I was back in the Polish city of Gdańsk recently and decided to do a bicycle tour. In the past I have gone cycling in quite a few cities including Montevideo, Soweto, Dongguan, Zhuhai and Munich. Gdańsk is a super City to explore on bicycle, as it is vast, has many different districts, some parts are not covered by bus or train and these days, there are cycle paths around the city.
Our guides for the day were Bożena and Michał. Both are bilingual, local and passionate about Gdańsk and Polish history.
It’s a 3 hour Bicycle tour which starts at 10 am everyday. The tour doesn’t operate in the cold winter when cycling through snow and ice becomes difficult. You can book the tour online, by phone or in person.
The tour starts on Ulica Ogarną 119 and there were around 16 of us.
Here are the main stops on this excellent bicycle tour, I won’t reveal all the secrets, I’ll let you book it and explore yourselves!
1.The Old Synagogue
Jewish history in Poland needs no introduction. Sadly the Germans invaded Poland in 1939 and tried to destroy all remains of Jewish community life here.
The Old Synagogue is flattened now and merely a monument remains. It’s beside the wonderful Shakespeare Theatre in Gdańsk starówka.
Next we stop at Złota Brama, Golden Gate. This is the entrance to the main city. An Amber museum sits here and it serves as a good introduction to the famous Ulica Długa (long lane) That leads down to the square.
A sad trio of black and white photographs on the entrance serve as a chilling reminder of the war. Gdańsk lay in ruins in 1945.
We stop by the main square, Długi Targ. Here we learn about the clock tower (the town hall), the Kings of Poland and Neptune’s Fountain.
Neptune’s Fountain is a rare survivor of the Second World War as it was removed, and then placed back.
Next we stop on the iconic Maryacka Street. Gargoyles on Houses are used for drainage, vendors sell lots of amber and the idyllic housing is a homage to the streets of Amsterdam. The world’s biggest brick church, St. Mary’s Basilica is also here.
5.Ill Fated Polish Post Office
The war dominates proceedings here too. This is currently a fully functioning post office and museum but this Polish Post Office has a torn history.
The history is a brave bit more sinister. To all intents and purposes, the Second World War really began here. German gunmen stormed this place at 5am on the 1st September 1939 killing the Polish workers around the same time of the Tczew Bridge bombing and Westerplatte. A chill goes down my spine on the realisation that it’s 80 years ago next week.
Memorials remember our fallen heroes of yesteryear.
6.World War 2 Museum
Museums are plentiful in historic Gdańsk. This one is modern, informative and essential. It opened in 2017.
Next we head to Gdańsk Shipyard. Once a world leader in ship building, the shipyard sits rusty, skyline dominating and derelict.
We pose by the Harbour and the robots walking from the water.
We enter one of the derelict buildings. It’s all a bit lonely and deserted. It’s a city of multiple faces.
In the 1980s, it was here in Gdańsk where the fall of communism all began. Trade Union guru Lech Wałęsa and his barmy army launched the Solidarność movement here.
As well as a marvellous museum, the Solidarność Centre offers good views over the city.
9.Jan Heweliusz Statue
When Poland was a Kingdom, there were more heroes putting the country on the map than first met the eye.
While Frederic Chopin, Maria Skłodowska Curie (Warszawians) And Mikołaj Kopernik (a Toruńian) All grew up in Poland, Gdańsk has its own astronomic legend, Jan Heweliusz. His statue is in the old town in the place where he was born.
10. Dolne Miasto
For the final furlong on the tour, we are in the city’s trendy Dolne Miasto (Down Town). Here we see the redevelopment of old buildings and wild nature. We see canals and locks before heading back to base.
There are of course more stops on the tour, and plenty of surprises. But I’ll let you all do it yourselves. Having mostly explored Gdańsk on foot, I now recommend this bicycle tour! It’s very insightful, not too strenuous and lasts around 3 hours. A bottle of water is included and you can ask as many questions as you want! Here are a few more photos!
Here are the details for booking the tour in Gdańsk:
There are two types of tour, the one I did is the public tour and priced from 103 zlotych. You can also get a private tour, priced from 147 zlotych.
Here are some videos from my time backpacking in Gdańsk: