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Living in Gdańsk – What’s it like?

My wife and I lived in Serbia between 2014-18. In 2017, we began to consider our options and explore other countries to live in which were a little more socially progressive than Serbia. The pieces began to fall into place. Firstly, we adore being by the sea. Secondly, it came to my attention that I’d be able to get confirmation Polish citizenship by descent. Thirdly, my wife prefers living in big cities. Hence, living in Gdańsk turned from an idea into reality within the space of two and a half years.


Early impressions of Gdańsk

We had to bide our time before moving to Gdańsk as we had to sell our flat in Serbia. Moreover, I had to wait for my Polish citizenship to be confirmed. Therefore, our first few visits to Gdańsk were more of a touristic nature. 

I’d previously visited Gdańsk back in 2009. My wife’s and my first visit to the city was in July 2017. We stayed at the IBB Hotel just off Długi Targ (Long Market) Street. Długi Targ is an extension of Długa Street. Both streets form the most representative pedestrianised route of the historic Main Town area of Gdańsk.

All in all, we were completely blown away by the Dutch-influenced architecture and beautiful streets in the Main Town area of Gdańsk.

We travelled the length and breadth of the city on our first visit to see what some of the housing estates looked like. We made arrangements to view several flats. One property which stood out to us was on Leszczynowa Street in the district of Jasień. However, it was too soon to make a decision. As I’ve already mentioned, we had to bide our time. Still, we’d dipped our toes into the property market in Gdańsk and that was the main priority for us in 2017 and early 2018. 

Initially, in 2017, Gdańsk struck me as a very green, laid-back and well-organised city. My opinion hasn’t changed that much since then.


Słoneczna Morena it is then

By the spring of 2019, my wife and I were ready to purchase a flat in Gdańsk. Frankly, we’d experienced several bureaucratic nightmares when it came to buying property in Serbia. Therefore, I was a little cautious about everything. One of my students back then was a property lawyer so he guided us through the process of buying a flat in Poland safely. For instance, he reviewed the land and mortgage registers in electronic form for the properties which interested us.

By around February 2019, we’d made an offer for a flat on the Słoneczna Morena housing estate. This modern family-oriented estate is only around 4.5 kilometres away from the historic Main Town. The owners accepted our offer and it wasn’t long before we made an appointment at a notary office in Gdynia to sign the preliminary agreement. 

By May 2019, we’d signed the final purchase agreement. We still had a few things to sort out in the Balkans. It wasn’t until February 2020 that we finally moved to Gdańsk.


We moved to Gdańsk just before COVID struck

Three weeks after moving to Gdańsk, Poland went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of exploring the majestic city of Gdańsk, we found ourselves ordering groceries to our front door and walking around the flat to get some exercise.

Still, things could have been a lot worse. My wife did manage to attend her appointment at the Office for Foreigners in Gdańsk just in the nick of time before the Government ordered local government offices to close due to COVID. She had to file an application for a temporary residence permit.

Clearly, it was tough to form an opinion about what living in Gdańsk was really like amidst such chaos. I didn’t buy a car until April 2021 so, until the panic over COVID dissipated, we were rather limited to taking walks in the district we lived in – Morena.


The five best things about living in Gdańsk

I will now share the five best things about living in Gdańsk.

1. A generous amount of green space

Back to COVID very briefly. 

After being stuck on our street for a good few weeks (or even a month) in March and April 2020 due to lockdown, we finally got out of the flat and walked to Jaśkowa Valley Park (Park Jaśkowej Doliny). 

Google puts it very nicely indeed: Forested trails lead to lookouts with sea views, plus an open-air stage for music performances.

As the months passed, I began to appreciate Gdańsk for the amount of green space the city possesses. In addition to Jaśkowa Valley Park, significant green spaces in Gdańsk include Ronald Reagan Park (near the beach) and the Tricity Landscape Park.

There are quite a few other parks which are worth visiting, including Brzeźnieński Park, Oliwa Park, Orunia Park and Pope John Paul II Park in the district of Zaspa. Each park has its own unique atmosphere. 

Oliwa Park, for example, comprises a range of garden styles from its English-Chinese garden to a Japanese-style botanic garden. Before Christmas, and well into the new year, Oliwa Park transforms into a magical kingdom with its illuminations. 

It might be true that Gdańsk is a long way off being the greenest city in Poland. However, I cannot complain as I live in western part of the city where it’s only a 30-minute walk from the Tricity Landscape and a 20-minute walk from Jaśkowa Valley Park.

Reagan Park in Gdańsk
Ronald Reagan Park, Gdańsk ©️ Finding Poland
Park Oruński in Gdańsk
Oruński Park in Gdańsk ©️ Finding Poland

2. Well-designed and attractively located housing estates and buildings

If you’re contemplating moving to Gdańsk, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to modern housing estates to live on.

The housing estate I live in – Słoneczna Morena – stands out because of its green areas and extensive sports and recreation infrastructure. There’s a private medical centre, National Health medical centre on the edge of the estate, bakeries, eateries and other shops. A new Biedronka opened up on the corner of Hausbrandta Street Czesława Miłosza Street at the end of 2023. Finally, it’s just a five-minute walk to the bus and tram stops.

Perhaps my favourite development in Gdańsk is Alfa Park. Situated in the far west of the city, this estate’s proximity to two water reservoirs and the Tri-City Landscape Park makes it an extremely desirable place to live.   

Living in Gdańsk begins to get very expensive as you move further east towards the Baltic Sea. Still, I suppose you get what you pay for. Check out the location and aerial perspective of Tarasy Bałtyku, for example. You won’t find many more modern buildings in such close proximity to Gdańsk’s beaches.

Alfa Park, Gdansk
Alfa Park ©️ Finding Poland

3. The Baltic Sea and beaches

Living in Gdańsk is all about enjoying the fresh air, especially on the beaches of the Baltic Sea. 

Gdańsk has three main beaches which all run seamlessly onto one another. These are Brzeźno Beach, Przymorze Beach and Jelitkowo Beach – all named after the districts in which they’re located. Other beaches on the east side of Gdańsk include a small one at Westerplatte, Górki Zachodnie and Stogi Beach. 

In the summer, my wife and I occasionally head to Przymorze and Brzeźno beaches. They’re not usually crowded on weekdays, even when it’s hot. The beaches are easily accessible by a number of tram and bus lines.

We live around 9km from these beaches so we don’t go all that often. I do believe, though, you can have too much of a good thing. When we have a burning desire to go to the beach, we make the journey across the city.

why living in Gdańsk is the best
Brzeźno Beach ©️ Finding Poland

4. The historic Main City of Gdańsk

One thing that I never get bored of is visiting the historic Main City of Gdańsk.

The Main City area was rebuilt after the Second World War. Located on the western bank of the Motława River, the Main City includes some of Gdańsk’s best known historical monuments. These include the Golden Gate, Artus Court and St Mary’s Basilica. Finally, I must mention the Main City Hall with its impressive Tower that dominates the skyline of Długa Street. 

I’m blown away by the historic Main City every time I visit it. Every time I’m there is like my first time. I don’t think I can say the same for any other place I’ve visited. Whether it’s snowing, raining or baking hot, I never get tired of gazing at the many architectural styles and buildings on pretty streets such as Mariacka.

Finally, when the streets of the Main City are heaving in July and August at the time that St. Dominic’s Fair is on, it makes me feel proud to be living in such a popular tourist destination.

Mariacka Street in Gdańsk Main Town
Mariacka - My favourite Street in Gdańsk ©️ Finding Poland

5. A very good public transport system

I’ve written quite extensively about the public transportation system in Gdańsk before here on Finding Poland. 

Although we have a car, my wife and I tend to get around the city using buses and trams. Gdańsk has an extremely well-connected public transportation network. Wherever you live, you never have to walk too far to catch a bus or tram.

Just a five-minute walk from my flat, I have two tram lines which take me into the historic Main City. On weekdays, I’ve never had to wait much more than five to eight minutes for a tram to come. There are also plenty of bus services which go to the south of the city as well as districts such as Wrzeszcz and Zaspa.  

The buses and trams in Gdańsk are rarely overcrowded. I can only remember a few times when I’ve witnessed a crush load. Generally, the buses and trams are clean.

As things stand, it costs 4,80 zl for a single-use ticket on buses and trams and 6 zl for a 75-minute multi-use ticket. I pay 117 zl for a monthly ticket which is reasonable in this day and age.


Two things about living in Gdańsk which are slightly annoying

1. It’s windy

It’s something I’ve got used to, but windy days are very common in Gdańsk.

Even in the summer, there aren’t many days when the city is blessed with a gentle breeze. The breeze almost always seems to be of a moderate nature, apart from days when it blows a gale.

Still, there are worse things in life than wind. It’s not like we didn’t know what we were letting ourselves in for before we decided to move to the Baltic Sea.


2. Gdańsk is a long way away from other major Polish cities

As much as I adore living in Gdańsk, I do get itchy feet from time to time.

In other words, I get the urge to leave the Tri-City area for a day or two. Residents of Gdańsk are lucky that the Kashubian Landscape Park is only half an hour away by car. Medium-sized cities such as Toruń and Elbląg are less than two hours away.

My only gripe is the distance Gdańsk lies from major cities such as Warsaw, Kraków and Wrocław. I’m a big fan of all of the major Polish cities, including Łódź, where I lived and worked for 18 months back in 2012-13. However, it’s quite impractical to visit any of the aforementioned cities for a day trip if you live in Gdańsk. Still, I suppose those living in Kraków might have a similar gripe although Krakovians can be in Warsaw in a little over two hours by train. 

I’m nitpicking now. Let me describe what a dream day in Gdańsk looks like for me.

My Dream Day in Gdańsk

It’s just after 06:30 on a warm October morning. I gaze out of the window and look forward to the day ahead:

Sunrise over Gdańsk ©️ Finding Poland

Between 7 and 9, I finish a blog post and teach some English. It’s just about warm enough today for tea on the balcony. My wife and I head outside.

This Polish Golden Autumn is really like no other. Before lunch, my wife and I head to the Tri-City Landscape Park to do a spot of leaf peeping.

Walking in the forest, we reach a delicious conclusion. Let’s go to Pierogarnia Mandu in Oliwa for lunch. Mandu’s baked pierogi are scrumptious. 

Feeling full, we stroll around one of our favourite parks in Gdańsk – Oliwa Park. 

Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s already 15:30pm. Let’s take the tram down to Galeria Bałtycka. We’ve deserved the right to partake in one of our favourite pastimes – sitting down at Cukiernia Sowa coffee shop to have a cappuccino.

It’s 17:15. Time to go home to fulfil a few duties. We then watch a short film before a brainwave of mine. Let’s hit the historic Main City. 

Gdańsk by night. Eerie, charming and majestic are my favourite streets. And slowly how the Motława rolls by.

The breeze is a light one tonight.

Living in Gdańsk makes tremendous sense.

walking around Gdańsk at night
©️ Finding Poland

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