The city of Gdańsk: over 1000 years of tradition, one of the largest ports on the Baltic Sea, amber, architectural gems, beaches

Why Gdańsk is worth visiting

Gdańsk – located on the Baltic Sea – is one of the oldest cities in Poland but also the most beautiful and interesting – numerous monuments, rich history, Baltic beaches.

A walk along cobblestone streets among colorful tenement houses. A visit to one of the many interesting modern museums. In summer, swimming and sunbathing on the Gdańsk beach, in winter, a walk along the sea.

Gdańsk witnessed events that had an impact not only on the history of Poland, but also the history of the world. It is this city that is considered to be the symbolic place of the outbreak of World War II, and this is also where Solidarity was founded.

Finding accommodation in Gdańsk is easy. There are many hotels in different price ranges located close to the main tourist attractions as well as a wide selection of apartments for short rent if you prefer that option. 

There are plenty of restaurants in Gdańsk serving traditional Polish dishes, but also restaurants with international cuisine. As in other large cities in Poland, it is not difficult to find a child-friendly restaurant – with a special kids menu, a play area, changing facilities. 

How to get to Gdańsk by train, by car, by plane

The city of Gdańsk is located in northern Poland, on the Baltic Sea (the Gulf of Gdańsk). Gdańsk’s location on Google map. Gdańsk, together with two other cities – Gdynia and Sopot form the Tri-City (Trójmiasto) – a metropolitan area.Where is the city of Gdansk located in Poland

How to get to Gdańsk by train

The main railway station in Gdańsk is called in Polish Gdańsk Główny (location on Google map, train timetable). It’s conveniently located in the center of the city, just  1 km from the Old Town. The most popular domestic connections include Warsaw (the shortest travel time: 2 hrs 40 mins), Wrocław (5 hrs 25 mins), Poznań (3 hrs 26 mins), Łódź (4 hrs 38 mins), Katowice (5 hrs 14 mins), Lublin (5 hrs 5 mins including 1 change), Toruń (2 hrs 30 mins), Kraków (5 hrs 18 mins).

How to get to Gdańsk by car

Gdańsk is well connected with other cities in Poland. Approximate (depending on traffic) travel time from: Warsaw 4 hrs, Wrocław 5 hrs 20 mins, Poznań 3 hrs 50 mins, Kraków 6 hrs 20 mins, Łódź 3 hrs 20 mins, Katowice 5 hrs 30 mins, Lublin 5 hrs 40 mins, Toruń 1 hr 50 mins.

How to get to Gdańsk by plane

Gdańsk’s international airport (Polish name: Port Lotniczy Gdańsk-Rębiechowo im. Lecha Wałęsy), location on Google map, website in English) is located just 15 km from the Old Town. How to get from Gdańsk airport to the city center? By taxi (info in English about Gdańsk airport taxi service, including price estimation tool), Uber (you can get a price estimate for Gdańsk here on Uber’s website), train (info in English about train connections from Gdańsk airport; the Gdańsk Airport train station, in Polish – Gdańsk Port Lotniczy, is located next to the T2 passenger terminal and is connected to it by a footbridge; tickets can be purchased from the ticket machine located on the platform or from the train manager), public bus (info in English about bus connections from Gdańsk airport).

A gem of the city of Gdańsk: the Old Town

The lively historic center of Gdańsk includes the car-free Old Town with numerous monuments, shops with amber and souvenirs, restaurants and cafes. The Old Town in Gdańsk has two parts, in Polish: Stare Miasto and Główne Miasto.

In terms of architecture, the Artus Court (Dwór Artusa, location on Google map) is not to be missed. In front of the entrance to the building, there is the famous Neptune Fountain, which you will find on every postcard from Gdańsk.

One of the symbols of Gdańsk is St. Mary’s Basilica (Bazylika Mariacka, location on Google map). Dating from the fourteenth century, the temple is the largest brick church in the world.

A must-see while walking in the old town of Gdańsk is the Mołtawa river coast. It is there that the row of colorful tenement houses is picturesquely reflected in the dark waters of the river. Don’t miss the most famous water gate that gives access to the city from the river – the 15th century Crane Gate, which is also a port crane (Brama Żuraw, location on Google map). This is where you can go on a cruise on passenger ships (you can also rent a motor boat or even a kayak). For children, a nice attraction in this area (and a moment of relaxation while sitting!) will be the observation wheel (Koło Widokowe AmberSky, location on Google map) and a carousel (Karuzela Gdańska, location on Google map).

Viewing floor in the tallest building in Gdańsk – Olivia Star

Viewing floors and all kinds of observation platforms are a great attraction and fun not only for children. They give the opportunity to see the city in its entirety, understand it better and appreciate it. For those who are not masters of navigating the city, the viewing floor allows you to grasp the city and the location of main attractions. 

And of course those photo opportunities!

In Gdańsk, it is worth visiting the observation floor in the Olivia Star skyscraper. It is worth planning a visit there, for example, during lunch or when you need a little rest after visiting the tourist attractions of Gdańsk. It’s also a nice option when it’s raining or when it’s too warm or too cold to explore the city. Here you can have lunch, dinner or coffee with a breathtaking view, and the children can rest having pizza (or if they are still full of energy – explore the large space of the observation floor). On weekends, workshops and games for children are also held here.

The observation deck is located on the 32nd floor of the Olivia Star office building – the tallest building in the city of Gdańsk (130 m). The impressive view from the platform surrounding the building covers the entire Tri-City (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot), the Bay of Gdańsk, up to the Hel Peninsula. The ships waiting to enter the ports are also splendid. The decor and design of the Olivia Star viewing platform (refined in detail and referring to the history and architecture of Gdańsk) complete the positive visual impressions.

Olivia Start viewing floor is located 10 km from the Old Town, in the direction of the city of Sopot. In addition to a car, taxi or Uber, you can get there by tram, bus or SKM trains. Admission is paid.

The science museum in Gdańsk: Hevelianum Science Center

Hevelianum Science Center is located in the center of Gdańsk, 2 km from the old town, next to the railway station, on a 50 m hill, beautifully overlooking the city of Gdańsk. The Center occupies a large area of a nineteenth-century military fort, offering not only the indoor museum but also a park and a playground. The name Hevelianum comes from Johannes Hevelius – an astronomer born in Gdańsk.

The museum includes four theme sections, all interactive and fun for the whole family and different ages. Each of the zones has different exhibits demonstrating scientific principles and history, all explained easily. You will travel across the continents, discover mathematics with puzzles, learn how to handle a cannon or experiment with various types of energy sources.

Click here to read our post about science museums in Poland.

Photo source: Archiwum Hevelianum

Gdańsk Zoo – the largest zoo in Poland in terms of the area

All over the world, zoos are one of the most popular family-friendly attractions, a great day out for the whole family.

In the Gdańsk Zoo (located in the Oliwa district), animals from all continents live in an area of 125 hectares. Among them are those whose populations in the wild no longer exist. It is the largest zoo in Poland in terms of area!

The Gdańsk Zoo is open every day, including all public holidays.

Online tickets.

Click here to read our post about the best zoos in Poland.

Photo source: Zoo w Gdańsku

Two botanical gardens in the Gdańsk area

The Botanical Garden in Gdańsk

The botanical garden is located within a large historic Park Oliwski, in the Oliwa district of Gdańsk. In addition to the Botanical Garden, in the Oliwa Park, there is a gallery of contemporary sculpture, a Japanese-style garden, a popular ‘linden alley’ formed into a green tunnel, park ponds with ducks, gulls, and swans.

During the Christmas season, there are festive illuminations.

Photo source: Park Oliwski w Gdańsku

The Botanical Garden in Gołubie, 50 km from Gdańsk

The Botanical Garden in Gołubie (50 km west of Gdańsk) has over 6,000 species and varieties of plants from various climatic zones of the world, including over 200 protected and endangered species. The garden is located in the area of the Kashubian Landscape Park (Kaszubski Park Krajobrazowy).

The garden is open to visitors from April 1 to October 31, daily from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission is paid.

Click here to read our post about botanical gardens in Poland.

Photo source: Gołubieński Ogród Botaniczny

Museums worth visiting in Gdańsk (World War II, Solidarity, Amber)

Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

It is one of the newest museums in Poland – opened in 2017. The Museum’s main exhibition consists of three narrative blocks: “The Road to War”, “The Terror of War”, and “The Long Shadow of War”. The exhibitions illustrate the Polish experience of war, against a background of the wider European and world context.

The main exhibition of the Museum is recommended for children 12+. As part of the main exhibition at the Museum, a special space has been prepared for children under 12, entitled “Time travel”. It consists of 2 parts. The first is a reconstruction of a Warsaw family’s apartment during three different periods: September 3rd, 1939 – a few days after the outbreak of World War II, March 8th, 1943 – during the German occupation, and May 8th, 1945 – on the day of Germany’s surrender. The second element of this part of the exhibition, which is both an exhibition and an educational space, is the reconstruction of a classroom from the second half of the 1930s.

Individual visits to the main exhibition are recommended with an audioguide (available in Polish, English, French, German, Russian).

Photo source: Muzeum II Wojny Światowej w Gdańsku

European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk

The European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk is a cultural and educational institution. It includes a museum dedicated to the modern history of Poland, in particular the Solidarity movement. Solidarity (Solidarność) was a trade union founded in 1980 at the Gdańsk shipyard, the movement played a key role in the fall of communism in Poland. Solidarity’s leader Lech Wałęsa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.

On the premises of the Solidarity Center, there is the “Play Department” (Wydział Zabawmore in English, including a virtual tour) – one of the most modern indoor educational playgrounds for children in Poland, with lots of interactive and educational attractions. It’s dedicated to children up to 10 years of age. The attractions are related to the maritime theme and are intended to teach children the idea of solidarity.

Audioguides are available in different languages versions. Family tour audioguides: Polish, English, Ukrainian. Adult tour audioguides: Polish, English, German, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Ukrainian.

Photo source: Europejskie Centrum Solidarności

Museum of Amber in Gdańsk

Gdańsk is the Polish capital of amber – jewelery and amber items have been produced here for centuries. Baltic amber was formed over 40 million years ago. The Amber Museum in Gdańsk houses one of the largest amber collections in the world. Over 1,000 exhibits – from lumps with inclusions from 40 million years ago, an amber forest, an amber room to contemporary artists’ projects. The visitor will also learn how amber is formed, extracted, and how it has been worked over the ages.

From July 2021, the Museum is located in the new seat – the Great Mill in the Old Town (the largest mill of medieval Europe, built around 1350, and one of the most valuable historic buildings in Gdańsk).

Photo source: Muzeum Bursztynu

Gdańsk beaches

And when you get to know the rich history of Gdańsk – it’s time to relax on one of Gdańsk’s beaches! The guarded beaches in Gdańsk are easily accessible by public transport: Jelitkowo (location on Google map, more in Polish), Brzeźno (location on Google map, more in Polish), Stogi (location on Google map, more in Polish), Sobieszewo (location on Google map, more in Polish), Orle (location on Google map, more in Polish), Świbno (location on Google map, more in Polish).

Photo source: Visit Gdańsk, Gdańska Organizacja Turystyczna 

The Malbork Castle – one of the biggest castles in the world, an idea for a one-day trip from Gdańsk

The Castle is located in the town of Malbork, picturesquely situated on the Nogat river. You can get to Malbork from Gdańsk in just 50 minutes by car or by train. Malbork’s location on Google map.

Malbork Castle is one of the most magnificent medieval fortresses in Europe, called by many the biggest castle in the world. Built in several stages, starting in the 13th century, thoroughly restored after the Second World War, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress picturesquely situated on the river consists of three castles. Very interesting tour for all kinds of tourists, not only history fans, for both adults and kids.

Our tips about visiting the Castle in Malbork, including how to get there by train, car, tips on visiting the Castle, other attractions in Malbork:

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