Gdańsk is a charmer. This Polish seaside city is historically significant, insatiably pretty, outrageously trendy and instantly lovable. The streets in and around the famous Ulica Długa (Long Lane) are a hive of activity by day. But when the sun sinks over the horizon of the city’s famous shipyard, bubbly Gdańsk also boasts some of the coolest bars in eastern Europe. Work your way through this list for starters…
Translating as ‘Wardrobe Café’, the quirky Cafe Szafa is a sublime late night haunt in a highly intriguing building. Once you get inside, you will see skeletons on the wall, an odd selection of mirrors and a hanging bicycle. Work your way through a menu of decent craft beers and party long into the night. The downstairs has a dance floor, and the biggest challenge is finding the secret room. This is your fantasy adventure into an almost Narnia existence, via the wardrobe. Be on the lookout for the lion and the witch.
A superb cocktail bar housed in a downstairs basement, this venue will keep you occupied into the early hours. Flisak ’76 has an exquisite and expensive cocktail menu. It’s one for sophisticated folk to pull up a stool and talk history, politics and art. It attracts a lively, well-dressed crowd and a good mix of locals, expatriates and tourists. Staff speak English, and they recently had an evening featuring the best barman in Poland. Can you imagine a cocktail featuring butterscotch and baked potato? At Flisak ’76, it becomes a reality.
No to CYK is a classic throwback to Poland’s Communist times. Once you walk through the door, prepare to be mesmerised by the wall displays and random memorabilia that decorate the interior. Banknotes and coins of a bygone era, gas masks, socialist artefacts and propaganda posters are all part of the experience here. However, the real bonus is the price. With beers and vodka shots from 4 złotych (1 Euro), it’s a hit for those on a budget. Please note the No to CYK is cash only – the final proof that we have been warped back to 1984.
No such list of late-night bars in Gdańsk should ignore the magic of Jozef K. This bar is also a top notch PRL-themed Communist hangover. Its interior décor contains a mix of modern art, Polish books, vintage gramophones and just oddities that you don’t find in normal bars. A range of local beers are served on tap, and it is a lively venue at weekends. Upstairs it feels like you’re walking through a cage, while the back of the bar has a hidden room which is popular with writers.
Red Light Pub might sound like a strip club or a homage to Amsterdam’s prostitution, but the name is merely incidental. The real charm lies within. A green exterior might fool you, as once you get inside, expect a bright red colour theme. Great bar staff serve up unusual cocktails, and the bar also has a decent range of draught beers. There are four main parts to the bar – an outdoor beer garden in the back, the upper part, the front and a downstairs basement. Red Light Pub is open until 4 a.m. at the weekend.
The ever-reliable and popular Polish chain Pijalnia Wódki I Piwa (drinking house of vodka and beer) has a venue right in the heart of Gdańsk’s Długi Targ (long market). These are no-frills bars with incredibly low prices and consistent décor. Vintage Polish newspaper reports adorn the walls, and staff serve up 4.5 złotych (1 Euro) beers until dawn.
Situated just outside the main gate (Złota Brama) of Gdańsk, Café Absinthe is both a late-night bar and a lively club. With a range of vodka shots and cocktails, it’s a good option to overindulge and meet some locals. Top DJs spin the tunes until sunrise.
To put it simply – Bunkier could find its way onto many such lists when describing the city of Gdańsk. It’s an iconic building, a reminder of the past and a survival bunker as well as a late-night bar. Yes – this is a former wartime bunker turned into a five-story bar and nightclub complex. Unless someone tells you about it, you might not even know it’s here. Many tourists walk past without knowing. So, step inside and explore. Grey walls protect you from the world outside, windows are non-existent, and there are five pumping floors to lose yourself in on busy weekend nights. Check the opening times as there are some nights when it shuts.