As much as I loved my expat life in both Australia and New Zealand, one of the benefits of now being based in London is the fact that going to another country just for the weekend isn’t completely off the cards. When I lived in Auckland I’d take weekend breaks to Wellington or spend a couple of days in Queenstown. Exploring further afield when you’ve only got 48 hours to play with just isn’t possible (unless you don’t sleep but I quite like sleep, y’know?)
Weekend breaks in Europe though? Totally doable, even when you’re balancing your love of travel with a full time job, like me.
In February I went to Poland with my friend Brenna where, aside from filling up on pierogi (small Polish dumplings) and vodka, I discovered why Gdansk is perfect for part time travellers.
It’s easy to get to
One thing you don’t want to be doing on a weekend break is spending hours in transit. You want to get to your destination as soon as possible so you can spend more time exploring. A flight from Stansted Airport to Gdansk takes just over 2 hours and, if you choose a direct flight from other airports in England, you’re looking at about 2.5 hours in the air.
You could have your breakfast at home in London and be in Gdansk in time for a late lunch of Pierogi and traditional Polish soup. If that’s not a good idea I don’t know what is.
Another thing you don’t want to have to do if you’re only somewhere for the weekend is to navigate a complicated transport system and waste time getting from place to place. Gdansk has a bus network (great for getting to and from the airport) and a train network that’ll take you to nearby Gdynia and Sopot (both worth a visit) but, because Gdansk isn’t a huge city, you can quite easily get around on foot.
Honestly? Sometimes the only plans I make when I travel is to walk; it’s good for you, it’s free, it gives you lots of opportunities to take photos and it’s often the best way to get a feel for a new place.
It’s ridiculously pretty
Let’s be honest here. When you’re travelling somewhere just for the weekend you don’t want to have to seek out all the good stuff. You didn’t get up at 6am for an early flight to spend hours searching for a pretty street to photograph, a lovely church to look around, a river to walk along after dinner. In Gdansk you don’t have to. It’s all there in front of you. Beautiful pastel coloured buildings, cobbled side streets, unique architecture, and a bit of street art to top it all off. It’s all just so wonderfully photogenic.
If you time it right and you’re willing to be flexible about exactly which weekend you go, you can easily get a cheap flight to Gdansk: we booked return flights about a month in advance for £58 return. The real bargains, though, don’t start until you actually arrive. Alcohol-wise you’re probably going to be drinking vodka (hello, you’re in Poland) which you can easily get with a mixer for around 5 Zloty (about £1), a beer will cost a little less and a main meal will cost you around 24 Zloty, that’s about £5.
Accommodation, especially if you stay in a hostel, is also cheap. We booked a twin room at Grand Hostel Gdansk and paid £25 each which covered 2 nights.
So that’s £58 on flights, £25 on accommodation: £83. Seriously, Gdansk is probably the cheapest place I’ve ever travelled to. You could easily stick to the free tourist attractions whilst still eating out and going for a few drinks and set yourself a budget of £100. Although I think I might have gone slightly over that. Vodka….clothes….have we met?
It’s got the best of both worlds
Beach holiday or city break? A lot of us seem to find ourselves choosing between the two when we’re planning our next trip. My favourite places to travel combine the two. I mean, there’s a reason I spent most of my expat life in Australia living in Sydney. Technically the beach you can visit on your trip to Gdansk isn’t actually in Gdansk, but it is only a 30 minute train ride away in Sopot and you can get there for around 3.80 Zloty (about 75p).
Apparently during summer the beach in Sopot is packed but obviously as we were there in February it was hardly the weather for taking any clothes off, let alone wearing a bikini. That didn’t stop us taking a stroll along the sand though and, with the sun making an short appearance, it was the perfect setting for a wintery walk.
More Gdansk inspiration
So what do you think? Fancy a weekend break in Gdansk?
All prices correct at time of writing.