Poland has always been somewhere I have wanted to visit, and after my failed attempt in getting to Wroclaw last year I’ve been longing to book another trip. Earlier this year I saw a great deal on flights to Gdansk with Wizz Air and I just could not resist booking a Gdansk city break.
Gdansk City Break
Flight Time From London: The published flight time from London to Gdansk is 2 hours and 10 minutes, however the actual flight time was 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Airline & Airport of Operation: You can reach Gdansk from London Luton airport with Wizz Air and from Stansted with Ryanair, as well as from some regional airports across the U.K. I flew with Wizz Air from London Luton leaving early Saturday morning and returning Sunday evening. The cost of my return flight was £63.50 which was discounted further due to my Wizz Members Club. The Wizz Members Club is £30 per year and entitles you, plus one guest, to save at least 15% on every Wizz flight. I joined the Wizz Members Club because I have additional Wizz flights planned over the coming months.
Transfer Time to City: Gdansk’s airport is located 8 miles from the centre of the city, which takes 15 minutes in a taxi and costs approximately £12. There are also cheaper options of getting into the city if you take a train or bus.
Hotel for a Gdansk City Break
For this trip I stayed for one night at the Radisson Blu Gdansk which was located right in the heart of Gdansk’s old town, just off of Dlugi Targ, which is the main street through the city. The perfect base for a Gdansk City Break.
The Radisson Blu Gdansk is a very modern looking hotel set in a collection of older buildings which have been joined together and modernised. The hotel has a bar, restaurant, fitness suite and Spa, but due to my quite short visit I didn’t use any of these facilities.
I only booked a standard room, but it was extremely comfortable and very spacious The view from my room was into the central courtyard, where the car drop off area to the reception was located. The courtyard was however quite a nice view as they had preserved some of the beautiful original building fascias in the courtyard.
Top Attractions on a Gdansk City Break
I usually research a destination in detail before visiting so I have a good idea of what I want to see and do while I’m there. On this occasion however I had only a quick look, and didn’t make any plans. Instead I decided to see how the weekend panned out once I arrived.
St Mary’s Basilica and Viewing Platform
St Mary’s Church, also known as St Mary’s Basilica is one of the largest brick built churches in the world, and is built in a gothic style. Construction started in 1343 and was finally completed in 1502. Today the church is Roman Catholic, but over time this has gone through periods of being Lutheran as well as Roman Catholic.
I highly recommend a visit to the church while on a Gdansk City Break, not only to appreciate the beauty of the interior, but also to climb the tower for amazing panoramic views over the city. Entrance to the tower is 8 Zloty and I would allow approximately 45 minutes to an hour for your visit. There are over 400 steps to climb to the top of the tower, so be prepared for a very energetic climb. When you arrive at the top and see the spectacular views you will be glad you made the effort!
Amber Sky is a huge Ferris wheel which is located in the old town, near the bank of the Mortlawa River. The wheel is over 50 meters high and has 36 cabins, accommodating up to 288 people at any one time. A 15 minute ride on the wheel will cost 25 Zloty and is a wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful vistas over Gdansk old town and the water front. I took a ride on Amber Sky at dusk and enjoyed wonderful views of the sun setting over the old town.
Gdansk is home to a whole range of different museums, from maritime and WWII to European Solidarity and Amber museums. As Gdansk has a very rich shipping history I decided to visit the Ship Musuem “Sołdek” which is part of the national maritime museum. The museum is based on the ship Sołdek which was the first steam ship built in Gdansk after WWII. The ship was retired in 1989 and handed over to the maritime museum and is now moored on the water front in Gdansk as a floating museum.
Tickets for the ship museum are 8 Zloty and can be purchased from the inside the national maritime museum. I would allow about an hour to an hour and a half to fully explore the ship. The majority of the ship is open to explore, with the main cargo holds housing lots of interesting displays, artefacts and multimedia tools to learn about the ship’s history. You can also see the engine room, boilers, living quarters as well as the bridge. All in all it is a very interesting insight into Gdansk’s shipping history.
Explore the Old Town on Foot
To truly appreciate the beauty of Gdansk take an hour or two to wander around the streets of the old town. Start off by strolling down Dlugi Targ, Gdansk’s Main Street for shopping, bars and restaurants, before heading along Dlugie Pobrzeze (the water front) to take in the stunning vistas along the river, then head up Mariacka which is a gorgeous little street lined with coffee shops and boutiques selling amber products, for which Gdansk is renowned.
Throughout Gdansk you will see many tall townhouses in a traditional style, similar to what you find in northern German cities, all of which have their own unique intricate designs. Along the waterfront you will see many old store houses which have now been converted in to shops, restaurants and hotels, as well as the famous Gdansk Crane which is over 500 years old. When I visited Gdansk there was a lot of construction going on one side of the river, which until then had been ruins since WWII.
Take a Trip on a Pirate Ship
If you have a couple of hours free and enjoy boat rides, take a trip down the Mortlawa River on one of two pirate themed ships – the Galleon Lion and the Black Pearl. The trip leaves from the water front between the Green Gate and the Mariacka Gate and makes its way along the Mortlawa to Westerplatt, which takes about 40 minutes. When you arrive at Westerplatt you can stay on the ship and head straight back, or you can get get off and explore the area and catch a later sailing back. Westerplatt is located right on the Baltic Sea and has some amazing views along the coast.
A return trip is 45pln, so just under £10. There is an onboard bar for refreshments and also live entertainment, which on my trip was a live band singing pirate themed tunes. The route the trip takes is right through Gdansk’s working dockyards, so it’s a great way to see more of Gdansk’s shipping industry.
Restaurant Recommendation for a Gdansk City Break
There are many restaurants in Gdansk, all of which I’m sure would provide a delicious meal, at a very reasonable price. For my evening meal I was looking for some traditional Polish food, with the added bonus of eating outside under a heater. I headed along Dlugi Targ and came across Mojito which had a few outside tables still available. I enjoyed some delicious Polish Dumplings (Pierogi) followed by traditional Polish stew served in a bread bowl, all of which was absolutely delicious. I enjoyed my meal with a couple of local beers.
Local Delicacy: If you’re looking to sample some traditional Polish cuisine, then look out for Polish stew, which is often served in a bowl carved out of a small loaf of bread. Also make sure you sample some traditional Polish dumplings (Pierogi).
Top Tip: Take a trip on one of the two Pirate themed ships to Westerplatte, but it’s best to dress in warm clothes as there can be quite a chill in the air the closer to the coast you get.
Currency: Poland’s currency is the Zloty, and at the time of writing this the exchange rate was approximately 4.9 zloty to the Pound.
Weather: I visited Gdansk during the autumn and the weather for this time of year was similar to what you would expect at this time of the year in the UK, but there was quite a cold breeze now and again due to the proximity to the Baltic Sea.
Best time to you: Gdansk can be visited year round, just be wary of the icy cold winters due to its proximity to the Baltic Sea. However, if you are looking for entertainment, the summer months host a range of festivals, from music to street theatre.
Recommended Duration: I stayed in Gdansk for only one night to get a taster for what the city has to offer. I would however recommend a minimum of two nights to fully appreciate everything Gdansk has to offer.
Conclusion: This was my first trip to Gdansk, and in fact my first visit to anywhere in Poland given that I never made it to Wroclaw last year. I enjoyed my Gdansk city break so much that I wasn’t home more than a couple of days before booking more flights back to Gdansk for early next year.