To be honest, Gdansk wasn’t firmly on my idea of places to visit in Poland. In truth, I’d probably overlooked it in lieu of the other beautiful places in Poland or even the stunning castles, too. Though I’m so happy I remedied this with a spontaneous trip to the city. Honestly, it’s gorgeous and there are so many of the best things to do in Gdansk dotted all across the city.
Perched on the northern coast of Poland, it’s a pretty historic city that’s filled with cobbled streets, historic buildings and plenty of yummy places to eat. Better still, it’s the kind of city that’s great to visit at any time of the year.
Whether you’re heading to the city for a long weekend or even part of a bigger trip around Poland, I wanted to pop over a few of my favourite suggestions on the best things to do in Gdansk during your visit.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Gdansk. Have the best trip!
1.) The European Solidarity Centre
Built to evoke the hulls of ships that once dominated this area of Gdansk, the European Solidarity Centre is a museum that shares it’s knowledge on all things solidarity and civil resistance in Poland.
With around 2,000 different exhibits and items, it’s a great place to visit for a lazy afternoon, especially if the weather takes a turn for the worst. It really shares a glimpse into what happened before the fall of the ‘iron curtain’ in Eastern Europe.
Now, it might seem a little macabre but this area was the sight of the ‘ Battle of Westerplatte’ which is known to have been the first battle between Nazi forces and Polish troops that started World War II.
Although it might not seem like one of the best things to do in Gdansk, it’s certainly a place that holds a lot of terrible history that should never be forgotten.
When you are here make sure you visit the small museum and the towering monument, built to honour the Polish fighters that defended their city until the last man.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, pop into Eliksir that’s perfect for a tasty evening meal. They have an incredible tasting menu and their beef tartare is amazing!
3.) St. Dominic’s Fair
St. Dominic’s Fair is one of my favourite traditions in Gdansk that has actually existed all the way back since 1260!
Now, if you’re visiting in the Summer months, you should certainly try to coincide with the festival itself. you see, the annual event that begins in late July and lasts for 3 weeks and is a total blast.
The fair is a market of antiques, handmade goods and so much more that attracts loads of visitors, so expect it to be busy. You will also see street theatre performers, concerts, parades, sports events and competitions. It’s a really gorgeous time to visit and one of the best things to do in Gdansk if you’re visiting in summer.
4.) The Royal Way
Now, The Royal Way isn’t really signposted in Gdansk but the route along the main street of the old town has a pretty grand history to see. You see, visiting royalty would parade along when coming to Gdansk, which also passes through some of the prettiest areas in the city.
If you do decide on walking the route (about 500m), it’ll take you to key spots in the, like; the Golden Gate, the Torture House and the Prison Tower. Some of these have even stood since the 14th century.
Start your stroll at Wyzynna (upper) Gate, passing through Long Street and spotting the Town Halls and Neptune’s fountain.
Finally, after around 15-minutes, you’ll reach the Green Gate which is also a stunner to see. It really is one of the best things to do in Gdansk if you’re short on time and want a stroll through some of the most iconic areas of the city.
5.) Mariacka Street
Just off St. Mary’s Church, Mariacka Street is one of Gdansk’s most beautiful streets; it is home to lots of little stalls and a shed load of historic buildings that are stunning to see. Honestly, it’s like stepping back in time, especially with all the intricate architecture.
Once here, When you visit here make sure you take the time for a coffee at one of the small cafes before visiting the Amber shops, which has become synonymous with Gdansk.
For me, I totally loved strolling down here in the evening, too see all the iconic architecture all lit it. Loved it!
6.) Dluga Targ (Long Market)
Now, you might notice that Dluga Targ actually forms part of the Royal Way… and you’d be right! It’s part of the Royal Way and I had to make sure to mention it in its own right as it really is just gorgeous to see.
Historically, this is where the Gdansk’s market used to be located. Nowadays, however, the street is free from cars and a great strolling route that goes back centuries. Honestly, even if you wander this route many times, you’ll always notice something different.
Obviously, make sure to check out 17th century Neptune’s Fountain, Artus Court and the Golden House which, on its façade, are twelve elaborately carved local historical scenes that are worth spotting.
7.) St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church was built way back in the 14th century; it is a massive Gothic structure that takes centre stage in the city. Make sure to explore both the exterior and interior of St. Mary’s as it’s considered one of the largest brick churches in the whole world.
Now, one of the highlights inside is a huge astrological clock; it is made of wood and dates from the 15th century.
While you are there make sure you climb all 400 steps to reach the top of the church tower, too. The views across the city are worth the effort, though you’ll be out of breath at the top (or at least I was)! 😉
8.) Abbott’s Palace
Visiting Abbott’s Palace is easily one of the best things to do in Gdansk if you’re wanting to see a historic rococo palace whilst in the city.
Now, the palace itself is in two parts, the ‘Old Palace’ which was built in the 15th century, and the ‘New Palace’ was added two centuries later. Although, still not really new, is it! 😉
Inside, it has a heap of Modern Art, which is part of the National Museum of Gdansk and well worth a visit. Now, the galleries aren’t the biggest, so you can easily head around these in 30-minutes.
Afterwards, for some tasty grub, head over to Motlava who make some yummy dishes that are perfect for lunch.
9.) The Royal Chapel
Part of St. Mary’s, it forms northern wing that is an iconic Baroque temple and a must-see when visiting Gdansk. Now, it’s sometimes closed to visitors but you might be lucky and be able to attend mass.
It’s still an incredible building to see in Gdansk and really easy to partner with a visit to St. Mary’s.
Okay, so if you fancy a little jaunt out of the city, pop on over to nearby Sopot, a seaside spot on Poland’s coast that is stunning on a sunny day. It’s got an incredible beach with a massive pier that justs out into the Baltic Sea.
Once here, take some time to chill on the coastline and spot Krzywy Domek, a building that looks like it’s melting! We spent the afternoon here and loved it.
11.) The Gdansk Crane
Being the largest medieval crane in all of Europe, the Gdansk crane is one of the cities most famous buildings. Built way back in the 15th century (and rebuilt after WWII damage), it’s a totally iconic part of the city on the banks of River Motlawa.
Today, it’s part of the Polish Maritime Museum and well worth a visit if you want to explore some of the heritage in Gdansk.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, it’s a crane, how interesting can it be? Trust me, it’s well worth a brief visit, even if it’s to learn about the massive ‘hamster-style’ wheels that people used to power the crane with!
12.) Green Gate
Perched between, between Long Market and the river, it’s really easy to spot when walking the Kings Way and following the streets around Long Market.
Built way back in the 16th Century, it was built as an official residence of Polish royals. Nowadays, you can explore the national museum. Honestly, you can’t miss the Green Gate, especially if you’re already following the royal route.
Afterwards, head on over for some food at Correze, a tasty restaurant. Their duck confit is so good and they have an epic wine selection, too.
13.) Oliwa Cathedral
Oliwa Cathedral is another one of Gdansk’s most beautiful religious buildings to see whilst in the city. Once inside, make sure to see the incredible organ that’s just so stunning.
You might actually be lucky to stumble in during one of the free organ recitals, too.
Afterwards, pop into Mono Kitchen for a tasty lunch, we we loved.
14.) Wielki Młyn (Great Mill)
Okay, so you can’t really go inside Wielki Młyn (it’s under repair at present) but it’s still well worth a gander if you’re already in this area of Gdansk.
It’s a stunning building to see and a great little photo opportunity to see, but at present, no more than this. Great if you’re passing but don’t make an active effort if you’re short on time.