What to see in Poland
Tourist attractions Gdansk
One of the oldest cities in Poland, Gdansk offers an exciting mix of rich history and dynamic modernity. The capital of the province of Pomorski, Gdansk sits on the Baltic Coast in northern Poland. This strategic location made Gdansk an incredibly influential centre of trade and culture for thousands of years. This unique heritage means a trip to Gdansk is the chance to uncover a rich history, presented in the cities variety of monuments and fascinating museums.
Polish, Prussian and German rule have all shaped this city. A melting pot of influences, Gdansk is best known for its pastel-coloured waterside houses and fairytale medieval architecture. On the other hand, many travellers visit Gdansk to uncover its World War II history, as it was one of the first cities annexed by German forces during the opening stages of the conflict. The city’s museums retell this difficult time in the Gdank’s history.
Whilst architecture lovers will instantly fall for Gdansk’s characterful buildings, a city break to Gdansk is equally well-suited to foodies on the trail of authentic Polish cuisine and incredibly fresh seafood or nature lovers who can explore the windswept coastline of the Baltic Coast.
A stroll through the historic old town reveals a rich mix of architectural styles, a product of the city’s fascinating history. If you take a tour of Gdansk you’ll soon discover that it’s unique in comparison to other Polish urban centres, with its buildings nodding to the influences of wealthy merchants and post-war reconstruction. Travel to Gdansk to uncover its endless charms and incredible history.
Things to see in Gdansk
At the heart of Gdansk’s old town is Dlugi Targ, the main town square and one of the best things to see in Gdansk. The starting point for most tours of this city, this colourful former market square is awash with period architecture and lined with an array of cafes, restaurants, shops and bars. Around its edges, you’ll find some of Gdansk’s most iconic landmarks, such as the 15th-century Town Hall, featuring a gilded statue of King Sigismund II Augustus of Poland, and the incredible Green Gate, built in the 16th-century to serve as the residence of the Polish monarchs. Other highlights of Dlugi Targ, also known as ‘The Long Market’, include the bronze Neptune’s Fountain and the enchanting white facade of Golden House.
Walk under the arches of Green Gate and you’ll find yourself at the River Embankment, another of the most quintessential parts of the city. Lined with more brightly painted Dutch-style edifices, this part of the city is perfect for an afternoon stroll. It’s also home to one of Gdansk’s most unique attractions: Brama Żuraw, known simply as ‘The Crane’. Part of the Maritime Museum, this striking wooden crane is a testament to Gdansk’s seafaring heritage. The first mention of this famous feat of engineering dates back to the 14th-century when it would have been used to load cargo and masts onto ships. Although the original crane was mostly destroyed during World War II it has since been reconstructed.
Another of the best things to see in Gdansk is the enormous Basilica of St. Mary, one of the largest brick churches in the world. This monumental example of Gothic architecture has its roots back in the 16th-century and today dominates the old town with its 78 metre-high tower and fairytale spires. The interior, illuminated by 37 windows, is home to over 30 chapels, incredible examples of religious art and a high-altar adorned with a Gothic polyptych depicting the Coronation of the Virgin Mary.
Finally, a trip to Gdansk would be incomplete without taking some time to visit the Museum of the Second World War. This enormous and informative cultural institution was established in 2017 and is housed within a modern steel and brick building. The main exhibition, which skillfully presents the experience of the Second World War in Poland, is split into three parts: "The Road to War", "The Terror of War" and "The Long Shadow of War". Objects inside the museum take on a variety of forms, from original army uniforms to interactive exhibits and reconstructions of the pre-war streets of Gdansk. Thought to be one of the best museums on the subject in the world, visiting is one of the best things to do in Gdansk.