You||Miło cię poznać||Miou tshe posnatsh|
|I (don’t) understand||(Nie) rozumiem||(Nje) rosumjem|
By the way, you’ll get along fine with English; young Gdansk residents all learn the language at school.
German is also quite common.
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 – originally from Ukraine, beetroot soup
- 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 delicious Polish home cooking in their cozy little restaurant. It’s far from the tourist paths, but that’s not a drawback at all!
- Alanya Kebab, ul. Kołodziejska 2. My favorite kebab in Gdansk. The owner is from the former Yugoslavia, but learned his trade in Germany for many years. Big plus: the store is open until late at night, especially on weekends.
- Tawerna Mestwin, ul. Straganiarska 20/23. Good Kashubian and Polish home cooking in a lovingly decorated ambience. If you ask nicely, they will also give you Kashubian snuff to try. Kashubians are a small West Slavic people living in the Kashubian region north and west of Gdansk.
- Cukiernia Sowa, ul. Długa 16/17. Honestly, it’s better to skip a meal and enjoy the wide selection of delicious cakes at the Sowa pastry shop at Długi Targ. I, for one, have a hard time just walking past it.
- Avocado vegan Bistro, ul. Wajdeloty 25/1. Delicious vegan cuisine can be found in Wrzeszcz on Wajdeloty Street, where you can find more cafes and restaurants with vegan offerings.
- Dom Muzyka*, ul. Łąkowa 1–2. The Musician’s House is a simple hotel in a former Prussian barracks, about 10-15 minutes walk from the Old Town. There is an in-house restaurant and a small garden where you can have breakfast. When I stay in a hotel in Gdansk, I always stay here. The only drawback is that if you get a room facing the main street, it can get quite noisy with the windows open, even at night. The only thing that helps is to close the window or change rooms.
Nice and cheap vacation rentals, apartments or private rooms are also available in Gdansk at Airbnb*. If you sign up through the link, you get up to 50 euros off your first booking and I a small obolus. With that we can co-finance our next blog trip. It will cost you nothing 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 (mobile 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.
- Krankenhaus Copernicus, ul. Nowe Ogrody 1–6. Centrally located hospital with ambulance service open around the clock.
- Apteka Ratuszowa, ul. Długa 54/55. Very centrally located pharmacy on Long Market. Usually the employees speak English as well.
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.
In the city center there are many exchange offices (kantor) for exchanging money. Pay close attention to the exchange rate, sometimes it is absurdly low without being immediately noticeable (instead of 1 : 4.22, for example, an exchange rate of 1 : 4.022 is offered). Some exchange offices also charge a commission, it is best to ask beforehand. When I exchange money in Gdansk, I always go to the Petrus exchange office at 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 a number of years now, it has not cost more to make calls abroad in the EU than it does at home. If you are a non-EU citizen, you should buy a local sim card, they are quite cheap. If you want to save your data volume, you can use the open Wifi 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!