String quartet on Saint Mary Street in Gdansk

A boys’ weekend in Gdańsk

An annual city trip with the boys in May is one of the highlights of my travel year. Previous trips brought us to Helsinki/Stockholm, Warsaw/Krakow, Belgrade and Bratislava. This year we explored Gdańsk in northern Poland with its photogenic historical centre and relaxed atmosphere.

Read my travel report in five catchwords (see box at the very bottom for background on this categorisation):

SEE
Gdańsk’s crown jewel is the Main Town (Główne Miasto). Why not start with a walk along Motława River with its beautiful hanseatic-style architecture, the iconic wooden ship crane, many restaurants and cafés? Then turn under the Green Gate (which is actually… red!) onto Long Market and Long Street (Długi Targ and Ulica Długa, respectively). The colourful and decorative buildings on this often crowded main street are very beautiful. Pass by the famous Neptune Fountain and end at the Golden Gate and the Amber Museum. On the way back to the riverfront, take Piwna Street with its bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Then visit St Mary’s Church, the largest brick church in Europe, before you stroll through Gdańsk’s most pitoresque and atmospheric street, Ulica Mariacka (see featured image on top of article), with its numerous amber merchants. If you are looking for a nice souvenir for your wife, girlfriend or mother, this would be the place to get it 😉 There is also a Free Walking Tour of the Main Town – but I found it less rewarding than comparable tours I took in other cities.

DO
Take the commuter train, known as the SKM, or a 20-minute taxi ride to Sopot. What once was a seaside resort in the style of Brighton in the good old times is now the place to go out and have fun in the Tri-City area (along with Gdańsk and the less-visited port of Gdynia). Walk Europe’s longest wooden pier, jutting 515m out into the Baltic Sea, before you join the fray on the main street, Ulica Bohaterów Monte Cassino, with its wide selection of eateries, bars and clubs. For classic clubbing, Sopot is definitely the hotspot of the region. For clubbing in Gdansk proper I recommend Klub Parlament.

My friends and I at the pier in Sopot
My friends Daniel, Raffael, Marco, Cyrill, Raphael and I (second from the right) at the pier in Sopot

EAT
We had our best dinner at Restaurant Goldwasser, idyllically located at the riverfront. They serve a mix of Polish and international cuisine and the service is excellent. I had pierogi, Polish dumplings, as a starter and a (slightly overcooked) Argentinian beef steak. Tawerna restaurant, recommended by Lonely Planet and travel bloggers, was fully booked every night of our visit. The other restaurants we ate at are Czarna Owca (on Piwna Street) and Browar Miejski Sopot (in Sopot). For a nightcap I recommend the atmospheric café/bar Józef K (on Piwna Street).

PLAY
Soak in some of the history-loaded atmosphere of Gdańsk, also known under its former German name Danzig – for example with an excursion by boat or bicycle to Westerplatte. This peninsula 7km north of the historical centre was the site where on 1 September 1939 World War II started with the shelling of a Polish fortress by the German ship Schleswig-Holstein. The site is now a memorial with ruins and a huge monument. History buffs should also visit the new Museum of the Second World War that opened in March 2017.

2017-05-27 13.11.08.jpg
Visit with my brother Daniel to Westerplatte, the location of the very first battle of World War II

STAY
We stayed at the Q Hotel Grand Cru Gdańsk, a modern, clean and quiet hotel situated in a red brick building typical for the city. It is ideally located on the edge of the historical city centre, a 10-minute walk along Motława river from the Green Gate. The only drawback: Wifi service was poor in my room (but not in my friends’ rooms).

Date of visit: 25 – 28 May 2017
Featured image on top of this blog post: string quartet on Ulica Mariacka (St Mary Street)
I compensated for the CO2 footprint of my flight via myclimate.

Read next: Welcoming Cologne

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SEE – DO – EAT – PLAY – STAY

As a travel blogger you often find yourself in a dilemma: On one hand, there are countless memorable experiences and useful tips that you want to write down and share. On the other hand, you know that your readers prefer blog posts that are short and focus on the essential. I liked the streamlined and elegant text structure of a recent National Geographic article: Various travel destinations where divided into these keywords: SEE (sights), DO (activities, events),  EAT (restaurants), PLAY (special experiences) and STAY (accommodation). It doesn’t really matter that the DO and PLAY sections were not always clearly distinguishable. I decided to try out the structure for my report on Gdańsk – and maybe more reports to come in the future.


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