At the end of June, the longest train ride of my life brought me to Poland. Starting off with Gdansk, a quick stop in Sopot, and three enchanting days in Krakow, Poland won my heart over. Its unique architecture, so different in all three of these cities, and delicious Polish cuisine were already making me daydream of revisiting. Firstly, Gdańsk charmed me so much with its array of magical places that I’m going to have to write a separate blog post on them!

main square in gdansk

The first thing you’ll notice is the stunning architecture in Gdansk. During our visit, we half-jokingly kept comparing Gdansk to Bruges, Antwerp, or Copenhagen. And this is no lucky coincidence. The 16th century marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Poland due to the prosperous grain trade. Consequently, Gdansk became a multinational center and an important port.

beautiful architecture in gdansk

Furthermore, it was a time of religious tolerance which meant that many escaped their countries in search of peace. As a result, the multicultural aspect of the city started to be visible in the diversity of architecture. Gdansk flourished into a prosperous port and became a center of trade and culture. Slowly, its cultural heritage began to change.

dluga long street in gdansk

Most notable are the Flemish influences gracing the main square. Specifically, Dutch Mannerism was an influential style of architecture. In fact, many of the imposing buildings in the Old Town are creations of Willem and Abraham van den Blocke. Father and son, they were one of the many Dutch architects that shaped the streets of Gdańsk. For over a century, architects from the Netherlands were in charge as the town master builders.

Alongside the famous Long Street (Ulica Dluga, you’ll find the city’s most beautiful creations. Starting with the Main Town Hall and neighboring Artus Court. Let me tell you, it was worth waking up at 4 AM to see all of them in the early morning light. However, they didn’t lose an ounce of charm under the rain the following day!

Best view in Gdansk

If you’re looking for the best view in Gdansk, look no further. The Main Town Hall hosts a museum inside its walls but also offers a panoramic view of the city. The tower ticket is separate from the museum so bear that in mind. Another thing to note is that the tower is only open during the summertime. Overall though, this was one of my favorite places in Gdansk and I couldn’t get enough of the gingerbread houses! The 360° views are magnificent and more than worth getting through the odd 200 stairs to the top.

view of gingerbread houses in gdansk

Another option is climbing up the tower of St. Mary’s Church. 400 steps later, you’ll be at the highest observation point in the city! While I loved both viewpoints, this one is a bit less enjoyable for a few reasons. First of all, the rooftop terrace is rather small and gets crowded easily. Secondly, the terrace opens onto one side only. Even for someone as tall as me, it required tiptoeing around while blindly holding up my camera in the air. Basically, if you’re quite tall and have a zoom lens with you, this is the viewpoint for you. Otherwise, stick to my first choice.

Gdansk has earned the nickname of the capital of amber. Back in the day, amber would wash up on the shores. The tide used to bring in pieces of amber the size of a human head. Nowadays, the pieces will be much smaller but you can still find these little treasures! The renowned Mariacka Street is also known as Amber Street because of the many galleries and stalls selling items with amber.

Being a strong port city, the Gdansk shipyards are important for another reason. In 1980, it was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, a campaign that would bring down the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Today, you can visit the European Solidarity Center, a museum and library devoted to this event. It’s a great starting point for learning more about the most important event in the country’s recent history.

shipyards in gdansk

On our last day in Gdańsk, we visited a handful of museums, taking advantage of the Tourist Card. Our first stop was Uphagen’s House, an 18th-century house that takes you on a journey back in time. One of the very few 18th-century townhomes still open to the public in Gdańsk, it makes for a quick and lovely visit. Personally, I loved the stucco decorations and color palette of some rooms.

During our stay in Gdansk, we tried out three different restaurants. First up, let’s talk about local cuisine. Gdanski Bowke serves delicious Polish specialties and you’ll find it alongside the Motlowa river. With a lovely view, amazing food, and the kindest service, I can only wholeheartedly recommend it! The following day we found the best vegan restaurant in Gdansk at Manna 68. Their food is so good that I would even recommend it to people who aren’t vegans! Finally, we had lunch at Canis Restaurant, a chic restaurant that focuses on modern European cuisine. All in all, great recommendations for where to eat in Gdansk!

When I look back on it, I would recommend at least three instead of two days in Gdańsk. For obvious reasons but also because of the city’s WWII history. Alongside the intriguing Museum of the Second World War, you can visit the place where WWII officially began. Westerplatte is a peninsula slightly outside of the city center that I wish we could have had time for. But even outside of the 20th century, Gdańsk has a most interesting history!

On the whole, Gdansk managed to exceed my already high expectations. With its cookie-cutter houses, it stole my heart away. I can already imagine myself walking down those streets on a wintry day. In fact, I can’t wait to revisit Gdansk when it’s covered in snow. It would be a magical sight!

gdansk at night

All things considered, Gdansk doesn’t get half the attention it should be getting. In general, Poland is hiding so many treasures within its country. Most people aren’t aware of the amazing Polish cities, let alone their many castles. Since returning, I’ve been recommending to everyone that they discover Gdansk for themselves. It’s not too big, it’s affordable, and it’s absolutely stunning – in short, it’s the perfect day trip!

beautiful street in gdansk
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