Shopping and Eating in Gdansk, Poland
Gdansk is one of the largest cities in the country of Poland.
Shopping in Gdansk
It’s strange to think that in the 1970s there were hardly any things to buy in Poland. At that time, the country’s inhabitants had to queue with their food vouchers, without guaranteeing that there was actually anything left of the item in question when they came first in line.
Today it has turned 180 degrees, and we have the impression that there is a significantly better selection in an average Polish grocery store than in a corresponding Norwegian.
After their membership in the EU, Poland has noticed that prices have increased, but you still get very good value for money in Gdansk. Imported goods are of course not particularly cheaper than at home, but all of the locally produced goods have generally very reasonable prices. And forget about the prejudice that everything produced in Eastern Europe is poor quality scrap. You are still in the EU.
Sovereigns in Gdansk
Like almost everywhere else in Eastern Europe, amber jewelry and crystal products are the most common souvenirs that tourists come home with. You will find hundreds of street stalls almost everywhere in Gdansk, but head for one of Poland’s most charming streets, ulitsa Mariacka. Here you will find souvenir shops, craft shops and galleries on both sides.
Image Silver in No. 18/20 is very skilled, has a good selection of all amber products and has good prices. And on the main street Dluga is the Gdansk Souvenir Center with everything a tourist could want, from Polish crystal and amber jewelry to postcards and t-shirts.
A Gdansk specialty is the 40% herbal liqueur Danziger Goldwasser, which has been produced in the region for over 400 years. The liqueur contains small flakes of 22 carat gold, but the price is not scary for a Norwegian anyway. Any self-respecting Gdansk bar can serve small glasses of Goldwasser, or you can buy an entire bottle in the stores as souvenirs.
Shopping centers in Gdansk
Gdansk defined by AbbreviationFinder has had several major shopping centers in recent years. Among the most central is the state-of-the-art three-storey Madison Shopping Gallery, located in the Old Town just east of Gdansk Glowny Railway Station. At around 15,000 square meters you will find almost 100 shops and several eateries, including the city’s “only” Indian restaurant, Masala, which is also well worth a visit. There is also a playground where you can park your kids.
The largest shopping center is Galeria Baltycka, located in the northern district of Wrzeszcz. There are over 200 shops and eateries, including Zara, H&M and Tommy Hilfiger. Both Madison and Baltycka are open every day from 0900 to 2100, Sundays 1000 to 2000.
Markets in Gdansk
Gdansk has one of the most special markets you will ever visit. Hala Torgowa [see picture first in article] is a large market hall with countless stalls selling everything from clothing to used books and LPs, as well as fresh dairy products, meat and fish.
During the extensive renovation in 2006, the foundations of a 12th-century church were discovered, and this is now a small archaeological museum you can visit downstairs. The Market Hall is open every weekday from 0900 to 1800, and from 0900 to 1500 on Saturdays.
Tax Free Shopping in Gdansk
Do not forget that you pay a large percentage of VAT in Poland, slightly depending on the type of goods, and that on all purchases over 200 zloty, or about 500 kroner (at the time of writing), you can be refunded the VAT on departure. Not all stores have a VAT refund scheme, so look for the Tax Free Shopping badge at the entrance to buy expensive products. Remember to bring a completed and stamped form and receipt.
Eating in Gdansk
Few of us have any exact associations with the term Polish food, but if you have been to the Czech Republic, you have some idea of what awaits you. Like the rest of Eastern Europe, traditional Polish food is based on ingredients such as pork, bacon, sausages, sauerkraut potatoes, and thick, brown sauces. In addition to all the soups. The food is most often served in large, filling portions.
An archetypal dinner in Poland would like to consist of the appetizer smalec ie fried kebab with bread for, or soup Zurek, an sour rye soup with potatoes and sausage, followed by the unofficial national dish bigos. This is a hunter’s garden consisting of meat, onions and sauerkraut that has stood and “compensated” for a few days, and it is probably only the country’s own inhabitants who supply themselves twice. For dessert, the cheesecake is often served sernik. Everything is washed down with bare vodka or beer. Na zdrowie!
As Poland’s largest port city, Gdansk has for centuries been well-accustomed to visitors from other countries, from sailors to travelers. But although Gdansk attracts almost as many tourists as Warsaw and Krakow, you will find significantly fewer Irish pubs and Indian and Greek restaurants than in the above-mentioned Polish cities or European cities of similar size. By the way, seafood is more common in the port city of Gdansk than the rest of Poland.
Featured restaurants in Gdansk
If you want to try something intimate and romantic, the small restaurant Czerwone Drzwi, or The Red Door, will not be wrong. Here are only 4-5 tables in a bright red room with chandelier and antiques, and the food is absolutely delicious. The restaurant is far from the cheapest in the city, but you would have to pay it four times for something similar in Norway. The red door is, not surprisingly, behind a red door in Gdansk’s premier restaurant street ulitsa Piwna 52/53, a parallel street to the main street Dluga in the main city.
We also enjoyed our stay at Brovarnia, an international and newly opened (autumn 2008) restaurant in the basement of Hotel Gdansk in ulitsa Szafarnia 9. Not least because of their microbrewery that produces one of the better dark beer brands we can remember tasting. We can also go for Goldwasser, which is located on the river bank with a terrace with nice views and a varied and tempting menu. The address is ulitsa Dlugie Pobrzeze 22, right by the Crane along the Motlawa River.
Vegetarians can head to Dluga 11, where you will find the small Green Way restaurant. This is Poland’s leading vegetarian chain, and is found in most major cities. Common to all are large positions with tasty, meatless food at reasonable prices.
Nightlife in Gdansk
Gdansk is a university town with over 60000 students, and this is normally a guarantee of an exuberant nightlife. But be aware that outside of the July-August peak season, it is actually quite quiet in the Capital and Old Town in the evenings. Apart from the tourists, not many people live in the Capital City itself, and the students usually stay around the University, north of the city center.
If you expect life and touch on the dance floor, you should rather base yourself in Sopot, the small coastal town a few miles north of Gdansk and which has been the destination for entertainment and nightlife for a number of years.
Vodka can be considered the national drink in Poland, and the Poles claim that it was they who invented it. Here, the vodka should be drunk bar in small glasses, and preferably swallowed in one sip.
However, there is no tradition of wine in Poland, and no wines are produced here either. Wine is of course available at restaurants and shops, and the Hungarian wines are considerably less expensive than Western European ones.
Beer, on the other hand, drinks a lot of poles, but beer is not necessarily served cold as with us. Most popular are the bright pillar brands Zywiec, Okocim and Duitsie. A pint of draft beer usually costs between 10 and 20 kroner at a pub or cafe, a bit more expensive at restaurants and in hotel bars.
A Gdansk specialty is the 40% herbal liqueur Danziger Goldwasser, which has been produced in the region for over 400 years. The liqueur actually contains small flakes of 22 carat gold, but the price is still not discouraging for a Norwegian. Any self-respecting Gdansk bar serves small glasses of Goldwasser, or you can buy an entire bottle in the store as souvenirs.