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.
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 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.
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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Unbelievable Cheap flights
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.
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