Aug242017

Charmed by Gdansk

Gdansk charmed me to such a degree on my first visit in February 2017 that I went again with my wife in June.  This city of 400,000+ is a Baltic seaport town and a strengthening tourism magnet for its Old Town environment.

Old Town Gdansk is a densely touristed compact space filled with centuries old looking architecture and kind of Disneyesque for tourist entertainment. Restaurants, small shops, numerous cafe-pubs and museums fill much of the commercial space of Old Town. Add several hotels like Hilton Gdansk and Radisson Blu and a number of independent hotels and you find most everything a tourist needs in a largely pedestrian zone environment. Even though you are in the center of a large city, Gdansk Old Town has a small town quaintness within the core six to eight blocks forming the rebuilt Old Town of Gdansk. 

Tourist ship tours are available during a large part of the year to Westerplatte, a peninsula reaching to the Baltic Sea about six miles north of Gdansk. Westerplatte is the site where World War II started when Germany attacked Poland in the Battle of Westerplatte Sep 1-7, 1939.

Tourist boats in Gdansk were crowded and running constantly  during our stay in June when the weather was warm. Tour boat prices are lower than you might expect, around 40 zloty ($11) per adult for 2 hours. Local ferry travel to Westerplatte is only 10 zloty each way and about a one hour trip.

Gdansk tourist ship

Tall ship tourist boat Gdansk June 2017.

Sopot is the neighboring beach resort of the Gdansk-Sopot-Gydnia metropolitan coastal region. Sheraton Sopot Hotel is a beach resort currently listed as SPG category 4.

Gdansk ship

Gdansk itself is inland and a landscape of river canals. Tourist boats in Old Town dock on the Motlawa River. The ocean is several miles away.

Hilton Gdansk

Motlawa River. Hilton Gdansk is right of conical tower.

The combination of Amsterdam style architecture in Poland and a couple dozen pubs within a few hundred meters of Radisson Blu Gdansk makes for a city destination getaway I knew would keep Kelley entertained. We should have stayed longer than two nights in June before flying off to Krakow for a week.

Gdansk ul Dluga Town Hall

Gdansk, and especially Sopot, is relatively expensive in summer for Poland. Still, most everything is cheap by international tourism prices in Europe, except for some summer lodging prices.

Unlike February when I paid $39 per night and stayed two nights in a one bedroom suite at Best Western Hotel Bonum. Unfortunately, that hotel left Best Western hotels in May 2017, but still exits as Hotel Bonum Gdansk. The location is conveniently near the new Museum of the Second World War and only 5 minutes walk to Old Town.

Tip: Buy tickets for the Museum of the Second World War online in advance. They were sold out for two weeks during our June trip.

Museum WWII June 2017

Museum of the Second World War opened spring 2017.

Doubt I will get a Hotel Bonum suite next time when in Gdansk if booking the lowest category room night. I received a complimentary room upgrade as recognition as a Best Western Rewards elite member.

BW Bonum-1

Hotel Bonum Gdansk 4th floor one bedroom suite ($39 USD per night Feb 2017).

Four days in Gdansk in 2017 were two short 2-day trips this year when transiting between Warsaw and Krakow and Sweden on dirt cheap Ryanair flights. Too short for truly getting my fill of Gdansk, let alone having the time to also visit neighboring Sopot and Gydnia. Gdansk is on my high confidence I will visit again travel destination list.

Gdansk Motlawa sun

 

Gdansk Tourism

In 2017, the city of Gdansk offers good value for tourists. Museums, boat tours, shopping, dining, loads of pubs and all at prices that are some of the lowest in Europe. Meals range from $4 to $10 for cafes to mid-level dining restaurants. Price of beer is typical about 10 zloty ($2.75) per pint. Amber and amber jewelry are the primary small store tourist specialty items.

The city offered excellent value for Americans in late 2016, however, the US Dollar has declined 18% in value against the Polish zloty since December 2016 when the exchange rate was $1.00 USD = 4.25 PLN. The exchange rate Aug 24, 2017 is 3.60 PLN.

In 2015, the majority of 375,000 leisure tourists were from Germany (22%), Scandinavia (20%) and UK (20%). I did not hear any other American voices in Gdansk February 2017 during my first trip. June 2017 had far more Americans in the city.

Each year more tourists are finding Gdansk is a highly desirable destination. The uptick in tourism has led to major chain hotels establishing a broader footprint across the city and region.

Hilton Gdansk is next to the Motlawa River.

Hilton Gdansk (2)

Hilton Gdansk

Radisson Blu Gdansk is a few hundred meters away on Long Market / Dluga Targ.

Birth of the Modern

There is a Disneyesque feeling I get in Gdansk due to the reconstruction of a small city center section of Old Town in the decades following World War II. Historical architectural plans, illustrations and paintings were used to recreate the city’s past architectural glory when Danzig was a major Baltic Sea trading center. The historic name for Gdansk is Danzig.

Gdansk Long Market Square

Neptune’s Fountain (1606-1633) Long Market / Dluga Targ, Gdansk is authentically old. The fountain was dismantled and hidden before the 1939 German invasion, survived the war and returned to its historic location.

Long Street or Ulica Dluga has a Disneyesque appearance of relatively young buildings appearing as a kind of pristine centuries old architectural cityscape.

Step a few blocks outside of Old Town and the reality of the far more common landscape of Gdansk is evident.

Gdansk residences

 

Gdansk Unbelievable Cheap flights

Museum WW2

Gdansk Airport GDN model of Museum of the Second World War

I flew Ryanair from Warsaw to Gdansk on both of my trips. My ticket in February 2017 cost an unbelievable $1.99 + $11.61 for one checked bag for a total $13.89 after tax.

WAW-GDN $1.99 Ryanair Feb 28

I flew Gdansk to Stockholm NYO in February on an $8.26 ticket with Ryanair for $27.06 one way after checked bag fee and tax.

In June 2017, I paid $21.97 all-in for Ryanair Warsaw to Gdansk one way.

Travel will take me back to Stockholm in December and I am considering another winter trip to Gdansk. Ticket prices at time of this post range from $10 to $16 one way for Stockholm Skavsta NYO to Gdansk GDN on most dates Sep-Dec 2017.

Loyalty Traveler in Gdansk

Cheap Eats Dining in Poland

Dluga Street (ul. Dluga) Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk Poland pub crawl in beer photos

European Solidarity Centre museum Gdansk, Poland

Radisson Blu Gdansk Hotel Review

Cool Gdansk, Poland is hot tourism destination

Best Western Bonum Gdansk, Poland $39 suite

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. FYI: Beer isn’t the only cheap thing. Shipping fees are great too. You could overnight your bag with UPS/DHL/Fedex/etc for less then $5 instead of paying the Ryanair fees.

  2. It’s funny….Poland had never been on my radar until I saw some pictures of Krakow and thought, “that looks like an amazing place to visit.” Now I’m incrementally becoming more and more in love with the idea of spending some serious time in the country. Plus, it seems that Poland is a *cheap* place to visit as well.

  3. Ric if you have more time then catch a boat and go visit Hel, a nice sandy peninsula. It has a real holiday feel to it, but you have to make it a day trip to fully enjoy it. We went a couple of years ago during a heatwave and even got to swim in the usually icey Baltic sea

  4. @Lack – That is an interesting solution I might try if needed.

    @Ian – my wife was reluctant to visit Krakow, Poland in 2016. She is a London and Amsterdam traveler. Turns out she loved it so much that we have been back to Krakow since then for vacations. Each trip we enjoy the city just as much as the first time. There are several lovely places outside major cities I want to visit too.

    Malbork outside Gdansk is a castle city I want to visit on a future trip.

    @Andreas – Have my eye on Hel Peninsula. There is a Best Western that had $40 rates when I was in Gdansk in February, but $200 in June. The thought of beach solitude on the Baltic in winter seems appealing to me.

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