Gdansk will surprise you! It is absolutely beautiful, excessively charming, and oh, so colorful! We loved our time here, despite a little rain on the weekend, and we have some recommendations for your trip. Here are our top 10 favorite things to do in Gdansk, Poland!
10. Peek Inside the Churches
European churches are undeniably beautiful, and often they have some unique or interesting features. St. Catherine’s has an altar made of amber, St. Nicholas has a Rapunzel-style tower (swoon), and St. Mary’s Basilica is the largest in the land! Take a look, and pay the nominal fee to climb the stairs to the top (more on that later)!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Poland
9. Shop for Amber
Okay, so, if you’ve been following the blog or my Instagram for any amount of time, you know I don’t love to shop! But travel shopping is a little different. It’s fun to have something at home that helps you remember your time abroad. Baltic amber is local to the region (you’ll find it all over Poland and the Baltic States as well), and it’s literally a fossil.
You can find it in just about every shop, but make sure it’s real, not plastic. The most famous place to shop for amber is on Mariacka ulicka (Mary’s Street), but truly, you can find it everywhere! It shines up nicely, making it a unique souvenir from Poland. Best of all? Jewelry pretty much always fits!
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8. Visit the Amber Museum
Speaking of amber, don’t miss this museum dedicated to it! There are several examples of it on display, with everything inside it from fossilized bugs to lizards to plants. My favorite, however, was the exhibit on the top floor all about things people have made out of amber. The most famous pieces are the intricate chess set and full-size guitar, but I also thought the amber fruit was pretty impressive as well!
Also helpful: What to Know Before You Visit Gdansk
7. Walk through Artus Court
Okay, this one was just bizarre! Artus Court is located directly behind the famous Neptune Fountain, and you kind of have to see it to believe it. This was a place for the socially elite men of Gdansk to come and drink as much as they could. They say it was modeled after King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, and there are several other buildings like this for similar fraternities throughout the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe.
Why is it so odd? There are ships hanging from the ceiling, fake deer heads on the walls, paintings on the ceiling and walls, and a massive floor-to-ceiling “stove” covered in decorative blue and white tile. And that’s just in the main room!
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6. Get a Selfie with Neptune
If you’ve seen a photo of Gdansk, it probably featured their famous Neptune Fountain. He has been watching over this main street since 1633, and he’s a favorite for photo-ops. You may recognize him from The Amazing Race Season 23, when some of the racers dressed as him and stood like statues waiting for tips!
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5. Visit the World War II Museum
It’s interesting to me how every country has its own perspective of World War II, because it affected every country differently, for a variety of reasons. Germany invaded Poland via Gdansk on September 1, 1939, which set the War fully in motion. Plan to spend 1.5-2 hours here to get this unique view. It’s well worth your time to visit, even if you think you know enough about it already. The Polish perspective is unique.
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4. Tour the Main Town Hall
The Main Town Hall is a great place to get a view, but it’s also an interesting place to learn more about Gdansk in general. There is a museum inside, as well as exhibits along the stairs that lead up to the viewing tower. It was worth a visit for me, but be aware that the tower viewing area can close due to weather, which was the case for my visit—but I didn’t know that until I had already climbed up!
3. Get a View from Above
Speaking of viewpoints, there are actually several of them around the city! I loved the view from St. Mary’s (409 steps up—you’ve been warned!), but you can also catch the view from the Main Town Hall, Wieza Wiezienna, and more—including the Amber Sky Ferris Wheel! Be sure to make the climb at some point to take in all the sweeping, old city views.
2. Walk through the Old Town
You may have already noticed, but I’m an absolute sucker for an old town! Even though Gdansk was nearly completely destroyed in World War II (along with many other Polish cities), the old world charm and architecture have been restored as closely as possible to their original states. Very little is left from medieval Gdansk, but you’d almost never know it.
The Poles took great care after the War to bring their cities back to life, which makes me appreciate the people and their determination (as well as their architecture) even more. Be sure to take lots of photos, appreciate the efforts, and enjoy the beauty of this very special city!
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1. Dine at a Sidewalk Cafe
This is my favorite! Americans don’t dine outside nearly enough, in my personal opinion as an American. In Europe, the sidewalks and outdoor spaces are just part of the restaurant scene, basically wherever you go. Gdansk’s sidewalk cafes and restaurants are entirely welcoming, what with their colorful flower accents and umbrellas just waiting to shield you from the sun. They also have heating elements and blankets for cooler temperatures, so you’ll be comfortable practically year-round!
Keep eating: Where to Eat in Gdansk
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