Gdansk is a city generally overlooked due to more known towns such as Warsaw or Kraków. Do not get me wrong, these cities are beautiful too, but Gdansk will always be my favorite city in Poland and not only because I am biased since both my parents were born in Gdansk and I spent almost every holiday there as a kid.
No, it is not only that, it is the fact that the city is a perfect mixture of history, culture, and beach vacation. In the morning you can go to the sea and enjoy a stroll by the pier and in the afternoon eat some pierogi in the old town and then visit some bars and nightclubs in Sopot. Gdansk is also called “Triojmiasto’’ which translates to Tricity. Sopot and Gdynia are cities very close by, so when you visit Gdansk, you can visit Sopot and Gdynia as well. Three in one, awesome right?
Everyone who knows Gdansk knows how beautiful the summers there are, but let me tell you why a trip in winter is also more than worth it and has its magical appeal.
1. Visit The Beautiful Old Town
You can do many things in the colder season, a must-do though is a visit to the great old-town. Located in the northern part of the town, you will find beautiful historic architecture. Gdansk’s roots can be traced back to the 10th century after which the town grew into a wealthy trading city. It is a hotspot for historic architecture, having buildings from different eras, inspired by many different cultures. After World War II, in which ninety percent of the town got destroyed, it took the city a while to recover and build everything back up. The residents of Gdansk aspired to see their city in its former glory but wanting to erase the memory of the horrible things that happened they decided to build the city up without a trace of German history.
The old town reminds many of Amsterdam with its cute colorful buildings and there is a reason behind it. The city wanted to deepen its relationship with the Netherlands and Belgium and Gdansk was re-created with the inspiration of their neighboring countries. With its imposing churches and picturesque buildings, you feel immediately transported to the past. You will find wonderful churches and many little shops, selling amber, the national stone of Gdansk, on your stroll through the old town. Do not forget to check out one of the Pierogarnia’s for some freshly made pierogi and a jug full of polish Kompot (A delicious drink made out of berries and other fruit).
2. Take A Beautiful Riverwalk By The Motlawa River Embankment (Długie Pobrzeze)
Do not miss out on a lovely walk along the Motlawa River. The river meanders through the city and along the river you can find the most beautiful side streets of the old town. You can participate in a river cruise of the city on a regular boat or the popular pirate ship Czarna Perła (Black Pearl). Along the walk, you can find many charming restaurants and cafes and take a ride on the Ferris wheel to see the whole city from above!
3. Visit One Of The Many Museums In Gdansk
What many people do not know is, that Gdansk has many interesting museums to offer. From history to art and modern artists, you can find anything to be culturally stimulated. If you are interested in the history of Gdansk you can visit the museum of the second world war, which opened in 2017, or the European Solidarity Centre, a museum devoted to the history of Solidarity, the Polish trade union, and the civil resistance movement.
Or visit the National Maritime Museum by the river where you can learn everything on maritime history of Poland and its economy through the ages.
Only reopened in July 2021 the amber museum of Gdansk covers the history of Baltic amber, which makes sense since Gdansk is also called the capital of Amber. In their big collection of amber from all over the world, the most impressive one must be the collection of “inclusions’’, where bugs or plants are caught inside the amber.
4. Visit Sopot: Icy Beaches and Ice Skating
As mentioned above when visiting the Tricity, you will have easy access to the cities Sopot and Gdynia that practically morph into Gdansk. Sopot is a seaside resort city by the baltic sea. Alongside many resorts, you can also find the longest wooden pier in Europe and visit the famous Sopot International Song Festival in Summer.
But also in winter, Sopot is worth a trip. With its empty frozen beach, you quickly feel like in another world and during Christmas time, the town has its very own special winter charm. At the main square by the docks, you can find a little Ice-skate rank where you can do some laps for a little price.
5. Park w Oliwa
One of my highlights this winter was the visit to Park Oliwski, a beautiful park in Oliwa, one of the quarters in Gdansk. The park is very old and it is known for its medieval monastery, the 1627 Battle of Oliva, and the 1660 Treaty of Oliva. My grandmother has been visiting it since she was little, later taking her daughters to play where she once played.
While beautiful in all seasons, the park shines especially in winter – literally, since it is beautifully lit up by the most beautiful and creative Christmas lights and decorations every year. If you are lucky enough to visit the park after a snowfall, you will be even more impressed by the artistic light decorations reflected on the snow. It is the perfect place for a winter walk in the dark and then warming up with hot cocoa (by the way the best one ever you will find in the old town’ pierogarnia ‘Stary Młyn’)
6. Time-travel to the Castle Malbork
If you are interested in a day trip from Gdansk, the Malbork castle is the place to go. Another recommendation of my grandmother, the castle was built in 1274 and attracts many visitors every year. Originally called Marienburg the castle was named after the virgin mary and is the largest brick castle in Europe.
After continuous construction, the castle ended up being three castles combined into one and therefore combining many different architectural styles which were common at this time. Especially in winter when the castle is covered in snow, it feels like time-traveling.
Do not forget to put on warm clothes tho! You can take different tours, either with entrance to the museum or only with exterior access. But attention! The Museum in the castle and the castle itself have different opening hours, so make sure to check them thoroughly before heading off!
So as you can see there are plenty of things to do in the coldest season in Gdansk. With Poland being a very traditional country, the Christmas season is very important in their culture and you will able able to tell by the charming, hearty decorations and spirit. If you want to make the most out of your trip you can purchase the Tourist Card with which you will have access to all the museums for free and many discounts. Check it out here:
Let me know if you liked this post and if you are planning on going to Gdansk soon!