Who knew a short weekend in Gdańsk would be one of my very few overseas trips this year? I certainly didn’t as I booked my cheap airline tickets from London and set off in search of the Polish city. Thank goodness I did book it though, because I had a wonderful weekend in Gdańsk. Gdańsk is a unique city in Poland, thanks to its position on the Baltic Sea. A port city, it boasts unique, colourful architecture and a fascinating history of Prussian and Slavic influence. As well as a dark past steeped in WWII, it’s a small city with vibrant bars and restaurants. Key things to do include picking up some amber souvenirs, visiting the fascinating museums, and taking a cruise along the Motlawa River.
Arriving in Gdańsk
One of my favourite things about living in London is the proximity to all the local airports. We woke up super early and caught the Stansted Express from Liverpool Street to get to the airport early. It was on the very cusp of the coronavirus lockdown – it seemed peculiar to us that people were wearing masks. But thank goodness we did book the trip, as I had no idea it would be possibly be my only one this year.
We boarded the plane while there was a glorious sunrise in the sky, and set off ready for our weekend in Gdańsk. The flight is just over two hours from London to Gdańsk, so it was over in no time. We landed, hopped into an Uber (they’re SO cheap in Poland), and arrived into the city.
Gdańsk Old Town
We walked along past the river Motlawa, until we discovered Gdańsk Old Town. The busiest part of the city, it’s also the most beautiful, with rows of beautiful, pastel coloured buildings.
During a weekend in Gdańsk, the Old Town is likely where you’ll spend most of your time in the city. It comprises the old cobbled street of Długi Targ, and the beautiful pastel coloured buildings dotted around.
Each and every one of the pretty coloured buildings tells its own story. Some have the appearance of a medieval structure near to the Golden Gate, but these were actually painted by Soviets. You’ll spot plenty of statues on top of buildings, indicating those rebuilt following World War II.
Długi Targ was once the main market of Gdańsk, and is now the major focus for visitors. It’s where you’ll find all this beautiful architecture, which cropped up following the rebuild after the Second World War. One of the key attractions along Długi Targ is the Neptune Fountain, a bronze statue of the Roman sea god. It dates back to the seventeenth century, but was sadly removed during the Second World War. It made a comeback in the 1950s, but was finally fully restored just a few years ago.
Rumour has it that the Neptune Fountain once sprayed traditional Goldwasser, Gdańsk liqueur. Local legend has it that Goldwasser began trickling out of Neptune’s trident, attracting a crowd of lucky locals.
While you might not find Goldwasser spurting from the Neptune Fountain nowadays, Długi Targ is still a beautiful area to explore. It can be a little touristy in places, with restaurant touts and dozens of amber stalls and shops, but there are still some great attractions to go and see.
As well as multiple rainbow buildings and pastel colours galore, see if you can spot the Golden House. Dating back to 1618, it’s the most opulent building facade in Gdańsk. You’ll find a number of scenes carved into the facade, as well as statues and busts of iconic historical figures.
The Long Market (or Długi Targ) ends at one end at the Green Gate. This marks the end of the Royal Way, right by the river. Ironically, it’s not so green as you might think, but has an interesting history. It was initially build on the site of a medieval gate to be the home of the kings. Nowadays, however, it’s an art gallery.
Food and Drink in Gdańsk
Of course, it wouldn’t be a weekend in Gdańsk without seeing how much food and drink you can fit in to a couple of days. Having worked up quite the appetite from our initial discovery of the city, we set off for some food. Pizza appears to be quite a big thing in Gdańsk, and although certainly not authentically Polish, it fit the bill.
We headed to Ostro, which appeared to have some of the best ratings of any restaurant in Gdańsk. It was a nice restaurant, with pretty green velvet decor and views of the river. We got it popping with some prosecco, then ordered our food. We both opted for a ‘panuozzo’ sandwich, which resembled a pizza baguette. I chose smoked salmon, with fior de latte, mascarpone, lemon, and rocket. It was absolutely delicious, and cost around £5.50. Not bad at all!
Afterwards, we headed to a bar next door to get in some drinks. It’s really pretty along the river, with dozens of bars, cafes, and shops. There’s also an old school style ship I believe you can take a booze cruise on along the river. One for next time! Meanwhile, we sipped local beers, which are deliciously cheap if you’re coming from the UK. Drink up!
After a few drinks, it was time for us to check into our hotel. We stayed at the IBB Długi Targ, and it was perfect. It cost us around £20 each for 2 nights, and it was modern, clean, and spacious. It’s also a 30 second walk from the hubbub of Długi Targ.
Sipping a couple of fruit teas to warm up, we headed up to the hotel bar to get a better view over the city. The restaurant itself is lovely, and right on the top floor of the hotel with views over Gdańsk.
We ordered a couple of glasses of red wine, and watched the magnificent view over the city while the sun began to set. A lovely place to add to your Gdańsk bucket list.
When in Rome – eat perogies. I’d only had the frozen style which seem to be huge in Vancouver, so was keen to try the real thing in Poland. We picked one of the street side restaurants, and ordered a plate of mixed perogies and some bruschetta. They arrived with dips – some were nice, others not so nice. But it’s something you need to try in Gdańsk.
I really love how al fresco dining is encouraged in the city. Despite it being February in the Baltic, there are outdoor heaters and blankets everywhere. This means you can still enjoy sitting outside and enjoying the atmosphere of the amazing city.
Craving something a little sweeter before bed, we headed to E. Wedel, a super popular Polish confectioner. There’s a dedicated chocolate cafe with dozens of tempting treats. We went for the hot chocolate samplers – a melted version of each chocolate. They were delightful and the perfect way to warm up from the winter weather.
Jo also went for a tiramisu, and I picked the chocolate fondue. It was really tasty for dunking fruit, and the perfect way to round off our first evening in Gdańsk.
We had a few more sightseeing activities for our weekend in Gdańsk before heading home. These included climbing the tower of St Mary’s Church and visiting the seaside town of nearby Sopot. First stop – brunch! Brunch doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as big a deal in Poland as it is in the UK, so perhaps we should call it lunch.
He headed to Tekstylia, which has an interesting (and bizarre) hairdressing theme. Jo plumped for a chicken burger, and I ordered possibly the biggest salmon fillet I’ve ever seen. The food was delicious, so add this to your list when you visit the city.
We completed our incredible climb up St. Mary’s Church and its phenomenal views over the city. Feeling the need to warm up a little, we grabbed a gluhwein from a local cafe, and planned the rest of our weekend in Gdańsk.
We discovered new streets with pastel coloured buildings, and stopped to admire them. It’s such a pretty city, yet small enough that it’s easy to explore and catch your bearings quickly.
After a walk, we then headed on to our next destination of Sopot.
Our Last Day in Gdańsk
Our weekend in Gdańsk whizzed past way too quickly, and our final day crept around after a boozy afternoon and evening in Sopot. It was a beautiful, crisp, and sunny morning. We set off in search of breakfast along the Motława River.
We discovered an adorable little food hall, serving all kinds of different cuisines. Named Słony Spichlerz, there’s a tasty choice of places to grab food, from Mexico to Japanese. There were a few spots serving breakfast, so we grabbed a couple of plates. I had a tasty Eggs Benedict with guacamole, while Jo went for a Full English.
Wandering back towards the hotel, Jo had to leave to catch an early flight back to the UK. That meant I had several hours before my own flight to take in the rest of the city and all it has to offer.
I wandered along the river towards the Museum of the Second World War, one of the most highly rated attractions for a weekend in Gdańsk.
The Museum of the Second World War is pretty fascinating. I actually had no idea that World War II officially began when Germany attacked the Westerplatte Peninsula and the Polish Post office in Gdańsk, making it the birthplace of the war. The museum’s split into three key sections – The Road to War, The Horror of War, and The Long Shadow of War. It’s packed full of interesting content, and you can easily spend a few hours here. It’s also very sobering learning about the suffering caused by the war, particularly in Poland itself.
Once I’d finished in the museum, I had just a couple of hours left in Gdańsk. Just enough time for me to fit in a quick massage! I’d heard they’re a lot cheaper than back in the UK (particularly London), so thought I’d check it out. I went to Thao Thai and had a full body massage which cost around £30 – not bad value at all and extremely relaxing.
Next, I finished off with some tea before thinking about food before my journey back to London.
I headed back to Słony Spichlerz to grab some food quickly and settled on a Thai green curry, which was delicious. A quick pitstop to E. Wedel to pick up some chocolate treats for friends back in London, and it was into an Uber to the airport.
A weekend in Gdańsk is something I’d recommend to anyone – it’s a beautiful city with plenty to see and do.
That’s my weekend in Gdańsk! And what a weekend it was. Have you visited the city before? Where else would you recommend visiting in Poland?