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This beautiful city in Poland is one of my new favourites.
Last month I wrote a blog on the cheapest European destinations to fly to in November 2017 and apparently lots of you liked it. Some of the destinations were well known… but Gdansk? Not so much.
Inspired by the cheap flights and some stunning photos I saw on Instagram, I headed to Gdansk last week.
I definitely liked what I saw!
Reasons to visit Gdansk
To fill you in, Gdansk is a small city in the north of Poland and one of the oldest settlements in the country. It’s also absolutely stunning! If you’re still in two minds, here are my top 12 reasons to visit Gdansk.
1. All the buildings are beautiful
Rather than a central square, Gdansk has ‘Dlugi Targ’ which translates as Long Market. Here you’ll find so many colourful houses and if you get up close you’ll see paintings and gargoyles adorning their walls. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such detail in a city.
2. The nightlife
The bars in Gdansk are really cool. I visited Jozef K which was awesome – the bar was an old telephone switchboard, there were trees growing around the tables, and the ceiling was made part from books and part from what looked like an 80s dancefloor. It was so weird and wonderful.
As I was solo travelling and my hostel was fairly empty, I didn’t head on a proper night out but all I hear are great things. One bar is called ‘Cafe Absinthe’ so I’m sure you can imagine the scenes there. Apparently parties last until dawn in the summer.
3. There’s a restaurant dedicated to cheesy potato dishes
If ever there was a reason to visit Gdansk, it’s Pyra Bar where you can order fried potato cakes with all kinds of toppings, baked potatoes, potato dumplings and bowls of baked cheese, sliced potato and meat. It’s quirky and the best way to warm up if you’re visiting in cold weather.
I opted for potato dumplings with sauerkraut and fried onion.
4. The history
World War II was triggered in Gdansk and the city also had a massive part to play in the fall of Communism. Two really interesting places to visit are:
- The Old Post Office – this is the spot where the Germans attacked, kickstarting WWII. You can visit the museum for about £1.50.
- European Solidarity Centre – this old shipping yard has a crazy history. The workers went on strike as a result of bad conditions and were subsequently shot at by police which led to the formation of the Solidarity movement. When this group eventually made it into government, Poland became the first non-Communist country in the Eastern Bloc and the other countries began to topple, too – the Berlin Wall came down shortly after.
If you want to learn about European history, Gdansk is a great place to do it.
5. The prices
Another reason to visit Gdansk is the affordable prices. Coffees and beers average about £1.50 in Gdansk and a meal in a restaurant can be as little as £3.
My hostel cost me £10 including a giant buffet breakfast and a constant supply of tea and coffee. I picked it because it was so close to the train station but there were actually even cheaper options available, plus Airbnbs start at £25.
6. Instagrammable spots on Long Market
When you think Gdansk can’t get any more photogenic, you’ll find Neptune perched on a fountain, spear in hand, surrounded by cherubs and gargoyles.
Long Market in the Old Town is THE place for photo ops. For an aerial view of the area, climb the Town Hall tower.
7. The waterfront is lovely
Even in winter this area is pretty and you can cruise the waterfront aboard this pirate boat. On summer evenings the ship turns into an open air tavern, and apparently the whole area comes to life with outdoor cafes, restaurants and street performances.
8. It’s a great place to sample Polish cuisine
In Gdansk you can eat delicious local dishes for very low prices. As a general rule, Polish food is where diets come to die – an excuse to hop on the next flight if you ask me!
Whilst I was chatting with a new Polish friend in a cafe and sheltering from snow, I ordered the famous staple dish of dumplings or ‘pierogi’. These are commonly filled with either cheese and potato or sauerkraut (cooked cabbage). Obviously I had both!
If want to recreate these when you get home, check out this pierogi recipe!
Best places to eat:
- Pyra Bar for potato goodness
- Bar Mleczny (in English ‘Bar Neptun’) – the cute cafe where I ate these dumplings
- Familia Bistro – this place is good for any meal of the day and turns into a cosy restaurant at night. I ended up eating potatoes AGAIN in the form of an enormous fried bacon and potato cake with salad and a creamy white sauce. Super tasty. The baked dumplings also look divine.
9. The churches are stunning
I went inside St Mary’s Church and, as you can see, it was beautiful. On a clear day it’s worth climbing the tower as you’ll see views for miles around.
10. You can go amber shopping (for cheap!)
One really unique street in Gdansk is Mariacka Street which is long famous for the selling of amber goods. Tens of stores and workshops line the street and it has a buzzy atmosphere as well as total bargains. I saw pairs of amber earrings selling for £3.
Amber has been gathered and produced around Gdansk for 6,000 years so is a solid part of the history and economy.
11. It’s a great place to get your souvenirs
As well as amber, all your goodies to take home are super cheap. It’s definitely a good place to do your Christmas shopping.
12. Did I mention flights from London are £8?
Go get them!! Across the next few months I can see flights on Skyscanner from £8 – £20 each way. It’s a no brainer 🙂
Have you been to Gdansk? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
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Travelling around Europe? Check out some of my other posts:
- A 3 day Vienna guide
- The perfect 3 day Barcelona itinerary
- 2 day Hamburg itinerary
- How to visit Bosnia as a day trip from Dubrovnik
- The ultimate Romania road trip
- Weekend Sofia itinerary
See you next time for more adventures,
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