WHAT TO DO IN GDANSK FOR ONE OR TWO DAYS
So, if you are planning your Gdansk itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Gdansk in 2 days, this post is probably perfect for you. I am sharing my tips on what to do in Gdansk and some important travel tips for your first visit to this beautiful city.
It is an underrated destination, and Poland is a very underrated country. After three visits, I can say that the cities I have been to were charming. One of these gorgeous cities is Gdansk, It is busy, and it is fun! And yet, it is a hidden gem.
Okay, not really. Gdansk gets really busy and attracts many visitors from within Poland, but also from countries like Germany. However, compared to many other pretty European cities, it is still under the radar.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR GDANSK ITINERARY
Before talking about the best activities for your Gdansk itinerary, here are some quick travel tips.
How to Get to Gdansk
- TRAIN: The city is well connected to other main cities in Poland, like Warsaw, Wroclaw, etc., and you can get there by train easily. If you arrive via train, you will have a short walk to the city center (about 10-15 minutes).
- PLANE: Gdansk also has a decent airport that some budget airlines fly to. You can buy a bus ticket for about 1€ (one way) that will get you to the city center of Gdansk.
How to Get Around
- FOOT: You can walk to most of the below-mentioned places. The main tourist attractions are easily accessible as the town center is compact.
- PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: However, a few places in this post are outside the city center. You can rely on good public transportation that is also very affordable by Western European standards. Trains/buses run frequently.
- BOAT: f you do not get motion-sick, you can also use the boat to see one of the places mentioned here. More on that boat trip later.
Where to Stay in Gdansk for 2 Days
I truly recommend staying in or very close to the old town. The prices are probably higher, but it is worth it as you can explore Gdansk early in the morning or in the evening when the crowds are gone.
In general, prices for accommodation are lower compared to central Europe like Germany or Switzerland. Okay, basically every country is cheaper than Switzerland, but Poland is also cheaper than Italy or France.
- I stayed in a simple yet nice place near the old town. Zefiro Stajenna was clean, simple (yet quite modern), and had a kitchen downstairs that guests can use. Check out rates and availabilities here.
- If you prefer staying in the old town and looking for luxury accommodation, you can check out Radisson Blu’s prices.
Where to Eat
Polish food is known for being heavy and hearty – and quite unhealthy. You’ll find many restaurants in the old town and at the promenade. My tips for healthy vegan (vegetarian) and very delicious food are:
- Guga Sweet & Spicy (they also have yummy breakfast) – close to the World War II Museum
- Manna 68 – especially the noodles are extremely delicious (that is why I ended up having it twice in 5 days) – close to St. Mary Church.
More Tips for Your Gdansk Itinerary
- Poland is part of the European Union. However, it does not have € (euro) as its currency. The currency is Zloty.
- While it is cheaper than many destinations in Western Europe, it is quite expensive for a Polish city (and Eastern Europe).
- You can often pay with a credit card (even for the bus ticket from the airport) at many places but should have some Zloty with you as well.
THINGS TO DO IN GDANSK IN 1 DAY
So, let´s start with the main places to visit and the top things to do in Gdansk. Even if you have only one day in the city, I recommend visiting the places in and near the old town (which is absolutely doable in 1 day).
However, my main tip is not to rush and always look up and fully understand the stunning architecture of the buildings in the house.
At the end – or actually at the beginning – of Long Street (the main tourist place), you´ll find the Golden Gate. It is not actually golden but built with light-colored stones and was opened in 1612 and marks the famous shopping street’s beginning.
The Gate has a Latin inscription: “In agreement, small republics grow, in disagreement great republics fall.“ You’ll also find many figures on the faces that symbolize peace, freedom, wealth, and fame on the Coal Market side and signs for agreement, piety, justice, and prudence on the Long Street side.
There are still beautiful buildings, so if you are not short on time, get lost and stroll the area, too.
- From there, you will stroll the pretty colorful street and have a few stops along the way.
Long Street/Dluga Street and Long Market
Okay, here you are. You have just entered the fun and bustling Long Street – the main sightseeing area and tourist hotspot. But even though it can get crowded and busy (and touristy), I totally admired the street and the houses.
I felt a little like I was being transported back to Brussels with the houses’ architecture. You will find so many beautiful houses here. The street was actually terribly destroyed during World War II but got rebuilt, and nowadays, nothing reminded me of the war when walking up and down it.
You’ll find restaurants, shops (with a lot of little souvenirs and gifts made from amber), and little stalls. Musicians and artists will entertain the visitors (at least if the weather is good). Thus, it is also a great place to visit for people of all ages.
Main Town Hall
You’ll find the main town hall in the top tourist areas of Long Street/Dluga Street. It just takes a minute or so (without stops) from the Golden Gate. The town hall was the most important public building in the city – the seat of the municipal government and institutions showed the city´s power and wealth with beautiful interiors. Most of it dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
- You can see the Great Council Hall for a small entrance fee (the hall is quite small but still interesting).
The main town hall is also my top tip to get the best view of the old town. Climb the few hundred stairs (partly with a very narrow staircase) to enjoy the fantastic view of Long Street, St. Mary’s Church, and its surroundings.
Getting up is tedious but so worth it. Personally, I think it is one of the top 5 things to do in Gdansk. Nowadays, it is also the seat of the Gdansk Museum, which you can visit.
- The entrance fee for the tower is just a few €. This is so much less compared to the elevated views you pay for in countries like Italy.
Fountain of Neptune
On Long Street, you’ll find the Fountain of Neptune. This is a bronze statue of the King of the Seas from 1633 that has become one of the main tourist attractions in Gdansk. Back then, the fountain was only occasionally turned on (since the water tanks had to be manually refilled). Now that Gdansk has gotten its waterworks running – from the 19th century onwards- the fountain is now turned on all summer long.
Walk towards the gate, which you can see from the fountain. The Green Gate is at the end of Long Street. You’ll pass it whether you get to the promenade from here or you come from the promenade. This is the entrance/exit built in the 16th century to the beautiful main street.
If you look up, you’ll see a building, which was initially built as a residence for the Polish king at the time. Once you are there, you have already reached another popular place amongst locals and visitors (see next attraction).
- There are guided walking tours. Check out prices and times here.
- I am a big walker and love to explore cities on foot. If you want to experience Gdansk on an electric scooter, check out this guided scooter tour.
Long Riverfront (Dlugie Pobrzeze)
This is one of my favorite places in Gdansk: the Long Riverfront (Dlugie Pobrzeze). Over the span of 5 days, I visited the place numerous times. If you are in Gdansk for a day, you should still visit at least once, and since it is so close to Long Street, so it is conveniently located to the other attractions in the city. This fun and busy promenade – in the summer months – is a must-see in Gdansk. I recommend walking up the promenade. It is less than a kilometer long, but the number of restaurants is endless.
From here, you can also get a view of the Gdansk sign and the Ferris wheel. If you want, head to the other side of the promenade so you can have great views from all angles.
You´ll see the River Mitlawa and ships (along with small, cute water taxis). In the past, this was where merchant ships moored, carrying wares from all over the world.
This is also where you will find the ships going to Westerplatte (more on that later).
If you walk along the promenade, you will see the Crane, another famous sight. This wooden building is shaped like a sail-less windmill and is a 15th-century port crane located on the Dlugie Pobrzeze. Most of the time, it was used to hoist beer and wine barrels, stone ballasts, and masts. Now, it is the National Maritime Museum.
- If you want to visit the museum, you can buy a ticket at the neighboring Maritime Culture Centre.
If you walk along the Long Riverfront, there is a little street that you should turn into Mariacka Street.
I admit, when I strolled this pretty street (which is parallel to Long Street), I felt like I was exploring the pretty streets of Brooklyn. Though I am not sure if I was the only one who got this feeling, I am sure you would miss out if you didn’t get to walk it at least once. With many cafes and little shops selling mostly jewelry and souvenirs, this street had a totally different vibe than Long Street and is one of the best places to visit in Gdansk, in my opinion.
St. Mary Church
Close to Mariacka Street, you’ll see pretty St. Mary’s Church. It is formally known as the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Its 82-meter-tall tower is one of the largest brick churches in the world, and it took more than 150 years to build (construction started in the 14th century).
- If you visit the church, keep in mind that you should dress modestly.
You have a chance to climb the tower here as well. As I stayed in the city for a longer time, I climbed both towers – this and the tower from the town hall.
- Getting up to the tower requires climbing about 400 steps.
- There is an entrance fee of a few Zlotys for the tower (visiting the church itself is free).
- If you have less time or want to save a few €, I suggest skipping the tower here. The views from the town hall are much better.
- As I am a sucker for good views, I still enjoyed them from this tower. However, there are nets up there that did not allow me to fully soak in the views of this pretty city.
Museum of the Second World War
You’ll find the Museum of the Second World War a bit outside the main old town along the promenade. It was established in 2008 and is devoted to the Second World War. While I did not visit myself – I know, shame on me :/ – I am sure that you can learn a lot about one of the most lethal wars in history there.
- The entrance ticket for adults is around 5€
- You can buy tickets online
2 DAYS IN GDANSK – WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO SEE
With 2 days in Gdansk, I would add the following activities to your itinerary.
A visit to the Westerplatte is a must. It is a little island in front of Gdansk (easily accessible via boat). Westerplatte has become so famous for its sad history. It is here where World War II started. If you are getting boat tickets, I recommend planning to stay on the island for at least about 1.5-2 hours (absolute minimum) to learn more about World War II.
- You could easily get there via boat.
- If you are into pirates (or your kids), buy tickets at the ticket office (you´ll see the ships and boats) and hop on a pirate ship, which will get you there for relatively little money.
A trip to Sopot is perfect for escaping city life. It might be jam-packed here even in the summer months, as it is a popular beach resort town, frequently visited by locals and tourists, but it is easily accessible from Gdansk.
Once there, you have a beautiful beach area and the Baltic Sea in front of you – I openly admit that the water was not very tempting to hop into, but it is still beautiful and a great place to relax.
There is also one of the longest wooden piers in the world. To cross it, you have to pay a very small entrance fee (only in the summer months), but you then have a nice walk and a different view of Sopot. Given its many cafes and restaurants, it is also a good place to spend a full day. Also, the town center is quite busy – and keep an eye out for the crooked building.
- You can buy train tickets and pay only around 2€ (roundtrip) for this 40-minute train ride.
CONCLUSION: GDANSK THINGS TO DO AND SEE
As you can see, there are a lot of things to do in Gdansk. And there is much more to add to your itinerary if you stay more than 2 days in Gdansk.
However, I am sure that you can create a great itinerary for 2 days and see some of the most beautiful places in the city with these tips.
- Check out my Poland itinerary to find out what a fun one-week in Poland could look like!