I am VERY VERY excited to finally release this travel article to you all!! It may have taken me 10 months to finally concoct, compile and release this party feature on Gdańsk, but better late than never as I reflect on my current favourite 20 bars in the Stare Miasto (Old Town) of Gdańsk. Of course I also toured other parts of Gdańsk like Oliwa, Brzezno (where I also lived) and Wrszesz but first up the Stare Miasto (and nearby streets) get their glory day. Baby baby, I love it. Gdańsk rocks along as the coolest city in the world that you never visited. Remember, it took me 820 cities and 130 countries into my journey until I finally turned up in this joint. Move over Berlin, Manchester and Barcelona. The party is here. #Gdańsk #visitGdańsk
“Ain’t it bittersweet, you were only just getting by” – Noel Gallagher.
Fuelled with passion and thirst, I took my Northern Irish lips to Gdańsk for 5months. I rented a flat in the Old Town, Stare Miasto and set about touring the best bars to compile a top 20. All from real life tourism and zest.
It took me a while to write this of course in the middle of some unexpected depression caused by liars and disrespectors of my nice travel story. Life rolled slowly on for me as I also ventured away from Gdańsk.
As well as the fact that these days, Gdańsk is EASILY one of the coolest up and coming cities in the world (hence why I chose to live there in 2016), the history is mind boggling. In essence, this city has been part of 4 or 5 different countries down the years! It can get confusing but I love this diversity about Gdansk.
Kashubians claim that Gdańsk is their capital city, and indeed some residents do speak Kashubian and it is the biggest close city to the Kashbubian culture.
After the First World War, Gdańsk became a separate entity, it was basically a country of its own (if Monaco and the Vatican State can be nowadays)! It was neither Russian, nor Polish, nor German. It was known as the Free City of Danzig and they even had their own borders and currency.
Sadly, asshole Austrian-German Nazi Hitler saw himself at home here and used this city as the place to launch his attacks on innocent Polish people leading to the horrendous Second World War.
Gdańsk has also been owned by Teutonic Knights, it was part of Prussia, it was also part of the Communist Poland PRL until the fall of the Berlin Wall. These days, Gdańsk is unstoppable and magnificent in its deserved swallow-fication of eager tourists. Miss it at your peril. I kocham Gdańsk, I love the place! SO here is my top 20 bars (as of April 2017!).
Here is the MAGIC TWENTY!!
1. Red Light Pub
In terms of pubs, it doesn’t get much more ice cool than the Red Light Pub. SO much so that this became a regular haunt of mine! It was also very significant for me as this was the FIRST pub in Gdansk, I ever visited on a dark Sunday night in July 2016. It has to be FIRST on the list. And get confused – outside it is GREEN and inside it is RED and well lit up! Plus it has nothing to do with prostitutes!
I took all my visiting friends to Red Light with me. It’s down a wee alley just off Ulica Dluga.
Great staff, good cocktails and a healthy range of drinks mixed with quirky decor make this a favourite. It also was included on my Pub Crawl of Gdańsk article.
Address: Kaletnicza, 80-831 Gdańsk
Phone: 505 785 095
2. No to CYK
You will know I am a huge fan of PRL/Socialist themed bars. Not only did I tour a few in Gdansk, but also in Starogard Gdański, Sopot and Bydgoszcz. No to CYK has beers from 4 zloty and some great relics of days gone by.
Address: Chlebnicka 2, 80-830 Gdańsk
Phone: 501 246 881
3. Cafe Szafa
I love love love Cafe Szafa. Hidden away shyly on a side street near a park, this place has three floors in essence yet is still tiny and poky.
A rock music vibe, a horror theme for Halloween parties and very cool staff make this cafe a pure fire evening hit. Translated it means “Wardrobe Cafe” so on an evening try and find the hidden room downstairs.
Address: Podmurze 2, 80-835 Gdańsk
Phone: 512 853 681
4. Jozef K
Jozef K epitomises why I loved the bars of Gdansk so much. Innovative, refreshing, stylish, friendly and full of surprises. Expect to drink honey beer, see aeroplanes hanging from the ceiling and read all kinds of books above, below and sidewards! Don’t skip it! It is on Ulica Piwna!
5. Browar Piwna
As well as Cafe Szafa, Browar is also on Ulica Piwna. Aptly named this one baby, “Beer Street”. Polish people know their stuff. The beers at Browar are all self produced of course and they normally have just 4 uniques types to try.
They also do Kashubian and Pomeranian food and you can buy souvenirs like T-shirts and take away bottles of their homemade beer. Tasty stuff and sexy staff.
6. Barbados/Browar Lubrow
Don’t be fooled by the Caribbean title. Barbados is by the train station (opposite side of the road) and next to the cinema. Once inside, prepare to fall in love with the beer menu.
I’d recommend getting the sample of 5 different beers, as above!
Address: Karmelicka 1, 80-001 Gdańsk
Phone: 502 268 290
One of the few that qualify as some kind of Real Ale pub on the list. They have a decent menu, but of course you pay more money for your beer here. Great craic in the summer when customers spill out onto the streets where there is a mini hat-trick of bars in close proximity.
Address: Straganiarska 2
Phone: 507 851 849
Prepare yourself for the best nightclub in the world! Bunkier is an extraordinary exhibition on 4 epic floors in an old war bunker. On whose authority is this world number one? Mine! A 150 country backpacker who likes a good beer, a decent party and a bit of a themed bar.
Address: Olejarna 3, 80-001 Gdańsk
Phone: 531 711 207
9. U Szkota
A Scottish Pub in Poland?! Yes and a decent one. With lots of different rooms, it can also be some kind of maze.
Address: Chlebnicka 9/10, 80-980 Gdańsk
Phone: 691 295 783
10. Irish Pub Piwnica
The Irish Pub in Gdańsk Stare Miasto isn’t great. No Irish staff, limited Irish beers and whiskeys and slightly over priced. It does have live football and a nice decor in a basement though, plus the location is handy, just near the Zlota Brama (Gold Gate entrance) to the right off Ulica Długa.
There are actually three Irish Pubs in the Old Town and I visited all three to test them, I wasn’t really impressed. In fact the best Irish Pub I found in Poland so far was the original one (26 years old) on Miodowa Ulica, Warszawa where we had our St. Patrick’s Day party in 2017. But I had to have a token Irish pub in the top 20 so this one gets it.
Address: Garbary 1, 22-100 Gdańsk
Phone: 58 305 91 39
The only cafe to make the list does so as I love their smoothies and all lists of bars should give the teetotalers some kind of option. Again, this is bang central on Ulica Dluga. The staff here were always very nice to me especially Dominika and Ola.
12. The Bar with no Name/Zimne Nóżki
I used to call this The Bar With No Name as I never knew its name. It is so cheap. Glasses of Warka beer for 4 zloty, burgers for 12 zloty (with chips) and live sport on TV plus it’s so close to the old town entrance and not far from the cool Cafe Szafa.
I later found out the real name of this bar is Zimne Nóżki. Which I love – it’s COLD FEET! Extra point as they also had a Northern Ireland flag up during Euro 2016. #gawa #garethmcauley
Address: Świętego Ducha 2, 80-834 Gdańsk
Phone: 662 322 622
Brudershaft is a basement bar that you could even walk past without seeing! It is down some steps literally on the left as soon as you enter Gdansk Stare Miasto on Ulica Długa.
Address: Długa 81, 80-831 Gdańsk
Phone: 510 128 564
14. Polskie Kino
A bar that is also a cinema. How cool is that? Go in any night and they will put a film on for you on the screen. I love this cool concept. This pub gets almost too busy at weekends to watch movies and indeed it also featured on my epic Pub Crawl night. But worth a visit!
Address: Szeroka 97, 80-835 Gdańsk
Phone: 535 227 277
15. Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa
A national institution, and the most commercial on the list but I can’t ignore the fact that Gdansk’s Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa is in the heart of the Old Town yet still bangs out beers for 4 zloty! Vodkas for 4 zloty, the same interior as every other Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa in Poland and food for 8 zloty.
Been spending most your lives drinking in backpacker’s paradise? Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa is your option then!
Address: Długi Targ 35/38B, 22-100 Gdańsk
Phone: 530 766 945
16. Flisak ’76
This is the swankaday-est bar on the list, Flisak ’76. At 20 notes for a cocktail, you’ll need a big wallet to backpack it. I visited just once, had a look at the menu, opted for a quick beer and left. But the fact it has signature cocktails and is in a swanky basement can sell it to you.
Based in a basement with a quirky title, LaBEERynth was where I went with Karolina Kokosz for beers. Admittedly Gdansk isn’t as good as some other Polish cities for Craft Beer Pubs (I am currently testing the Craft Beer Pubs of Warsaw for a future Piątkowe Picie feature) but La BEER ynth gets in because of its pun and the fact that there isn’t much in the way of Craft Beer pubs in Gdansk, just yet.
Address: Szeroka 97, 80-001 Gdańsk
Phone: 694 552 852
I could (and possibly should) have left Kubicki off this list as it is more of a RESTAURANT than a bar/pub, but then again it IS THE OLDEST bar in town. So it has to stay! Plus it was where I dated infamous Starogard Gdański girl Ola Mueller for the last time and ate Gdański Pierogi.
19.Sto Siedem (107!)
Sto Siedem, 107 has some good live music, board games and is in a basement shyly hidden in the backstreets. This is the more off the beaten track one on the list and worth that diversion.
20.Tekstylia (NOW CLOSED SADLY)
The final bar on this list comes with a hint of sadness. This was basically my local for 2 months, I frequented it and finished my long awaited 100 country book here, at Tekstylia. That book, Backpacking Centurion was shelved again due to depression. However Tekstylia Bar, on a prominent corner ina an old communist style building has since closed down. So it’s the 20th on my list and I include it for sentimental reasons and for prosterity. I was also in this bar writing my book when the person who lied to me and caused my depression began a spate of nasty lies. For now, the bar is empty. Good memories…
I love Gdańsk as a city for bars and I am sure I will be back there again soon! I hope you enjoyed this, please share with your friends and invite them to Poland and Gdansk! I will cover Brzezno and other parts of Gdansk separately. If you need somewhere to stay in Gdansk, I recommend these three hostels and one hotel:
Here are some videos of my time in these bars and around Gdansk: