First Solo Trip? Medieval Gdansk, Poland is Ideal

Gdansk was my 2. visit to Poland, the first one being Warsaw. Since then, I’ve also been to Krakow. The central European country (not  eastern European) is right in the middle between Germany and Ukraine.  I find it easy to travel in Poland and that’s probably why I choose this country for my first real solo trip.
Taken with my selfie stick
I’ve been travelling alone before – either going somewhere to meet someone, being alone all day while my friend was at a seminar or staying an extra night after a work trip. But this time I planned, book and travelled all on my own. What makes this solo trip even more memorable is that I travelled in early March 2020! My entire home country shut down for COVID 4 days after I returned and I didn’t go anywhere for a long time. So how is Gdansk for  first time solo traveller? It might not be the adventure of a lifetime, but for someone who prefers to travel with others and only went solo since nobody wanted to join me, it was a small adventure – but a big step for me.

A solo & cultural weekend
in Gdansk

Gdansk is the former capital of Poland. Until Warsaw pushed it off it’s throne. And tourists seem to follow that pattern. It goes Krakow, Warsaw and then maybe Gdansk. Compared to its big brothers, Gdansk is a tiny, cosy city and perfect for an easy, walkable weekend trip. Gdansk is  – like other Hanseatic cities such as Lubeck and Riga – rich in medieval history with small streets and old trade houses and canals. In fact, it’s one of the oldest cities in Poland. And you know I love old stuff! On top of that: It’s cheap, there’s great food and fantastic museums. Perfect for a rainy weekend. For 1.


The airport in Gdansk is named after Lech Walesa. We will come back to him later.

Getting from the airport

Arrive in the evening or save money and arrive Saturday morning. To get from the airport, the bus is cheapest option, but I don’t like buses and it was dark. Normally, I would take the train when possible.

But being on my first real solo trip. Arriving by night in an unknown city, I booked a hotel transfer. The advantage is that the price is already agreed on, so he will not drive in circles. The nice older gentlemen driver who came to get me didn’t speak a word of English, so another advantage of the transfer is no misunderstandings about the destination. His meter was running and I checked: my transfer fare was actually cheaper than a taxi.

Hotel in Gdansk

This was one of the most pleasant hotels, I’ve stayed at in a long time, so I will definitely recommend it here: Puro Hotel. I chose a more upscale hotel, since I wanted to be close to the sights and making sure staff was available 24/7. But I guess you can also find a hostel with other travellers – if you’re more outgoing than me.

An ipad regulated the room: light, temperature, don’t disturb, calls to reception and tv. I’m always too hot in hotel rooms, so of course this just added the final star in my book. Oh… not to mention you can watch the tv from the shower. What more do you want: a waterfall shower and Spiderman at the same time.

Because I booked a least minute deal, I got 40% off the room. 67 euro pr night for a double room. A great bargain – if you are 2 people sharing the cost. No single rooms available at the time. Problem of solo travelling.


I always start by visiting what I like most to see. In tGdansk, it was the most important landmark: the medieval crane. If you are staying at Puro hotel, it’s just around the corner.

the old crane in gdansk

The old crane

So what’s so interesting about a crane you might ask? It was the biggest port crane in medieval Europe. The first mention of a crane is from 1363. At this time Poland was a large empire and the city was part of the wealthy and influential Hanseatic trade route like Lübeck and Visby. The old wooden crane unfortunately burned and  was replaced in 1444 by a new crane in brick and that’s the one you see todau.
During WWII, the city was heavily bombed, but the crane has been rebuilt. You can enter through the Maritime Museum, but I didn’t. The crane is part of the European Route of Brick Gothic (yes, I’m a nerd).
On the way to the next sights, I checked every restaurant and café I passed so to have a place for lunch after my next stop. Eating alone is what I was most anxious about. Going to museums or wandering the streets by myself is just a pleasure.

Museum of WWII

Continue along the canal for the Museum of World War 2. Everywhere I’ve been in Poland, WWII takes up a lot of historical presence. For obvious reasons. Just outside Gdansk is Westerplatte: the place where the Nazis began the invasion of Europe on September 1 1939.
One of the objects I remember most clearly was a map dividing Poland. The map is signed. By Stalin in blue. And Ribbentrop in red.

"Poland is to be treated like a colony. The Poles will become the Great German Reich's slaves."

150.000 Polish people died during the war. I almost felt sick. There’s a room for Hitler and Germany, one for Stalin and Russia and one for  Mussolini and Italy. It’s like the worlds worst travel brochure. The story behind WWII is long and horrible and in the museum it begins with WWI and ends with the bomb on Hiroshima. It’s too much terror. To help visitors like me out, the museum is actually designed so the large high corridor is a space for contemplation – and a break from the horrors.

The museum is relatively new and a good museum (like most of the museums, I’ve seen in Poland). But it should also almost come with a warning. It’s definitely one of the toughest to go through.

Poland is without a doubt the hero of the story. A curator at another museum told me the Polish government has a problematic history of influencing museum exhibitions to fit political aims.

The price is 5 euro for the main entrance. When I arrived, there was no queue, but when I left it at 11.30, it was packed. Especially with large groups of men. Being interested in military history (also), I often find myself sticking out way more than in art museums…

By now, you probably need some air. I know I did. Going back into the old town heading for a lunch place I had seen. The weather was too grey for great pictures, so will postpone climbing the viewing point until tomorrow.


Before I travel anywhere, I always check the restaurants and add them to offline map (really happy with Maps.Me). But when I passed this place on the way to the museum, I knew it was good. I timed it as to gate crash just when they opened for lunch on my way. Prologue is right on the canal near the crane – which is usually a warning sign for a tourist trap. But I noticed they have cook books from the Danish Michelin restaurant NOMA, so…
Eating lunch alone turned out not to be so daunting after all… I had my writing pad for notes for you guys and also you guys on Instagram – and great food. What is also always very helpful in order to feel less self-conscious is a table by the window or by the bar. It just makes it easier looking at others. The staff was really nice and I asked if I could come back in the evening. Unfortunately, everything was sold out, but they arranged to squeeze me in Sunday evening for one in the early evening promising to be a fast eater. Maybe they felt a little sorry for me having asked several times if I was alone and chatting me up, but I got what I wanted. Now time for another museum!

Museum of Solidarity

The solidarity Centre is not really a museum, but  an education or learning centre, a library and more. You enter into a lush green room. Especially, when it was raining cats and dogs outside, this was heaven.

The absolute main character is the figure Lech Walesa. The guy whom the airport is named after. Again, you get a free audio-guide. I recommend using it unless you already know a lot about Polish politics in the 1980’s. 

Because the place is so huge and staged lake a movie almost, that you are overwhelmed. In this way the guide help you focus, but you can also skip chapters, when you ears start bleeding.

I won’t try to recap the whole story, but in very short terms: In the 50-60s – due to massive Soviet influence and rising prices – the workers in the ship yard protest. This made an impact since the shipyard was the 5th largest in the world. It evolves into a major crisis, but Poland ends up being the first country to leave the Soviet Union and changing working conditions all over Europe. Lech Walesa – the head of the uprising – became prime minister. And won the Nobel Peace Prize!

One of the most important objects (and not a copy) is the 21 demands publizised on gate #2 (like Luther?) Because of all the above historical weight of the demands, this wooden manifest is one of the most important documents of the 20th century and a UNESCO memory of the world. My Polish is bad, but apparently one of the demands is “We have the right to strike!”

I really liked this museum. You can sit a crane and watch film, there are both the actual demands of the workers and a room decorated as the palace in Warsaw during negotiations. But pretty disappoint, the pope-mobile at the exhibition is just a copy. Seriously! The entrance is 5,5 Euro. If it’s too much culture for you, just enjoy the green room, a drink in the cafe, head for the observation deck or stay outside at the harbour – place for such an important fight.


Go back into old town for dinner. For dinner, I opted to just buy a lot of delicious Polish food and eat in my room. I was tired and it was just easier and it was pouring down. And the room was so nice.
Gdanks on a rainy evening


If you are not a hard core cultural traveller like me, you can spread out the two museum in two days. But I wanted to see as much as possible, so I got up early Sunday morning for a small trip outside of the city.

I got a taxi to Malbork Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 1 hour outside the city.

Malbork Castle will need an entire post to go through. In short: it was built 800 years ago by the Teutonic Order (founded in crusader times in Acre (where I have just been – read here)), one of the largest castles in the world and one of Hitler’s favourite castles. It’s an easy and cheap train ride back to Gdansk.


Walk back into old town from the station for some lunch. I just bought a light snack at a market and enjoyed it on the square by the church. Then nobody asks you about seating for 1. After lunch try café Matko i Corko/Mother & Daughter for a great cheesecake. Sitting alone just drinking tea and eating cake is surprisingly satisfying. While you lick the plate: here are some fun facts:


Gdansk is named Danzig in German.

The city has a population of around 500.000

Gdansk is Poland’s main seaport

Poland was the 1. country to be invaded in WWII due to the Versailles-treaty and because it was a free city.

Old town

Just like Warsaw has its mermaid, Gdansk has its Neptune. Neptune’s Fountain challenges the crane as the symbol of the city. Built in the 1700s as a Rococo artwork on top of an old well, you can’t miss it.

Neptune's Fountain in Gdansk
Located on Długi Targ, it’s surrounded by the beautiful houses you see in all the old Hanseatic cities such as Riga. The old town has most of the sights, so make sure to wander the streets.

Panorama view of Gdansk

Luckily, the weather was great and it was time for a panoramic view of the city. Climb and get a great view of the city from the top of St. Mary’s church 82 meters and 409 steps above.

Climbing the tower is not for people scared of heights. It’s not in mint condition. The Cathedral is often referred to as the largest brick church in the world. Working in the largest one in Denmark myself, this is a fun fact. Another one is that the recently deceased Polish president is buried here.


I was really happy that I already had a reservation for Sunday evening, so as not to wander and check everywhere. I knew the place, they knew me and it made me feel more relaxed. The restaurant was full of people and many looked surprised when the waiter greeted me familiarly.
You must try the white wine from Primorska in Slovenia (another fantastic country). Indulge in local deer tartar, deconstructed salmon and herring. I live in Denmark where herring is like national dish, but I never eat it. I did here.
the ferris wheel in Gdansk by night
Just outside the restaurant you find the ferris wheel of Gdansk. I’m a bit annoyed by these things and the matching sign, since you see them everywhere. What’s the point of travelling if everything is the same? The main street is pretty cozy by night time as well.

Evening stroll in Gdansk

For your evening stroll, head back to the canal and the crane. I found evenings are the hardest time to be a solo traveller. But I saw the sunset from a bench – and luckily I don’t mind drinking alone.

And then your hotel is just around the corner. Perfect planning.


Take the evening flight home. Or as I like to do: take the early morning flight Monday. Not only do you save money on the flight, but Sunday also becomes nicer when much is closed and you don’t have to pass time until 5pm without a room.. If you have more time head to where the invasion landed: Westerplatte. They are building a new visitors center. But I had to go back home from my first real solo trip.
So how did it go? I have to admit it was easier than expected. Almost all part of travelling I had done before: fly, get lunch, sleep, go to museums, walking and so on. So not that hard. But when you put them all together, I did miss someone to share the experience with. I will probably go on a solo trip again, but as long as I have travel partners, I prefer to share the world with them.


Few money is needed. You can use a creditcard almost everywhere.
Don't expect people to speak English off grid
Mainly Scandinavian tourists
A date city for young Polish couples
Travel here in April/May and avoid high season

Travel on
If you like Poland like me, try Warsaw From Neon Signs to Sewers: Top 6 Museums in Warsaw Or another city break with a dark, but interesting past? How about Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Do you travel solo?