Planning a Trip
By Plane -- Port Lotniczy Gdansk (also known as Lech Walesa International Airport), Slowackiego 200 (tel. 058/348-11-63; www.airport.gdansk.pl), is about 8km (5 miles) west of the city. The airport has added several flights in recent years, and now has good direct connections to major European cities like London (Luton and Stansted), Frankfurt, and several Scandinavian cities, among others. To get to town from the airport, take bus B, which runs twice hourly during daylight hours to Gdansk's central Glówny train station. The trip costs 3zl ($1.30/80p) and you can buy tickets from the driver or the airport tourist information office. Leave about 30 minutes for the journey (more during rush hour). A taxi into town will cost about 50zl ($22/£13). A taxi to Sopot will run about 60zl ($26/£16), and to Gdynia about 90zl ($39/£24).
By Train -- For most arrivals, Gdansk's Glówny train station (Dworzec PKP), Podwale Grodzkie 1l (tel. 058/721-54-15; www.pkp.pl), is the first port of a call. The station is just a 5 minutes' walk (below a major highway) from the center of the city. Gdansk is well served by the Polish state railroad, PKP, and fast InterCity train departures to Warsaw and other major cities are frequent. Fast and frequent commuter trains to Sopot and Gdynia also depart from here. The station has several ATMs, a branch of the local tourist information office, and even McDonald's and KFC outlets if you turn up famished from a long train journey and need something quick to tide you over.
By Bus -- The main bus station, Dworzec PKS, ul. 3 Maje 12 (tel. 058/302-15-32; www.pks.gdansk.pl), is located just behind the train station. The Old Town is an easy walk, passing through the train station and then below the highway using the underpass. As Poland's Baltic hub, the city is a primary destination for domestic and international bus lines.
By Car -- Gdansk is a traffic nightmare, so leave plenty of time to get here. The first problem is the major and seemingly permanent road construction, which has badly tied up routes coming from all directions. The main roads running south are the E75 to Torun and the E77 to Warsaw. The E28 is the main route west toward Germany. Coming from the west, it skirts Gdansk as it heads south. Once you arrive in the city, brace yourself for hour-long jams during the morning and evening rush hours. The drive from Warsaw, with traffic, may take as long 5 to 6 hours.
By Boat -- It is possible to arrive in Gdansk by ferry from Sweden. Polferries (www.polferries.pl) offers regular service between the Swedish port of Nynaeshamm (60km/37 miles south of Stockholm) and Gdansk's Nowy Port, Przemyslowa 1, 7km (4 1/3 miles) north of the center (tel. 058/343-00-78). The ferries depart every second or third day at 6pm and arrive at noon. Returns from Gdansk follow the same schedule. Tickets (one adult without car) run about $100 (£62) each way (in 2008, this was subject to an additional 20% fuel surcharge). Sleeping berths are extra and start at $20 (£12) for a modest bunk to nearly $200 (£124) for a luxury cabin for two. Stena Line (tel. 058/660-92-00; www.stenaline.pl) runs a similar service from Gdynia's passenger ferry port to the picturesque Swedish city of Karlskrona and back. In summer, the ferries make the 10-hour journey twice daily at 9am and 9pm. Tickets (without car) run about $80/£50 each way.
Confusingly, unlike other Polish cities, the heart of Gdansk is technically not called Old Town, or Stare Miasto. There is a Stare Miasto, but it lies just to the north of the main center, the Glówne Miasto. The Glówne Miasto is where you'll find the main pedestrian walk, ul. Dluga (Long St.); its extension, the Dlugi Targ (the Long Market); as well as the most interesting side streets, and the main pedestrian walk along the Motlawa Canal. Stare Miasto is about a 15-minute walk north, and it's here where you'll find the Gdansk shipyards. Farther to the north, in the direction of Sopot, lies the still-skuzzy Nowy Port, as well as the far-nicer suburbs of Wrzeszcz and Oliwa. The former is home to many of the city's more affordable hotels and pensions. The heart of Sopot is about 6km (4 miles) to the north of Gdansk's city center. Gdynia is about 15km (10 miles) farther to the north.
On Foot -- Much of central Gdansk, including ul. Dluga and the walkway along the canal, is closed to motor vehicles, so walking is the best option. The center is compact and easily walkable. To get to Sopot or Gdynia or places farther afield, however, you'll need to use public transportation.
By Tram -- Gdansk has an efficient network of trams that whisk you from the center of the city to the suburbs of Wrzeszcz and Oliwa in a few minutes. Note that trams do not run to Sopot and Gdynia. Tickets cost 2zl (85¢/55p) for a short 15-minute ride and 2.80zl ($1.20/75p) for longer rides. You can buy tickets at Ruch kiosks, magazine counters, and from special vending machines.
By Bus -- City buses are useful for getting to some of the pensions on Beethovena ul., but otherwise walking, trams, trains, and taxis should be sufficient. Ticketing is the same as for trams, with a single short journey of 15 minutes costing 2zl (85¢/55p).
By Train -- A quick and reliable local train service, the SKM (Szybka Kolej Miejska), links the main cities of the Tri-Cities: Gdansk, Sopot, and Gdynia. Several trains an hour during the day depart from Gdansk's main train station. The full journey up to Gdynia will take a little more than half an hour and costs 4.50zl ($1.95/£1.20). Buy your tickets at ticket windows or from special vending machines on the platforms and validate them before you board the train.
By Taxi -- It's a good way to get to your hotel on arrival at the bus or train station, but you won't need taxis much once you've sorted out the public transportation system. Figure on fares of around 20zl ($8.70/£5.40) for journeys in town.
By Boat -- It's possible to go by ferry from Gdansk to several local and regional destinations, including Westerplatte, Sopot, and Gdynia, as well as to the beaches on the Hel Peninsula farther afield. The main ferry landing, at Nabrzeze Motlawy (tel. 058/301-13-23; www.ztm.gda.pl), is along the canal. In summer months (May-Oct), take a fun ride on a mock pirate boat, the Galeon Lew, out to Westerplatte (Targ Rybny; tel. 0601/629-191; www.rejsyturystyczne.pl).
By Bike -- Gdansk is navigable by bicycle, and several new bike lanes now connect the center with the suburb of Wrzeszcz and beyond toward Sopot. That said, the network is spotty and there are plenty of places where you'll still have to contend with stairways, sidewalks, heavy traffic, and clueless Polish drivers. Bikes, however, are a good way of getting around Sopot. An easy and tranquil 10km (6 1/4-mile) bike lane skirts the beaches from Sopot to the northern Gdansk suburbs.
The city's main tourist information office, at ul. Dluga 45 (tel. 058/301-91-51; www.pttk-gdansk.pl), is conveniently situated in the heart of the Glówne Miasto on the pedestrianized ul. Dluga. The office is badly overburdened in summer, but nevertheless an essential stop for maps, lists of hotels and pensions, and ideas of what to see and do. Pick up a copy of the map "Gdansk, Stare Miasto," a large-format, easy-to-read guide to all of the major sights in the center of town. Also look for the free brochure The Best of Gdansk, a comprehensive, self-guided walking tour, with explanations in English. The tourist office also hands out free copies of Gdansk, In Your Pocket, an excellent overview of the city, including sections on Sopot and Gdynia. The tourist office maintains branches at the arrivals hall at Gdansk airport and the main ticketing area of the train station.