Gdynia, Poland

The port of Gdynia stands almost at the midpoint of Poland’s Baltic Sea coast, on the Gulf of Danzig. The city is part of a tri-city with Gdansk and Sopot. It boasts excellent beaches and restaurants.

The city is a popular spa town and celebrated summer resort, with Europe’s longest wooden pier extending into the sea. You might also enjoy the odd Crooked House, with its surreal melted appearance.

While Gdynia is less than a century old, neighboring Gdansk’s story stretches back a thousand years, and the city has grown to be one of the most powerful and influential centers in all the Hanseatic League. In more recent history, Gdansk witnessed the first shots of the Second World War, then the rise of Solidarity in the early 1980s which led to the fall of communism.

Today’s city is filled with wonderful sites. Malbork Castle for instance, whose origins date back to 1274, is a dreamy vision of red brick and pointed turrets beside the Nogat River. Another city emblem is the twin-spired Oliwa Cathedral. Spectacular from the outside, it’s even more so within, thanks to a beautiful white interior dominated by the organ at one end, curved around a stained glass window. There’s also the Green Gate in the Old Town, along with a number of amber stores if you’re looking for souvenirs.

Should you choose to stay in Gdynia itself, you may find yourself drawn to some of its modernist buildings, including the curved Museum of the City of Gdynia, which contains exhibits focusing on local history, and the quirky Sea Towers, an angular harborside emblem of the city.

While in Gdynia, why not head to Kosciuszki Square, with its distinctive fountain, close to the waterfront. Given its history, it’s no surprise that two of Gdynia’s attractions here relate to the sea: the WWII destroyer ORP Blyskawica and the century-old tall ship Dar Pomorza, both of which are now museums.