In my humble opinion, the best holidays out there are the ones where you learn something – and if I remember anything from the school trips of my youth, it’s that the best way to get some new knowledge in my noggin is to go to a museum. That’s probably why Gdansk, a Polish city filled with culture beyond comparison and more history than you can shake a stick at, is always one of my go to recommendations for anyone looking for an intellectually stimulating retreat. After all, they’ve got some of the best museums in all of Europe.
If you’re a culture vulture or antiquity aficionado looking for some museum inspiration, here are the perfect places to visit to supplement your getaway to Gdansk. From WWII to the anti-communism movement, the history here is phenomenal.
Museum of the Second World War
As the name suggests, the Museum of the Second World War is about WWII – however, I doubt it’s anything like any war museum you’ve ever seen before. The building is almost an exhibition in itself. It’s been divided into three parts: the one underground reflects the past, the square that surrounds the building signifies the future and the leaning tower that stretches upwards represents the future.
The tower that stretches into the sky holds conference and lecture rooms as well as a library. There are also plans to add a restaurant and café. However, the main exhibition about WWII is held underground, an architectural conception that was born of the idea that the full evil of war is hidden beneath the dirt. A crack runs along the square above ground and lets in daylight, which symbolises the light of hope even on the darkest of days.
There are over 2,000 displays inside, which are divided into three main sections (‘The Road to War’, ‘The Horrors of War’ and ‘The War’s Long Shadow’) and 18 different themes. As you make your way through the exhibitions you will learn about the background to the war, the story of the battle itself and the aftermath, through pictures, videos, artefacts and more.
Perhaps what makes this museum so extraordinary is that is so much more than just a series of rooms filled with statistics and other dry facts – it is an immersive experience that tells the stories of real people who suffered and survived as well as the terrible events that took place during WWII.
European Solidarity Centre
The European Solidarity Centre, also known as the ECS, is a museum with a goal: to tell the history of Solidarity (a Polish labour union and civil resistance movement), as well as the country’s other anti-communism efforts. It also aims to be a centre for dialogue about the modern world by debating various topics such as social justice. From monuments commemorating bloody tragedies to interactive exhibits, this place is a must-see if you are at all interested in Polish history.
Where to Stay
Grand-Tourist Trident Apartments – These apartments are set in the heart of Gdansk, near the Museum of the Second World War, as well as a selection of other fascinating cultural and historical sites. Inside many of the units you will find a fully-equipped kitchenette for those days you fancy a home-cooked meal, a dishwasher so you have help with the washing up and a cable TV to watch as you relax during the evenings. All in all, this is a lovely accommodation option for travellers who want the convenience of a city centre and the comfort of a home.
How to Get There
Direct flights from the UK to Gdansk Airport (GDN) are quite reasonably priced and only take about two hours; there are also a few different airline options. Once you arrive, I recommend taking a transfer from the airport to Gdansk. I always make sure I book my ride in advance – that way I know the driver is ready and waiting for me as soon as my plane touches down, and I don’t have to deal with the stress of figuring out transportation in a foreign country.
My favourite provider is Shuttle Direct. I use them every time I travel in Europe and North Africa, and they always come through with reliable transport. Plus the drivers tend to be locals and many speak English – which means I can get insider tips about the area!
- UK to GDN Flight Time: 2 hours
- GDN to Gdansk Distance: 14 kilometres
- Shuttle Direct Transfer Time: 20 minutes
About Shuttle Direct
Here at Shuttle Direct, we have one passion: getting you where you need to go. Whether you choose a private or shared transfer, you can rest assured it will be reliable and efficient. Our drivers are friendly, knowledgeable and will bring you right to the door of your final destination. Travelling through Europe and North Africa just got that much easier!