|↑ Back to Poland|
Gdansk is the 6th largest city in Poland (in terms of population). It is located on the northern Baltic coast of the country. It is a city with a long history going back beyond the Middle Ages, and today it presents many historical and architectural interests.
For a summary of his story, quite burdensome, see our friend Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gdansk
Basically, the city was in turn Polish, Prussian, independent, occupied by the Nazis, Polish. The shipyards in Gdansk are famous because they were the center of popular protest against communist leaders and against Jaruzelski in the 1970s. Solidarnosc was founded there in August 1980 with Lech Walesa as a charismatic leader. It is highly recommended you visit the European Solidarity Center in order to immerse yourself in the dense history of these tumultuous years.
Concretely, what is remarkable when you walk in Gdansk is that the city center is preserved from the big shop brands. This is very unusual. Unlike the major historic European cities like Vienna, Copenhagen, Strasbourg ... Gdansk has preserved its historic center: shops, cafes and restaurants are very discreet behind the magnificent facades of the city center. There are no big loud signs with showcases masking the architectural style of the city. It is very appreciable and relatively unique to be underlined. Hopefully it will last!
Gdansk, downtown quays
We could not get a paper touristic guide specifically dedicated to the city of Gdansk (in April 2017). The only options we found at the time were guides on Poland or the Greater Pomeranian region, regardless of the publisher. For an average of 15-20 Euros the guide, we found it a bit excessive to be interested in the final by only few pages ... So we decided to buy only part of the guide! We bought the pdf of the chapter on the city of Gdansk in the e-book of the Lonely Planet dedicated to Poland: 2.5 Euros and you have a pdf that you can load on your tablet or print at your leisure. A solution a priori very adapted to our needs.
Okay, but is this guide worth?
It is ... how to say? 'acceptable'. Standard, nothing bluffing. You can actually grab the same amount of information in 10 min of internet search... not a transcendent guide therefore. If we recommend it ?... mmmm ... (you feel the enthusiasm ?!). Yes IF you feel better going with a guide, if you miss it when you do not have one. This will make you a basis to start exploring the city. Otherwise, frankly, no.
A little search with Mr Google and you can print out your city center maps before you leave to get an idea. You will also find maps, as usual, at the reception of hotels, in taxis, and at information points.
For more details on the history of the city and all the activities to do there, here is a link to a guide ... that is FREE!
So, yes, it is full of advertisements for restaurants, spas and hotels ... it is the game my friend! it's FREE 😉 BUT, in our humble opinion, it is as detailed and interesting as the LP chapter. It even has the advantage of listing activities to do with children on sunny days and ... on rainy day! (and that's the winning combo for parents, hey!).
GOOD TO KNOW:
The tourist information center on the main street (Długi Targ 28/29) is very disappointing. We have rarely seen a tourist office as useless as that one ... Very small, there is hardly any brochure available. The person present the day of our visit was ... helpful, but nothing more. So do not count on it to help you compose your trip! Prepare yourself before!
WHAT TO DO IN Gdansk?
The city center of Gdansk is beautiful. It is very pleasant to walk there. There are many pedestrian streets, which makes walks very quiet for parents with children ;-). The main streets (Dluga and Mariacka) are the most photogenic, very colorful with a succession of facades with varied architectures, with patterns or small hand painted scenes. It is certain that you will discover new details at each of your walks.
Numerous street-shows are set up as the day progresses. The shops and bars are discreet behind the decorated facades. It is beautiful, preserved from the big clothes chains or fast food that generally trust the city centers. It is therefore very pleasant and remarkable. We hope that Gdansk will succeed in avoiding these big banners for a long time!
The streets adjacent to the Dluga will introduce you to the ancient 'entrance' gates in the center ('Golden Gate' & co.), The quays, the Cran. Other sites of architectural and historical interest of the city. Do not hesitate to get lost in the narrow streets, it is always the best option to find moments of more authentic life than on the main tourist routes. Some buildings hide small food markets for example, where you can buy a piece of local cheese to hold until the next break 😉
At the East exit of the 'Dlugi Targ' street, you will not miss the big wheel. It is illuminated in the evenings. The tour lasts about fifteen minutes, it is not exceptional, but it is worth it. There is an overview of the colorful historic center.
Do not miss either:
- the 360 view of the whole city from the tower of the cathedral (some Zloty the climb: the view, the stairs, it's worth it!)
- the CiuCiu candy factory on the main Dluga street.