For M’s birthday I decided to surprise him with a trip to Gdansk, Poland. We had been looking at Poland for a while and in the run-up to the Christmas holidays we had heard it was good value for money too!
Gdansk itself is a beautiful city, on Poland’s northern coastline. The historic city is easy to get around, it didn’t feel too touristy, and had lots to see and do! We walked the main city in a few hours and you could easily explore in a couple of days. It’s definitely a cheap break too, we were constantly stopping for drinks and food and spent a fraction of what we would have done in London.
It was cold when we stayed, between -1 to -8!, so I would definitely recommend bringing lots of layers if you come at this time of year; I even took some thermals with me which came in handy!
The flights to Krakow were a lot more expensive in December so I booked return flights to Gdansk with Ryanair from Stansted Airport – I paid slightly more as December flights are usually more expensive with people jetting off to Christmas markets but I have seen some flights in Jan / Feb come up as low as £14 each return if you’re after an early 2018 break!
The flight took around 2 hours and the airport is around 12km from the Old Town. There are a lot of buses and trains (cost around £2 pp) to take you into the city, however from doing some research we had read that Uber is very affordable so just for convenience (and due to us freezing our pants off!) we booked a lot of Uber’s a lot during our stay (make sure your phone number is changed to reflect the local area code – we messed this up in Germany once and ended up with a couple of cancelation fees!). From the airport to our apartment it cost around £5-6 which was a total bargain!
Where to stay?
We stayed in two places during our break – we spent the first 2 nights in Gdansk in the heart of the old town before moving to Sopot for a night.
As this was a birthday treat and the prices were very reasonable we managed to stay in some pretty awesome apartments. We have been using booking.com to book apartments for our last few city breaks, I find it a bit easier than Airbnb as there aren’t as many additional charges and you can usually reserve a place and cancel for no additional cost up until a few days before your trip. This gives you a chance to keep researching the area for the best place to stay, whilst having the comfort of at least having somewhere to stay whilst you do your additional due diligence! We also find we don’t spend as much money as we often cook breakfast / dinner in the flat rather than always going out – and actually we enjoy this too, it gives us a chance to take a breather and enjoy the facilities in the accommodation too.
We stayed at Stay In Aura (studio 59 / VIP) – see link here
They have lots of different types of apartments to suit everyone, from studio flats to penthouses. The location was a 5-6 minute walk from the centre of old town and it’s part of a brand new development and so everything was shiny, modern and up to date. There was a small supermarket by the entrance and a 24-hour security guard in the foyer of our block. Our apartment was like something out of a Hollywood movie, in true bachelor style the penthouse suite had red leather sofas and was kitted out with every tech you can imagine – colour-changing ceiling lights (changed by remote control), facial recognition TV, PlayStation (yes, plural, one in the bedroom one in the lounge!), a 3D DVD / Blu-ray player with glasses, coffee machines (again, plural – a Nespresso and a filter coffee type machine!), and our favourite gadget – a Sonos 4-speaker ceiling-mounted sound system in every room, controlled from an App on the included iPad…Oh, yes, almost forgot the iPad! To top it all off we had our very own private terrace overlooking the city. The room cost around £60 a night which is an absolute steal for the space and location of the property – you would pay 5x this for this in London! The landlady even gave us a free bottle of prosecco as well on arrival!
We then moved to Sopot for 1 night – this was a last minute addition to the trip. A beautiful coastal city on the Baltic Sea, it was a must when seeing the property and the price I just had to book. We stayed at the Sopot Spa Apartment. Again located centrally in town, this beautiful apartment had one massive selling point; the private cellar spa area equipped with personal hot tub and sauna (and even a look!) – and all for just £60 a night!
What to do in Gdansk?
Back to Gdansk, and I’d recommend exploring the colourful sights Old Town has to offer; beautiful picturesque architecture and cobbled streets full of quaint independent shops and cafes make it the perfect place to wander. I couldn’t walk for more than a minute without having to stop to take a photo of the buildings. As we went in December there was lots of beautiful Christmas decorations, all the cafes are very cosy and have blankets and heaters to warm you up from the cold blasts sweeping in from the Baltic Sea. The main street in Old Town is Long Market which is where you can also find stunning Neptune’s Statue.
You also can’t miss the Amber shops; Gdansk is famous for it’s Amber and there are lots of shops selling items from intricate jewellery to decorations, with stalls lining the cobbled streets which are nice to browse even if you’re not looking to buy. Mariacka Street is the main street for Amber sellers so be sure to check this one out!
We visited the European Solidarity Centre which is one of the best interactive museums I have been to and would highly recommend, on a Tuesday they have a number of free tickets so if you’re around then get down early to get a free ticket – allow a couple of hours here. There are separate exhibition rooms charting the history of Solidarity and the fall of communism. There are english translations so there is no difficulty with translation – you can also pay extra for an audio guide although we managed fine without.
The Christmas market – whilst not comparable to Prague’s magnificent festive wonderland, if you are around in December it’s is certainly a must-see – the Christmas market definitely put me in the Christmas mood, huts selling souvenirs, food and mulled wine and cider and all at great prices too.
Escape Rooms! – at around £19 per game we ended up doing 2 games during our time away, one in Gdansk and one in Sopot both through the same company QuestRooms.
Visit Sopot – only 13 minutes on a train from Gdansk, head along the coast to the beautiful beach town of Sopot. We were only here for one day and we managed to explore it all, we walked along the beach, down the pier and visited the many bakeries and bars along the main street.
Places to eat / drink?
Flisak 67 – we loved this cocktail bar – it’s hidden in a bunker which we walked past during the day without even realising it was there. You go through the door and immediatley down the stairs into an Aladdin’s cave, there was a never ending list of cocktails from traditional ones to more obscure ones which came with an edible toothpaste!
Christmas Market – the mulled cider with spiced rum for around £1.50 is a must!
Cukiernia W-Z – this bakery was just one of many that we visited but was worth a mention! It seems on every corner there is a place selling cakes and fresh bread! My favourite was the apple cake!
I would highly recommend Gdansk as a city break, I think it’s perfect place to visit all year around and I would like to go back in the summer as well as visit other places in the country including Krakow and Wroclaw.
If you have been or have any questions please get in touch!