When it comes to European city breaks, Gdansk in Poland may not be at the top of your list. But in our view, this underrated historic port city on the Baltic coast most certainly should be. It's got the picturesque Baroque architecture of Paris, the lovely waterways of Amsterdam, and the edgy street art of Berlin - but thanks to its somewhat under-the-radar status, it attracts far fewer tourists.
But that's all about to change, with travellers becoming more and more aware of Gdansk's charm and allure. In fact, Tripadvisor recently named Gdansk as the top European destination on the rise! So if you're after an offbeat weekend trip destination, look no further than Gdansk - but book your trip soon, before the rest of the world catches on.
The characterful Old Town neighbourhood is where you'll find the most amazing photo ops in Gdansk. Colourful houses - all with their own unique design - are fronted by lush gardens, and many are decorated with intricate gargoyles. Dlugi Targ (the Long Market) is the main pedestrian street, a wide boulevard that's a popular gathering place for tourists and sight-seers. And the striking Żuraw structure, situated on the waterfront, is one of the first examples of an industrial port crane (the original one was built way back in the 14th century).
You'd never know it, but much of Old Town Gdansk - including Zuraw - was restored after the destruction of World War II. It was in this very city, in fact, that the war officially broke out in 1939 after shots were fired from the Schleswig-Holstein battleship. It took dozens of years to reconstruct the city, but it's incredible to see just how similar the new buildings are to the original pre-war versions.
If you come away with one souvenir from Gdansk, make it amber. This yellow natural resin is native to the Baltic region, and much of the world's amber supply was sourced from right here in the Bay of Gdansk. Spend an afternoon walking around town and you'll no doubt come across a dozen or so shops and galleries selling the gemstone in all shapes and sizes.
The hub of the Amber market in Gdansk is located on Mariacka Street, which is lined with quaint fairytale buildings and a whole host of amber dealers. After you've picked up a few amber trinkets, you can treat yourself to a coffee and cakes on the terrace at the trendy Drukarnia Cafe, right on the same street. If you're after something a bit stronger, sip on a cider or a warm mulled wine.