“Neither rashly, nor timidly”, “The Tricity by the Baltic Sea”
A bit over 5 years have passed since our first and only time in this beautiful city by the Baltic Sea, now glad to return and enjoy the same or more than the first time. Not just the city but the great company of our Polish friend whom we came to visit once more time. What a better way to escape the horrible weather in London after all? Surprisingly, this was the end of September, however still a nicer weather over here bearing in mind it generally chills earlier than other places. A coincidental fact back in June 2012 it was the weekend of a Football Euro Cup semi-finals where Spain was playing against France. Definitely we are not football fans at all, but being Spanish and such a great ambience with all the terraces showing the game at the time we were in Sopot, made it for a great dinner time entertainment.
I take the chance to revamp this guide and further expand it in line to what I am generally doing for the past 4 years or so. While there is still a large number of travel guides from the beginning of times in my blog quite outdated or even poor comparing to what I now do, it’s great to see the speed in recreating them as I keep returning to such cities and places. It’s becoming more and more difficult anyway to get for a weekend trip to destinations we’ve not been before. It might sound silly, but yes, we are running out of flying routes with any airline within Europe!
Gdansk is the largest of the three cities, capital of the region and principal seaport of Poland. And also, one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, full of Medieval and Hanseatic buildings, remarkably well preserved even though many of these had to be painstakingly reconstructed after their destruction during WWII. All these facts, the history behind and the countless cultural places are one of the reasons for its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.
The city’s size is not too big to require any sort of transportation to move from one area to another, you can do everything easily on foot which is the best option anyway to fully enjoy the sights and beauty through the street. However if feeling lazy or needing to go farther, it’s always easy to be near a tram stop. They can take you to the main train station in no time.
When talking about food, I cannot avoid in pretty much copy and paste the same as I use to do with what relates to this subject for any city I visit in Poland. It’s definitely one of my all time favourite, that’s for sure. Dumplings (pierogi), borsch soup, bigos, the many sausages and lots of cheeses to name a few. Yet although there are plenty of restaurants, watch out for their prices; anywhere around the old town can easily be as much as double if not more than nearby streets for absolutely the same, and it does not even have to mean better quality either. Not because a place looks fancy is always a good choice, majority of times this will end up in being the most expensive choice, and probably the worst value for money and smaller portions. Something unbeatable is to search for a good pierogarnia, you will never regret!. But bear in mind something, these places could be as tiny as a small corner with barely place to sit, however the quality of their hand-made pierogi is amazing. Notice also the many small kiosks selling grilled cheese, especially near a market or the market square itself. These are one of the delicacies from Poland, while pretty salty, incredibly good and tasty generally served with cranberry sauce on the side.
If a great and quick “snack” is in your head, try zapiekanka. This is, a halved baguette or bread topped with mushrooms, cheese, ham and vegetables. I can tell you the size of the ones you will find anywhere in these 3 cities is by far the largest I’ve ever seen anywhere in Poland, sometimes to the point of becoming even hilarious to see having such a long baguette in your face.
For more information about Gdansk check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Poland’s currency is the YZłoty (PLN). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Gdansk:
- Long Lane The most iconic pedestrianized and historic street, where you will find wonderful Hanseatic buildings everywhere. At both ends you will find the gates, in order, are as follows:
-Highland Gate One of the main entrances to the city when the Medieval fortifications stood.
-Golden Gate Just after the Highland Gate, another gate in Dutch style.
-Green Gate An impressive Antwerp City Hall inspired building, located at the very end in the area called Long Market, after the gate there is the river.
- Long Market Starting where the Town Hall stands right by the end of Long Lane, here you will find the finest Hanseatic style buildings in the city.
-Town Hall Impossible to miss with it’s tall clock spire.
-Neptune’s Fountain By Dutch architect Abraham van den Blocke.
-Artus Court Just by the Neptune’s Fountain.
- Żuraw Crane Over the Motława river, it’s a symbol of the city, a Medieval crane immaculately restored and preserved.
- Długie Pobrzeże townhouses Hanseatic style houses located by the riverside.
- Mariacka Street Known as Amber Lane, it’s the parallel street to Long Market/Long Lane, and as the name says, famous for the amber trading.
- St. Mary’s Church The largest brick church in the world.
- The King’s Chapel Small chapel just in front of St. Mary’s Church.
- St. Catherine church The oldest church in Gdansk.
- Główny railway station Destroyed in WWII and rebuilt as a copy of Colmar’s train station in Alsace, France.
What to see and do in Sopot:
- Wooden pier It is the largest pier in the Baltic Sea.
- Crooked House Worth the trip to Sopot just to see this “melted style” house.
- Lighthouse Very nice in architecture style, makes a great combination next to the pier and the Grand Hotel.
- Grand Hotel The most luxurious hotel in the region, right at the front of the beach.
What to see and do in Gdynia:
- The docks Where you will find very beautiful tall ships from the museum.
- Beaches And the many nice cafes all around.
From the airport take the local bus 210 to the main train station (3.4ZL). It’s very frequent and will take you to the city centre in no time. If you are in a rush, there is the LOT Express bus 888 at the cost 9.9ZL, but the time you save is minimal respect the 210 bus.
Within the city centre every sight is very concentrated and easy to reach on foot. Most of the streets are fully pedestrianised hence no other option than walking and enjoying the beauty of the buildings as you pass by. For longer distances there are plenty of trams through the wider metropolitan districts, and in between the three cities, very frequent and reliable, comfortable and inexpensive commuter trains. The trip from Gdansk to Sopot is no more than 30 minutes, while to Gdynia, the end of the line, around 45.
Being the most important city in Poland with direct access to the Baltic Sea, main port and principal beach holiday destination in the country expect to find a great choice of hotels of any kind and size. Every world chain is in the city from the top luxurious to the more modest ones. Although we cannot recommend any hotel in both of our visits to this city since we stayed at our friend’s flat, a good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers. Bear in mind during the high season months the prices are quite high, try to book as much in advance you can when planning in visiting at these months, however, any other time of the year out of season you can find really great deals at top hotels.
Photo Gallery of Gdansk:
Photo Gallery of Sopot:
Photo Gallery of Gdynia: