Gdańsk is a beautiful small city in Poland, and it was so pretty. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It wasn’t always as peaceful as it is now, however.
Gdansk was first mentioned in history in 999, and post-WWII excavations revealed that the city was mainly built between 980-1308. WWII had flatted nearly the entire city. The Between 1920 and 1939, Gdansk was known as the Free City of Danzig. In 1939, Germany attacked the Post Office in Danzig, and the mail workers defended their city during a brutal, all-day battle. By the end of the day, the Polish Post Office of Danzig workers were caught, tried, executed and buried on the spot. It was one of the first acts of WWII and the start of the invasion of Poland.
Gdansk is on the edge of the Baltic Sea and Gdansk Bay, is the fourth largest metropolitan area in Poland, and the country’s main port city. Most of the destroyed buildings have been rebuilt and the city somewhat resembles what it used to look like before the war. I found the city to be quite peaceful and picturesque. I would have never guessed what had happened here.
I was just there for a day trip, so I came from Poznan by train in the morning, and then left by train to Warsaw in the evening. The tickets were fairly inexpensive, and the trains were on time. Everyone spoke English, and getting my tickets at the station and online was no trouble.
I went to the heartbreaking WWII museum, which was absolutely devastating, and I highly underestimated the amount of time I would need there. I’m not one for spending all day at a museum (I’d usually rather be galavanting around the city), but the audio tour is included in the ticket price and it’s worthwhile to have a listen. I tried to rush a bit, and it still took me over 2 hours. You may need a minute when you get to the part of about the field bombings. Someone made an award winning documentary about that specific incident, and it plays on repeat in one of the rooms. Everyone was crying. It was unlike any experience I’d ever had before.
Poland has chilly, snowy winters. I visited in February, so it was super cold, but I needed the chill in order to emotionally recover from the museum. 💔😞
The pier was refreshing, and it helped to see how much the city had been built back up. There were beautiful boats, docked for the winter, the super cool Ferris wheel on Granary Island, and all the pretty buildings once can expect from a beautiful European town.
Shopping and Sights
The touristy street was soooOoOoOooOooo pretty. Clearly made for tourists, but I can see why people love it so much. There were all these cute boutiques with creative jewelry and clay clocks and tiny statues of boats, and yummy restaurants. The shops mainly sold amber jewelry and little figurines of the houses. I wanted everything. Don’t miss the Dutch Mannerist Armory, or Artus Court, and definitely have a look at the Motlawa River.
English wasn’t a problem at all – everyone was super nice and very welcoming. I saw a few ATMs at various locations throughout town, but most people accepted credit cards in case you don’t have any cash.
This place had so many statues and beautiful rows of houses – I vaguely thought I might be in Amsterdam instead of Poland! The fountain is lovely when lit up at night, and there were plenty of people bustling about, even in the dead of winter.
I headed back to the train when it was dark (get your tickets ahead of time either online or at the station when you first arrive, btw).
I really wished I had spent the night, as this place – including the museum – was just too short for a day trip. I felt completely safe traveling by myself. I never once felt unsafe here. Although Gdansk has a tragic history, all of Poland has a super nice people, great transportation, and very beautiful scenery.
What was your favorite part of Gdansk?
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Thanks for reading, happy travels!
Some more of Gdansk: