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Overview

The biggest city in Northern Poland’s Pomerania region, Gdańsk is truly like no other. Flattened by the Red Army in WWII, the city center was rebuilt in the second half of the 20th century and now lures millions of tourists to its striking medieval thoroughfares and red-brick churches. Famous for its Lenin shipyard, where in the 1980s an electrician called Lech Wałęsa (Poland’s first post-communist president) punched the first holes in the Eastern Bloc’s seemingly impenetrable defenses, Gdańsk has enjoyed maritime glory since it was founded and was once a great Hanseatic trading city. Wealthy merchants spent their gold pieces on slender, ...

The biggest city in Northern Poland’s Pomerania region, Gdańsk is truly like no other. Flattened by the Red Army in WWII, the city center was rebuilt in the second half of the 20th century and now lures millions of tourists to its striking medieval thoroughfares and red-brick churches. Famous for its Lenin shipyard, where in the 1980s an electrician called Lech Wałęsa (Poland’s first post-communist president) punched the first holes in the Eastern Bloc’s seemingly impenetrable defenses, Gdańsk has enjoyed maritime glory since it was founded and was once a great Hanseatic trading city. Wealthy merchants spent their gold pieces on slender, multi-story townhouses and filled museums with treasure, art and exotic curios. Home grown "gold" comes in the form of amber gathered after storms along the Baltic coast, then cut and buffed into pieces of exquisite jewelry – the most popular Gdańsk souvenir. When you tire of history and splendor, Gdańsk is just a short tram or train ride from the white-sand beaches of the Baltic where Slavic seaside fun comes in bucket-and-spade-loads during an all-too-short summer season.

Marc Di Duca
About the Expert

Marc Di Duca has written and updated more than 40 guides, mainly for Lonely Planet but also for AA, Thomas Cook, Berlitz and Bradt. Having spent the last 20 years exploring the former communist world, his main field of expertise is Eastern Europe and Siberia.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late spring to early autumn. The Dominican Fair takes place in late July and August.