I am by no means an experienced solo traveller. This was my first experience. However, it went off without a hitch, and I enjoyed it! I felt safe enough, and I would highly recommend taking a look around a few of Poland's cities if you have the opportunity. I speak English almost exclusively and had no issue travelling here. In hindsight, I would have spent less time in Gdansk and visited Krakow, but I'm happy with what I did and I'll detail it here.
If you would like to read a blog account of this trip instead of an itinerary, you can find part 1 on my website here.
Travel to Poland
I am currently based in the EU, so I was primarily concerned with the cheapest way to get to Poland and back from Luxembourg. I knew I wanted to visit Gdansk and get to the coast, but flights there were considerably more expensive. I flew in and out of Warsaw and booked a train to Gdansk. I'll include a travel tips section on how to book the trains online as someone I was speaking to on the train from the airport to the main train station had their money taken and no ticket returned from an unauthorised seller.
- Museum of the Second World War
Having arrived in Gdansk and checked in to the Grand Hostel the night before, I woke up, took breakfast at 8, and set out to wander around the city. The sellers on the long market were just setting up, and there weren't many people about. I'd recommend getting up later and having a relaxed morning, as most things don't seem to open until 10.
I had pre-booked (this is not necessary) a ticket to the Museum of the Second World War, which is where I spent most of this day. Having been to numerous war museums (particularly in Luxembourg and Germany, but also the Imperial War Museum in London), I would highly recommend this museum. It was the first time I had seen any depth to the Polish experience of this war, and the knowledge gave a far greater feeling of depth to the city when I left. I spent the rest of the day wandering at my leisure.
Day trip to Malbork Castle via train. See Malbork destination.
Day trip to Gdynia and Sopot (tri-city) via train. See Gdynia and Sopot destinations.
Train to Warsaw
Good to know:
I noticed 3 main chain "general" stores in Poland for miscellaneous goods.
- Marked with a green sign, these stores are frequently kiosk-type. Useful for buying water, snacks, or alcohol, these are everywhere, and some are open 24h. A few locations are full grocery stores, such as one in the old town of Warsaw, but most are very limited.
- A ladybug and red-and-yellow sign will lead you to a Biedronka, a fully-fledged supermarket company. There is one not far from the main tourist area of Gdansk, and it suited me quite well.
- Rossman (you may know this one from Gemany)
- A drugstore. Useful to buy an umbrella if you forgot one and get caught in the rain, travel size amenities, an eyemask if you forgot one and there's too much light in your room, or mozzie repellent because the mosquitoes in Warsaw are VICIOUS.
Poland is not part of the eurozone, so bring cash to exchange. Contactless payment is preferred if credit cards are accepted.
A 2-zloty coin is the equivalent of your 50-cent piece to access a WC in the majority of the EU. Some toilets are equipped to take contactless payment, but most are not. Pay with cash on occasion to get your change and those valuable 2-zloty coins!
Instead of me explaining the types of trains here through my limited firsthand experience, hop on over to Lonely Planet's guide. For booking online, I used https://www.intercity.pl/en/ or https://www.polishtrains.eu/listawynikow. I believe the Intercity site to be the official method, but I successfully bought my initial ticket from Warsaw to Gdansk through the PolishTrains site, leading me to believe it is legitimate as well. As always, you can purchase directly from the ticket office in the station just before your departure, provided the train isn't sold out. I believe I used every available method to purchase train tickets over the course of this trip, and the only issue I encountered was the intercity site failing to load, leading to the purchase of tickets from the ticket office instead.
To get to/from Gdynia or Sopot from Gdansk, I recommend the SKM train line. It is very cheap, and you purchase tickets for the next train from vending machines below the platforms in the station.
Places to eat:
I am vegetarian, and I didn't struggle at all in Poland, but if I were not, it is likely I would have bought food from "milk bars". The price levels in Poland are far cheaper than in Luxembourg, but even so, it is quite common for me to just buy things from grocery stores, especially when I'm tired. One place I would recommend in Gdansk for everyone is the Pierogarnia Mandu. I ordered pierogi based on a spiced chickpea filling in a dough containing black cumin, and I don't think I'll ever forget them. It was extremely filling, but I must say, it was a delicious struggle.
I stayed at the Grand Hostel in Gdansk. Due to current conditions, it was running on self-check in and the kitchen/common area was closed, making it a little lonely. Everything was nice and clean, and a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs served with bread, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber (or some type of sausage dish) and a beverage of your choice was included from the Klatka B restaurant next door.
There is a wealth of museums that seemed interesting here. The Maritime museum (which I believe occasionally allows access to that noteworthy black building, it used to be a crane) appeared as though it may have been worthwhile, and there are various assorted museums to suit all interests, including amber, which you will find is sold EVERYWHERE here.