Golden autumn in Gdańsk

Golden autumn in Gdańsk

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

In Poland, the phrase used to describe the season when the hot days of summer are gone and winter is on the horizon is called the Polish “golden autumn” (aka - fall). From September through November, the trees take on rich hues of gold, rust, orange and purple and are particularly stunning. This is the optimal time to visit the city of Gdańsk. 

Located on the Baltic coast, Gdańsk was once a royal city of Poland and considered the wealthiest and largest city before the 18th century. The city itself has changed rulers many times and has gone from the Kingdom of Poland to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and even part of the Kingdom of Prussia. The Old Town was leveled during WWII and has since been lovingly restored to its original glory. As of 1945, Gdańsk is officially part of Poland again. 

As the weather cools down and high tourist season ends, you’ll have a beautiful city to wander around without bumping into others. In Old Town admire the restored architecture and view one of the largest brick churches in the world, St. Mary’s Church. For a fantastic view of the city, climb the 408 steps to the top of the bell tower.

Once you’ve had your fill of Old Town, wander towards the waterfront and Motlawa River. There is a large crane that was once used to load cargo into ships, a reminder of Gdańsk’s trading roots. A great place for a photo op is across the pedestrian drawbridge at the massive city sign. Here you’ll find white letters taller than you to stand next to! Get the whole family in there for the perfect picture. 

If you’re after a piece of “Baltic gold” you’ve come to the right city. Amber has been mined in the area since the 10th century and was an incredibly popular export. Craftsman used amber to make sculptures, tableware, caskets, boxes, candleholders, clocks, pendants, amulets and more. Today you can take an amber tour of the city, starting at the Gdańsk History Museum in the newest branch, the Amber Museum. If you’d rather just shop for it, take a stroll down Mariacka Street and browse through the shops. 

For a glimpse at the impact WWII had on Poland, visit the Museum of the Second World War. It opened in 2017 and encompasses the events that led up to the war. You can’t miss this ultra-modern leaning glass building! See a re-creation of a Polish city street from the 1930s or a Soviet tank.  

Spend the day in Gdańsk wandering the streets and enjoying the cooler weather. Instead of sweating and fighting through crowds, you can leisurely enjoy what the city has to offer at your own pace and perhaps bring home a golden amber treasure. 

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