With its fascinating past, bustling waterfront and treasured amber produce, the port city of Gdańsk is a must-visit for lovers of history, politics and culture. The city boasts a contribution to science too, home of the city’s famous son, Daniel Fahrenheit, the physicist and inventor who gave the world the first mercury thermometer. From the rule of Teutonic Knights to the Kingdom of Prussia, and the first shots of World War II to the Soviet downfall, discover tales of this captivating Polish city on this insightful tour.
For many years, Gdańsk went back and forth between German and Polish rule, and was once named Danzig during Germany’s reign. Throughout World War II it was occupied by the Nazis, yet just 6 years later, a post-war Gdańsk was under Soviet control. This lasted until the Solidarity movement in 1989, led by the trade unions of the Gdańsk Shipyards. As a result, much of the original German architecture damaged during the war was not rebuilt in the 1950s and is seemingly erased from the landscape, along with many changes to building and street names.
Wander along the Royal Way and bustling Długi Targ towards the old town, where each colourful building is as different and as striking as the next. Follow the path to the impressive Neptune’s Fountain, the focal point of the Long Market which was converted in 1633 and even dismantled and hidden during World War II. You can’t miss the St Mary’s Basilica either, which dominates the Gdańsk skyline as one of the largest brick churches in the world.
The city is located at the mouth of the Motława river, where The Crane, one of the most iconic symbols of Gdańsk dating back to 1367, can easily be recognised on the waterfront. Granary Island is on the opposite side, which, after years of decay following World War II, is now being restored to its pre-war glory, with new hotels, apartments and restaurants.
Embrace the chance to try authentic Polish cuisine in one of the many traditional restaurants, serving up inviting meat platters, popular potato pancakes known as placki ziemniaczane, and rustic stuffed cabbage rolls called golabki. Perhaps view the city on a cruise, by way of the historical Westerplatte peninsula. Or why not hop on a train to the sandy resort of Sopot? Situated around 20 minutes from the main Gdańsk station, Sopot has one of the largest wooden piers in Europe and prospered during the interwar period. Today, you can enjoy the coastal atmosphere with a stroll on the pier and ice-cream waffle in hand.
Now part of the Tricity of Poland, Gdańsk is an ever prospering, welcoming city with plentiful history and picturesque sights.
Arrive at the airport for your flight to Gdańsk. Upon arrival, we transfer by coach to our hotel for three nights, the four-star Mercure Gdańsk Stare Miasto, where your stay includes breakfast.
The rest of the day is yours to enjoy as you please. Unwind in your hotel or take a 20-minute walk over Kanal Raduni to discover the old town.
After a delicious breakfast, our local expert joins us for a walking tour of Gdańsk. Following in the footsteps of Polish Royalty, we first pass through the Golden Gate, known as the Złota Brama. Built in 1612, the striking archway at the top of the Royal Way is decorated with allegorical statues: Peace, Liberty, Wealth, Fame, Piety, Justice and Concord. Look out for the gold-lettered inscription on the gate, which translates to ‘Small states grow by concord, great ones fall by disagreement’.
The tour continues along the colourful buildings of Długi Targ, or Long Market, where we pause to take in the famous Neptune's Fountain standing proudly in front of Gdańsk Town Hall. Our next stop is just a few steps away at the Green Gate, known locally as the Zielona Brama, where we see Daniel Fahrenheit’s thermometer and views along the Zielony bridge. It is hard to overlook just how much attention to detail has gone into rebuilding the old town, reinstating its former glory after almost total ruin in World War II.
Within the old town we also visit St Mary’s Basilica, one of the largest brick churches in the world. The striking design is said to hold up to 25,000 people, with an enormous astronomical clock dating from 1464 and a 256-foot-tall tower with an impressive viewing platform. We also discover the Gdańsk waterfront, with the old town gates running along the western shore of Nowa Motława. Cast your eye over the variety of contrasting buildings and The Crane, a defining landmark that represents the city’s great trading age.
The afternoon is yours to explore. Perhaps dive into Gdańsk’s historical past by visiting the Museum of World War II, or head north to the Gdańsk Shipyard and see the historic Gate Number Two, where Lech Wałęsa announced to crowds that a deal had been struck with the Communist Government in 1980. Walk through the gate to visit the European Solidarity Centre. For the best views over Gdańsk, venture to the top of the tower of the Town Hall, where on a clear day you can see all the way to the Baltic Sea.
Why not round off your evening with a meal in a traditional Polish restaurant? Sample the likes of pierogi (filled dumplings), polędwica wieprzowa (pork tenderloin) and solony śledź (salted herring), with an inviting apple cake (szarlotka) for dessert.
Today we head to one of the largest castles in the world, the impressive Malbork Castle, where our local guide brings its rich history to life. Dating back to the 14th century, it once served as the capital for the Teutonic Knights under the 150-year rule of the so-called Grand Master of Teutonic Order. When the power of the Teutonic Knights started to wither, the castle became property of the Polish Crown and for the next few hundred years, it served as a royal residence and a stopover point for monarchs.
In the 18th century, under Prussian control, the castle was turned into military barracks. For the next three decades, Malbork Castle wasn’t looked after particularly well, and so the windows were bricked up, gateways widened, and outhouses dismantled. However, by the early 19th century, the castle returned to its original look and was a popular place for high-ranking Nazi officials during World War II. By the end of the war, the castle was almost destroyed, and it wasn’t until the start of 1961 that it was painstakingly restored to what you see today.
Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, the majestic structure comprises of the High Castle, Middle Castle and Outer Bailey, surrounded by a vast dry moat. Witness the Grand Masters’ Palace and the remarkable ceiling of the Great Refectory with original palm vaulting. We also discover the Amber Museum, which was an important revenue for the knights, as well as St Anne’s Chapel and the impressive centre courtyard in the Middle Castle. Be sure not to miss the striking interior of St Mary’s Church through the Gothic-styled doorway known as the Golden Gate.
We arrive back at the hotel in the late afternoon, with plenty of free time. Perhaps return to the centre of the old town to revisit its memorable landmarks and explore its countless restaurants.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a room. Single rooms are subject to availability, at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Traditional food tour - from £45 per person
This food tour will take us on a leisurely walk around Gdańsk, including the bustling Old Square in the historic district. After meeting the guide, we head out on a flavourful and fun adventure, covering around 1.5 miles. We visit three venues to sample the fresh flavours of polish traditional cuisine, while also learning about Gdansk's history, unique culture and tradition.
Please contact us to pre-book this experience.
UK Citizens do not require a visa to enter Poland however must have a valid passport. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Airport||Hotel location||Transfer time|
|Gdańsk Lech Walesa Airport||Gdańsk||30 mins|
John and Terrie-Ann McCann
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My wife and I have recently returned from the Bruges tour, our third tour with Riviera and definitely not our last. As always, well organised and efficient, from booking and issue of travel documents through to the management of ...