What to do in Gdansk Old Town, Poland


Old Town Gdansk, Poland was full of unexpected charms, beautiful buildings and interesting, historical references, making it the ideal city for a great mini break. Not to mention, Poland is super budget-friendly and there are even beautiful beaches in Gdansk – what more could you need?

There are so many things to do in Gdansk. We stuck mainly to Gdansk Old Town, with a few exceptions and also spent a day on the beach in Sopot, just 20-mins from the city by train. I visited with my three-year-old and it was so easy to explore with kids, too. Two nights and three days in Gdansk was plenty to get a real feel for the city, which is only a 25-minute cab ride from the main airport, Lech Walesa. We stayed in Old Town Gdansk and everywhere we visited was walking distance from the main square, making it a relaxed and easy weekend away.

Cover image: Steve Knight. This post contains affiliate links.

Where to stay in Gdansk Old Town

old town gdansk with kids
Gdansk is so pretty (image: Helen Wright)

After seeing this lovely Airbnb on twinperspectives.co.uk, I could tell it was the perfect find for a trip with my three-year-old, Isobel. I wanted something walking distance from everywhere and with a balcony or place to relax after she went to bed. This cute apartment overlooks Długi Targ, the main square, and has a lovely window where you can sit and people-watch as they go about their evening in Old Town Gdansk.

If you are looking for a hotel, rather than an apartment in Gdansk Old Town, try the stylish Puro Hotel, which has spacious rooms overlooking the river from £70 a night, which is fantastic.

How long do you need in Gdansk Old Town?

We stayed for two nights and three days, which was the perfect amount of time to spend in Gdansk. Our flight from London arrived at 11am and we were in Gdansk Old Town by midday. A taxi from the airport took 20 minutes and cost £16. There is a huge WWII museum in Gdansk and if you wanted to spend a large part of the day there, you could easily add on an extra day so you don’t have to rush.

For general touristing, stopping for cake and a drink in the local cafes and plenty of time to enjoy Gdansk’s main sights and areas, two nights is plenty. The city is small and easy to navigate on foot, so you can fit a lot in.

Follow us on Instagam, Facebook or TikTok for more travel tips and inspo!

What to do in Old Town Gdansk – the 13 must see attractions and areas

Gdansk Main Square (Długi Targ)

old town gdansk long market DŁUGI TARG
Dlugi Targ. Gdansk Old Town (Image: Lydia Sanders)

The main square in Gdansk Old Town is called Dlugu Targ, which translates to Long Market. It’s a great place to start, as many of Gdansk’s most instagrammable sights are within walking distance from here, including the square itself.

This pedestrianised street is known as The Royal Way, which is where visiting Royals and the Polish Royalty would parade when visiting the city. Of course, only a regal view would be fitting for the King and Queen and so this is where you’ll find many of Gdansk’s most beautiful buildings.

DŁUGI TARG pretty street gdansk old town
Ornate buildings in Gdansk (Image: Helen Wright)

Surprised by the colourful architecture and curiously-shaped buildings, I discovered that 90% of Gdansk was destroyed during World War II. After the war, the people wanted to remove all trace of German influence, so the city was rebuilt with Scandinavian and Flemish design.

Gdansk Neptune Fountain

neptune fountain gdansk
Neptune and his gift of gold (Image: passportstamps.uk)

At the centre point of the square is Neptune’s Fountain, a 17th century statue of Neptune, designed by Flemish artist Peter Husen. Legend has it that as a gift to the people of Gdansk, Neptune changed to water to Goldwasser (the now popular vodka shot with gold leaf in). You can get the sparkly shots at every bar in the city, if you want to indulge. I’m a fan. Historically, the statue is Poland’s oldest secular monument, first erected in 1759.

The fountain is one of the best Instagram spots in Gdansk Old Town, but if you want to get a photo with no people in, you’ll have to get there early! It’s a popular meeting point for groups, walking tours like this one with a local guide and individuals, so by late morning is always surrounded by a crowd.

Behind the fountain, you will see the beautiful Artus Court, which was built in 1350 and is now a museum. Along from here, you will also find the Golden House. Recognise it by the elaborately carved scenes on the exterior.

The Town Hall in Gdansk Old Town

old town gdansk with kids
Ready to climb the tower (Image: Helen Wright)

Another top tourist spot in Gdansk Old Town is also yards from the Neptune fountain along Dlugi Targ and The Royal way. The Town Hall is actually the History Museum of the City of Gdańsk (a not particularly interesting attraction) but the reason to visit is the tower above. Climb 200 steps and be greeted with spectacular views over the city. The secret is, this view is actually better than the more ‘famous’ view from St Mary’s Church, which is partially obscured by buildings – and bonus – you can enjoy it with half the steps to climb.

view of Gdansk old town hall
Up on the roof (Image: Naval S/Flickr)

TOP TIP: Make sure you buy your tickets BEFORE you start to climb. We got half way up before being told we needed to buy tickets at the museum below – they made us go back down to get them!

The view from St Mary’s Church, Gdansk

The temple at St. Mary’s Church is the is the biggest Gothic brick building in the world. Built in the 1500s, the construction took 159 years! You can see the dominating church from all over the city, but if you climb the 400 steps to the top, you can see the whole city from the church.

DON’T MISS: The interior. The church is stunning inside.

Find the prettiest streets in Gdansk Old Town

Mariacka Street

old town gdansk green gate
A view through the arches (Image: passportstampsuk)

Gdansk Old Town is very walkable and wandering around the quaint and quirky streets and along the waterfront was my favourite thing to do. The prettiest street in Gdansk is called Mariacka Street. The cobbled lane runs parallel to Długi Targ and has so much going on. Ornate tenement houses line the road, which all have decorative steps leading up to them. There are little cafes, shops, galleries and bars hidden in there too.

There is a lot to see on this street, but look for the ornate gargoyles that poke out from the walls. These are actually rain gutters, known locally as Rzygacze (spewers) and when the water runs through the drain, it spurts out through the mouths of the gargoyles, which is very funny.

old town gdansk Mariacka Street
Mariacka Street (image: passportstampsuk)

This road was almost completely demolished during the war, yet one tenement house was left standing. You can see the original tenement house at 1 Mariacka Street. The towering gothic house is considered to be the oldest residential building in Gdańsk, dating back to 1451 and is now home to the Gotyk House Hotel.

amber streey gdansk pretty
Beautiful jewelley made from amber (Image: passportstampsuk)

Mariacka Street is often called Amber Street due to the delicate amber and jewellery stalls and shops that line the road. Gdansk is known as the ‘city of Amber’ due to pieces of amber (from the fossilized resin of coniferous trees growing 40 million years ago) that end up on the shore when the tide comes in. The remnants are made into jewellery and keepsakes, but the most exquisite pieces can be found on Mariacka Street.

More pretty streets in Gdansk Old Town

I have to say, alongside Mariacka Street, I think Długi Targ is one of gdansk’s prettiest streets, but since we have covered that instagrammable spot already, head parallel to Długi Targ and find more top photo spots.

Ulica Piwna (Beer Street)

Pink building Gdansk pretty street
The Old Armoury (image: Lydia Sanders)

Ulica Piwna is another street with quaint, interesting terraces and tenement houses, along with bars, cafes and little curiosity shops – and yes, you can also get a beer. The most striking building is ‘the pink building’ at the end of the street, which is the former Gdansk Great Armoury. A quite fantastic Renaissance-era building with pink and green turrets and elaborate stone carvings. Now, home to the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts you may be forgiven for thinking the pink building is a classy affair, but look closely – you will see one of very few stone sculptures in the world of a lion with is penis on display! Be warned, you can’t unsee it… When we went, there was a hen do posing outside. Now I know why!

The Love bridge and Millers’ Guild House

gdansk old town love bridge padlocks
old town gdansk love bridge padlocks
Forever love? (Image: Helen Wright)

Wander toward the more contemporary part of the city and pass The Millers’ Guild House, a beautiful little storybook cottage, perched over a canal at the edge of Old Town Gdansk. Just in front is Gdansk’s answer to ‘The Love Bridge’. Local folklore says this cute spot is ‘the view that never changes’ so couples fix a padlock onto the bridge to mark their forever after.

Green Gate in Gdansk Old Town

green gate by night gdansk
Pretty by night (Image: Helen Wright)

Walking through from Gdansk Old Town from Długi Targ, you will pass under Green Gate, an impressive gatehouse that stands between Old Town Gdansk and the Motława River. The leader of the Solidarity movement, which is a significant part of Gdansk’s history, Lech Wałęsa, had an office here at one point. The beautiful arches open onto the long market and the route of kings, so it’s not a bad view!

Explore the Gdansk Waterfront (Gdansk sign)

gdansk waterfront river view
Wine, dine and people watch (Image: passportstamps)

The waterfront in Gdansk is possibly it’s most important area. During the industrial era, the river was a crucial trade point and the Gdansk Shipyard was one of the biggest in Europe. Nowadays, the waterfront is a recreational spot packed with restaurants and cool hotels.

gdansk with kids
A great photo spot in Gdansk (image: Helen Wright)

You can walk along the river to Dlugie Pobrzeze where the large Gdansk sign is and the Gdansk Ferris Wheel dominates the skyline. The sign makes for a great photo spot and in the summer, you can see festivals and special events on the green. There is also a mechanical drawbridge here, so Isobel we grabbed a (delicious) gelato from the Filharmonia restaurant and watched the bridge lift up and the boats pass by for a while too.

gdansk with kids waterfront river view
gdansk with kids waterfront river view
Easy to entertain kids in Gdansk (Image: passportstamps)

Another way to see Gdansk from the water is from a boat tour. There is a cheap ferry that you can get but there are no instructions in English and we struggled to understand the timetable and stops. Instead, pre-book a city cruise on a historical Polish boat with a full tour, to see the river in all its glory. You will pass the famous Gdansk Crane, Gdansk Old Town, the German submarine site and a look at the more modern areas of Ołowianka and the Granary Island.

Old Town Gdansk Medieval Crane

old crane gdansk old town
The oldest medieval crane in Europe (Image: Steve Knight)

It made me giggle that a crane would be a major tourist attraction but cranes in Gdansk have a lot of significance. A graphic featuring cranes is even used in the city’s official logo. The ‘Gdansk crane’ is in fact the largest medieval crane in Europe (built in the 15th century and restored after WWII) and the city’s most famous buildings.

It’s no surprise that the crane is no longer in operation, but you can walk through the building and celebrate its history. It’s currently closed for refurbishment, but when it reopens, the attraction is operated by the Polish Maritime Museum.

Take a tour of Gdansk Old Town at sunset

gdansk evening cruise
Gdansk waterfront by night (Image: passportstamps)

The waterfront becomes even more beautiful at night, so book a restaurant with a view such as xxx or take a relaxed sunset tour to enjoy it.

If you’re looking for an easy city break that’s breezy on the budget but not short of fascinating places to see and things to do, a weekend in Gdansk Old Town ticks all the boxes. We travelled from London Stansted on RyanAir for £28 return and spent less than £300 all weekend. Bargain!

More from passportstamps.uk

The European city that’s worth the hype

This babymoon location was perfect

Visiting Marrakech with kids – our trip to Morocco

The best towns in Lake Garda

A road trip around Italy

How much does Disney World Florida really cost?

The ultimate Florida road trip

An RV Road Trip around Oregon

Share this post

Related Posts