Hotels in Gdańsk, Poland
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Gdansk, a historic gem on Poland’s Baltic coast
Lose yourself in the rich history of Gdansk’s charming old town packed with grand and attractive buildings, or visit the shipyards where some of the 20th century’s most seismic events unfolded. Dabble in the amber trade at one of the many shops and stalls selling jewellery and decorative objects made from the fossilized tree resin, which gathers naturally on the southern shores of the nearby Baltic Sea. Alternatively, make the port city your launch pad for exploring Poland’s coast, including highlights like the neighbouring seaside resort of Sopot with its popular sandy beaches.
Lift the lid on Poland’s medieval and modern history
Many hotels in Gdansk put visitors right in the heart of downtown, a place brimming with a special atmosphere reflective of the city’s unique history. Here they can easily explore the historic Main Town characterized by narrow, cobbled streets lined with elegant townhouses built by the wealthy merchants who made their fortunes trading from the city in medieval times, when Hanseatic League membership ushered in an era of great prosperity. There are intriguing museums and vast churches, but the showpiece street is arguably Long Market, where many of the finest examples of the city’s architecture are found. These include the intricate Green Gate built by Flemish architects in the late 16th century. Along the riverfront is the Zuraw, a medieval tower crane and long-standing city symbol. Impressively, it once loaded ships with tons of cargo using manpower alone in the years before the Industrial Revolution.
The painstaking reconstruction of Main Town following the damage it suffered in World War II serves as a reminder of Gdansk and Poland’s more recent history, when the city was periodically known as Danzig. The Westerplatte peninsula in the northern outskirts has memorials marking the place where the first shots of the conflict were fired in 1939. Travellers can also head to the European Solidarity Centre beside the former Lenin Shipyard. It lifts the lid on the Solidarity trade union movement founded in the city in 1980 when workers scored the first victory in their peaceful and eventually successful campaign against communist rule.
Amber for sale
Gdansk is a global centre in the amber trade because the largest deposits of it in the world just happen to be found along the southern shores of the Baltic Sea. Lithuanian legend has it that the pieces of amber frequently found along the sea shore are in fact the remains of the queen of the sea’s amber palace destroyed in a fit of rage by her father when she fell in love with a humble fisherman. Shops and stalls trading in jewellery and decorative items made from the highly-prized fossilized tree resin are located throughout the historic city centre, where many of the most popular hotels are also located. In case you missed your chance to stock up on amber before leaving your hotel, it's also on sale at various boutiques in the airport.
Water, water everywhere
If you want to explore Poland’s most historic Baltic port city at a more leisurely pace you can book yourself on to a pleasure boat trip. There are several vessels that invite tourists to experience Gdansk from the serene waters of the Motlawa River, which passes through the unspoilt old town where many of the leading hotels are situated. Summertime visitors will be sure to want to head a few miles northwest to the neighbouring seaside resort of Sopot, which can be easily reached on the train. This attractive town, where traditional trolleybuses still run up and down the central streets, is Poland’s summer party capital. Visitors come from far and wide to sample its vibrant nightlife and relax on its long sandy beaches. It also has swish seafront hotels and the longest wooden pier in Europe, extending more than half-a-kilometre into the Bay of Gdansk.
Food, glorious food
Foodies will be in their element in downtown Gdansk. Not only can you find many characterful cafes, bars and restaurants offering European and international cuisine, but also there are eateries specializing in Polish food. From kielbasa sausages and pierogi dumplings to zurek soup and sauerkraut, city centre dining options offer visitors the chance to sample many of the dishes locals love the most. Those who fancy something a bit fishy can try the catch of the day at the Tawerna restaurant in the old town. It specializes in locally-caught seafood and also serves a wide range of regional beers.