I have these vintage maps at home where I add a pin for every place we visit. It was looking really sparse in Eastern Europe so in an effort to change that and also make our money go further having had to pay couple of grand to fix a water leak and damage made by it, we grabbed some cheap flights to Gdansk, Poland.
And when I say cheap I mean cheap! Our adult flights from London Stansted to Gdansk were £19.98 return each! Ryanair has a fixed fee for infants and ironically our baby’s ticket ended up being most expensive! All together our flights for the three of us cost just over £100 as we ended up picking up a seat to ensure we sit together as Ryanair “randomly” allocates seats that are apart despite having seats together free..
As we didn’t want to spend a lot of time travelling from one place to another and needed a more “home like” environment (e.g. microwave for sterilising) we opted to stay at an Air BnB apartment in the heart of Old Town. We stayed at this one and we could have not been happier! Location was brilliant, apartment was immaculately clean and it was also very professionally run. And it only cost £138 for 4 nights, so £34.50 per night incl. cleaning fee. Highly recommend!
Generally speaking Gdansk is a really good place to visit with an immobile baby as there is lots to see without having to travel far or try too hard. Our baby luckily loves his carrier so we ended up leaving his pram behind every day. The streets in the Old Town are cobbly so unless you got serious suspension in your pram it would be a bumpy ride for the lil’un. This also acts as a warning to think about your footwear choice – Ladies, you know what I mean!
This was our first trip with our baby so we took things pretty slow to ensure our littlest traveller gets to have his naps and feeds at his pace. So below has all the things we did and saw, but I have also included some extra ideas on what to do and see if you are quicker and without a baby in tow.
Getting from airport to Gdansk
There are trains that run from the airport to Gdansk. You need to get a train to Wrzeszcz (who took all the vowels?!) first and then change to different type of train (SKM) to Gdansk Glowny, which is the main station. You can buy tickets from a machine on the platform and they only cost 3.80zl! Changing train in Wrzeszcz can be a bit tricky. All the electrical boards were taped over and notices and announcements only in Polish. Your best bet is to ask locals or head to information desk to ask.
Overall we found the trains ok and staff helpful when you managed to find one, but the stations were quite challenging with little or no information.. Bonus points to Gdansk Glowny station for having lockers for luggage. And if these are full there is another facility at the entrance to Hostel called “Main Station” next KFC. Bags can be left there for 10zl a piece. Great if you’re flying back in the evening like we were.
Day 1 – Old Town
Gdansk old town is absolutely gorgeous and was definately The Focal Point of our holiday! Our Air BnB apartment was in the heart of old town and I really recommend staying in old town area if you can. That way you are near most places that are likely to be on your list to visit.
Old Town itself is big enough for you to be able to spend a day or two walking around, admiring architecture, take in a leisurely lunch with a beer or two, people watch and do a spot of shopping. But it’s not so big that feels overwhelming or that you feel like you’re missing stuff if you don’t get to go everywhere.
The main streets are Dlugi Targ and Piwna. They are both crammed with beautiful architecture and restaurants, bars and shops.
Walking along the river is also an amazing experience.
Watching our 4 month old son’s face when he saw an old fashioned carousel all lit up and spin in the dark was priceless <3.
Other points of interest include wooden crane structure built in 15th century, Neptune water fountain from 17th century and St Mary’s Basilica. But the best part for me was just to wander around and admire everything as there was so much to look at. So much beauty at every corner! Must say that this was by far the best Old Town I have ever been to, so that’s sayin’somthin’. 🙂
Polish food – There is so much choice in old town for this, but I would recommend Gdanski Bowke right by the river. Their potato pancakes with sour cream was a party in the mouth!
As was my pork escalope and salmon that mr Harlow ordered. The portions were huge and were served from wooden planks upping the rustic factor along with beer in a tankard.
Pizza – La Famiglia is a small pizzeria just off Dluga Targ on Lektykarska. I had Maruzzella pizza which was 28zl. It was really delicious. Pizzas start from 15zl and there is some seating outside to enjoy.
Ice cream – Palce Lizac on the corner of Piwna and Lektykarska sells handmade ice creams. Another place for handmade ice creams and other deserts like cakes is on 101 Swietego Ducha. We had liquorice ice cream (you know i looove liquorice!) and it was like a little piece of home.
Etno – small shop on Lektykarska. Beautiful cashmere scarves in a rainbow of colours, gloves and other accessories. Highlight though is felted animal boots and slippers and hand- and fingerpuppets!
Madison Gallery shopping centre – New and modern shopping centre with loads of choice over four floors. Right by the main train station and 10 min walk from old town, it has a great location. Our favourite was 5.10.15 for baby clothes.
Hala Targowa – Huge building in old town near the train station. Three floors of market stalls, but most interesting one is on basement floor selling Polish food. We snagged some vodka and chocolates for souvenirs and presents.
Things we didn’t get to do, but you might want to..
– Amber Sky big ferris wheel with pods (think smaller cousin of London Eye). Ride takes around 15mins.
– Walk on “the other side of the Motlawa river” and look in on all the glistening lights from all the restaurants and shops in Old Town
– Visit National Maritime museum and get to go inside the wooden structure that holds the crane by the river.
Day 2 – Malbork Castle
Malbork is a small town outside Gdansk and has the world’s largest brick castle. What a better place to spend the day, especially as it was our 10 year anniversary together?
To get to Malbork you need to take a train from Gdansk Glowny from platform 2. They are long distance trains and ticket for two one way costs 23.80zl. The train takes around 30-40 mins unless it’s an express train, which is 10 mins quicker, but costs almost 80zl instead. Tickets can be bought on the train, be sure to go to first carriage and stop the conductor when they walk the train. For slower trains there are no reserved seats, but for the express there is, so be prepared to move if you don’t have a reservation.
Once you arrive to Malbork station head towards the castle. You walk through a small Malbork high street which is pretty attractive.
The walk is 1.4km, which takes around 15-20 mins. You will then arrive to Malbork Castle ticket office, which will be on your right. One adult ticket costs 29.90zl and includes an audio guide also in English. It’s pretty nifty as it picks up your GPS location on the grounds and castle and always plays the right thing at the right time without fiddling with buttons. Bonus points also for lockers downstairs and toilets including a separate baby changing facility.
We took the castle in at a leisurly pace and it took us about 2 hrs in total, but note that it closes pretty early at 4pm. The castle itself is just gorgeous! So much history if you are interested, but if you’re there just to experience the atmosphere, they have really done it well to be as immersive experience as possible right down to incense smells in the monastry, medieval music in the chapel and herby smells in the kitchens.
There are also some exhibitions too like amber and stained glass. If the weather is good then maybe stop and sit for a while in the courtyard. As you sit there and look around you are sure to pick up more and more details in this large castle.
There are few restaurants on site, but we opted to come out and crossed the river via suspension bridge to a nice little restaurant opposite the castle right by the river.
It felt really local and authentic and food was excellent. Our lunch for two was 50zl and included this awesome awesome sausage!
When you’re ready to head back to the station you can either walk directly to the station same way you came, but if you have a bit more time then I would recommend a walk along the river.
We were so lucky with weather and the sun was shining on all the autumnal golden leaves. The route takes you back to the high street where it’s a short walk to the station.
Take a moment to pause at Malbork station and admire the ceiling there if you can. The trains back to Gdansk Glowny leave from platform 3, track 1 to direction of Szczecin Glowny.
Things we didn’t get to do, but you might want to..
– Take a longer walk by the river
– Have another beer at the restaurant
Day 3 – Sopot
An old spa town Sopot is worth a visit especially if the weather is good. You can catch a direct SKM train from Gdansk Glowny. Return tickets were around 20zl for two adults and can be bought from ticket machines that are located in the underpass beneath the tracks. Train to Sopot takes just under 30 mins.
Once at the station in Sopot we headed to the beach and pier enjoying the walk there by admiring old and beautifully kept old houses. It’s obvious from the size and style of the houses that Sopot has and has had wealth in the area.
Once you get to the pier you are awarded some gorgeous views. The pier itself is longest pier in Europe and walking to the end you get to see out to the Baltic sea and back to the land with lovely lovely golden sand beaches.
There are some restaurants along the base of the pier and we opted to go for restaurant Laguna Smaku right by the pier. The food was really fresh and excellent and you get good views from the first floor so I recommend making your way there.
After our delicious meal we headed towards the main shopping street Monte Cassino. There is huge choice of restaurants and cafes and shopping of course. One of the most photographed buildings in Sopot is located on the main street, “the wonky house”.
After our stroll we made our way back to the station and towards Gdansk.
Things we didn’t get to do, but you might want to..
– Enjoy the sun on the beach or sit on the pier
– Visit a massage place and treat yourself to a back massage
– Shop on Monte Cassino
– Make the trip by bike from Gdansk
Have more days or time?
Gdansk has so much to offer! There were still several places I would love to have gone, but we chose to go at a slower pace with baby Harlow in tow. These would have been on my list
– Park Oliwa, the cathedral there and the zoo!
– European Solidarity centre
– Day trip to headland Hel
I must say that Gdansk really blew me away and has made me all the more motivated to add more pins on my maps in Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe! It was definitely one of the top city breaks we have done! Go see yourself! 🙂