First 24 hours: Gdańsk, Poland

This Pol­ish port city has had its fair share of tu­mult, but now Gdańsk is out the other side, its Gothic grandeur de­serves at­ten­tion, ar­gues Rho­dri An­drews

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents - Be­fore you ar­rive Get­ting into town

Gdańsk might be a city scarred by its past, but its fu­ture looks bright in­deed. Dis­cover gothic glo­ries and im­pres­sive sights in Poland’s ris­ing star

To say Gdańsk’s past was event­ful would be un­der­stat­ing it; even by Pol­ish stan­dards. If its lo­cals were sports­peo­ple, they’d be tug of war cham­pi­ons. For the 20th cen­tury in this port city was very much that. It was an­nexed as Danzig by the Al­lies in 1920 fol­low­ing the First World War. It was then the first place the Nazis at­tacked in 1939. While the city’s his­toric Main Town was flat­tened dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and Com­mu­nist rule took hold, the lo­cals didn’t take it ly­ing down – the Sol­i­dar­ity move­ment up­ris­ing founded among its ship­yards dur­ing the 1980s meant that by the turn of the next decade Poland was a democ­racy.

To­day, Gdańsk thrives with­out the drama. Its com­pact Gothic Main Town has been metic­u­lously re­built to its me­dieval glory and de­servedly claims to be one of Poland’s pret­ti­est old cities. Re­cent ad­di­tions of qual­ity ho­tels and eater­ies have seen vis­i­tor num­bers grow.

Part of the city’s at­trac­tion is that for trav­ellers, Gdańsk is ac­tu­ally only one-third of the story – it forms the Tri-city along with the sum­mer haunt of Sopot and modern Gdy­nia, both of which add ex­tra di­men­sions to Gdańsk’s his­tory.

One of the city’s icons, the 17th-cen­tury Nep­tune’s Foun­tain, mirac­u­lously sur­vived the post-war de­struc­tion, proudly stand­ing in Dlugi Targ (Long Mar­ket). It’s said that it once flowed with Gdańsk’s famed liqueur, gold­wasser. You can sip it in its many restau­rants to­day, the ideal toast to Gdańsk’s gritty past and charm­ing present.

At the air­port

Reg­u­lar flights go from the UK to Gdańsk, tak­ing from around two hours and cost­ing from £19 re­turn. Gdańsk Lech Walesa is the de­fault air­port, 12km from Main Town, with a modern pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nal. It’s equipped with tourist in­for­ma­tion, ATMS and bu­reau de changes.

The air­port is ser­viced by its own train sta­tion, di­rectly con­nect­ing Gdańsk Glówny, the city’s main rail­way, once an hour (13zl/£2.78 re­turn; 30 mins). The sta­tion is a 10 min walk from Main Town. The ZTM pub­lic bus (no. 210) also con­nects the two for an even cheaper al­ter­na­tive (6zl/£1.28 re­turn; 35 mins). A taxi to Main Town will set you back around 70zl (£15).

Other ways to ar­rive

Low-cost air­lines like Ryanair and Wizz Air have greatly in­creased their do­mes­tic con­nec­tions in re­cent years, mak­ing a Pol­ish twin-cen­tre break a more fea­si­ble op­tion. The cap­i­tal War­saw, charm­ing Kraków and cul­tured Wro­claw are all within a sin­gle hop of Gdańsk, with reg­u­lar and af­ford­able flights mean­ing its never been eas­ier – and cheaper – to take the time to ex­plore Poland’s charm­ing cities.

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