Poland’s Baltic Coast and 5 Reasons You Should Visit
When it comes to booking a trip, Poland probably isn’t the first destination that springs to mind. But if you want sunshine, long sandy beaches, hunks of history and chunks of culture maybe you should reconsider! Sure, everyone knows about the bustling capital Warsaw with its old town and castle and its southern rival Krakow, oozing with charm and Italian ambiance, but have you heard of the Baltic tri-cities of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot? If not, then you should keep reading..
At first glance Sopot appears to be a sweet seaside town on the Baltic Coast but in fact it is much, much more. Crowned ‘Pearl of the Baltic’, Sopot is a major health-spa and popular tourist destination with many flocking to the long sandy beaches in the summer months. The town hosts a number of festivities throughout the year including the Sopot International Song Festival, the second largest after the likes of Eurovision, Idea Prokom Tennis Open and its own ‘Grand Prix’. The town also has its own swanky Yacht club and hosts the World Sailing Championship.
Sopot also has the longest wooden pier in Europe which stretches 515.5 metres into the Bay of Gdańsk, as well as an unique open air Opera house (Opera Leśna) showcasing performers from all over the world. Among the towns other attractions is a bromide spring water fountain, known by the locals as the “inhalation mushroom”, the “Crooked House” shopping centre and the upmarket casino in the Grand Hotel, which has attracted a number of famous guests in the past including General de Gaulle, Adolf Hitler and even Fidel Castro!
Gdansk is the biggest and most historic of the tri-cities, offering visitors an insight into Poland’s recent and ancient history and its connection with other towns of the Hansiatic League. The city of Gdansk saw the birth of Solidarity in the nearby wharf where Lech Wałęsa worked to change the status quo in Europe. Without Solidarity the Berlin Wall might still be standing today and the Iron Curtain might still divide the people of Europe.
Following on from World War 2 and after much destruction, the town was rebuilt in its original style and today is a treasure trove of historical monuments of Polish culture. Must see sights include the Long Lane (Ulica Długa), Royal Road (Droga Królewska), St Mary’s Basilica (Kościoł Mariacki) and the Great Crane (Żuraw). If that isn’t enough there is also the fascinating Amber Museum at the end of Ulica Długa – you will be amazed at the impressive collection of ‘inclusions’ (when insects or plants are caught inside the amber) and can even pick up a souvenir or two to take home with you.
Should you have time, the nearby areas of Oliwa and Westerplatte are also well worth a visit. In Oliwa, you can visit the Holy Trinity Church and see its grand Baroque organ, plus take a trip to the nearby impressive zoo. Westerplatte, however, takes you back to a darker time in recent history, as it is the ‘starting point’ of the Second World War, where the brave few fought off the Germans during seven long days and nights.
Gdynia is a relatively new town created in the early 1920s to serve as a port and provided access to sea trade when Gdansk was a free town under German control. Today, the city is a example of the architectural style Art Nouveau and whilst the city itself does not offer much for tourists, the surrounding hills and coastline add some serenity to the otherwise industrial port. On the coast, two anchored museum ships can be found in the harbour and the long promenade connects the marina to the city centre.
So Why Should You Visit the Tri-cities?
- Nature. This part of Poland offers so much; the rolling hills, the beautiful coastline stretching for miles and of course, the long sandy beaches.
- Authenticity. As a relatively unspoiled tourist destination, you get an authentic experience – from traditional Polish food and hospitality, to the prices!
- Transport. The tri-cities are easy to navigate in and between and also offer connections across the Baltic to northern neighbour Sweden.
- History. Between the three cities there is more than enough history and culture to keep you busy for your stay. With the ancient Slavonic roots, their connection to the World Wars and more recently Solidarity, you are sure to come away with a new piece or two of knowledge.
- Diversity. These three cities truly do provide something for everyone – nature, history, culture and good value – and last but not least, there are plenty of places to eat, drink and be merry!!
Have I tempted you into considering a trip? I do hope so!
For more information, why not check out Imagine Poland