Gdansk is one of the oldest Polish cities (over 1000 years of tradition). It is also home to many historical treasures which are of great value to Poles.
Gdansk was witness of events which shaped not only history of Poland, but also whole world. This city is considered to be a symbolic place of Second World War outbreak.
in Gdansk Polish workers created Solidarity - first independent anti-Soviet labor union.
Numerous monuments, interesting history and convenient location on the Baltic seaside all make this city our personal number one 😃. I only wish the mountains were a bit closer 😉.
What’s worth to remember is that weekend is too short to get to know the city - there are loads of amazing places to visit in Gdansk.
Also, together with Gdynia and Sopot, Gdansk belongs to so called Tricity metropolitan area (Trojmiasto). That makes it even more interesting!
It is best to reserve at least several days for visit in this beautiful Polish city.
So, let’s have a look at the best things to do in Gdansk:
Table of contents
1. Museum of the Second World War
Even the outside of the museum’s building makes a big impression.
Architects who built it wanted this futuristic, inclined prism to symbolise the future. Quite an interesting idea. When we stand on the museum’s square we are in the present. Where is the past then?
Well, it is 14 metres below the ground.
It is the underground where they placed the main exhibition. It is 5000 square metres big which makes it one of the biggest historical exhibition in the world.
Museum of the Second World War presents in detail the history of World War II. We get to know not only years 1939-1945, but also genesis of the war outbreak and the division which was created after the war had ended.
I can honestly say that it is one of the most interesting museums I have visited so far.
Over 2000 of exhibits and about 240 interactive displays allow to know the war not only from Polish perspective, but also international. Archival documents, films and objects give chance to get to know everyday life of ordinary people during those extremely disturbing times.
To fully understand what we see it is recommended to rent audio guide. It also comes in handy when we do not know where to go next - the museum resembles a labyrinth.
Audio guide is available for children above 12 years old. I think the main exhibition is not suitable for children. There is actually a separate exhibition for children called “Podroz w czasie”.
- museum is closed on Mondays
- to avoid lines in high season it is advisable to buy tickets online
- adult ticket costs 23 PLN, but Tuesdays are free of charge. Audioguide costs 5 PLN
- opening hours vary according to season, so it’s best to check it on museum’s website
Museum is big, so if we want to see everything we need to reserve at least 4 hours for the sightseeing. However, it is not possible to get to know well every display, there is just too many of them.
Visit in Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk is all about choices.
If you would like to stay close to this museum, you can check nearby available hotels here:
2. Westerplatte peninsula
Although many historians think that World War II began with bomb attack in Wielun, Westerplatte is considered to be a symbolic place of the beginning of this calamity.
Westerplatte is a park located right next to the seashore. There are many war relics and a monuments commemorating Westerplatte defenders.
What I like about this place is that it is not overcrowded. Westerplatte peninsula is a quiet area where we can contemplate the sad past of our grandfathers, who gave their lives to cruel war.
It is a nice getaway where we can take a relaxing walk and not to worry about traffic. For me, Westerplatte is one of the best Gdansk attractions.
The best way to get to Westerplatte peninsula is to take a cruise from the old town. Ships wait for tourists in dock on Motlawa river - you can check the location here.
Boat tours start at 10AM and the ships depart every hour. The last cruise from Gdansk to Westerplatte is at 7PM.
Tickets are sold right next to the ships. Return boat tour to Westerplatte costs 45 PLN for an adult, children's return ticket costs 30 PLN.
3. Amber museum
Gdansk is called the world capital of amber. The biggest amber trade fairs Amberif held in Gdansk attract merchants from all over the world.
No wonder this city is home to a famous amber museum, which is a must-see not only for jewellery lovers. Amber museum is one of the most important Gdansk old town attractions.
The museum presents the history of this fossilized resin, methods of its processing and all its uses throughout the history. We also get to see prehistoric flora and fauna locked in amber, various tools and utensils made of amber.
Actually, the location of the museum is also interesting. It is an antique, unique in Europe, gothic-renaissance building called Przedbramie of Dluga street. It consists of three parts: Prison Tower, Main Prison and Torture Chamber. In the Middle Ages this building was key element of Gdansk’s fortification.
Adult ticket costs 12 PLN, but Tuesdays are free of charge. Amber museum is closed on Mondays.
If you wish to stay close to Amber museum, you may check close-by hotels here:
4. European Solidarity Centre
Gdansk shipyard was background for one of the most significant events in Polish and European modern history.
It all started here: anti-Soviet Solidarnosc (Solidarity Movement), Round Table Talks, Soviet communism collapse.
Many years have passed since then, but, thanks to European Solidarity Centre, the memories about those events are still alive in the world.
The museum presents history of Solidarity and opposition movements, which brought about many important changes in Poland and also in other European countries.
The eye-catching building resembles a steel ship and fits well into the shipyard landscape. The interior of the museum is also impressive - the combination of rusty steel, glass and plants creates a unique atmosphere.
I think it is the most modern museum I have ever visited.
The exhibition is a well-planned and detailed story about Polish fight for democracy. Besides many interesting exhibits (some are of significant size, e.x. Gantry and Police truck), there are lots of interactive displays.
The best idea is to take an audio guide (included in the ticket price) and take our time to get to know the exhibition.
The most important exhibit in the museum are boards with 21 strike postulates. They were announced on August 17, 1980 and are part of UNESCO list of the most valuable documents in the history called World Heritage List - Memory of the World (MoW) Programme.
European Solidarity Centre is simply a must-see in Gdansk.
In high season the museum is open 7 days a week, but from October until April it is closed on Tuesdays. Opening hours are available here. Adult ticket costs 20 PLN (tickets can be purchased online here) and audioguide is free of charge.
If you would like to stay close to European Solidarity Centre, you may find available nearby hotels here:
5. Neptune's fountain
Gdansk is a photographer’s paradise. If we checked all the cameras and smartphones of tourists who visit Gdansk, it would turn out that there is Neptune’s fountain on each of them.
This 650-kilogram statue is a landmark of this beautiful city since 1633.
The fountain is located in the most representative part of Gdansk - Long Market.
There are many legends connected with this monument, but the most interesting one tells about famous Gdansk alcohol infusion - Goldwasser. According to the legend, Neptune was indignant with people who were throwing coins to the well. He hit the water with his trident and broke the coins into golden petals which are now in Goldwasser herbal liquor.
If you prefer to stay close to Long Market, you can find available close-by hotels here:
6. Zuraw (the Crane)
Together with Neptune’s monument, Zuraw is one of the most popular symbols of Gdansk.
Built in 1442-1444, Crane in Gdansk is the biggest and the oldest port lift in Europe. It used to have three functions - putting up masts, handling the cargo and, at the same time, being a city gate.
Visit in Gdansk Zuraw gives a chance to feel the old ports atmosphere.
Interesting interior, reconstructed and still working powertrain, lots of information about the Crane, Gdansk and city’s commerce, plus panoramic view on Motlawa river. Zuraw is another must-see place in Gdansk.
Adult ticket costs 8 PLN. Tickets can be bought in Osrodek Kultury Morskiej museum. Wednesdays are free of charge. Zuraw is closed on Mondays in low season.
If you would like to stay close to the Crane, you can look for available hotels here:
7. Uphagen's House
Photo credit: muzeumgdansk.pl
This scenic museum used to be the main office of Gdansk councillor Johann Uphagen. It presents the lifestyle of wealthy Gdansk people in 18th century.
The merchant house is so well-preserved because of the owner who insisted that after his death everything remained the same. Before he died, he highlighted his demands in his will.
Uphagen's House museum not only shows us the sense of style of the owner, but also his interests. Meticulously recreated interiors comprise of spacious red living room, dining room, cosy “insect”, “flower” and “bird” rooms. Those names come from beautiful paintings on wainscotting, which are actually the most valuable elements which remained from the former decor.
Adult ticket to Uphagen's House costs 10 PLN, but in low season Tuesdays are free of charge. Similarly to other public museums in Gdansk, Uphagen's House is closed on Mondays in low season. From May until the end of October the admission is free of charge on Mondays.
If you prefer to stay close to Uphagen's House, you can find nearby hotels here:
8. Main Town Hall
One of the most characteristic buildings in Gdansk and another must-see in Long Market.
The oldest parts of Town Hall were built in 14th century, but the building was reconstructed and developed which resulted in beautiful gothic-renaissance edifice.
The most people just take a photo of the building outside and not many visit its amazing interiors - it is one of the most underrated monuments in Gdansk.
In the Main Town Hall there is Gdansk museum and viewpoint in the tower. The most impressive room is Wielka Sala rady also called The Red Chamber. The decor resembles The Doge's Palace in Venice and is considered to be one of the most abundant today's town hall interiors. The ceiling of The Red Chamber is covered with 25 symbolic paintings.
Another room worth visiting is The White Chamber - it is the most representative room in the town hall. It is ornamented with portraits of Polish kings and big marble fireplace. It was The White Chamber where Polish kings had their audiences, courts and international agreements.
Adult ticket costs 12 PLN. Opening hours and free admissions are similar to Uphagen's House.
9. St. Mary's Church
Formally: the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This sacral building is the biggest church in Europe built with bricks. It is also one of the most famous examples of gothic art in Poland.
They started building St. Mary's Church in 1343, but it was ready only after 159 years!
The basilica is truly impressive and there are many medieval pieces of arts, e.x. Pieta or The Beautiful Madonna of Gdansk. We also get to admire the copy of The Last Judgment Triptych by Hans Memling (the original is kept in Gdansk National Museum).
The most remarkable historical treasure in St. Mary's Church is three-storey astronomical clock created in 1470 by German clockmaker Hans Düringer. The astronomical clock reaches whopping 14 metres! In 2018 the clock was reconstructed and there’s a moving display. If we can, we should visit the cathedral around noon. At 11:55 AM there’s an 8-minute long show - figures theatre displaying religious events with music.
When we are in St. Mary's Church, we should head to the tower from which we get to admire spectacular panorama of Gdansk city. Beware - there are over 400 steps leading to the top of the tower.
St. Mary's basilica is open for tourists all year round, but it’s not allowed to do sightseeing during the mass.
Adult admission ticket to the tower costs 6 PLN. The tower opening hours vary according to season:
- 1st April - 30th April: 9AM - 6PM
- 1st May - 30th June: 9AM - 7PM
- 1st July - 31st August: 9AM - 9PM
- 1st September - 30th November: 9AM - 6PM
- 1st December - 31st March on Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 10AM - 4PM
10. Dlugie Pobrzeze (Long Riverside)
Dlugie Pobrzeze is a waterside promenade which runs along western banks of Motlawa river.
It is full of cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops, but there are also characteristic water gates and bridges. It is Dlugie Pobrzeze where the ships cruising to Gdynia and Westerplatte start their journey.
If we are interested in marine history, we might want to visit Osrodek Kultury Morskiej - the biggest maritime museum in Gdansk (location here).
We can see the displays in the museum or buy a ticket booklet for 4 objects in Gdansk: Spichlerze (Granaries), Sołdek - steam-powered bulk carrier, Zuraw, and marine displays in Osrodek Kultury Morskiej. The pass includes also ferry crossing on Motlawa river.
11. Jetty in Gdansk Brzezno
Each one of the three famous Polish seaside cities has its own jetty: Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot.
The pier in Gdansk in located in Brzezno district and its history starts in year 1900!
Before the war, Gdansk jetty was 250-metre long, but it was destroyed during the Nazi occupation. The pier was rebuilt in the 90’s. and is currently about 130-metre long.
The admission to the jetty is free of charge. In the nearby lifeguarded beaches there are attractions for adults and children, several restaurants and pubs.
Well-developed infrastructure, clean coast and safety made the beaches near Gdansk Brzezno jetty awarded with Blue Flag.
If you would like to stay in Gdansk Brzezno seaside, you can find available hotels here:
12. Jelitkowo beach
Although many travelers visiting Gdansk focus on museums and sightseeing, it is worth to remember that there are beautiful beaches in Gdansk.
The most popular beach in Gdansk is seaside in Jelitkowo. It is considered to be one of the most picturesque beaches on Polish coastline. Jelitkowo beach is wide and golden sandy, there is a bike path and promenade. Perfect place for beach-goers, families with children and all the people looking for natural city getaway.
There’s one more beach worth mentioning - it is Stogi beach. Located near Westerplatte peninsula, it has also been awarded with Blue Flag as clean and safe place for beach aficionados.
If you would like to stay close to Gdansk beaches, you can look for available hotels here:
13. Oliwa cathedral
Photo credit: archikatedraoliwa.pl
Getting to know Gdansk wouldn’t be complete without visit in Oliwa district. This area used to be a Cistercians conventual village and was incorporated into Gdansk in 1926.
The biggest attraction in Gdansk Oliwa is an impressive three-nave basilica. The beginnings of Oliwa cathedral are dated back to 12th century.
Interestingly, the famous basilica is 107-metre long which makes in the longest medieval church in Poland. The interior is richly ornamented - there are 23 baroque and rococo altars, 17th century paintings, chapels, tombstones, antique canopies.
The biggest attraction in Oliwa archcathedral are rococo organs. They consist of 7876 reed pipes and are ornamented with 25 angels’ figurines. Sublime music together with moving figurines create memorable spectacle. Many people consider Oliwa cathedral the most beautiful church in Poland.
Admission to Oliwa church is free of charge. Opening hours:
- Monday - Friday: 9AM - 5PM
- Saturday: 9AM - 3:30PM
- Sunday: 2PM - 5:30PM
If you wish to stay close to Oliwa cathedral, you may find available close-by hotels here:
14. Oliwa zoo
It is the biggest zoological park in Poland and one the best attractions in Gdansk for every family with children.
There are over 190 species, some of them are endangered and would be extinct if it was not for the zoo.
Gdansk zoo is home to many different mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. There are European species like bisons, lynxes and wolves, but the majority of animals come from Africa and Asia.
Visit in Gdansk zoo will probably be much better than the majority of biology classes we have ever had!
In the zoo there is also ropes course, small-gauge train and restaurants.
Gdansk zoo is open all year round, Monday - Sunday, from 9AM in the morning. Closing times vary according to the season, so it is best to check the zoo website.
Adult ticket costs 15 PLN, children ticket: 10 PLN.
Available hotels nearby Oliwa zoo are here:
15. Oliwa park
Perfect place to let your hair down. Relaxing stroll on alleys in this lovely city park is a great idea after a day full of sightseeing. Fancifully pruned trees, colorful bushes, ponds with ducks and swans - Oliwa park is the best place in Gdansk for nature lovers.
There are many interesting spots nearby the park. Several hundred metres from Oliwa park there is Pacholek hill on which there is viewing platform where we get to admire Gdansk and Sopot panorama.
There is also so called Dom Zarazy (Plague House) - medieval building which used to be the main gate of Oliwa Cistercians convent. The specific name of the building was created in 1709 when there was a bubonic plague in Gdansk and the part of convent was used as a quarantine for the infected.
Here you can look for hotels close to Oliwa park:
16. Gradowa Gora hill
Located right next to the main train station, Gradowa Gora hill is the most popular viewing point in Gdansk downtown. It is just 46-metre high, so the walk to the hill is not very demanding.
On Gradowa Gora hill there is 19th century fortress with big millenary cross. It is the best place to admire panorama of Gdansk Old Town.
Practical information about Gdansk
Tourist Card - offers a package of discounts and/or free admissions to various museums in Gdansk. It also grants 20% discount to some of the restaurants.
There are a few options available: family package, active package and sightseeing package. For more info about Gdansk Tourist Card, check out this website.
Places to stay in Gdansk
We stayed in High 5 hostel. It is located very close to the Old Town and just several minutes walk from Museum of the Second World War.
The location is its biggest advantage - we did not need a taxi to visit all the main attractions in Gdansk city centre.
It is cheap and breakfast is included, although I would definitely advise against staying in this hostel if you need a good night's sleep.
Here you can check if High 5 hostel has any available rooms:
Another cheap place to stay in Gdansk is Hostel 22. It is also located close to Old Town. Breakfast is included.
I stayed there a few years ago when I visited Gdansk with my sister and liked this place a lot! We wanted to book a room there, but, unfortunately, there were no rooms available.
You may check Hostel 22 here:
If you prefer to look for other available hotels in Gdansk Old Town, you may check them here:
Places to eat in Gdansk
There are countless pubs and restaurants, but unfortunately there are not many vegan places to eat in Gdansk.
We managed to find only 2 vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Gdansk city centre.
But those restaurants we found are perfect 😀
- Guga Sweet & Spicy - situated on Motlawa riverbanks, close to Museum of the Second World War. Address: Stara Stocznia 2/9 street. The restaurant is divided into cafe and restaurant. As the name of the place suggests, the food is spicy, but we love it like that 😃
If you look for cheap restaurants in Gdansk, you might want to go to bar mleczny - milk bar.
Milk bars in Poland are a specific kind of restaurants. They serve traditional Polish food, but the prices are significantly lower than in other restaurants. This is because milk bars are partially funded by Polish government (weird, I guess it is a relic of Polish socialism).
There are several milk bars close to Gdansk city centre:
Public transportation in Gdansk (SKM) is well-developed and it is relatively easy to commute in the city, and also to other cities in Trojmiasto - Gdynia and Sopot. Commuters can use trams and buses.
To find out how to travel in Trojmiasto, check this website.
Gdansk Lech Wałęsa Airport is an international airport located 12 kilometres northwest of Gdansk.
There are several options to get to the Gdansk city centre:
➡ taxi - there are several taxi companies. Taxis wait just outside the arrivals hall
➡ buses - tickets can be purchased in newsstands and ZTM ticket machines:
- line number 110
- fast line number 210
- night line number N3
➡ trains - there are SKM trains available (Szybka Kolej Miejska). You can check the timetable here. Train station is near T-2 terminal (they are connected with a tunnel). Tickets can be bought in tickets vending machines or in train.
Commuting from Gdansk airport to the center by SKM train is a very convenient option - shuttles are every 20 minutes and the transfer lasts only about 25 minutes.
If you are planning on staying in Gdansk for a longer period of time and also visit Sopot and Gdynia, then car rental might be the most suitable option for you.
You can check good offers on car rentals here:
Is Gdansk an expensive city?
In my opinion, it is. Prices are comparable to Polish capital Warsaw.
Prices for two-course dinner with drink in a restaurant in Old Town start at 50 PLN per person.
But I think Gdansk is worth it.
There are so many great places to see in Gdansk that it is a must-see if we want to get to know Poland. Besides, many people (myself included) consider Gdansk to be the most beautiful city in Poland.