20 Things To Do In Gdansk

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Gdańsk is the biggest city on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast and the capital of the Pomeranian Voivodeship. Its location has made it hugely important over the past few centuries as it is an important shipping area and is at the mouth of the Vistula river that runs through the entirety of the country connecting Warsaw and Kraków. The city is the site of several defining moments in Polish and world history. It’s where the Nazis attacked and dropped the first bombs that led to the beginning of World War II.

A few decades later, working Poles fed up with poor working conditions and pay started a labour movement that peacefully brought down decades of communist rule in the country. It is a deeply historic city with a youthful atmosphere and a thriving nightlife with cool clubs and pubs. Young Poles travel abroad and come home inspired to open restaurants with international flavours like Korean, Thai and Mexican. Visiting Gdańsk soon? Read this guide to 20 things to do on your visit.

Gdansk, Poland

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Things To Do In Gdansk

1- Admire Prussian Architecture In The Old Town

things to do in gdansk poland aerial view
One of the best things to do in Gdansk is to wander around and get lost. You’ll find surprises around every corner.

Poland spent a huge chunk of its history under the partition of different powers. As a result, the country’s city planning and architecture all look vastly different.

Gdańsk was subject to the rule of Prussia during the partition.

Known at the time as Danzig, it boasts canals, fortifications, and tall, narrow apartment houses that look more like Amsterdam than Warsaw.

The old town is full of these fairytale-like buildings, with castles and huge churches also located around the area.

Churches like the Holy Trinity Cathedral will look nothing like the churches of Krakow or Wroclaw.

Get to know Gdańsk’s city and history with a walking tour, cruise or other modes of transport. Here are some options:

The Holy Trinity Cathedral is at Świętej Trójcy 4, 80-822 Gdańsk, Poland.

2- Visit The Starting Point Of WWII

cool things to do in gdansk
Industry around the Westerplatte in Gdansk Poland.

Most know that World War II began with Germany’s invasion of Poland, but do you know where they struck first?

On 1 September 1939, Nazis attacked Gdańsk through the city’s northern tip.

The area was called Westerplatte. Located on the Baltic shore, it housed Poland’s transit depot, making it an important target for Nazi Germany.

It resulted in a loss for Poland and was the tipping point that led to fighting on a global scale.

Today, Westerplatte is a memorial complex commemorating those who lost their lives in this spot in 1939.

There’s a sculpture standing high on a hill overlooking the city on one side and the sea on the other.

There are some plaques and information boards along the trails, and you can see a few pieces of abandoned Polish military buildings.

It’s not within walking distance from the city centre, but buses run there, and uber rides are affordable.

The Westerplatte complex entrance is at Przystań Żeglugi 02, 80-601 Gdańsk, Poland. If you’re keen on WWII history, you may be interested in these tours:

3- Taste Some Of Poland’s Finest Pierogi 

nice things to do in gdansk
Tasting Polish pierogi (dumplings) is one of the delicious things to do in Gdansk.

Poland’s traditional food is the best and you can taste local specialties like potato pancakes, cabbage rolls, and delicious, world-famous pierogi.

You can stuff them with anything you like, but the most common filling is a smooth blend of potato, cottage cheese, onion and spices (known as pierogi ruskie).

People also make them with meat, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach and cheese.

There are many Polish restaurants in downtown Gdańsk, but one is doing something very special.

Pierogarnia Mandu makes dozens of varieties of little dumplings.

Of course, you can try those classic flavours, along with experiments with flavours that go above and beyond the ones grandma makes.

Try chorizo, ricotta and sundried tomato-filled pierogi, or perhaps Thai-inspired ones with peanut sauce and veggies.

They usually have a couple of vegan options and even make international relatives of pierogi like Georgian khinkali and Russian pelmeni (“pierogi” means “dumplings”, after all, and can be used to describe Chinese dumplings too).

Got room for dessert? Don’t forget to try the sweet pierogi too.

Try some filled with strawberries or blueberries and sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top.

Pierogarnia Mandu has two locations, the first, the more central one, is at Elżbietańska 4/8, 80-894 Gdańsk, Poland. The second is in the Oliwa district at Kaprów 19d, 80-316 Gdańsk, Poland. You may also like this food tour: Traditional Food Tour with Old Town Sightseeing or go on a pub crawl (free drinks included).

4- Learn The Story of WWII As Told By Poland

Aerial view of city and river boats on the river with old buildings on either side
Looking for the best things to do in Gdansk? Hop on a cruise along the Motlawa River.

Foreign tourists in Central Europe always want to hear about its WWII story.

If this sounds like you, look no further than Gdańsk’s Museum of the Second World War.

Although there are many historic sites to explore, this place tells the story of the Polish experience during the war.

It was not a good place to be at the time.

The main exhibit is split into three parts, titled “The Road to War,” “The Terror of War,” and “The Long Shadow of War,” each of them telling intimate stories of people’s lives before, during, and after the war.

It’s highly interactive, with virtual exhibits featuring everyday people and their stories.

There are also parts geared towards educating children about this part of history in a safe, friendly environment.

Visit the museum’s website to plan your visit and buy tickets online to skip the line.

Gdańsk’s Museum of the Second World War is located at plac Władysława Bartoszewskiego 1, 80-862 Gdańsk, Poland.

5- Learn About The Origins Of The Gdansk-Born “Solidarity” Movement

things to do in gdansk sign at sunrise
Looking for things to do in Gdansk? We’ve put together a top 20 list.

World War II isn’t the only major historic movement that started on the streets of Gdańsk.

The movement that brought about the fall of communist rule in Poland and inspired revolutions in neighbouring countries started here too.

In 1980, some local shipyard workers founded a trade union called Solidarity that engaged in civil demonstrations to change their work conditions.

The movement spread like wildfire, as Poles were extremely unhappy with the status quo and were enjoying more freedom to protest.

Today, the European Solidarity Centre is a stone’s throw from the shipyards that birthed this movement.

It’s a huge complex that hosts some events and panels, but mostly it’s a museum dedicated to the history and legacy of Solidarity.

After seeing the exhibit, don’t forget to take the elevator to the top floor.

Gdańsk is a flat city, so the rooftop garden is the best place to see it from above.

To learn more about that era, you might also like to join this tour: Private Communism Tour with Solidarity Center Museum.

The European Solidarity Center is located at pI. Solidarności 1, 80-863 Gdańsk, Poland.

6- Hit One Of The Other Two Tri-cities

things to do in gdansk may
The Baltic pier in Gdynia.

Gdańsk is part of a greater metropolitan area called the Tri-cities (Trojmiasto in Polish), which make up the central part of Poland’s Baltic coast.

Besides Gdańsk, you have Gdynia, a nice, quiet place known for laid-back locals, and the country’s biggest music festival, Open’er.

This is Poland’s response to Coachella, with big-ticket artists making yearly appearances.

Located between the other two, Sopot is the third and smallest city.

It has several kilometres of sandy beaches, some great nightlife and a big pier that makes for a great viewpoint in front of the sea.

If you’re staying in Gdańsk, you can easily stop in one of these cities as there’s a train system between the three cities and their suburbs.

Tickets are cheap and trains depart every 20 minutes or less, running through the night at slower intervals.

Each city has several stops, so you don’t necessarily need to find your way to the central railway station while exploring. 

If you prefer to visit with a guide, check out this tour.

7- See The Longest Block Building In Europe

Poland’s tenure as a communist nation saw new architectural styles emerge on its streets.

Big, concrete block buildings made for utility and space efficiency started to pop up everywhere.

Though these things are relics, they’re still functional and inhabitable.

Gdańsk doesn’t have as many grey, concrete apartment blocks as Warsaw or smaller cities, but it does have something unusual.

Nestled in the suburbs, a few blocks away from the sea and not too far from the Oliwa district, is Falowiec.

This wavy apartment building stretches for over half a mile, making it the longest building in Europe.

It has several public transit stops nearby, but if you don’t want to make the trip, you can also see it partially from Westerplatte.

The Falowiec apartment building is located at Piastowska 100D/43, 80-335 Gdańsk, Poland.

8- Visit The Gdańsk Shipyard

The Gdańsk Shipyard was the birthplace of Poland’s anti-communist movement that eventually brought about change in the country.

You’ll recognise the iconic green cranes hard at work most hours of the day from most parts of the city.

Get up close and see the machinery and red-brick depots that have been in use since the 19th century.

There’s also an abandoned part not too far from the Solidarity museum, where you can get up close to the cranes and explore inside empty warehouses.

Gdańsk Shipyard is at Wyposażeniowców, 80-001 Gdańsk, Poland. This tour includes a visit to the shipyard.

9- Check Out A 14th-Century Fortress

Several centuries ago, way before the Nazis attacked Gdańsk or shipyard workers went on strike, the city was the first line of defence in case of attack.

The Vistula river that stretches across Poland from the Tatra mountains in the south empties into the Baltic Sea here.

In the early 1300s, the city built Wisłoujście fortress, which served as a strategic outpost for monitoring every ship that entered and left the port.

Situated right on the banks of the river, it seems pretty modest: a lighthouse that doubles as a watchtower and a few houses to quarter guards.

However, there was a huge underground bunker that was able to hold tons of weapons and additional men.

Today, you can visit the fortress just off the road that leads from the city centre to Westerplatte, so you can easily do both in one trip.

Wisłoujście Fortress is located at Stara Twierdza 1, 80-551 Gdańsk, Poland.

10- Go To Stocznia

While some parts of the shipyard are still in use or abandoned, another part is very much alive.

Some old depots have been repurposed and are home to Stocznia (or 100cznia).

This area is equal parts street food and nightlife.

In Stocznia, try street food from several vendors. Most are tri-city-based companies with restaurants in the area, so it’s a good place to sample them all at once.

They have everything, from vegan delights to gourmet burgers and Korean food. Their lineup changes yearly, but you can guarantee it’s good.

Stocznia is lat 100cznia, Popiełuszki 5, 80-863 Gdańsk, Poland.

Stocznia is also the name of the nearby industrial district. To make sure you don’t end up somewhere you shouldn’t be, go to the above address.

11- Party On Elektryków Street For The City’s Best Nightlife

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Market Hall in Gdansk at night.

Stocznia is a great place to grab a bite and a beer on an early summer evening, but the best after-hours entertainment in town is just down the street.

Ulica Elektryków is a street of former warehouses and electrical facilities given a new life as a nightlife centre.

They have a handful of clubs. Sometimes entry is free, but other times they close down the whole block for a weekend-long party.

Buy a ticket and go in and out of the clubs as you, please.

Onsite they also have W4 Food Squat, a funky, colourful place open to the wee hours of the early morning with music and food trucks.

W4 Food Squat is at Elektryków 1, 80-863 Gdańsk, Poland.

12- Walk Along The Endless Old Fortifications

gay things to do in gdansk, poland
Upland Gate in Gdansk at night.

Gdańsk’s location made it a strategic military outpost for many centuries.

This is evident in their building, the Wisłoujście we discussed previously, but take a look at a map of the city, and you’ll notice those jagged, fortification shapes jutting out on a moat around the city’s southeast side.

Once built to protect from invaders, these areas are full of parks and trails.

They’re a very short distance from the centre, and usually, only locals go to them.

If the city centre gets too crowded for you, it’s a great place to escape or go on a morning run.

Most of the way, you’ll see bits of walls and old fortresses too!

Start at Zubr Bastion at Grodza Kamienna, Gdańsk, Poland.

13- Immerse Yourself In Poland’s Booming Coffeehouse Culture

best things to do in gdansk
Colourful buildings in Gdansk.

Third-wave coffee has gained a huge foothold in Poland.

These days, in every city, you can find dozens of coffee shops with every brewing method available.

They even use beans sourced from one of the many artisanal roasteries in the country.

Here you can find plenty of places doing just that.

If you’re staying in the centre, take a break from sightseeing at Kawiarnia Drukarnia.

They serve all kinds of espresso, filter drinks and stay stocked with tasty, locally-baked treats.

If you’re staying over in the Wrzeszcz district, you might want to start your day at Kawana.

They have a similar selection, including many iced varieties in the summertime.

  • Kawiarnia Drukarnia is at Mariacka 36, 80-833 Gdańsk, Poland.
  • Kawana is at Konrada Wallenroda 7, 80-483 Gdańsk, Poland.

14- Sample Gdansk’s Richly Diverse Food Scene

things to do in gdansk in december cafes along either side of the cobblestone street
Watching the world go by in a cafe in Mariacka Street is one of the things to do in Gdansk to soak up the city’s vibe.

While the city has a couple of tasty Polish restaurants, you’d be missing out if you didn’t try some of their many other types of eateries!

As previously mentioned, W4 Food Squat and Stocznia are home to dozens of amazing street food vendors.

Whether or not you’re vegan, you ought to try House of Seitan.

Poland is ascending the ranks of the world’s most vegan-friendly countries since their vegan food is affordable and diverse.

House of Seitan’s menu changes daily, offering something creative and delicious, including vegan mac and cheese, rosemary goulash on soft, pillowy dumplings and ramen. 

Across town, there’s Nie/Mięsny, a great place for a Middle East-inspired brunch with different types of hummus, shakshuka and labneh if you’re staying in the centre.

15- Learn About A Baltic Tradition At The Amber Museum

You may not have known that the Baltic Coast is one of the world’s top destinations for amber hunters, but it is!

Beaches in Poland, Lithuania, and Russia’s Kaliningrad are great places to find little bits of amber washing up onshore.

They’ve been a huge part of the local culture for centuries, with local aristocrats having all sorts of luxury household materials made from amber.

In the city, there’s a museum inside a former prison home to hundreds of amber artifacts where you can learn the significance of the pieces and about the land’s geography and prehistoric events, which led to the area being so abundant with amber.

The museum has a gift shop where you can buy genuine amber jewellery.

The Amber Museum is located at Wielkie Młyny 16, 80-849 Gdańsk, Poland. This Highlights of the Old Town Tour includes a ticket to the Amber Alter in St Bridget’s Church.

16- Escape The Busy Center And Go To Wrzeszcz

best things to do in gdansk poland on a large tray on dark blue background.
Baked carp, oven-baked whole fish with sliced potatoes, is a tradition Polish dish.

Hit Gdańsk in the summer and the centre will be swamped with tourists.

While it’s a beautiful place, it’s hardly half the experience.

Hop on a tram or the tri-city train and ride to Gdańsk Wrzeszcz, a beautiful, quiet road with many pedestrian-only streets.

It’s a more residential area with many cafes, restaurants and breweries on every corner.

Here you can find House of Seitan and Kawana, which we talked about before, and Avocado, a vegan bistro whose plates are as colourful as they are tasty and filling.

One great thing about the cafe is that it serves vegan alternatives to many classic Polish dishes, like cabbage rolls in tomato or mushroom sauce, cutlets and more.

Nowy Browar Gdański is just down the street, and they’re an awesome spot to grab a pint, a burger, or even something more traditional like a roasted pork knuckle with sauerkraut!

Your opportunities for passing an afternoon in Wrzeszcz are endless.

17- Take A Walk In The Stunning Oliwski Park

Further away from the city centre after Wrzeszcz is the Oliwa district.

This area is even calmer and more peaceful, with access to some trails in the nearby hills and lots of greenery.

The biggest draw is Oliwski Park, the most beautiful green space in the tri-cities.

It looks more like Paris’s Luxembourg Gardens than Poland– you can spend an hour or two wandering around flower beds and perfectly-manicured trees and shrubs.

If you need to refresh before or after your walk, Przelewki is a tiny coffee shop ready to service your caffeine needs.

Pierogarnia Mandu’s second location is also located just outside the park.

Przelewki is located at Cystersów 12, 80-330 Gdańsk, Poland.

18- Indulge In Craft Beer Paradise

We said Poland is rising in the ranks of vegan destinations, but it has also quickly become a paradise for beer lovers.

Craft beer is alive and well in this country, with brewers popping up everywhere and putting out interesting brews of all kinds.

What’s more, it’s much more affordable than what you’d find in places like the USA and The Netherlands, and the quality is just the same.

While Gdańsk lacks breweries that you can visit, several pubs specialize in craft beer.

You’ll want to stop by Pułapka just outside the centre.

This cozy little spot usually has about 20 local and regional craft brews on tap and many more in bottles and cans.

The staff is super friendly and ready to make recommendations.

Want to taste something local? Ask for their beers from Gdynia’s AleBrowar.

Otherwise, you can sample Polish craft beer greats like Pinta, Funky Fluid, Hopito, and more.

Pułapka is located at Straganiarska 2, 80-837 Gdańsk, Poland.

19- Visit The Largest Castle In The World By Area

things to do in gdansk, poland
One of the things to do near Gdansk is to visit the Teutonic Castle in Malbork (Marienburg) in Pomerania.

Take a short journey outside the tri-cities and see this monster of a building that dates back to the 13th century.

Malbork Castle is just half an hour away from Gdańsk by car or train and is the biggest castle in the world by area.

It was home to knights of the Teutonic Order, who once fought in the crusades.

You’ll need a few hours to see the essentials.

Standard tours come with an audio guide, but you can book tours that’ll give you the history of the place in person.

If you want to go there yourself, you can take regional and high-speed trains from Gdańsk’s main station to Malbork town.

Malbork castle is located at Starościńska 1, 82-200 Malbork, Poland.

20- Go To The Beach

things to do with kids in gdansk vast open expanse of sand
Enjoying time on a Baltic beach is one thing to do around Gdansk.

When in Gdańsk’s city centre, you’ll have access to beaches nearby.

If you’re in Westerplatte, there’s a small stretch of sand by the shore that you can walk on or sit on for a while.

But if you want to spend the day laying under the sun alongside other beachgoers, you should take a short trip to Brzezno beach.

The beach stretches for several kilometres, and there’s a pier, a couple of parks and restaurants, making it easy to spend a whole day in the area.

But be forewarned: even in the peak of summer’s heat, the Baltic Sea is extremely cold!

Brzezno beach is located at Park Reagana, Ścieżka Alicji i Daniela Pelczarskich, 80-396 Gdańsk, Poland. 

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Sidney Roy is an American, Poland-based writer who contributes to various blogs and travel publications. In 2018, he moved to Tbilisi, Georgia for a gap year volunteer program and the journey only continued from there. He calls Warsaw his home, but as of summer 2022, he’s living on the road hitchhiking through the Balkans, The Middle East, and beyond. Georgia occupies a special place in his heart, making it his number-one destination. Upcoming destinations include Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.