Getting To Know Gdynia
Experience modern Gdynia, historic Gdansk and relaxing Sopot during one single call
You could argue that Gdynia is three destinations in one. That’s because it is hardly possible only to visit Gdynia when in Gdynia. Together with the neighboring cities of Gdansk and Sopot, Gdynia is part of a metropolitan area referred to as the Tricity (Trójmiasto, in Polish). Altogether the cities have more than a million inhabitants, making the region the fourth largest metropolitan area in Poland.
Gdynia, Sopot and Gdansk are situated within 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) of each other, effectively forming a conurbation. Still, each of the three cities has a distinct character of its own.
Established only in the mid 1920s, Gdynia was the result of a decision in 1920 by the Polish Government to build a major seaport at what was then only a small village. The city that was built in connection with the port – Gdynia – received its city rights in 1926. In spite of this, and thanks to the town that existed before today’s Gdynia was being built, visitors can also experience a rich and vibrant past. Examples include the church from the 13th century (St. Michael the Archangel’s Church) and the Kolibki Palace (see below under Do Not Miss and Museums).
Athough history is important to any city, Gdynia perhaps has its sights set more firmly on the future. Not taking the modernistic architecture of the city itself into account, there are many expressions of Gdynia’s focus on the current and the modern. These include the Polish Feature Film Festival and the many open-air events that take place each year: the so-called Sea Days festivities, the Midsummer Night, the Europe Days, May picnics, and concerts by diverse music stars. Several IT-firms are also based in Gdynia.
Situated slightly further into the Gdansk Bay, Sopot has chiefly come into fame because of the many spas found here. Make your way to the beach in this seaside resort, and you will be able to walk on the Sopot Pier – the longest wooden pier in Europe, 1,680 feet (512 meters) long. One of Poland’s most luxurious hotels is also to be found here: the Grand Hotel, situated only a stone’s throw from the beach (and close to the pier).
Gdansk is the largest of the three cities that constitute the Tricity. It is also the capital of this part of Poland, known as the Pomeranian region. Known not least for its 1,000 years of Hanseatic history, Gdansk also came into the spotlight in more recent times when in 1980 the Solidarity trade union movement saw the light of day at the Gdansk shipyard. The movement was one of the antecedents to the downfall of the country’s communist regime in 1989.
The Swietojanska Street, in particular, is full of buildings built in the characteristic modernistic style that is so typical for Gdynia.
Most cruise passengers disembark at the Francuskie (French) Quay, from where the walking distance to Gdynia’s city center is about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer). For those cruise passengers who do not feel up to walking, there is a bus stop close to the quay. Taxis are available.
Gdynia has a second cruise ship quay as well: the Pomorskie (Pomeranian) Quay, located only minutes from the city center.
- The Gdynia Aquarium shows the flora and fauna of the oceans worldwide, but has a particular focus on the Baltic Sea. Street address: Al. Jana Pawla II 1
- The Dar Pomorza is Gdynia’s own tall ship, a three-mast full rigger that was once in the service of the Marine College and later competed (and won) in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races. Street address: Al. Jana Pawla II
- The St. Michael the Archangel’s Church, built in the thirteenth century, is the oldest building in Gdynia
- The Kolibki Palace, with its nearby park, dates back to the Polish King Jan III Sobieski, who reigned between 1674–1696.
- Museum of the City of Gdynia. The history of Gdynia – from small village to the city of today – is presented in a modern exhibition. Street address: ul. Zawiszy Czarnego 1
- The Navy Museum – an open-air museum emphasizing the history of marine weapons such as helicopters, torpedoes and even fighters. Street address: ul Sedzickiego 3
- Another option for those interested in military history is the Warship Museum ORP Blyskawica. The 374-foot- long (114 meters) warship, built in 1937, started service as a Polish Republic Warship and was in operation throughout World War II. Street address: Al. Jana Pawla II
- The Museum of Amber Inclusions. With large amounts of amber being found each year on the shores of the Baltic Sea, this museum gives an insight into the insects and other objects that were preserved in resin from coniferous trees some 40-60 million years ago. The petrified resin is referred to as amber. Street address: Al. Marszalka Pilsudskiego 46
Shore excursions in and around Gdynia include:
- Exploring Gdansk, often with a specific focus on the historic Main Town, the old port and the historic Long Wharf. Tours might also include Roads To Freedom, an exhibit that provides an insight into Poland’s struggle for freedom in the 1970s and 1980s. Other options include visiting amber factories: This region of the Baltic Sea is rich in amber.
- Sampling Sopot. Often referred to as the summer capital of Poland, Sopot features long and sandy beaches.
- Sometimes called “the largest heap of bricks north of the Alps,” Malbork Castle is Europe’s largest Gothic fortress. It is situated some 60 miles (95 kilometers) southeast of Gdynia.
The distance from Gdynia to the regional capital of Pomerania, Gdansk, is some 14 miles (23 kilometers). The capital of Poland, Warszawa is 250 miles (402 kilometers) away. The distance to Berlin, Germany’s capital, is not much longer: 293 miles (471 kilometers).
Contributed by Andreas Lundgren
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Gdynia.