Gdańsk is a true find on the Baltic Coast of Poland. You may associate Gdańsk with dreary images of striking dockworkers from the nightly news in the 1980s — but there’s so much more to this city than shipyards, Solidarity, and smog. It’s surprisingly easy to look past the urban sprawl to find one of northern Europe’s most historic and picturesque cities. The gem of a Main Town boasts block after block of red-brick churches and narrow, colorful, ornately decorated Hanseatic burghers’ mansions. The riverfront embankment, with its trademark medieval crane, oozes salty maritime charm. Its history is also fascinating — from its 17th-century Golden Age to the headlines of our own generation, big things happen here.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Royal Way/Ulica Długa Gdańsk’s colorful showpiece main drag, cutting a picturesque swath through the heart of the wealthy burghers’ neighborhood.
▲▲▲ Solidarity Sights and Gdańsk Shipyard Home to the beginning of the end of Eastern European communism, housing a towering monument and an excellent museum.
▲▲ Main Town Hall Ornately decorated meeting rooms, town artifacts, and climbable tower with sweeping views.
▲▲ Artus Court Grand meeting hall for guilds of Golden Age Gdańsk, boasting an over-the-top tiled stove.
▲▲ St. Mary’s Church Giant red-brick church crammed full of Gdańsk history.
▲ Amber Museum High-tech exhibit of valuable golden globs of petrified tree sap.
▲ Uphagen House Tourable 18th-century interior, typical of the pretty houses that line ulica Długa.
▲ National Maritime Museum Sprawling exhibit on all aspects of the nautical life, housed in several venues (including the landmark medieval Crane and a permanently moored steamship) connected by a ferry boat.
Historical Zone of the Free City of Gdańsk Tiny museum examining Gdańsk’s unique status as a “Free City” between the World Wars.
Archaeological Museum Decent collection of artifacts from this region’s past.
National Museum in Gdańsk Ho-hum art collection with a single blockbuster highlight: Hans Memling’s remarkable Last Judgment altarpiece.
“Blue Lion” Archaeological Education Center Kid-friendly exhibit about medieval Gdańsk.
Oliwa Cathedral Suburban church with long, skinny nave and playful organ.