Arriving to discover that you have three cities to visit instead of the one written on your air ticket might be daunting enough. But for the intrepid among you who like to get out and really see the city off the typical tourist trail, Gdansk has a few districts which are worth further exploration.
Head north a further 5km on from Wrzeszcz and you’ll come to the sleepy Gdańsk suburb of Oliwa. Today the area is another whose handsome, if rundown buildings are being cleaned up and modernised and which is an increasingly attractive place to live and relax.
The district began life as a small Slavic-Pomeranian settlement that grew around a Cistercian monastery established in the latter half of the 12th century. After a long period as a religious centre and a few catastrophes along the way including substantial devastation caused by the Swedes in 1626 and again in 1656, Oliwa settled down to a peaceful and prosperous life, becoming an independent city from 1874 until 1926 when it was incorporated into the then city of Danzig. Escaping major damage during WWII, Oliwa is home to around 20,000 people and has a number of points of interest as well as cafes and restaurants to make for an interesting day out.
Top of the list of places to visit is the cathedral which originally dates to the 12th century and plays host to some marvellous organ recitals. Oliwa is also home to the city zoo and this is well-worth a visit if you have children with you. Set in the forests on the edge of the town, this is a beautiful setting and you can spend hours wandering up and down the hills. The enclosures are constantly being improved or rebuilt and each season seems to bring a new resident.
Back in the centre of the town you have Oliwa Park, one of the city’s most attractive spaces, set in the grounds of the Abbot’s Palace. The park in home to the Museum of Modern Art and Ethnographical Museum while the grounds are where you’ll find a palm house and the so-called Whispering Caves.