Gdańsk is a gorgeous harbour city on Poland’s stunning Baltic Coast. The city has continued to grow year-on-year with new museums, cafes, bars, restaurants and attractions opening all the time. You’ll want to keep up-to-date with the best of what the city has to offer. If you’re pushed for time, this quick ‘must-visit’ list will help you choose which of Gdańsk’s gems to enjoy.
Right in the centre of Gdańsk’s Długi Targ (Long Market) sits an instantly recognisable fountain with a statue of Neptune above it. A bronze sculpture dating back to the seventeenth century, Neptune’s Fountain is an absolute icon of Gdańsk and it would be hard to miss it when traipsing through the centre of the city.
A trip out to the Westerplatte peninsula will fulfil the interests of all history buffs, as it was here that the Germans launched their attacks on September 1, 1939. These days, the peninsula is a huge outdoor museum and memorial to the events that occurred during World War II.
The magnificent St. Mary’s Basilica in Gdańsk is a huge Roman Catholic church dating back to 1343. It is rumoured to contain more red bricks than any other church in the world and is listed as one of the world’s largest brick churches. You’ll not want to miss it. Head up the long series of steps to the top for scintillating views of Gdańsk.
Stadion Energa is an immense stadium that hosts the local football team, Lechia Gdańsk. The stadium was purposely built for the 2012 European Championships, which Poland hosted. It’s a massive arena that seats 43,615 and was beautifully designed to represent the Amber trade in the Pomerania region.
The Crane (Żuraw. Oddział Narodowego Muzeum Morskiego)
Down by the riverfront in Gdańsk at the National Maritime Museum, you will notice a black building sticking out among the others. This will be The Crane. It is no longer functioning, but worth checking out and reading the information boards inside the lower gates.
Translated into English as ‘Long Lane’, Ulica Długa is the main street and hub of Gdańsk. Enjoy the views, get snap happy and eat and drink in the many bars, cafes and restaurants all around. This is one of the prettiest streets in all of Poland.
With its distinctive Clock Tower, torn history, prominent location and lookout point (from the top), the Ratusz is as good as it gets for any tourist visiting Gdańsk. It is not only a town hall, it also is host to a history museum. Stop by for a tour and an interesting history lesson.
As a travel tip, the National Museum in Gdańsk offers free entry every Friday and houses one of the most incredible paintings in Poland. It was painted by a German in the fifteenth century and is known locally as ‘Sąd Ostateczny’, which means ‘The Last Judgement’. Aside from this, the museum has many rooms dedicated to both local and national history.
Attractions all their own and accessible by tram or the local SKM trains, the murals in the neighborhood of Zaspa are something to behold. Nearly all the outer walls of the school and apartment buildings in this community have large, well-designed paintings on them. There are over 60 murals to admire. Zaspa, which is also where Lech Wałęsa hails from, is still an ‘off the beaten path’ tourist attraction, so make sure to visit before it gets overrun.
Gdańsk and the Pomerania Province have an extensive history in amber. To get a real understanding for it, and to be able to buy unique amber souvenirs, go on a tour of the Amber Museum in front of Gdańsk’s Golden Gate.
European Solidarity Centre (Europejskie Centrum Solidarności)
The European Solidarity Centre is a huge building down by Gdańsk’s dockyard area just behind the Solidarity Monument. There are a few must-see sights here all in a small area. First, the memorial itself, then the huge museum, and thirdly, the smaller building to the right (called Sala BHP). This is where Lech Wałęsa famously signed the agreement in August 1980 permitting the Solidarnośc Trade Union movement, which helped influence the fall of Communism.
One of the newest and most recommended attractions in Gdańsk is the World War II Museum. It opened in March 2017 and is home to one of the most graphic interpretations of Poland and Europe during the war. Check the official website for upcoming events and exhibitions.
One attraction not to be missed (but one that often gets overlooked), is an original Fahrenheit Thermometer. If you’re wondering why it’s residing in Gdańsk, the guy who invented it, Daniel Fahrenheit, grew up here. Blink and you might miss it. It sits almost directly opposite Neptune’s Fountain in Długi Targ.
Oliwa Cathedral, Gdansk, Poland | Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons
Oliwa Cathedral is an impressive Catholic Church made partly from marble. While you could compile a list of 20 churches in Gdańsk alone, for now, if you make it to Oliwa Cathedral and St. Mary’s Basilica, you’ve done well.
On Długi Targ, right in front of City Hall, sits Artus Court, a striking building from the outside and one that has a trading history. It now functions as a museum, where you can quench your thirst for local knowledge.
You can get a feel for the military history of Gdańsk at the Great Armoury, which used to store weapons. Now it functions as a building with intermittent exhibitions. It’s main function these days is to be admired; so if you’re passing by, spend a few moments taking photos and selfies.
Gdańsk’s ill-fated post office was one of the main locations where World War II began. On September 1, 1939, the Germans attacked and killed Polish workers here the same day as the attacks on Westerplatte and Tczew. Today it still operates as a post office, but it also has a small museum open to visitors.
If you are lucky enough to be in Gdańsk in summer, do not miss the excellent St. Dominik’s Fair. The streets come alive with market stalls and food stalls. With nightly music, entertainment and a real festive atmosphere, this is a festival that you will remember for years to come. It is held on various streets in and around the city centre.