Gdansk is notorious as the city where the first salvos of World War Two were fired back in 1939. As such, the city is a magnet for history buffs and there are several attractions where you can spend a few hours brushing up your knowledge about WWII. The city is very old, having recently celebrated its 1,000th birthday and should be filled to the brim with wonderful ancient architecture; however, most of the original buildings were damaged or completely destroyed during WWII and have been painstakingly rebuilt to preserve the heritage of the city. There are many museums and landmarks for you to visit and when the history gets a bit too overwhelming you can go and have fun at the Fun Arena at the Energa Stadium. Your visit would be incomplete without tasting some pierogi and buying some lovely amber jewelry. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
Neptune’s Fountain has been an important landmark in the city of Gdansk since 1633, when it was constructed to add an air of sophistication and financial importance to the entrance of the Artus Court meeting house. Originally the statue of Neptune was an excellent example of the Flemish Mannerism style, but after several renovations and additions you will now notice a distinct Rococo style. The impressive statue was saved from destruction during WWII by being dismantled and carefully hidden away. Legend has it that the city’s famous Goldwasser liqueur was created when Neptune struck his trident at all the gold coins in his fountain, splintering them into the fine gold flakes found in the liqueur.
Neptune’s Fountain, Dlugi Targ, 80-833 Gdansk, Poland
Westerplatte is without doubt a must-see attraction for anyone interested in the history of WWII. Westerplatte is notorious as the place where the very first shots of WWII where exchanged – an opening salvo which eventually led to the death of around 80 million people and changed the world forever. In the early 1900’s, Westerplatte had a far pleasanter reputation as a place where locals came to meet and enjoy the beach. You can learn all about Westerplatte on a guided tour or explore the historic park and memorial site at your own pace. There is a small museum located in Guardhouse No.1 and a permanent outdoor exhibition.
Westerplatte, 80-001, Gdansk, Poland
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3.St. Mary’s Basilica
St. Mary’s Basilica is one of the largest and oldest brink churches in the world and is essential viewing for any visitors interested in history and architecture. The church is also the most easily spotted attraction in the city, towering over the rest of the city’s ancient buildings. As you explore the extraordinary interior of the church, it is worth reflecting on the incredible feat of engineering this would have been back in 1379 when construction began. It took over 159 years to complete the church, which features 7 spire towers, 3 ceramic towers and an enormous 78m bell tower. The best way to learn all about the fascinating history and the artworks inside the church is to join a guided tour.
St. Mary’s Basilica, ul. Podkramarska 5, 80-834, Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-301-39-82
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Besides being a superb venue for watching Poland’s footballers in action, Stadion Energa has so much more to offer visitors. Ardent football enthusiasts can sign up for a tour of the stadium which will take you behind the scenes to see the locker rooms and much more. The enormous sports stadium encompasses the thrilling Fun Arena, which offers exciting activities for all ages. There is an enormous Playground Arena to keep children busy for hours, while older children and teens can enjoy the Escape Rooms, paintballing at Zoltar Apocalypse, roller skating and skateboarding, trampolines at the Movement Arena and go-carting. Those with nerves of steel can try bungee jumping.
Stadion Energa, Pololen Lechii Gdansk, 1 PL 80-560, Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-768-84-44
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5.The Crane, National Maritime Museum
One of Gdansk’s most unique and interesting attractions is The Crane, a marvelous medieval invention which was once used to hoist loads and install ship’s masts. The Crane consists of a fascinating system of blocks and turnstiles which were operated by walking workers. The Crane is wedged between two huge towers which formed a water gate which once protected the town from the harbor. At the adjacent National Maritime Museum you can learn all about marine archaeology at the interactive Maritime Culture Center. Visiting The Crane and the Maritime Museum offers a fun and interesting day out for all ages and should be a must-see attraction on your Gdansk itinerary.
The Crane, National Maritime Museum, Szeroka 67/68, 80-835 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-301-69-38
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6.Ulica Dluga (Dluga Street)
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There is no better place to see and explore the essence of historic Gdansk than wonderful Dluga Street, also called the Royal Route. History and architecture enthusiasts can spend several hours in Dluga Street, admiring the wonderful merchants’ houses which were once home to the city’s wealthiest residents. Originally dating back to the early 14th century, Dluga Street runs from the Golden Gate to the Long Market and was almost completely destroyed during WWII. Today visitors can admire the carefully re-constructed city showcase. Along the way you can stop for a drink or snack at one of the many pavement cafés or shop at one of the lovely boutiques.
Ulica Dluga, Gdansk, Poland
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7.Town Hall (Ratusz)
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Another of Gdansk’s historic treasures which had to be totally reconstructed after WWII, the stately Town Hall is located on Ulica Dluga. This beautiful building was originally constructed in the late 14th century, when it was used for all state business. Appropriately, the Town Hall was an extravagant place and great care has been taken to reproduce its original grandeur. The lofty bell tower dominates the skyline and contains a 37-bell clarion. The interior of the building is now home to the National History Museum and contains beautifully painted ceilings, elaborate furnishings and frescoes. If you care to climb up to the top of the bell tower your effort will be rewarded by wonderful views of the city.
Town Hall, Ulica Dluga, 46/47, Gdansk Old Town, Poland, Phone: +48-58-573-31-28
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8.The National Museum
© The National Museum
The National Museum Gdansk is a must-see attraction for all art and history lovers. The museum is home to a huge permanent collection of historic European art, including a substantial collection of works by Jacob Kabrun (1759-1814) and many other European masters. The wonderful collection is housed in what was once a late Gothic Franciscan monastery. Like much of the city, this historic old building was partially demolished during WWII and has been very carefully reconstructed to preserve its unique character. The chance to admire the legendary Last Judgment by Hans Memling will certainly be one of the highlights of your visit.
The National Museum, ul. Torunska 1, 80-822 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-301-68-04
Zaspa is one of the largest plattenbau (purpose-built, pre-fabricated settlements) in Poland. Although intended to become self-sufficient suburbs, the original purpose of Zaspa was never fully realized. After many decades of neglect, Art was introduced to the settlement in an effort to uplift the area and the community. When you visit today you can take a guided tour by one of the Zaspa residents who will explain the history and significance of the amazing collection of Monumental artworks which have been executed by artists from all over the world. You can book a guided walking tour or pick up a map and explore at your own pace.
Zaspa’s Murals, Cultural Information Point, Dlugi Targ 39/40, Gdansk, Phone: +48-58-301-20-16
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Forming part of the Gdansk Museum, what was once a medieval prison tower and torture chamber is today home to the interesting Amber Museum. Located in the historic Foregate building, the museum offers a glimpse into the history of Baltic amber. In addition to admiring all the different types of jewelry and décor made from amber, you will also have a chance to see some of the former, cramped prison cells and learn about notorious medieval instruments of torture. To enhance the experience, background sound effects of moaning and wailing are piped into the museum. Entrance is free on Tuesdays and if you take the effort to climb to the top of the viewing platform in the tower you can admire great city views.
Amber Museum, Gdansk Museum, ul. Dluga 46/47, Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-573-31-28
11.European Solidarity Center
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With a mission to showcase and advance the ideals of democracy and dialogue, the European Solidarity Center makes for a thought-provoking visit. As your make your way through two floors of permanent exhibits, aided by an audio-guide, you will learn all about the birth and progress of the Solidarity trade union movement. By means of artifacts, presentations and various objects, the story of Solidarity and other opposition movements is laid bare for visitors to explore and reach their own conclusions. You will undoubtedly find many parallels existing throughout history. The Solidarity Center is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in modern European history and the eternal quest for freedom and democracy.
European Solidarity Center, pl. Solidarnosci 1, 80-863 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-772-41-12
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12.Museum of the Second World War
Even if you are not particularly interested in WWII you will certainly want to see the amazing modern structure which is home to the Museum of the Second World War. The striking building is heavy with symbolism, showcasing the tragedy of the past, the present vitality and the promise of a brighter future. Inside this brilliant building you will learn about the Second World War from the aspect of politics and ideology, rather than the military aspect. Exhibits show just how ordinary people in Poland and elsewhere had their lives changed forever. You can watch a variety of cinematic experiences that will put you right in the heart of the conflict. There is a separate exhibition for children, a museum shop and a restaurant.
Museum of the Second World War, Plac. Wladyslawa Bartoszewskiego 1, 80-862 Gdansk, Phone: +48-58-760-09-60
13.Fahrenheit Thermometer Monument
It would be a shame to visit Gdansk and miss your chance to admire the monument to a local man whose wonderful invention has been used for hundreds of years. Daniel Fahrenheit was born in Gdansk in 1686 and went on to become a pioneer in the field of temperature science. By 1724 he had completed his famous temperature scale and his achievement has been recognized and celebrated by his home town. You can admire his “Mercury in Glass” thermometer and barometer as you explore Dlugi Targ (Dlugi Square). This popular tourist attraction is usually included in a self-guided or guided walking or cycling tour of Gdansk.
Fahrenheit Thermometer, Dlugi Targ, Gdansk, Poland
One of the oldest churches in Europe, the Oliwa Cathedral was originally built as an abbey by the Cistercian Order of monks in 1178. Originally the church was built in the Romanesque style but centuries of renovations and additions have drastically changed the structure. Lovers of architecture will enjoy admiring a whole range of different architectural elements from Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Rococo. One of the most striking elements inside the church is its famous Oliwa organ which produced amazing sound and attracts thousands of admirers during festival concerts. Like many other historic buildings in Gdansk, the cathedral was severely damaged during WWII and has been painstakingly restored to its former grandeur.
Oliwa Cathedral, Cystersow 17, 80-300 Gdansk, Poland
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Once referred to as the most expensive public house in the Baltic, Artus Court was originally built to serve as an elegant meeting place for influential and wealthy merchants (formerly called the Jonkerhof). Today this impressive and extravagantly decorated building forms part of the Gdansk History Museum. Interestingly, in the XIV century, the court was dedicated to the fictional King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. When you visit today you can see various interesting monuments including a Gothic sculpture of St. George slaying a dragon and an enormous Renaissance tiled stove built in 1546. Although the court is now a museum it is still sometimes used for important meetings.
Artus Court, Dlugi Targ, 80-833 Gdansk, Poland
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16.The Great Armoury
Worth a visit to admire the brilliant architecture of renowned Flemish architect Anthonis Van Obbergen, The Great Armoury dates back to 1609. To this day, the Armoury is considered to be the finest example of Renaissance architecture in the city. The Armoury was used as a working arsenal until 1800 but fell into disrepair after severe damage during WWII. It is only in recent years that the building has been returned to its former splendor and it currently houses the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts. If there is no exhibition running in the Academy you can visit the wine bar on the ground floor to get a glimpse of the interior.
The Great Armoury, Targ Weglowy 6, Gdansk, Old Town, Phone: +48-58-301-28-01
17.The Polish Post Office Museum
Another must-see attraction for history buffs, the Polish Post Office Museum has a lot of history and legend to share. Although this stately building indeed housed a working post office, it is also believed to have hosted the government’s intelligence service. As the first shots of WWII were exchanged at Westerplatte in 1939, the German SS units conducted a siege on the Post Office to flush the suspect “postal workers”, who put up an incredible resistance. The building was seriously damaged during the siege and by the end of the war it was almost completely destroyed. However, the rebuilt Post Office still contains a working post office as well as a small museum which showcases the legendary siege.
The Polish Post Office Museum, ul. Obroncow Poczty Polskiej, 1-2 Gdansk, Old Town, Phone: +48-58-573-31-28
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18.Gdansk Teatr Szekspirowski (Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre)
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The establishment of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre is widely believed to be the city’s most important cultural achievement since Poland gained its freedom. The theatre is housed in an imposing modern building, built on the site of a 17th century Fencing School and theatre. Do not allow the rather forbidding Gothic exterior to put you off – inside this outer shell you will find an amazing wooden interior with a retractable roof, much like the original wooden Shakespearean theatre. For an unforgettable night out you can attend one of the regular shows, events or festivals. For a peek behind the scenes you can join a guided tour of the theatre to learn about the fascinating structure and mechanical innovations.
Teatr Szekspirowski, ul. Wojciech Bogustawski 1, 80-818 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-351-01-01
19.St. Dominic’s Fair
If you are planning to visit Gdansk during the summer, try and choose your dates to coincide with St. Dominic’s Fair, the largest outdoor trade and cultural event in Europe. St. Dominic’s fair originated back in 1260, and still manages to maintain much of its distinct medieval atmosphere. The fair attracts over 1000 artists, merchants and collectors who set up their stalls for three weeks of busy trading in the picturesque Old Town. Besides the stalls, there is plenty of entertainment including concerts, street theatre, children’s activities, sporting activities and firework displays. The fair takes place during July/August and you will need to book accommodation well in advance.
St. Dominic’s Fair, Targ Weglowy, 80-836 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-554-93-48
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If you are looking for generous portions of wholesome Polish staples at a reasonable price, make your way to Neptune’s Bar (Bar Mleczny Neptun). The term “Bar” may be a little misleading though – this is more of a milk-bar and restaurant – no alcohol is served. However, for a very reasonable amount you can enjoy a large variety of typical home-cooked Polish cuisine including delicious pancakes, dumplings, pork chops and soups. The café is located on the main street and is almost always packed with locals. In good weather you may be lucky enough to get an outdoor table to enjoy some people-watching as you eat.
Bar Mleczny Neptun, ul. Dluga 33/34, 80-827 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-301-49-88
© Restauracja Kubicki
Restaurant Kubicki is the oldest restaurant in Gdansk and is widely regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the city with a large following of regular patrons. Located right on the banks of the Motlawa River, the restaurant offers guests lovely views while they dine. The menu is decidedly gourmet and offers a variety of distinctly Polish dishes including their famous dumplings. You can choose from a selection of interesting appetizers including Baltic herring with new potatoes before moving on a selection of salads, soups and delicious main courses. The portions are generous and un-obtrusive piano music enhances the pleasant atmosphere.
Restauracja Kubicki, ul. Wartka 5, Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-301-00-50
22.Restauracja Gdansk (Restaurant Gdansk)
© Restauracja Gdansk (Restaurant Gdansk)
Visiting Restaurant Gdansk is a little like stepping back in time to the gracious Gdansk of the 17th century. The restaurant celebrates everything wonderful about the city and a marvelous collection of antique furnishings, crystal chandeliers and gilded mirrors enhance the fabulous atmosphere. Of course, when it comes to cuisine, Restaurant Gdansk’s menu offers many popular Polish specialties as well as international favorites. For starters you can choose from their hot and cold appetizers which include traditional pierogi (stuffed dumplings). Entrees include a variety of fish, pork, beef, duck and goose dishes, all served with sides or salads. You should be sure to leave some room for a delectable dessert.
Restauracja Gdansk, ul. St. Ducha 16/25, Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-305-76-71
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23.Pierogania u Dzika
Your visit to Gdansk would be incomplete without trying the national favorite food, pierogi. At Pierogania u Dzika you will find no fewer than 21 different versions of these delicious stuffed dumplings, including steamed and baked varieties. Fillings range from savory to sweet and you could have different versions for all three courses of your dinner. At Pierogania U Dzika, the yeast dough for all the dumplings is freshly made on the premises and hand-kneaded to perfection. Stuffings are also freshly made to ensure the finest end product. However, if dumplings are not your favorite you can still enjoy dinner at the restaurant which also serves a good selection of delicious fish and meat entrees.
Pierogania u Dzika, ul. Piwna 59/60, Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-305-26-76
24.Browar Piwna (Piwna Brewery)
© Browar Piwna (Piwna Brewery)
For many centuries beer was brewed in uliwa Piwna (Beer Street), and Piwna Brewery has now restored that rich tradition. Opened in 2012, Piwna Brewery and restaurant is a great place for visitors to taste genuine Polish craft beers, brewed on the premises, and served unfiltered, straight from the tanks. You can try a variety of year-round and seasonal brews which range from light Pils to American Lager, English Bitter and several more. There is a lovely outdoor terrace where you can sip while enjoying views of the Old Town. The food is rumored to be great and the friendly staff knows a thing or two about which beer to suggest.
Browar Piwna, ul. Piwna 50/51, 80-831 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-301-39-24
© Brovarnia Gdansk
Housed in an historic old granary building which dates back to around 1690, Brovarnia Gdansk Brewery invites visitors to come and sample some authentic Polish beer and great food. Beer has been brewed in Poland for many centuries and at Brovarnia you can expect to find a selection of your favorite brew styles. The brewery/restaurant has a pleasant outdoor terrace and you can order light beer snacks like mini ribs and pizza to enjoy along with your beer. For the larger appetite you will find a good selection of both Polish and international cuisines on the menu, including favorites like duck, pork chop, pierogi and wonderful pancakes.
Brovarnia Gdansk, ul.Szafarnia 9, 80-755 Gdansk, Poland, Phone: +48-58-320-19-70
25 Best Things to Do in Gdansk, Poland
- Neptune’s Fountain, Photo: kite_rin/stock.adobe.com
- Westerplatte, Photo: Curioso.Photography/stock.adobe.com
- St. Mary’s Basilica, Photo: Kavalenkava/stock.adobe.com
- Stadion Energa, Photo: maciej nicgorskiEyeEm/stock.adobe.com
- The Crane, National Maritime Museum, Photo: AlexAnton/stock.adobe.com
- Ulica Dluga (Dluga Street), Photo: Tomasz Warszewski/stock.adobe.com
- Town Hall (Ratusz), Photo: Roman Babakin/stock.adobe.com
- The National Museum, Photo: The National Museum
- Zaspa's Murals, Photo: svetlanais/stock.adobe.com
- Amber Museum, Photo: Karol Kozlowski/stock.adobe.com
- European Solidarity Center, Photo: Jarek Fethke/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of the Second World War, Photo: betka82/stock.adobe.com
- Fahrenheit Thermometer Monument, Photo: Arild/stock.adobe.com
- Oliwa Cathedral, Photo: Kamil/stock.adobe.com
- Artus Court, Photo: Francesco Bonino/stock.adobe.com
- The Great Armoury, Photo: Aliaksandr/stock.adobe.com
- The Polish Post Office Museum, Photo: castenoid/stock.adobe.com
- Gdansk Teatr Szekspirowski (Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre), Photo: Kabakova Tatyana/stock.adobe.com
- St. Dominic’s Fair, Photo: Curioso.Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Neptune’s Bar, Photo: kite_rin/stock.adobe.com
- Restauracja Kubicki, Photo: Restauracja Kubicki
- Restauracja Gdansk (Restaurant Gdansk), Photo: Restauracja Gdansk (Restaurant Gdansk)
- Pierogania u Dzika, Photo: robert6666/stock.adobe.com
- Browar Piwna (Piwna Brewery), Photo: Browar Piwna (Piwna Brewery)
- Brovarnia Gdansk, Photo: Brovarnia Gdansk
- Cover Photo: tilialucida/stock.adobe.com
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