The final stop on our cross-country tour of Poland was the city of Gdańsk. We absolutely loved Gdańsk; in fact, it was our favourite of all the cities we visited (although Warsaw and Kraków aren't too far behind!).
Gdańsk is a coastal city in the far north of Poland, sitting just a few km inland from the Baltic Sea, south of Sweden. This makes the city a popular tourist destination as people flock from all across the country (and a few neighbouring countries, too) keen to experience the wonderful atmosphere of this spot and to be nearer the ocean.
The main train station is in the western part of the city. All of Gdańsk is extremely walkable, although there are buses and trams that can get you around quickly as well. The best way to kick off your time in Warsaw is to join a free walking tour, then you can choose what you want to revisit or spend more time at.
This was our favourite city to visit in all of Poland - the atmosphere was lively and, as the official start of WWII where the first shots of the war were fired, there's plenty of history and culture to learn here.
This gate was built in 1588 and was the original main entrance to Gdańsk. Today it's no longer in use and is purely symbolic but does stand proudly at the western end of town. Three coats of arms adorn the outside, symbolizing Gdańsk, Poland and Prussia.
Just behind this main entrance sits the Golden Gate, built half a century later, featuring statues that embody the values of the city such as justice, liberty, freedom and wealth.
Long Market & Neptune's Fountain
As you enter the city through the Golden Gate, you come upon the Long Market, also known as the Royal Way, so named because the Royal Palace sits at the other end.
While most cities traditionally have a Market Square, Gdańsk's market is - as the name suggests - one long street lined with what used to house the city's richest citizens, guilds, stores and other business places.
About half way down the Long Market is the Neptune Fountain with a statue of the Roman sea god. Built in 1617, it stood outside the largest building on the street where many important merchants used to meet and discuss the business of the day of this busy trade and port city.
The Great Armoury
Situated at the top of another key street in Gdańsk, Pwina Street (which means beer), where all the breweries were located and many still are today, this immense Renaissance building was the military's armoury. In fact, it's one of Europe's most ornate armouries, which were typically very undecorated and practical buildings. This building is of Dutch style and today houses the Academy of Fine Arts.
This beautiful little lane is home to the best amber shops in the city. Gdańsk is the amber capital of the world, so if you're after that perfect piece, this street is the place to go.
We ended spending a lot of time on this famous bridge; it's home to one of the most well-known views in the whole city and in the evening, buskers make this an enticing spot.
During the St. Dominic's Fair, this bridge was packed with market stalls and all along the riverfront.
St. Dominic's Fair
We were so lucky to have our visit coincide with the opening day of the annual St. Dominic's Fair (Jarmark Dominika in Polish), a fair that has been running almost every year since 1260 (over 760 years) when it was first established by Pop Alexander IVth. Think of it like the Oktoberfest of Poland - it's the biggest cultural event of Gdańsk and apparently attracts over 6 million visitors these days. We had no clue this event was even happening but were thrilled to discover bustling streets full of craft stalls, handmade wares and an impressive antique market stretching as far as the eye could see. I even went home with a handmade beautiful little traditional Polish tea pot.
VEGAN FOOD IN Gdańsk
With plenty of delicious vegan options to choose from (including a great internet café with vegan cakes where we spent our evenings given our AirBnB had no wifi), we loved Manna 68, a restaurant in the heart of the city just off from the Long Market. Featuring a collection of delicious dishes inspired by cuisine and culture from around the world, this is the perfect refueling stop as you explore your way around the city.
Also, all the descriptions of their food are just fabulous. Read their menu for yourself to see what I mean!
Address: Świętego Ducha 68 | website