Gdansk, Poland with Kids
We opted to celebrate Easter in Gdansk, Poland. We had a four-day weekend and wanted to explore this beautiful port city. Gdansk, Poland doesn’t top many people’s travel wish list, but it should. You can find so many things to do in Gdansk wth kids.
Easter is not the ideal time to visit Poland as many things are closed on the actual holiday and the day after (Easter Monday). If the weather is nice there are plenty of outdoor pursuits. Unfortunately we had cold, rainy weather which kept us indoors for most of the time.
Gdansk Tourist Card
The Gdansk tourist card provides discounts and free admission to a variety of attractions around the city. Many attractions were closed for the Easter holidays, but we were able to hit quite a few on the card. The folks at the Gdansk tourist office have put together a run-down of family friendly attractions discounted by the card.
The flight to Gdansk from Amsterdam was an easy two hour flight with one of our favorite airlines – KLM! My kids have been using the Simply for Flying logbooks and always seem to end up getting to meet the pilots. I can’t think of a better way to start our trip.
The Gdansk airport is small and manageable. It has a lovely little ship play area that was perfect for the kids while we got our bearings on arrival. We utilized this playground again on departure.
We booked a car to take us from the airport straight to our Airbnb in Gdansk. They met us just outside of security which made things super simple. We got the guy’s phone number and used him again on our last day in town for a tour of a few neighboring cities and a dropoff at the airport.
Our Airbnb in Gdansk was super simple but in a great location on the East side of the city. The welcome was not warm, but the apartment was in great shape and they were very responsive when we had trouble with the internet.
As we were traveling with friends we needed three bedrooms which can be hard to find. This apartment had plenty of space with very little for the kids to damage.
The kids made a play space out of the roof eaves. The adults kept bonking their heads on the low ceilings but the littles couldn’t get enough of them. Due to rainy weather and Easter closures we ended up in the apartment quite a bit.
We were able to eat most of our meals at the Airbnb as well, which was a huge help given Easter closures and balancing the nap schedules of two Little Littles. The Airbnb was situated near several great restaurants as well.
Gdansk’s old town is stunning. I thoroughly enjoyed just walking around and checking out the city. The architecture is not typically Polish. It was heavily influenced by the trade coming in and out of this port city.
Our Airbnb was just across the harbor from the old town city center. You can walk via two bridges or you can take the ferry. We opted for a quick ferry ride, but walked the remainder of the trip.
The harbor’s main feature is the old crane. A crane of some sorts has stood here since at least 1367, highlighting the city’s importance as a port city. The crane could lift 4 tons to the height of 11 meters, powered by two giant wooden wheels. These wheels were powered by men walking inside of them.
You should take the time to climb the crane. It is now part of the Gdansk Maritime Museum. The highlight is seeing the two giant wheels and peering out from the top of the crane over the water. There is a museum inside the crane that explains the significance of the crane to the city. There are English description cards you can pick up in each room.
The S.S. Soldek is also part of the Gdansk Maritime Museum. The littles loved exploring this ship. I loved the views of the buildings you can get from its top deck.
The littles have been on a number of ships and honestly it never gets old for them. There is plenty to touch and explore on this old coal and oil freighter. It was the first ship built in Poland after World War II.
While the boys were exploring the bowels of the ship I was camera happy on the top deck.
In every direction the city was jus stunning. This is where I first noticed the varied architecture of the buildings. The guidebooks talk about the influence on the buildings from the travelers passing through the port city.
We also ventured into the Maritime Museum proper. This place is huge! It had way too much stuff to keep our kids focused. We spent time with the hands on exhibits on the second floor. The boys also really loved the ship models. When they got tired of seeing “boat stuff” we took the elevator down and exited the building.
Although many of the museums were closed due to Easter we enjoyed a walk around town. The Long Market is a joy to explore. We passed through here several times on our visit but in the early morning we had the place to ourselves.
The kids ran free on the market while we enjoyed the architecture.
We found a row of houses with drain pipes shaped like animals. The frog, perched on the grey building as the right gutter was my favorite.
The Littles loved spotting fun sign posts like this boat marketing the purpose of the building.
You also can’t miss Neptune Fountain at the far end of the market. The legend is that “gold water,” the drink of the city, sprung from the Neptune’s trident miraculously.
The boys loved the legend and we enjoyed finding places that severed “goldwasser.”
Our walk around the city was punctuated with exploration of city features we found. The littles couldn’t resist climbing all over the lions laying in one of the squares. They were joined by plenty of adults and children alike.
We also found a great little city playground right in the center. It is small, but had plenty to offer the boys. We never pass up the opportunity for a quick play session.
With the wiggles out we continued on our walk. I loved the colors of houses found on the streets of Gdansk. As usual the further we wandered off the tourist path in the old town the more charming the city became.
We popped into Saint Mary’s Basillica. The Middle and Little Littles climbed the church tower with Jeff while I stayed behind with an uncooperative Big Little. He and I ended up having a nice time exploring the church. He was most fascinated by the astronomical clock that sits at the front of the church.
We also spent some time hunting through the city for these little stone figures known as the Old Prussian Hags. We don’t know a lot about these stones but they are believed to be from the early Middle Ages. The largest collection of these stones sits right outside the Archaeology Museum on the waterfront in Gdansk.
The Amber Sky panoramic Ferris Wheel sits on Granery Island, near one of the bridges that connects the city over the river. It is a popular attraction, although we didn’t end up taking a ride due to the grey sky and limited view.
We had bad luck with quite a few museums in Gdansk due to the Easter holiday. The museums are quite strict with closing times and do not admit anyone 30 min before that time. We tried to go to the Amber Museum and the Gdansk National Museum for quick peeks only to be refused entrance.
An amazing indoor option, although a bit of a bus ride from the old city center, is the European Solidarity Center. This lovely building, which is full of greenery inside plays host to a museum, observation deck, an indoor play center and a cafe. Tickers to each thing must be purchased separately from the ticket desk.
We opted to spend all our time in the play center. The kids (and parents) were in need of some unstructured time. All the littles were happy to just run around and play.
There is a gate and plenty of adult seating so it really can be a break for everyone. We all ended up playing though and had to get in on the ball pit fun.
There is even a large soft play crawl area for the littlest of visitors.
What to do on Easter in Gdansk
If you are traveling on Easter to Gdansk make your plans in advance. We were riddled with indecision about the weather and what we would be up for doing which really hurt us when we finally made it out of the apartment.
Many of the restaurants in town offer special Easter Brunch. We should have made a reservation for one, instead we chanced it and ended up having a good but rushed meal. (The restaurant let us sit down and eat if we promised to be out of there before the reservation time of the table!)
We also boarded the Gdansk pirate cruise. The boat goes down the harbor with some guided narration in several languages. There is a cafe on board that serves beer, hot drinks and fried food. The boat sails three times a day and does not accept advanced reservations. They will sell tickets until the boat sails regardless of seating, so arrive early. We had purchased our tickets before we realized there was nowhere to sit. We luckily found somewhere for the kids to sit, but were underwhelmed by the experience.
We found several great places to eat in Gdansk with kids. Neighbors Kitchen was on the same block as our Airbnb and I would have eaten here every morning. It gets crowded so it’s best to make a reservation for breakfast. Everything we ordered was amazing but the vegetarian breakfast was the real winner.
We also tried out a Milk Bar. These cafeteria-style restaurants provide the feeling of Soviet Bloc days when the government subsidized food for the masses. It’s a good way to try a variety of foods, but none of it will be amazing. We liked the causal atmosphere with the kids.
There are so many good food options, particularly when everything is open. There also looked to be an amazing food tour. We are using this company in another city and will report back.
As it was Easter weekend we also stopped at a street vendor for some of the traditional Polish Easter cakes. There were so many to choose from we just pointed at a few and had a taste. As expected my biggest regret is not eating more food on this trip! Good thing we will be heading back to Poland soon.
We were really hampered by the rain and holiday closures. There are so many amazing looking museums that we never made it to. There is also a great zoo and park that we passed on due to the weather. Despite all this though I still think Gdansk should be on your European radar.
If you’re looking for a European city break you should consider Gdansk, Poland.