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8 week trip Eastern Europe 2020 / 1st time in Poland help me choose a Tri City base for a week

Hello I am a retired teacher planning a SOLO trip to eastern Europe for spring/summer 2020. I want a one week "base" stay in a TRI -city location but cant decide which one is most convenient for cafes, museums and public transport: Gdansk? Sopot? or Gdynia. I have traveled extensively but this will be my 1st visit to Poland. I want to enjoy a mix of beaches + museums+ lingering at cafes. I am looking at hostel dorms and private rooms listed on airbnb that meet my budget of $30 or less per night with shared kitchen.

Looking forward to YOUR response!

Best regards, Carol /USA

Posted by
1872 posts

Hello, for me beaches are not the first thing that come to mind when thinking of Poland, of course they have them close to Gdansk but Sopot/Gdynia were so-so for me. Even when I was in Gdynia in August the Baltic was quite cold, probably in early summer even more so. On the other hand the various museums are quite good in Gdansk though.

As an alternative destination, consider spending a week in Poland's Masurian Lakes District, between Gdansk and Warsaw. A land of many quaint medieval towns all strung together by picturesque lakes and river-ways, the best part it's fairly off the radar for international tourists, which can't be said for Gdansk. Here is a recent article on the Masurian Lakes District from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/jul/02/poland-lake-district-rivers-canoe-kayak-cycling

The Masurian Lakes District is perfect for nature lovers, however if you are looking for more of an urban experience I would then opt for Gdansk or Warsaw.

Posted by
16827 posts

Gdansk without a doubt or a second thought. It has more transportation options and much more to see and do. The WWII Museum is potentially very time-consuming. There is so much English-language material that I spent about 20 hours there (which I realize is abnormal, but still). The Solidarity Center isn't as large but still cost me about 8 hours. The city is gorgeously rebuilt and very lively. I had the impression it's a popular weekend destination for Scandinavians.

One of Gdynia's main attractions is the Emigration Museum. Again, very well done, but I think of interest primarily to Polish-Americans/Canadians/etc. and probably folks of other ethnic backgrounds for whom the emigrant experience is a big part of the family history.

I haven't been to Sopot and am clueless about beaches. You could easily spend a week in that area in the summer and not have much sunny beach weather at all.

Posted by
122 posts

Thanks Carlos+ Craven for the quick response to my posting. I did not realize the Baltic does not warm up so much...but I do enjoy walking along a beach or sitting at a cafe overlooking water. CARLOS the link to the lakes was great. Since I don't kayak or bike and I am solo relying on public transport, I don't think I will add that area to my jam packed agenda.I plan to share it with my niece who does bike and kayak. CRAVEN I decided after reading more about Gdansk that I need 4 -6 days to see the museums. I am looking at airbnb and hostel options that are centrally located. Any suggestions for good local cafes at the lower price range ( under $10 for lunch or dinner?) I will have breakfast + snacks in my rental.

Thank you BOTH for your input. It is so useful to have other views besides guide books and on line videos!

Posted by
1872 posts

Hello, I agree with acraven, in the end probably Gdansk would be the best destination for your specific travel needs. Regarding food, unfortunately it was a bit blur for me as I caught some food poising while on a day trip to Gdynia. I am pretty sure it was the flounder (which they are famous for) at one of the restaurants on their waterfront pier. It kind of ruined the rest of my time in Gdansk food-wise, hopefully others will be able to give you more positive food advice :)

Posted by
122 posts

OH Carlos that is horrible. Nothing is as mood draining as being sick after eating a special dish in an ok place. Once I ate an egg sandwich at our breakfast stop on the budget boat from Thai to Laos. By the time we got off in Laos and my daughter found a room for us with air con ( or maybe it was just large ceiling fans...3 days = a true blur!) I thought I would die in Laos. As a result, I saw and did little but still have not tried to re visit. Being sick in a location makes such an impact.

I use the "cheap eats" listings for food on Trip advisor. But the best places are usually "discovered" just walking aimlessly in an area. I love when a menu is posted.

Posted by
6171 posts

I would pick Gdansk as well, although your budget may dictate not staying smack in the center. But, not to worry, public transport will get you around easily even if you're a bit on the outskirts. As far as $10 dinners, Poland is inexpensive but that may be a stretch in a heavily touristed place like Gdansk. Try to look for a simple "milk bar", which are remnants of the Communist era (cheap, hearty, subsidized food). But you may tire of pierogis and other heavy stuff after a while.

Posted by
122 posts

HI Agnes thanks for telling me about milk bars YES I had read about them.There are some for cheap and filling lunches. I am willing to stay in hostel dorms which are well within my budget. I also have found some well located air bnb rooms/shared kitchen + bath ( not entire private space) I am glad to hear Gdansk transport is reliable and not $$. I am planning an extended trip: Poland/ Romania/ LVIV Ukraine/ Estonia..,.my splurge will be a ferry from Tallinn to Finland with a 2-3 night stay in Helsinki. In Finland the least $ room I have found is $50 a night so I will not be whining and dining in Finland. I am hoping for supermarket take outs!

Posted by
16827 posts

I have a restaurant suggestion for you in Gdansk but will have to wait until I return home in late August, unless I can somehow ID it on Google Maps. I don't remember the name of the restaurant or of the street it's on. It was recommended by a staffer at my hotel and was not far off the walking route to either the WWII Musem or the Solidarity Center. It's not in the tourist zone, and I think it will come in within your budget.

Please make yourself a note to send me a message on the forum at some point after August 25, because I will surely forget you need the info.

Posted by
1872 posts

After some more thought, I do have a positive restaurant recommendation! :)

The place is called Pierogarnia Stary Młyn, if you want the ultimate Pierogi experience this is the place to go. I went to their location twice in Wroclaw, but just remembered they also have a location in Gdansk. They have all kinds of pierogi in all kinds of preparations all with very nice presentation, plus other nice menu items like rustic Polish salads and hearty soups, all very affordable for the large portions. It's also all very user friendly, especially for first timers, the staff were great and explained everything very well.

Posted by
122 posts

Once again forum friends C+C to the rescue!! YES CRAVEN I will send a reminder in early September when I return from Malaysia.
CARLOS You are spot on...a traditional food and within my budget. I will check it out in BOTH cities for sure. If portions are large I can try to ask for take out...I did that in Czech, Hungary and Croatia w/o a problem. Sometimes i had a room with access to a microwave but more often it was a skillet on a 2 burner stove unit. That's why I love travel...you never know WHAT to expect LOL
Have a great weekend Carol

Posted by
12099 posts

Hi,

Bravo on deciding to take the first trip and especially a solo one to Poland. Based on your interests and preferences, etc I would suggest Gdansk if you want to use a base. As a matter of travel style, I sometimes do that but not often. I would suggest if you want to go somewhere totally off the international tourist radar, go the the Masurian Lakes area, still quite a distance from Gdansk, ie from the mouths of the Vistula to the Lakes.

Do you have specific historical interests in northern Poland?

I went to Gdansk in 2003, super interesting, captivating, fascinating landscape, and as usual, too short of a visit, 5 nights, took the train from Berlin, changed twice, all in all, the ride took close to 9.5 hrs. This was the coastal route going through the former east Pomerania.

Posted by
122 posts

HI FRED no I don't have a specific interest- just general curiosity about a place I have never been! I want to explore Eastern Europe as an alternative to a return visit to more $$ and more crowded Euro destinations.