You just arrived to Gdansk, Poland for the first time and only have 24 hours to explore, what do you do? Below is an itinerary that will take you through Gdansk with the best sights, activities, foods, tips and recommendations for your best possible visit.
6:00 AM – Sunrise on the Motława River
Why wake up so early you may ask? Not only is the sunrise a gorgeous moment of everyday, not many other people are awake. This allows you the opportunity to truly wander around and have everything to yourself. Above all else, you won’t have hoards of tourists in your photos and shouting in your ears. The best place to visit in Gdansk at sunrise is the Motława Riverfront. The water is still, the buildings are glowing, and the surrounding area is quiet. You can enjoy this area alone before it becomes louder as the day grows old.
7:30 AM – Długi Targ
The Długi Targ is probably the most popular destination of Gdansk which means it will be full of people through out the day. The morning is the one time you can have the opportunity to have this beautiful “Long Market” to yourself. This tight and enclosed pedestrian road way is full of some very colorful and unique buildings that will keep you looking up. Much better to walk it during the morning when you won’t be bumping into others. Długi Targ is known for its length and architecture, two stand out above the rest.
The Town Hall is the main centerpiece of Długi Targ and Gdansk. Every hour, some of the most beautiful bells ring across the town in song for all to listen to. The early morning is the best time to listen to them without the noise of chatter around you. This building was completed in the 1500’s and has some stunning architecture, especially towards the top.
At this time in the morning, the clock tower will be shining down on you as the King Zygmunt August statue on the top of the spiral will be glistening in the sun light. It truly is the “Golden Hour”.
Not easy to miss, the Neptune Statue has been the symbol of Gdansk since the mid 1500’s. The statue and its fountain was hidden during World War II, but erected again into its rightful place in 1954. The statue and fountain are gorgeous as they are surrounded by the towering Town Hall and the unique buildings of the Artus Court. Morning is the best time to get a good selfie as the rest of the day the symbol of Gdansk will be crowded.
9:00 AM – Breakfast
Gdansk is beginning to come to life, therefore the quietness will be coming to an end. This is a good time to head into a cafe. Gdansk and the rest of Europe for that matter are not very big on breakfast, so a coffee and pastry will most likely be your best bet. Długi Targ is surrounded with cafes, but you will have cheaper options on the other streets parallel to the long market.
10:00 AM – Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Churches in Europe are gorgeous, so there is no reason not to visit as many as possible. The Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or St. Mary’s Church, is one of the largest brick churches in the world. So big, it can hold up to 25,000 people. Not being opened until 1502, building began in the mid 1300’s and was finished off with 6 towering steeples and a massive astronomical clock tower. The clock shows the time and date, phases of the moon, position of the moon and sun in relation to the zodiac signs, and the calendar of saints. Sadly, I did not have the opportunity to see the clock as the building was under construction at the time. There are tours through out the day in this massive church if you’re into that sort of thing.
12:00 Noon – To the Top of Town Hall
If you aren’t afraid of heights, a trip up to the top of Town Hall is a good decision to make. The clock tower offers striking views of the surrounding area of Gdansk. Looking down, you can watch people as they navigate their way through Długi Targ as they try to find the best location for lunch. You really get a nice perspective of how large St. Mary’s is to one side, and can see the famous Gdansk ferry wheel out the other. If it’s a clear enough day, you may even get a good view of the close by Baltic Sea.
1:00 PM – A Seafood Lunch
The food in Poland is some of the best, so make sure you eat all of it. Gdansk is full of restaurants and on top of the traditional Polish cuisine, this town specializes in fresh seafood. This is a good time of the day to find a nice cafe on the water and grab some fresh fish. The entire Motława River front is stacked with seafood restaurants.
2:30 PM – Shopping and Exploring
This is a good time to explore the beautiful streets of Gdansk and buy a souvenir. Gdansk is best known for its amber as you will see vendors line the streets with the famous Baltic Gold. The beautiful and colorful streets are full of shops where everyone is looking for that perfect purchase.
Although Długi Targ is the hotspot of Gdansk, Mariacka Street is the most famous for shopping. Not only is this street known for its amber shopping, it is one of the most beautiful streets in Gdansk. It is very charming as it is full of appealing stairs leading up to the beautifully designed houses and apartments. Mariacka is also a great place to stop for a coffee or a cocktail as the small street is littered with cafes.
Mariacka is not the only beautiful street in Gdansk. Each and every street are unique to one another. They are constantly ever changing as you walk through out the town and no building seems to be the same.
Take some time to walk around the city and take in the unique and elegant architecture of the houses and buildings. Gdansk is a very small and walkable town so it is easy to walk around the entire town within about 3 hours.
After you have found your souvenir, another visit to the Long Market is in order. Długi Targ is at its climax this time of the day. Where in the morning it was silent, it is now packed with tourists, vendors and street performers.
The Neptune statue and fountain is engulfed with people taking selfies and hundreds of languages are filling your ears.
The atmosphere is fun, but it kind of takes a way from the old town feeling. It is not until the clock strikes the hour when people go silent again to listen to the beautiful bells of the Town Hall clock tower.
6:00 PM – A Polish Dinner
After all that walking, you are probably hungry. This is the best time of the day, a Polish feast. Gdansk is full of restaurants in the more popular and touristy areas, but the best and even cheaper spots are tucked away into the more quiet areas. For a delicious and traditional Polish dinner, head to Kresowa off of Orgarna Street. This little restaurant is hidden away from all of the tourists in town and has some of the best traditional European food. The menu opens up with a nice story and message from the owner explaining her mission with the restaurant. Throughout the menu, you can find many offerings from Poland as well as the nearby bordering countries. A lot of the items have an explanation of what makes them traditional and where they originated.
After reading through the menu forever, it is very hard not to go with the pierogis. A plate of 18 mushroom and cabbage pierogis for $6… This is not a joke. This restaurant is the perfect place to get away from the crowds and enjoy some traditional and homemade Polish foods.
7:30 PM – Sunset Over the Water
You spent the morning and sunrise at the waterfront of the Motława River, so why not go back to finish the day off strong? The walkway along the waterfront has quieted down for the most part at this time of the day as most people have made their way into a restaurant for dinner. This is the perfect spot to end the day in Gdansk. The light of the day starts to fade away into darkness as the small street lamps begin to shine light on the gothic buildings and reflect off of the Motława River below. It suddenly begins to feel like the past again as the town grows quieter and darker.
9:00 PM – Evening Stroll or Partying
By this time, the sun is down, and the night comes alive. You have two options at this point. You can take one last stroll through the town to see how beautifully lit up it is at night, or you can get lit up yourself. Gdansk has a very active nightlife. Go walking through the streets for five minutes once the sun is down and you will be berated with young Eastern Europeans asking you to go to a night club. I’m sorry, but I didn’t come to “Poland” to watch “pole” dancers. While the party scene goes until 6 am in Gdansk, an evening stroll just feels like a much better option here. This town is full of history, and in the dark you can feel it. The cobblestone streets through out the town are only lit with tiny street lamps and it feels as if you have gone back in time. One last walk through the dimly lit streets of town will have you intoxicated. Not from the alcohol that is trying to be sold to you, but from a perfect day in Gdansk.
If you are staying in Gdansk longer, the area has so much more to offer. A day trip out to the beach towns Gdynia and Sopot are high on most people’s list. One of the more unique experiences is visiting the Malbork Castle, otherwise known as the largest castle in Europe. However, you need to keep in mind that Malbork tours are only in English a few times a week, therefore you need to be prepared. Whatever you may do with the time you have in Gdansk it will be well spent!
If you agree or have something to change on my “24 Hours In” Gdansk Itinerary, please comment and reply below! And don’t forget to subscribe! If you have any other questions or want more recommendations, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram @travelingle and @egtrotters . Thank you! Enjoy your trip in Gdansk! =D