Gdansk is home to some of the most significant events of the last century, namely the beginning of the Second World War and the disintegration of the post-war communist order. Having originally developed around a thousand years ago, the settlement was later seized by the Teutonic Knights and soon became one of the wealthiest ports of the Baltic. The city then swung between Prussian, Polish and autonomous rule, before September 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland on account of their refusal to return Gdansk to German reign. The city was heavily bombarded during the war but the majority of historic buildings have been restored over the last 50 years when the city returned to Polish rule. 40 years later saw another incredibly significant development in the history of Europe with the establishment of the Solidarity Trade Union. This socialist movement which arose in the Lenin Shipyards of Gdansk is hailed as the catalyst for the fall of communism. Despite the depression which followed, Gdansk has enjoyed rejuvenation, particularly in the last five years, when tourists have begun to investigate the city for its current merits rather than dwelling on the events of the past. The impressive shipyards pay homage to the massive industry and trade which have driven the city in the past, and are now complemented by the cultural and artistic merits which have come to be expected from any cosmopolitan Polish city.


Shipyards – As you enter the shipyards, the first thing to notice is the lack of activity. The area now provides employment for little more than a few thousand people, a far cry from the area’s former glory. The Solidarity Square contains a towering and sombre monument to the 28 lives lost in the violent clashes during the strikes that preceded the establishment of the Solidarity Trade Union. The entrance to the shipyards is a short walk from the Old Town, the remaining highlights (much of the Old Town has never been rebuilt) being Gdansk’s oldest Church, St Catherine’s and the Great Mill.

Historic Quarter – The two restored streets of Long Street and Long Market that make up Royal Way are home to some of the oldest and most recently restored buildings in Gdansk. The buildings are typically narrow with ornately decorated facades, some of which dating back to the Middle Ages. The roads run perpendicular to the river, the spire of the Town Hall and other taller buildings creating fantastic reflections when viewed from across the water. Other notable sights here include Artus Court, Neptune’s Fountain and the Gdansk crane.

The Polish Maritime Museum – The layout of the museum is novel in that it is spread across various buildings in the city. The main permanent exhibits are held in the reconstructed granaries and just down river from here is moored the museum ship “Soldek”. The rest of the museum is across the river, accessible by the museum’s own ferry, where the crane and themed houses can be found.


Gdansk’s retail highlight is the regal Madison Shopping Gallery which holds countless shops, restaurants and cafes, monuments and even a gym. Larger retail parks exist for more mundane items, such as Matarnia. You can tell you’re not far from the Baltic when you can’t go 5 minutes without someone trying to sell you some amber, Gdansk is no exception. The best purchases are more likely to be made in a high street fashion shop rather than a souvenir emporium with many western brands available here at unusually low prices.

Dining and Nightlife

As with the rest of Poland, Gdansk is not famed for its cuisine. Given how recently it has become popular with tourists, the restaurants have done well to catch up with the rest of the nation’s popular spots so quickly. Even the very expensive traditional food can be a little bland and your attention is more likely to be swayed towards whichever animal or historical artefact has been pinned to the wall rather than what’s on your plate. Fresh fish is your best bet if eating Polish, and there is no reason to do this too often as superior international food is well represented here. Indian and Asian flavours are slowly creeping at the imaginatively named but unambiguous “Masala”.

Nightlife in Gdansk caters to a fairly narrow audience, students and those willing to drink heavily in their presence. The décor in most clubs tends to be day-glow and punters dress accordingly. The music is mostly pop and RnB, with some techno classics and ringtones thrown in for good measure. They do not take much water with the wine in this town and the police are appropriately harsh on drunks, they do not make exceptions for tourists.

Tourist Information

Regional Office of PTTK Tour GuidesAddress: ul. Powroźnicza 19/20, GdanskTel: 058 306 38 65Website:


The Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport has flights to and from the main cities in Poland and Europe. There are a good number of shops and a tourist information desk. The airport is roughly 10 km out of the centre and there is a regular bus service and busy taxi rank.