This new kid on the block only came into existence in the 1920’s. Gdynia was born out of Poland’s necessity to access the sea. As Gdansk (Danzig) was at the time a Free City the decision was taken to turn the small village of Gdynia into a port.
Gdynia has since grown into a charming city. Sandwiched between the Baltic Ocean on one side and the forested region of the Tricity Reservation Park on the other the city has become extremely popular with nature lovers who come to enjoy the many scenic walks through the forests or along the shore line.
The obvious place to begin your exploration of Gdynia is probably Square Kościuszki. Located at the end of the Southern Pier ( Molo Poludniowe) it is considered as Gdynia’s main square. In the warmer months it is a popular hangout for people who can enjoy the sea scape whilst stopping to browse the souvenir kiosks or sitting down at one of the many bars or restaurants that line the pier.
In the middle of the Square is a monument to all the Polish sailors who lost their lives during World War 2. Alongside is also a monument to one of Poland’s favourite sons, the author Joseph Conrad (see photo on the right)
On the western side of the pier are two museum ships, the ORP Blyskawica Destroyer and Dar Pomorza Tall Ship. The Blyskawica saw action during World War 2 before being donated to the Polish government as a museum ship. Both ships are still used as training ships and are still manned by sailors from the Polish navy.
From the pier you get a great view of one of Poland’s newest residential developments, the Sea Towers. Completed in 2009 it will be the tallest building in Poland outside of Warsaw and will offer spectacular sea views for many of it’s residents.
Further along the pier is the Gemini Centre which houses the Silver Screen Cinema (which often plays English speaking movies). This complex also houses a variety of shops and eateries including Dom Czekolady or House of Chocolate. At the top floor is an internet cafe and also a terrace with views of the pier.
A few minutes walk from the Southern Pier is the Boulevard by the Sea (Bulwar Nadmorski). This purpose built promenade is lined with benches and is a great place for a Sunday morning stroll.
If you like shopping then Gdynia won’t disappoint. Ulica Swietojanska is several miles long and both sides of this street are packed with shops, bars and restaurants.
Gdynia has also become home to countless music, movie and theatrical festivals. The Gdynia Heineken Opener Festival has played host to many international music stars such as Placebo, Franz Ferdinand, Scissor Sisters, Coldcut, The Streets, Kanye West, Basement Jazz and many more. Confirmed acts for the Gdynia Heineken Opener Festival 2008 are Jay-Z, The Raconteurs, Goldfrapp, The Cribs, Sex Pistols, Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers and more. Click here for the official website.
If you visit Gdynia then it would be a crime to miss seeing Orlowo beach. Orlowo is famous for it’s cliff face and this natural feature is unique along the whole of the Polish coastline. The beach is picture postcard perfect as the blue skies, green forests, clear blue water and the whitewashed wooden pier combine to make it almost impossible to take a bad photo !
A few minutes from the beach is Kliff shopping centre. This is one of my favourite shopping centres in the Tri City. It isn’t that big that you are overwhelmed by it’s sheer size (a la the Trafford Centre in Manchester) but it isn’t too small either. Kliff has a lot of classy stores including a number of clothing and jewellery retailers. A pianist usually tinkles the ivories on the ground floor next to the fountain and coffee shop.