17 Fun Things to Do in Gdansk, Poland (+Map)

When it comes to European getaways, Gdansk in Poland might not be the first place you think of. But when you take a moment to understand its appeal, you’ll soon realize it is a fascinating city to visit.

Defined by an enchanting waterfront that lines the frigid waters of the Baltic Sea, it is fair to say Gdansk is a city of delightful contrasts. It boasts a rich, medieval history, reflected in its cobblestone streets and picturesque Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and a strong maritime heritage.

It is also best known for its pivotal role in shaping European history, marked by the Gdansk Shipyard, where the Solidarity movement originated and led to the fall of communism.

But complementing this history, Gdansk impresses with a modern flair that manifests itself in vibrant cultural attractions, a burgeoning food scene and a decent nightlife. For some people, the city might not be somewhere you are familiar with when you first get there. But you’ll soon discover there are plenty of things to do in Gdansk by the time you leave.

In this post, we’ll cover:

17. Green Gate

Green Gate

Nestled between the River Motława and Long Market is one of Gdansk’s most notable attractions – The Green Gate.

The structure was designed by Hans Kramer, while Dutch architect, Reiner van Amsterdam, oversaw the development. It was based on the city hall in Antwerp, Belgium and was designed to be the formal residence of Poland’s monarchy.

It is a fine example of Flemish architecture, which after its royal duties served as the former home of the Nature Society.

However, today it houses Gdank’s National Museum and regularly hosts exhibitions, meetings, conferences and shows. Once inside, you will also find the office of the famous Lech Wałęsa, which he used when he was President of Poland.

16. Neptune Fountain

Neptune Fountain

Whilst at the Long Market, take the opportunity to check out Neptune’s Fountain.
This historic, mannerist-rococo masterpiece is one of the city’s main landmarks and is situated at the front entrance of the Artus Court.

The fountain was erected in 1617 and, as its name suggests, was dedicated to the Roman god of the sea. It consists of a bronze statue of Neptune, standing on a sea chariot and surrounded by allegorical figures that represent the four winds.

This masterpiece was created by the renowned Dutch sculptor Peter Husen and is intended to reflect the city’s wealth and maritime influence during the Renaissance. The impressive sculpture is highly detailed, so you should take your time to appreciate it when you go there.

15. Oliwa Zoo

Oliwa Zoo

If you love animals, you should make a point of visiting Oliwa Zoo. Established in 1954, it is the largest zoo in Poland and is dedicated to caring for and preserving various animal species.

The zoo is located within the beautiful Oliwa Park, offering a natural and lush environment for over 1,100 animals from different parts of the world. These include rare species like Javan lutungs, anoas, Bali mynas, bongos and mandrills.

All up within the family-friendly zoo, there are over 190 species of animals. They are housed within various themed exhibits, such as the African Savanna, Amazon Rainforest and Arctic Zone, which you should set aside at least half a day to explore.

14. Museum of Amber

Museum of Amber

The Museum of Amber is remarkable – the first in Poland dedicated to Amber. The cozy museum is part of the Gdańsk Museum and is housed in a former prison.

Since opening in 2006, it has been showcasing the world’s largest collection of Amber. Exhibits include nuggets that are at least 40 million years old, an amber chamber, an amber forest and contemporary artist designs.

What makes the museum so interesting is that it explores the geological origins of this fossilized tree resin and its significance in folklore, trade and art. Visitors can discover how amber is formed and extracted, what its properties consist of and how it has been worked over time.

13. St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church is one of the oldest Christian places of worship in Gdańsk. It was erected by the Dominican order when it arrived in Kraków in 1227, although it has gone through several reconstructions since then.

Its current form reflects an impressive blend of Gothic and Baroque architectural styles. Remarkably, it managed to survive World War II without so much of a scratch.

Inside, the church features vaulted ceilings, ornate altars and stunning stained glass windows. The church also accommodates a stately clock tower that provides panoramic views of Gdansk. If you have a head for heights, be sure to make your way up there. It offers a breathtaking perspective of the cityscape and the shimmering waters of the nearby Motlawa River.

12. Jelitkowo Beach

Jelitkowo Beach

If you happen to visit Gdansk in the summer make sure you bring your swimming costume with you as you’ll want to visit Jelitkowo Beach.

This traditional seaside resort overlooks Gdansk Bay on the southern shoreline of the Baltic Sea. Once a fishing hamlet, back in the 1800s, it is now a popular place with locals and tourists that features golden sand and safe (albeit cold) waters for swimming.

During the summer, the beach buzzes with activity. People sunbathe, swim, windsurf and play volleyball in the lifeguard patrolled waters. Those not on the beach sit in restaurants and bars that line the water.

By contrast, during the winter, the beach is almost empty, but it has an ethereal quality, especially when it snows, that turns it into a fairytale-like landscape.

11. Oliwa Cathedral

Oliwa Cathedral

Another must-see religious structure of note in Gdansk is the Oliwa Cathedral, which is actually a Polish Historical Monument. Completed around the latter part of the 16th century, the Oliwa Cathedral is a magnificent example of Baroque architecture.

The cathedral resides in the western area of Oliwa Park and was built by Cistercians, who dedicated it to the Holy Trinity. It was constructed along a classical three-aisle design that is shaped in the style of a Latin cross and notably features a vaulted basilica.

Inside, a magnificent organ dominates the main entrance. One the largest in Europe, it features fanfaring angels, moving cherubs and almost 7900 pipes which create a goosebump-inducing range of sounds and pitches when played.

10. Westerplatte


At the entrance of Gdansk harbor, Westerplatte is a historical peninsula best known for being where the first battle between Polish and German forces occurred in September 1939. This marked the outbreak of World War II and brought the area to the world’s consciousness due to this event.

Between 1926 and 1939, the Polish Military Transit Depot was based here, at the mouth of the Dead Vistula. Unfortunately, many of their men fell during battles to protect this strategic point from Nazi occupation.

The Westerplatte Monument was built to honor the bravery exhibited by the Polish defenders during that attack. Today, tourists can explore the remnants of military structures, such as the guardhouse and barracks, which provide a harrowing sense of the site’s wartime past.

9. Oliwski Park

Oliwski Park

One of the most serene places to visit in Gdansk is the beautiful Oliwski Park. Originally founded as a monastery garden in the 15th century by the Cistercians, the park retains that sense of tranquility and reverence today.

Its present shape was created in the 18th century and most notably features a Baroque French-style garden that resides at the front of the Abbots’ Palace. This garden comprises vividly colored flower beds and shrubbery that are sculpted into geometric figures. It also contains trimmed rows of Linden trees as its centerpiece.

The rest of the park consists of paths, a gazebo, an English-Chinese garden with several water features, a stunning Japanese garden and sculpted azaleas. At present the city park is open from 5 am to 11 pm so you can enjoy it all day.

8. Mariacka Street

Mariacka Street

It is fair to say that Mariacka Street is one of the most beautiful streets in Gdańsk. Comprising quaint cobblestones, it runs from the Motława River to St. Mary’s Basilica, accommodating a couple of rows of terraced tenement houses that provide the area with a timeless feel.

Standing adjacent to these houses are charming cafes and intriguing galleries, which are well worth perusing. However, the main highlight of coming here has to be the view from the Mariacka Gate, all the way down Mariacka Street, to the magnificent St. Mary’s Church, which will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Try to come early in the morning, just after sunrise, or late at night to really appreciate its glory.

7. Main Town Hall

Main Town Hall

Arguably, the most impressive architectural structure in Gdansk is the Main Town Hall. This historic Ratusz is situated at the intersection of Długi Targ and Ulica Długa, within the district of Śródmieście, which forms a section of the Royal Route.

Without question, it is one of the city’s best Gothic-Renaissance buildings. Built in the 14th century, it served for many years as the seat of the city’s government. It also houses Gdansk’s prominent history museum.

During a guided tour, you can view the building’s opulent chambers, which include the Grand Council Hall and the Red Hall. Each of these rooms features period furnishings and artwork that have been beautifully restored.

You should also make your way up to the Town Hall’s tower as it offers tremendous views of the surrounding city.

6. Golden Gate

Golden Gate

Set within the Royal Route, the Golden Gate is a historic Renaissance city monument that symbolizes the city’s resilience and grandeur. Constructed between 1612 and 1614 as part of the fortifications surrounding the Old Town, it replaced the Brama Długouliczna, a previous gothic gate dating back to the 13th century.

The gate served as a ceremonial entry point to the city and is renowned for its distinctive golden ornamentation. It was designed in a Dutch Mannerist style by an architect called Abraham van den Blocke and built under the supervision of Jan Strakowski. It features intricate sculptures and allegorical figures, which create a captivating facade. You’ll find it adjacent to the Brotherhood of St George building, which is another late-gothic structure.

5. Waterfront & Crane

Waterfront & Crane

Located along the Motława River, the waterfront is a picturesque area known for its beautiful architecture and vibrant atmosphere. It is lined with colorful, restored buildings that reflect the city’s rich maritime history and its role in the Hanseatic League during the Middle Ages.

Soaring above the busy waterfront is the Gdańsk Crane (Zuraw), an enduring symbol of the city. Dating back to at least 1367, when it was first mentioned in print, it represents a fading link to the city’s great trading age.

Over the years, the crane has had its fair share of adversity. Its original structure burnt down in 1442, while 80% of its rebuild was destroyed in the Battle for Gdansk in 1945. However, it was painstakingly put back together over several decades after the war, rendering it the only fully restored structure of its kind anywhere on the planet.

The crane is a stunning sight from the outside, but as it forms part of the National Maritime Museum, inside, it features fascinating exhibitions on maritime trade and history.

4. St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary's Church

Officially known as the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Mary’s Church is an important place of worship.

Located in central Gdansk, this magnificent brick gothic catholic church is notable for being one of the three largest brick churches in the world. It also witnessed the signing in 1648 of the Peace of Westphalia.

Towering over the city’s skyline, the church was funded by the affluent Hanseatic League and was conceived to reflect Gdansk’s prosperity. Overall, the church boasts remarkable features, including its towering spire, which showcases superb views of the surrounding cityscape.

Meanwhile, its interior comprises intricate stained glass windows, ornate altars and a fabulous astronomical clock that is very Insta-worthy.

3. European Solidarity Centre

European Solidarity Centre

People of a certain vintage will remember the role the Solidarity movement played in overthrowing communism in Eastern Europe.

Paying tribute to this triumph, the European Solidarity Centre was established in 2014 at the historic Gdansk Shipyard, where the movement was born in the 1980s.

Visitors to the European Solidarity Centre can explore interactive exhibitions, multimedia displays, and artifacts that chronicle the history of the movement. Notably, the iconic Gate No. 2, where Lech Walesa led the shipyard strikes, remains a powerful symbol of this transformative period.

Acting as a cultural, historical and educational hub, the museum showcases the struggle for workers’ rights. It features fascinating exhibits of personal stories and documents that convey the resilience of the human spirit.

2. Museum of the Second World War

Museum of the Second World War

Opened in 2017, the Museum of the Second World War is a comprehensive institution dedicated to exploring the global impact of World War II. It aims to provide a nuanced perspective on the conflict by emphasizing its social, political and cultural dimensions.

Whilst there, you will be able to observe multimedia exhibits, artifacts, and personal testimonies that offer a profound understanding of the war’s complexities. The museum explores not only the military aspects but also the civilian experience, resistance movements and the post-war reconstruction period.

Exhibits include a vast collection of photographs, documents, and immersive displays that depict the war’s profound impact on individuals and societies. Ultimately, it is a poignant educational resource that promotes dialogue on the significance of this pivotal period in history.

1. Długi Targ

Długi Targ

For most visitors to Gdansk, the Długi Targ, or Long Market, is top of their list of places to visit.

Situated between the Green Gate and the end of Ulica Długa, this iconic market square forms part of the city’s historic old town. It dates back to the 13th century and is renowned for being a center of civic and commercial activity. It was also once a place where the executions of heretics, criminals and witches took place.

Lined with picturesque, pastel-hued buildings that are adorned with ornate facades, The Neptune Fountain, the iconic Artus Court, and the Green Gate are key landmarks along Long Market. So, you will no doubt spend a lot of time here. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops to browse, as well as lots of places to sit and soak up its atmosphere.

Where to Stay in Gdansk

Gdansk Hotel

For most people who visit Gdansk, the Old Town is the best place to stay. It houses many of Gdansk’s main attractions, a good selection of restaurants, cafes and bars and a nice range of hotels.

One of the most popular establishments in the Old Town is the Hotel Hanza, which is located by the picturesque Motlawa River and not too far from the Gdansk Crane. It has its own restaurant with a terrace, a spa with three separate treatment rooms and a bar with a fireplace.

If you would prefer to stay somewhere different, you might want to procure accommodation on Kartuska Street. This road is the main thoroughfare in Gdansk and provides convenient access to districts like Siedlce, Jasień, Ujeścisko-Łostowice and Kokoszki.

In Sedlce, you’ll find the So Stay Hotel, which is a modern business hotel. To complement its comfortable, well-appointed rooms, it also has a restaurant and a 24-hour lobby bar.

How to get there

Gdansk Train Station

Gdansk is a city you can easily reach via air, rail or sea from most countries in Europe.

For those wanting to fly there, Lech Wałęsa Airport is the primary gateway, with several connections a day arriving from countries like England, Sweden, France and Germany. Once you arrive at the airport, you’ll find plenty of taxis, buses and car rental options to take you into the city center.

Alternatively, if you prefer to travel by train, Gdansk Glowny, the central train station, is serviced by plenty of domestic and international trains. Additionally, if you are already in Poland, you can drive along its network of highways and expressways, with major routes like the A1 motorway linking many towns and cities.

Due to its location on the Baltic Sea, Gdansk can also be accessed by ferry from Sweden and Finland, which is a very scenic way to travel.

Map of Things to do in Gdansk

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