Gdańsk

Długa Street with the Main Town Hall in the background

Gdańsk (also known under its German name Danzig) is a city in Poland on the Baltic Sea. It is the capital of Pomerania. Gdańsk with nearby Sopot and Gdynia are often referred as Tricity (pl: Trójmiasto). Gdańsk is considered the most beautiful city on the Baltic Sea and has magnificent architecture.

Understand

Its position on the Baltic has historically made Gdańsk one of the most important port cities in Northern Europe, and tragically also the scene of a rather disturbing past. The first claim to fame for Danzig (as it was than known) was its membership in the Hanseatic League as an important Baltic port on the crossroads of North East and Central Europe.

World War II was ignited by a dispute over the control of the city. By the end of the war the city lay almost completely in ruins. The German population was expelled and replaced by Poles as the city came under Polish rule and changed its name to Gdańsk. However, the impact of its former German ties are still evident. Although most of the old buildings were damaged or destroyed in WWII, they have been painstakingly restored or rebuilt.

In modern history, Gdańsk is known as the birthplace of Solidarity (pl: Solidarność), the labour and democracy movement that helped to bring down the Communist government in Poland, and subsequently marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The movement was led by the charismatic leader, Lech Wałęsa, who became Poland's first post-Communist president.

Do not be fooled by the fact that Gdańsk is famous for its shipyards, as it is a beautiful city with a charm of its own.

Tourist information

Tourist Card

At every Tourist Information point you can buy the Tourist Card.

Within the "Gdańsk-Sopot-Gdynia-Plus" Tourist Card nearly 220 offers are available. These are various propositions: accommodations, performances, concerts, exhibitions, souvenirs, books, amber jewellery purchase, dinners and other meals, water equipment hiring, car rental, paintball, Aquapark, visits in beauty salon, entertainment and many other possibilities.

From offers within the Tourist Card it is possible to plan at least few days of an attractive stay in the Tricity and region, with good and bad weather – during the season as well as in the period of lower tourist traffic.

Get in

Lech Wałęsa Airport

By plane

  Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport (Polish: Port Lotniczy Gdańsk im. Lecha Wałęsy), (IATA: GDN), is an international airport located west northwest of Gdańsk and not far from the city centre of the Tricity metropolitan area: Gdańsk 12 km (7.5 mi), Sopot 10 km (6.2 mi) and Gdynia 23 km (14 mi).

The following airlines operate service to/from the airport:

Transport from airport to city

Bus 210 — operates between the airport (bus stop: Port Lotniczy) and Gdańsk, and makes a stop at the train station, 35–50 minutes away. The fare is 3 zł if a ticket is bought from a news stand, ticket machine or Bilety shop, and 3.40 zł if the ticket is bought from the driver. Note that although the ticket has a picture of a tram on it, it is also valid for the bus. Make sure to get on in the right direction at the airport, because the bus goes into two directions from there. On the way to the airport, the bus picks up on the other side of the road, near the front of the Scandic hotel (look for the signs that have the 210 on them). From the tourist office in the tunnel, turn left, walk until you are outside and head right, go up the stairs, turn right, and the bus shelters will be in front of you.

N3 night bus

Train Since September 2015, there is also a train connection to the city centre roughly every 15min during the day (Airport stop: Gdańsk Port Lotniczy). Less frequent services in the morning, evening and at night. The train station is accessible from the west end of Terminal T2 via a covered bridge. Ticket machines are on the platforms. There are a few direct connections to the main train station in Gdańsk. For other connections to the main train station you need to switch trains in Gdańsk Wrzeszcz. Single tickets to the main train station cost 3.50 zł.

Airportbus shuttle — also operates a transport service to Gdańsk centre for 9.90 zł (you can buy ticket directly in the bus). This is a direct line between airport and city's centre. Bus stop in Gdańsk is located in front of Mercure Hevelius hotel (it's 5 minutes walk from Main Railway Station). Journey depends on traffic and takes around 25–30 minutes.

Taxi — Avoid the unofficial rip off taxis who will pounce on you as soon as you have cleared security, unless you know how to deal with them. A taxi to/from the airport to the city centre should cost around 50-60 zł however will cost more in the evenings or at weekends. Taxi drivers will be waiting in the arrivals hall offering fixed price transfers, 60-70 zł is not unreasonable for an evening (after 22:00) transfer to the centre of Gdańsk.

Private transfersMPA Poland provides transport services around Tri-City and Pomerania region. An airport transfer from/to airport costs 100 zł up to 8 people.

By train

The main railway station,   Gdańsk Główny, is a beautiful historic building, although a rather confusing experience to non-Polish tourists. Information in languages other than Polish is almost non-existent. Please note the station actually operates as 2 separate stations, one for the PKP trains (intercity / long distance journeys) and another for the SKM commuter trains. Each station has separate ticket offices and platforms; the PKP station can be accessed from inside the station and the SKM station is found to the right of the main station (do not go into the PKP station).

Beware of pickpockets and people who may try to intimidate you for money around the railway station, especially late at night.

PKP operates long distance trains to other cities in Poland and Europe. Buy a ticket before you enter the train. It is advisable to write the name of your destination on a piece of paper and then show it to the ticket sales person, as other languages than Polish are rarely spoken. Foreigners trying to pronounce the name of Polish destinations often cause confusion.

SKM (Szybka Kolej Miejska) operates frequent service between Gdańsk and Sopot and Gdynia, 35 minutes away. These trains are located on the right side when entering the station. Tickets may be bought from a vending machine at the platform or from a ticket office in the subway below (access from the street or from the SKM platforms). Never enter these trains without a valid ticket and remember to validate your ticket before getting on the train as ticket controls checking passengers tickets are frequent. As a rule, tickets are valid for travel by one specific type of train only. Don't try to travel on a student ticket unless you have an ISIC student card, even if they sell you the ticket. The ticket inspector also asks for your student card, and if you just have a normal student card, they will likely refuse you.

By car

The A1 motorway connects Gdańsk with Toruń, Łódź, and Katowice to the south. The S7 connects Gdańsk with Warsaw and Kraków.

By bus

The   Bus Station (Dworzec PKS) is located just behind the main railway station. You can recognise it by the big letters 'Dworzec PKS' on top of the building. Buses can be used to travel to regional destinations that lack railway connections, such as the concentration camp in Sztutowo. Polskibus also operates coach services from here, with direct connections going to Poznań, Wrocław and Warsaw.

By boat

Polish Baltic Philharmonic on the Motława river

Polferries operates ferry service between Gdańsk and Nynäshamn, just south of Stockholm, Sweden. The trip takes 18 hours and costs ~€70.

Stena Line operates ferry service between Gdynia and Karlskrona, Sweden. The trip takes 12.5 hours and costs ~€50.

Get around

The centre of Gdańsk is very compact and almost everything is accessible on foot, the trams seem to go around the old town so none run through it. Trams and buses are cheap (3 zł/h) and frequent. Tickets can be bought from the driver at trams. Locals are keen to help with directions, you can also use website or mobile app jakdojade.pl to find suitable connection.

By tram and bus

Zarząd Transportu Miejskiego, the City Transportation Office.

Single journey tickets are valid until leaving the bus or tram. They cost 3zł on standard services and 4zł on night, fast, and special services (line numbers marked with A or N).

Time tickets are based on travel time, so you need to estimate the duration of the journey or have a few tickets extra to validate when your previous ticket expires. Time tickets are either valid for up to 60min or up to 24h and allow any amount of journeys and changes within that time. The 60min time ticket costs 3.60zł on standard services and 4.60zł on night, fast, and special services (line numbers marked with A or N). The 24h ticket costs 12zł and is valid on all trams, buses during the day and on night buses.

All tickets need to be validated at the start of the journey.

By water tram

ZTM offers a seasonal water tram service: route F5 Żabi Kruk - Westerplatte and F6 Targ Rybny - National Sailing Centre. A single ticket costs 10zł.

By train

Use the commuter train (SKM) to quickly go to Sopot and Gdynia, ticket to Gdynia will cost 5 zł and Sopot will cost 3.40 zł.

By car

See

Hall of the Main City (Ratusz)

Main City

The main city (Główne Miasto) is the historic part of Gdańsk and contains most of the sights. The Long Street (ulica Długa) and Long Market (Długi Targ) are two of the most beautiful streets in the city. They are enclosed first by the Upland Gate, then by the Golden Gate to the west and the Green Gate to the east close to the riverside. This entire stretch is also referred to as the Royal Way. Along those two streets there are many interesting sights.

Religious buildings

The huge St. Mary's Church

Other

Museums

Further afield

Do

Work

Teaching English is a possibility.

Buy

Market hall

Gdańsk is sometimes called the Amber Capital of the World. The surrounding area is the richest known source of this semi-precious stone, and the product can be found in many of the city's shops. The ones with insects in are much more expensive.

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

You can buy fish on one of bars on Motława River bank (25 zł/meal)

Splurge

Drink

Danziger Goldwasser, root and herbal liqueur which has been produced since 16th century is considered the city's drink (it is now made in Germany though). It's vodka based, creamy and has small flakes of 22 or 23 karat gold in it. Cheaper alternatives include Gdańska Złotówka or Złota Woda.

"Gdańsk national drink" before WWII was Stobbes Machandel juniper vodka. After the war it was rejected and slightly forgotten due to association with German soldiers occupying the city, but today is gaining popularity again. There is a special ritual to be followed while drinking a shot of Machandel with a dried plum for a snack.

Bars

Sleep

Great Armoury

As the TriCity is in effect conjoined and there are good, fast transit links, you can just as well consider accommodation in Gdynia or Sopot.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

If you take the usual precautions against pickpockets, you will feel perfectly safe wandering around in Gdańsk. Gdańsk seems very well organized from a tourist's point of view. There are frequent police patrols and visitors usually get the feeling of Gdańsk being a secure and tourist-friendly city.

Don't walk around in Dolne Miasto and old Orunia area. Those areas are very poor and it's unsafe for a tourist to walk there, especially when flashing expensive jewellery or wads of cash.

Go next

Gdańsk Bay:

Bear in mind that many of the boats, to Sopot in particular, end up fully-booked and that you can't buy your ticket at the boat itself. This is a harsh lesson to learn when you have already waited in a huge queue. Tickets for the Sopot ferry must be purchased from an office directly across from the terminal. Also be aware that in Sopot you will need to buy an access ticket for the pier (around 5 zł, even if you already have a return ticket to Gdańsk) in order to board your boat back.

Vistula Bay:

Kashubian Coast:

On the Vistula Peninsula:

On the Hel Peninsula:

Take the train to Hel. It's at the end of the peninsula opposite Gdańsk. SKM trains are the cheaper option. Train from Gdańsk Główny to Gdynia every 15 minutes and then SKM diesel to Hel. If you get the 9:45 from Gdańsk you have 7 minutes to change about 4 platforms across the underpass. The journey is wonderful - straight through pine forests and sometimes with the sea on either side. Single ticket costs 21.50 zł (get a 5.40 zł single from Gdańsk to Gdynia - and then the 16.10 zł single from Gdynia to Hel, just in case you miss the connection.) When you get to Hel have a walk into town - it's just a Polish beach resort full of holiday makers. You should have time for lunch and then get the hydrofoil from the end of the pier at 3.30pm. But make sure you buy the ticket from the office halfway down the pier or you could be walking back! The trip is 24 zł back to Gdańsk but it will be the best value trip you can get. It takes 1hr 50 min but the first hour is getting across to Gdańsk, then the next 50 minutes is navigating the canals back to the town centre. You could pay a tourist company for this trip - but the cost is in your ticket, you see Westphalia lighthouse where the first shots of WW2 were fired, the huge ships and the massive remains of the former Lenin Shipyards.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.