Gdynia is worth visiting if you stay in Gdansk for a longer time. Although the city has a very short history – which can’t compare to Gdansk – its modern architecture and seaside make it a great destination for a one-day trip. Read the article to check what are the best things to do in Gdynia.
History of Gdynia
Before we write about what to do in Gdynia, let’s begin with a short introduction of the city. Gdynia was a small fishermen village but it started to grow at the beginning of the XXth century, when more visitors came to Gdynia to rest by the sea. In 1922 the Polish government decided to build a harbour here. This was due to the fact that Gdansk became the Free City, and access to its harbour was limited by Germans. Then the number of inhabitants of Gdynia grew rapidly, and in 1926 Gdynia received city privileges. Until the Second World War Gdynia and its harbour grew, but then it fell under Nazi occupation. It was liberated in 1945 Shortly before that big civil ship, Gustlof, left the port. It was afterwards sunk by a Russian submarine and became Baltic’s biggest shipwreck and underwater cemetery.
After the Second World War Gdynia grew again, and it was a witness to people’s struggle for freedom again. In 1970 soldiers opened fire to shipyard workers going to work, and about 20 people died. Victims have been commemorated with a monument close to the Gdynia Stocznia train station.
But Gdynia has recovered from that and developed in free Poland. In 1999 its harbour became the biggest one in Poland, and harbour and shipyard cranes are elements of Gdynia’s landscape.
Things to do in Gdynia – outdoor activities in Gdynia
Open’er Festival is definitely one of the best things to do in Gdynia. Or rather to listen to. This is one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, that starts early in July and lasts for four days, with world-famous musicians and bands in the line-up. In 2019 Smashing Pumpkins and Kylie Minogue were the main artists, and the previous year we could listen to Depeche Mode, Bruno Mars and Gorillaz. Open’er Festival is located in Military Airport north of Gdynia, close to Kosakowo village. Tickets are available on pre-sale since September on the previous year, before even line-up is announced.
Architecture of Gdynia
Don’t expect to see Gothic or baroque buildings here. Gdynia was built in XX century, so it’s modernism that you will see around. What is characteristic of Gdynia is that many buildings relate to marine style. You might not notice it at a first glance, but when you look at the buildings, you will discover that many of them are ship deck shaped.
One of the oldest buildings in Gdynia is Antoni Abraham’s family house (Starowiejska 30, now a restaurant). He is considered to have been an important man for Kashubian culture and is often referred to as King of Kaszuby.
Gdynia’s life is inseparably related to the sea. If you are looking for the best things to do in Gdynia – go towards the coast.
Gdynia has two beaches, a small one in Orlowo and the main beach close to the centre. Both are much smaller than beaches in Gdansk and tend to be crowded, but the one in Orlowo has a nice view of the cliffs. If you have time, after spending time on the beach, you may walk through the cliffs to Sopot.
Things to do in Gdynia – Museums in Gdynia
Two famous Polish ships moor in Gdynia: Blyskawica – the Second World War-era destroyer and Dar Pomorza – school ship that helped to train generations of Polish sailors. Both ships now serve as museums.
Opening hours and prices:
Blyskawica: Tuesday-Sunday 10.00-13.00, 14.00-18.00, ticket price 16 PLN, Family ticket (1 or 2 adults with children) 40 PLN
Dar Pomorza: Monday-Sunday 10.00-18.00, ticket price 12 PLN, Family ticket (2 adults + 3 children) 30 PLN, audio guide 5 PLN.
Aquarium in Gdynia
Great attraction if you come to Gdynia on a rainy day or want to rest from the sun. You will find here many species of fish and sea animals.
Opening hours: 9.00-21.00 until 31st of August, 9.00-19.00 in September, 10.00-17.00 October-March
Ticket price: 29 PLN, free entrance for children under 5 years old. Special offers for families and happy hours are available
Science and Experiment Centre
This is one of the best things to do in Gdynia if you come here with children. This is an educational playground, where children may learn the physics and nature law by conducting experiments on their own. Adults can join and have fun as well, going back to their school-time.
Ticket price: Full price ticket costs 20 PLN, but consult Experiment website for special offers and family tickets.
Opening hours: Experiment Centre in Gdynia usually opens 9-18 but check their website as opening hours change in high season.
Museum of emigration
This is a relatively new and modern museum. It presents the history of Polish emigrants during the mid-war times – mainly to the USA. Many of them left Poland from here and were never given the opportunity to come back.
Opening hours: Monday.: closed, Tuesday: 12:00-20:00, Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00-18:00
Ticket prices: 12 PLN, Family ticket (2 adults, 4 children) 30 PLN. Free entrance on Wednesday. Audio guide 8 PLN.
Visit to the museum should take about 1,5-2 hours.
Kamienna Hill (Kamienna Góra)
There is a free trolley that goes up from the Music Theatre and takes you to the hill. Except for great view to the city and the sea, this is also the area of old-time villas. This part of Gdynia is considered to be one of the most luxurious and prestigious districts in Poland. Its residential buildings were built before the Second World War when modernism broke through. Therefore, both modernistic and old Polish Mansion styles may be found here. Kamienna Hill is like a town within a town – although you are still in Gdynia, you are well separated from the city buzz. Many buildings have their secrets, and some of them hosted Gestapo Headquarters during the war and security service during communist times.
Part of Kamienna Hill was designed to be a garden, and there are many green areas there. If you come here and have some time, this is one of the best places to see in Gdynia.
Just below Kamienna Hill, there is the Naval Museum. It provides exhibitions of weapon, arts, documents, uniforms and ship models.
Opening hours: Monday closed, Tuesday 10.00-18.00 (until 19.00 in July and August)
Ticket prices: Free entrance on Tuesday, Regular ticket 16 PLN, 24 PLN tickets combined with Blyskawica Ship. Family ticket 30 PLN.
On your way from the train station to the beach, you will pass by Infobox. Many events are held here, but even if there is nothing actually going on, you may climb the terrace to see more of Gdynia or rest in the green area in front of the Infobox. Infobox is also a Tourist Information Office, so if you have not yet decided on what to do in Gdynia, don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation there.
Getting from Gdansk to Gdynia
SKM train is the best way to get from Gdansk to Gdynia. Trains go very often (every 10-15 minutes until evening, then every 30 minutes) and the regular ticket costs 6,5 PLN.
You can buy the tickets from:
- cash desk at the station (remember to validate the ticket before you enter the train),
- ticket machine (if you plan to return on the same day, look for special offers)
- conductor at the first door of the train – remember to enter the train through the first door, otherwise, ticket inspector may fine you for not having a ticket. Buying a ticket from the conductor, you need to pay an extra fee (2,8 PLN)
- in the App (Skycash)
Gdansk is connected with Gdynia with a network of bike paths – the main being the one going along the beach. Riding a bike from Gdansk to Gdynia should take you about two hours.
You may also use the Mevo bike, as Gdynia joined the Mevo System as well.