Gdańsk Waterfront from the SS SołdekKarl Pilkington once said that you're better off living in the hole with a view of the palace than the other way around. In this regard, a visit to the SS Sołdek may not blow your Instagram-anguishing mind, though it will give you a killer view of the long waterfront of Gdańsk! The only compromise is that you may have to get up before midday, so that morning sun has your cabbage and the waterfront all lit up in a warm glow. The 'golden hour' at summertime is about 8am. If you are half serious about a cultural experience, the Sołdek itself is interesting from a maritime perspective. It was the first steamship ever built in Poland and the first built in the city's communist-era Stocznia (ENG: Shipyards).
This shadowy Gothic gateway, dating back to at least 1484 when it was first mentioned, frames everything up perfectly, including St. Mary's Basilica at the very back and all the fantastic 17th-Century townhouses on either side. Once again, everything on the Long Waterfront side of the Motława Canal is best photographed in the morning, including the photo to the left!
Brama Mariacka, along with the rest of Gdańsk Old Town between was heavily-damaged during the Russian siege in 1945, and pics from that time reveal a landscape not unlike Hiroshima! Painstakingly rebuilt 1958 and 1961, Mariacka is unlike other streets which were reconstructed with new materials, ul. Mariacka was pieced back together with salvaged-debris from elsewhere in the neighbourhood. The shiny polychrome you see of two lions holding the Gdańsk coat of arms aloft was restored in 2006.
The most notable relics on this street are the ornate gargoyle rain gutters on the gabled terraced houses, known locally as Rzygacze (ENG: Spewers). The exquisite detail of the railings, front stoops and stone terraces lining the street are characteristic of Gdańsk Old Town.
The Millers' Guild House from 'The Love Bridge'A spot that can be easily-missed, because of the imposing Great Mill building taking up the local skyline, the Millers' Guild House lives around the back and really steals the show with an awesome view of canal, best captured from Most Chlebowy (ENG: Bread Bridge), known locally as 'The Love Bridge'. According to locals, this vantage point of the Millers' Guild House on the canal is 'the view that never changes' and it's this timeless factor that draws young Gdańskian couples onto the bridge so they can attach (yet) another padlock to the bridge, swoon all over eachother and, in the 21st Century, they can Insta the crap out of the moment and upload for their peers approval. But perhaps we're being killjoys, because it is a pretty view!
The Great Armoury on Ul. PiwnaThis pink building with lots of golden bits is the perfect canvas for your pretty face. Nowadays, it's the home of the academy of fine arts and they have exhibitions on and off throughout the year. Back in the day, as the name would suggest, The Great Armoury is where weapons and ammunition for the city's garrison were stored. The well structure at the front was not for bucketing ground water to the surface but, in fact, was for bringing obnoxiously-heavy cannon balls from the subterranean magazine to ground level (The alternative, we assume, would be 3-4 guys than having to carry each one up the stairs and out the front door!) Once they got there, we're not sure what happened next but we're glad we don't have to deal with it.
Back to the aesthetics of the building, This impressive façade is found at the west end of ul. Piwna and is lit up all nice, you guessed it, in the morning! At night the gold puts out a nice glint under the street lights too, and chances are you'll be at a bar on ul. Piwna (ENG: Beer Street) when the sun goes down. While you're all awestruck by all the crazy details, including the dragon-esque drainpipes, make sure you checkout the happy lion (the one on the left of above the right-hand doorway)!
A City View from the Highest PointSome of you are probably asking 'Where is the highest viewpoint in Gdańsk?' This can be answered in a number of ways, depending what your expectations are.
Within the heart of Gdańsk Old Town, St. Mary's Basilica is the dominant landmark on the skyline and the towers offer some killer views, albeit with some fabulous roofing in your prospective photo frame. Entering the church is free, though the tower is about 10zł followed by 490+ steps to get to the top. Middle of the day is arguably the best, however if you can get up at 15:30 in the winter, you will get an amazing sunset from the west! Keep in mind, the Basilica closes at 16:00.
If you want an overall snap of Gdańsk Old Town, your best bet is to head up Góra Gradowa (ENG: Gradowa Hill), behind the Gdańsk Główny where you'll find the old fortifications and Centrum Hevelianum can be found. This is the highest geographical point in the vicinity and you can even see the shipyards over to the far left.
Now... if you're willing to travel a bit further out of the centre, we highly recommend catching a train to Gdańsk Oliwa and heading up to the Olivia Star Observation Deck - the highest viewing platform in Northern Poland! From here, you have an entire panorama of the Tri-city and endless angles to snap. While you're up there, you can grab a cocktail or dine at a fancy restaurant! European Solidarity Centre is essential and not just because of the legacy of the Solidarity movement (Read more about The Story of Solidarity here). Head up to the 6th floor and catch an incredible view of the shipyard district of the city, featuring the iconic the cranes and warehouses. We like it at sundown because of all the lights and the silhouettes against the sky. The aesthetics of this industrial landscape may not give you the same tingle that you get when you're standing on the Old Town waterfront, but you are nevertheless looking across a unique and historically-rich landscape where the Polish trade union movement known as Solidarity was born. The cranes and buildings you see date back to the 1950s, when the shipyards were modernised! If you wanna get a closer view and more zoom-free photos, we highly recommend heading to Gdańsk Stocznia SKM station, where! Those who are fans of industrial aesthetics should consider heading out to nearby Ulica Elektryków.
If you wanna get a closer view and more zoom-free photos, we highly recommend heading to Gdańsk Stocznia SKM station. Though it's quite shabby and in dire need of refurbishment, the station steps offer an amazing viewing platform (see below), which is a best-kept secret from most visitors. Those who are fans of industrial aesthetics should consider heading out to nearby Ulica Elektryków.
In layman's terms, Wajdeloty is the up-and-coming hipster strip in town and, if you wanna be all exclusive-like, you should head down there before someone else beats you to it. The street would arguably impress architecture students more than you, the instagram user, but you're bound to find the cobblestone streets and some of the big 18th-century buildings photogenic enough (Maybe use a B&W or a sepia filter would make it worthwhile?).
While you're on Wajdeloty, there are some great spots for food and coffee (if not more insta action). Avocado is a great vegan restaurant as well as Fukafe, which operates in vegan cakes and coffee too (fortunately they haven't skipped on dairy milk for that). AleBrowar has seen the potential of the strip and has opened another brewery/bar site there. On the Rondo (ENG: Roundabout), named after author Günter Grass who grew up in the area, there are some awesome cafés (Check out Kurhaus and Nieczapla Coffee Roasters) and yet another colourful vegan restaurant, House Of Seitan.
Sopot Pier - Something Romantic...Edgy?
Yknow those photos where the subject is photographed 'unaware' of the presence of the camera? We know there's nothing more romantic than being on a pier looking out at the sea and, for this reason, you should head out to Sopot. We would argue that there are more interesting things to photograph but we know you're dying to get 'that' shot! Whether it's summer or winter, you'll be wanting to get out there around midday to 1pm to get those shadows just right. As you can see with this mysterious wildcat below, this angle on the south of the pier gives you a view of the Old Lighthouse and some of the Grand Spa Complex. If you head back to Plac Zdrojowy, you can have some fun snapping the weird trees that line the plaza. In addition, an equally-instagrammable spot is The Crooked House on Monciak.
Further afield, the coastline between Sopot and Gdynia which offers incredible views of the Baltic, however it's the autumn trees around the forest trail and places like Kępa Redłowska that will steal you away from that. Follow the path to higher ground and you will find the eagle-nest view from Orłowski Cliff. If you want the sun to feature in your eyeline, get up early because it's an eastward-view across the water!