Last month I enjoyed the delights of Poland, in particular Gdansk and Sopot on the Baltic coast. I had never been to Poland prior to this visit, and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, despite having many friends with Polish families. My brother has recently moved to this region of Poland, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see his new home and the new culture, and most importantly food, he is surrounded with in this European adventure.
The Old Town area of Gdansk is dotted with beautiful buildings, cobbled streets and incredible smelling street food. The buildings are much more colourful than I am used to in London and the ornate shapes of the eaves meant I was constantly looking up and admiring the architecture.
If you’re not staying in the old town you’ll want to hop on one of the many trains on offer and head for Gdańsk Główny railway station. The train fares are charged by the kilometre and are exceptionally cheap, especially when compared to London prices. Once at Gdańsk Główny, head toward the old town and if you get lost, don’t worry, this area is crawling with tourists and tour guides who will help you out happily. You can easily walk around the old town in a day and take in the sights, but if you don’t fancy trekking along the cobbled streets then there are golf buggies with drivers who will take you on a personal tour of this beautiful city.
The big sights we were looking out for were The Crane and the impressive St Mary’s Basilica (Kosciol Mariacki), which is the largest brick church in the world. There are also many smaller sights, and charming streets filled with shops selling Baltic amber and other authentic souvenirs. The river front in the old town is where a large part of the hustle and bustle takes place, with a pirate themed boat, pedalos and solar powered boats for hire and a large ferris wheel to take in the spectacle of the city. It was along the river that we tried a delicious snack – smoked cheese with cranberry sauce. The salt and sweet combination made it the perfect afternoon pick me up!
The Green Gate (a former royal residence) leads you to a busy central square, Dlugi Targ, and marketplace in Gdansk. Cafes, street performers (some more pirates), fortune tellers, artists and more wander amongst the tourists in this beautiful pedestrianised square. It’s a great place to grab a coffee and a slice of delicious apple cake, szarlotka, which is served in most cafes and bakeries.
The Old Town area of Gdansk is a very tourist friendly place, with very few cars and buses around so you can feel safe pausing to take photos of all the incredible buildings and sights. However, be warned, jaywalking is illegal in Poland! Grab yourself a map at the Tourist Information centre in Gdańsk Główny railway station and you will find yourself easily able to navigate based on where you are in relation to the river, and don’t be put off by the size of the town, it’s actually very easy to walk around with plenty of places to stop and relax in the sunshine (assuming you go in summer!).