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Warsaw and Gdansk

Dear all,

I am planning a 5 day trip, visiting Warsaw and Gdansk, and the more I read about it, the more confused I am as to how many days to stay in each city.

My initial idea was to stay 2 days in Warsaw and then 3 in Gdansk... and now that I've read comments about Gdansk i'm not sure if I should reverse the number of days. Opinions are divided, some say 1 day in Gdansk is enough... some say that it's worth staying more.

I think an important thing to keep in mind in my case is that I am travelling in March, and I believe temperature has a strong incidence over this decision.

What would you reccommend? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
2089 posts

I made a long day trip to Gdansk from Warsaw last May, just to get a taste of it and my focus was the old town area with time to explore, take a boat to see the Westerplatte and a couple of hours in the Solidarity museum--there's a LOT more to see in that area and I know others who have visited Hel, Sopot and Gdynia will chime in with recommendations. I do plan to return and see more of this area, the architecture was quite different from other parts of Poland and I enjoyed my short time there.

Depending on what you want to see in Warsaw 2 days could do you just fine, I spent 3 full days with the 4th as my day trip to Gdansk. Sites I enjoyed were the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, National Museum, Royal Castle and the ethnographic museum. Exploring Warsaw's old and new towns (still old, not to be confused with their modern downtown area) can be done at a slow or fast pace depending on your time constraints. Lots of places to sit and relax. If you like folk art I recommend a lovely shop called PolArt on the market square, an artist's collective with wonderful handmade items at excellent prices thanks to the exchange rate.

I went by train between the two cities and it was 3 hours, a second class ticket was about $14 US and I purchased in advance from the official site, Polrail.

Posted by
2071 posts

We spent two nights in Warsaw and three in Gdansk last October. It was perfect for us. We used one of the days in Gdansk to take the train to Malbork Castle. We did not do a lot in either city except walk around, and Gdansk is far more attractive, IMHO, than Warsaw. I will say that Warsaw is much bigger, and I don't believe we really gave it enough time to properly judge. If you want to see some of the museums and other sites in Warsaw, you might want to give it three nights. You can easily see the highlights of Gdansk if you stay just two nights and if you don't go to Malbork Castle and stay in the main tourist areas. I'm not sure how the temperature would make a difference, unless you are thinking more time inside in March. We are pretty happy walking around outside as long as it's not too far below freezing. Not sure what the temperatures are like in Poland in March.

Posted by
6150 posts

I'm from Warsaw (born and grew up there) and can unequivocally say that there are more attractions/things to do in Warsaw as it's bigger, more spread out and the capital city. Gdansk is much more compact and has a Hanseatic/merchant/Dutch/German feel to it; a side trip to Malbork is a true must - it's truly impressive. I'm not sure that side-tripping to Sopot and Gdynia (from Gdansk) at that time of year would be worthwhile - they are really summer destinations on the sea. Having said that, it really depends on what attractions you want to see. You could spend 3 days in either one and still find things to do. But if I had to choose, I would definitely allot more days to Warsaw simply because there is more to do there to choose from (especially indoor museums where you can escape from the cold). You can even play it by ear - in worst case, you can cancel a hotel room in Warsaw if you want to leave early. Getting to Gdansk is just a short train ride.

I'd hate to say it, but both could be really dreary, wet, snowy, and/or cold at that time of year (there have been extremely zany temperature swings in past years so it's hard to predict anything nowadays). Warsaw will probably feel more dreary because it's a big city (except for the Old Town which is as colorful as the center of Gdansk). It's too bad you're not going in May when it's absolutely stunning and more alive.

Look up both cities in Trip Advisor "Things to Do" and you'll get a sense of which speaks to you more, and hence deserves more days from your schedule.

Posted by
12091 posts

Hi,

You're operating under a real time constraint with only five days for both places. If you have no specific focus or particular interests in either city, then I would say Warsaw gets more time., say 3 full days in Warsaw, the left over time for Gdansk. Ideally, and factoring down time, I would recommend 5 days for each of the two cities. I'm glad I had set aside 4-5 days for both but that took two trips to do, and still I feel I missed out by not seeing outlying villages or towns

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks to all for your replies. I think must elaborate so you understand better. :)
My concern about the weather is not that it will be too cold, it's that it seems Gdansk is more of an outdoorsy place and I don't know how enjoyable it can be in late March, in comparisson with Warsaw.
As a few of you have pointed out, Warsaw has more indoor activities (e.g. Museums) and it might be a better choice this time.

But I really don't know much about what to do in Gdansk, so I'm still wondering. Any must-see things you guys would recommend?

Thanks again!

Posted by
6150 posts

Any must-see things you guys would recommend?

Christa mentioned the Solidarity Museum (this will give you a great history background to the beginning of the fall of Communism in Poland)...also just walking around the Old City and visiting churches, the Crane monument, etc. Definitely take a trip to Malbork - a huge Teutonic Castle. More ideas below:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g274725-Activities-Gdansk_Pomerania_Province_Northern_Poland.html
http://www.inyourpocket.com/gdansk

Posted by
2089 posts

Since I spent 8 hours in Gdansk I had a game plan going in with time factored in for wandering & exploring. I know there's more to see but I wanted to see specific things and that worked fine. I was there in mid-May and it was a cold, gloomy day with rain arriving late in the afternoon.

My train arrived at 9:30 and using my map I easily found my way to the old town, out of the station and head right, 10 minute walk. I got to see a cheerleading competition, complete with bad pop music, explored a small street market and found a place for a roll and coffee before giving the old town a cursory exploration. The architecture is fascinating and I walked for a good hour, taking many photos. Around 11 I went out on a boat--like a pirate ship, very touristy but the best way to get out to the Westerplatte--I really needed to see where WWII began and you see the working shipyards as well. By 1 I was back on land and had lunch along the waterfront, plenty of interesting restaurants there. More wandering old town and then I headed back towards the train station, checked out the amber museum and a market hall on the way, and basically a 10 minute walk from the train station but heading left is the Solidarity gate and new museum. The museum is quite well-done and an interesting look at the solidarity movement not only in Poland but other countries under Communist rule. I spent a good 2+ hours there, had a snack and basically killed some time as it had begun to rain and I was dreading the walk back to the train station.

Overall I felt it was a perfect day--beautiful and unusual town (I've been to numerous medieval cities and many felt similar but Gdansk is different), and a chance to see the Westerplatte and the Solidarity sites.