Like a mini-state all to itself, Gdańsk has a unique feel that sets it apart from the other cities in Poland. Centuries of maritime ebb and flow as a port city; streets of distinctively un-Polish architecture influenced by a united nations of wealthy merchants who shaped the city’s past; the to-ing and fro-ing of Danzig/Gdańsk between Teutonic Prussia and Slavic Poland; and the destruction of WWII have all bequeathed this grand old dame a special atmosphere that millions of tourists now come to enjoy.
And those visitors are coming in ever greater numbers to wander the narrow, cobbled streets of the Main Town, to gaze in wonder at monster red-brick churches, to scatter along its historical thoroughfares lined with grand, elegantly slender buildings and to wander in and out of characterful cafes, amber shops and intriguing museums. Tourism hasn’t turned its back on the water, with pleasure-boat cruises upriver and a wealth of maritime history to view in between brews at dockside beer gardens.
Though an old city with a tumultuous past, and the historic scars to prove it, 21st-century Gdańsk is an energetic place and one that’s investing in its tourism future. With the best transport links in the north, it’s also an ideal launch pad for much of the Polish Baltic coast and many other inland attractions.