With its location on the Baltic Sea, the historic and picturesque city of Gdańsk is one of Poland’s prettiest seaside cities, With a rich heritage and history that makes this city the perfect place to visit for a long and cultural weekend.
Once upon the time, in a late evening London-flat-drunken-party, I spontaneously bought myself a plane ticket to Poland, after a friend showed me a picture of ‘The eye of the sea’ lake in Trata mountains. We kind of alcohol-induced planned a road trip around the country and there we went. For over a week, we drove through Krakow, Warsaw, Zakopane, Auschwitz and many others polish corners.
A few summers after that, the same friends invited me for a weekend away in Gdansk, and I didn’t hesitate to say yes, I knew what I was getting myself into.
I have never heard of Gdansk before and didn’t know what to expect, me now being a full-time-manual-wheelchair-user, I quickly started my research to find out more about the city’s accessibility, and that is what this blog post is about.
So, let's start with accessible accommodation, shall we?
After a long and detailed research, I found a wheelchair friendly hotel right outside Old Town, and right opposite the Central station, a perfect place to explore Gdansk on wheels.
In the same research, I also found out that accessibility in Poland is… let's say, on the development stages. I read in one of the city’s travel websites that I should bring someone with me when going out in a wheelchair, because I would probably need some assistance.
I did what they suggested and went out with my friends, but I must say that Gdansk is actually not that bad. You can easily take your manual wheelchair out for a spin in the history-filled streets with no worries.
This 5K wheelchair friendly itinerary will show you the best experiences you can have in Gdansk’s Old Town, between a shot of vodka and bite of ogorki kiszone.
Exploring the old town in a wheelchair is not a big challenge, the medieval cobblestones streets are pretty easy to get around and most of the corners are curb free, unfortunately not all of them. You will probably need to wheelie your way up and down here and there.
Using the hotel as a start point, stroll a few meters south to get to Golden Gate. Once through the Gate, you will come out onto Long Street (ul. Długa as local folks calls it).
Ul. Długa is the main street of Gdańsk and is one of most lively places in the city, both sides of the street are filled with cafés and restaurants leading the way to Neptune’s Fountain and the Artus Court, the central pieces of the city’s main square Długi Targ. The square itself is surrounded by colorful houses that seem to come straight from a box of Lego. Definitely one of the most photogenic spots in town. After a photograph or two, continue strolling through The Royal Way until the street ends at the impressive Green Gate, where you can see some of the local artists selling they craft and talented musicians jamming out for a coin or two.
From there, stroll your way back up through Piwna Street, then down again through Mariacka Street, that ranks as the city’s most picturesque street and are dominated by the biggest brick church in the world, St. Mary’s Basilica. The architecture around here is very similar to Amsterdam and it will make you feel as if you have just traveled back in time. Gorgeous.
After that, you will reach the charming waterfront, where you will also find The Crane, which is the oldest and the biggest preserved crane of medieval Europe.
It is very common to find local musicians grooving around here as well and this part of the stroll has a more relaxed vibe. Here you can take some photographs of the historic buildings and try some of the local cuisine in one of the many wheelchair-friendly cafes and restaurants.
If you feel like a healthy bite, keep strolling alongside the river until you reach Guga Sweet & Spicy. These lovely wheelchair-friendly-twin-cafe is a great place to chillax. Take a sweet time here to contemplate the atmosphere and the friendliness of the local people while holding a beverage. They have plenty of vegan options that includes a delicious chocolate cake if you feel just like a quick fika.
From Guga’s you can either roll all the way back to the hotel though Grodzka street, which is pretty flat and relatively easy, or you can Uber your way back in less than 10 minutes.
The Old Town is really compact and you can easily get this itinerary done in a few hours, but I recommend that you reserve at least a day to enjoy the whole thing and take things really easy.
Well worth it.
A good wander unveils the wonder of a city through its history and when you stroll in one of these museums, you are strolling through time.
Gdańsk is certainly one of the most cultural and historically significant cities in Poland.
So much has happened here. It is the city where two of the key moments in 20th-century history took place – It is where the Second World War began and it is the birthplace of the Solidarity Movement which eventually played a major role in bringing down communism in Europe. So if you can get your ‘Starbucks’ in the morning plus a ‘Mac-animal-corpse-something’ in the afternoon, maybe you should come to Gdańsk and light up a candle, because all the movement to bring communism down in central Europe started right here. Dzięki.
Got interested? Then take a couple of hours to wander around and learn much more about the solidarity movement at the European Solidarity Centre.
Apart from doing a very great job explaining the whole movement, this amazing museum has a pretty nice cafe and a gift shop. You can actually feel a change in the atmosphere within the building itself. It is without a doubt, one of the best places to hang out for a few hours if you a wheelchair user visiting Gdańsk.
Another big chunk of history and culture can be consumed at the Museum of the Second World War, it beautifully delivers you a detailed insight of the 20th century’s biggest conflict (in all kinds of media), which began in the city (then named Danzig) in 1939.
Its a place where you can easily spend 2 or 3 hours, but if you are really into it and want to read and watch everything, please allow yourself at least a day because the whole thing is huge.
When I left, I had a feeling that I have learned more about WWII in a few hours than I learned in high school. It is a super-intense history lesson with a wheelchair friendly cafe and a bookshop in the end.
It is an unmissable experience.
After that, you will probably be feeling a bit confused about how that shit all happened (I certainly was), and if you feel like diggin’ a bit deeper, then Uber yourself up to Westerplatte.
Westerplatte is where the shit started hitting the fan and it will keep your thinking flowing.
This open-air museum is located inside a park and the whole place is very peaceful, here you can take a stroll all the way to the monument to the Polish defenders. Some paths are not really wheelchair friendly but it still is pretty doable, especially if you have an extra hand of a friend. The route has a very informative panel exhibition and also some ruins of a military barrack that can be accessible by a ramp.
Now that you know more about the war than your ‘wearing-sandals-with-socks-eighth-grade-history-teacher’, its time to chill out and forget a bit about it. Well, we shall never forget to make sure it never happens again, but its time to let all that war-thinking go.
Go and get yourself some fresh sea breeze in one of the city’s most popular beach, stroll alongside the pier, and who knows, have a skinny dip too.
Brzezno Beach & Pier is only 15 minutes from the Old town and it has access for wheelchair-users with ramp and a sand mat, the beach also has an amphibian wheelchair in case you want to make it to the sea.
If you don’t feel like swimming, then take a nice stroll alongside the pier until the end, take a nice photography of the local fishermen and roll back to its entrance, It has a pretty nice cafe with a wheelchair friendly toilet, it is another great spot to chill out if the sun is shining, and the sky is blue.
Order yourself a coffee or a beer and enjoy the views over Gdansk bay.
That would be it. The war is over. Life is good again.
When traveling, we collect memories. Some of us may even go the extra mile and get a souvenir that lasts a lifetime—a tattoo. Why not hun?
Getting inked In Gdansk
This the second time I had a tattoo done while visiting Poland. The main advantages here are the quality of the artists and the price, which is pretty accessible even in the most top-notch studios.
Sztorm is an inviting tattoo shop packed with skilled artists working in a pretty chill and friendly atmosphere. It is the perfect place to get some art done if you are hanging around town for feel days.
This studio is fully wheelchair friendly including a spacious toilet and it also shares a space with a barber and hairdresser, so you can step out with a totally new look if you feel like.
Feel free to check their Instagram Right Here.
Now for the foodies on the wheels out there
pieroging yourself up.
If you are looking for a restaurant which serves traditional-freshly-made polish food, Mandu is a wheelchair friendly pierogarnia located only few minutes from the hotel and may be your best bet.
Their specialty is pierogi and their have an immense varieties for you to choose.
One more delicious than the other.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
Gdansk’s airport is very close to the city center and you could access it by taxi or Uber, it takes about 10 minutes and it costs around €12.
Just remember that you should be able to transfer yourself to the front seat and gently ask the driver to put your wheelchair back in the trunk. I did that during the whole the time while I was there and it worked very well.
I also have heard that all the train stations are wheelchair accessible with special lifts and seating. Gdansk’s buses are also set-up with lifts and a wheelchair user area as well.
So it is all good.