Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 18 Nov, 2011
Kamienny PotokThis northernmost district of Sopot has two distinct halves. The eastern half, between the railway and the sea is where the tourist facilities are located; while the western part between the railway and the Brodwino estate is residential. While the residential part of Kamienny…Read More
Kamienny PotokThis northernmost district of Sopot has two distinct halves. The eastern half, between the railway and the sea is where the tourist facilities are located; while the western part between the railway and the Brodwino estate is residential. While the residential part of Kamienny Potok is nothing special, with some modern villas and apartment blocks and several communist-era high-rises, the eastern section has several hotels, some good eating places (notably the Gospoda) as well as one of the prime Sopot attractions, the Aquapark. The seaside promenade and beach stretch the whole length of Sopot coast. The Kamienny Potok section is wilder, with the attractive wooded area near the mouth of Swelinia stream and a beach that gets a little bit less busy away from the very centre of the town. BrodwinoBrodwino is esentially a small estate of high-rise communist era blocks, nestling in a valley between the wooded hills of Trojmiejski Park Krajobrazowy (Tri-city Landscape Park). The buildings are as ugly as all square blocks, but the beauty of the setting and small size of the estate make up for this. There are no tourist attractions in Brodwino, but the woodland that surrounds it is a great place for walking and several marked routes pass through or near Brodwino and it's a good starting point for a forest walk to Gdynia-Karwiny. Gorny SopotStretching on the upper terrace of Sopot, Gorny (Upper) Sopot coveres the area between the railway line and the wooded hills of Trojmiejski Park Krajobrazowy (Tri-city Landscape Park). Although not as popular with visitors as adjacent to the sea Dolny (Lower) Sopot, Upper Sopot is a pleasant district with attractions of its own. The chief of those is the aforementioned Tri-city Landscape Park with lovely walking trails and the Sopot gem – the Forest Opera. In the winter, some keen (or desperate) skiers use the lift at Lysa Gora hill to practice for higher pistes. Upper Sopot has also its share of accommodation and eating and drinking venues, mostly nearby the main road of Niepodleglosci, but it's mostly a residential area, with a few small areas of communist era high-rises don't mar the general townscape of upmarket modern houses and stylish pre-war villas which constitute one of the most affluent housing areas of Tri-city where the property prices frequently top most if not all other Polish location. Dolny SopotThe de-facto centre of the town, Dolny Sopot stretches between the railway and the sea, bordered on one side by the 3 Maja street and Karlikowo district, on the other by the Kamienny Potok district. All the major attractions of Sopot as well as the town's tourist facilities are located in the Dolny (Lower) Sopot area. I am probably biased as I lived, studied, worked and played in Sopot until my mid-20s, but I love the place with all my heart (although slightly less so in the very peak of the tourist season when it becomes unbearably crowded). The main attractions of Dolny Sopot include the huge, sandy Sopot beach with the long, wooden pier (apparently the longest in Europe); the Spa House with its shopping, art gallery, viewpoint and the bromine-iodine-saline water drinking station; the clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants along the famous pedestrian drag of Monte Cassino; the Crooked House and the Inhalation Mushroom; the Southern and Northern Parks and the seaside promenade and bike path that stretches all the way from the northern reaches of Sopot to Gdansk's Brzezno.Dolny Sopot boasts the cult clubs of SFINKS and SPATiF as well as several more night venues; both of the town's theatres (the Chamber stage of the Wybrzeze Theatre and the Atelier Theatre) and all the museums including the state art gallery, the reconstruction of Sopot's early-medieval Slavic stronghold and the Museum of Sopot. It's also here that the most upmarket hotels are located, including the famous 1930s Grand, the new, gleaming Sheraton, and the slightly less glamorous but also highly rated Haffner and Rezydent. It's not all busy holiday glam, though, because out of season Sopot acquires a toned-down, more shabby appeal and becomes actually much better. And even in the summer, a stroll along Westerplatte, Parkowa or around Lipowa streets takes you out of the buzzing crowds to a more melancholy world of old villas and turn-of-the century elaborately decorated tenements, some newly tarted up, some dilapidating in overgrown gardens.Sopot has many facets but whichever of them you are after, you will find it the Dolny Sopot district where the true heart of the town beats. KarlikowoThe southernmost district of the town, between the more central section of Dolny (Lower) Sopot and Gdansk's Jelitkowo and Zabianka, Karlikowo is divided by the Bitwy Pod Plowcami street into a wide residential section west of the street and the seaside strip dominated by holiday infrastructure. The residential area features mostly individual family houses sited in large gardens and several developments of modern, upmarket terrace housing and gated apartment complexes. The Polish Prime Minister (at the time of writing) Donald Tusk lives here as do many affluent members of Tri-city intelligentsia and new middle classes.The seaside strip has numerous hotels, holiday homes and camp-sites as well as fully developed beach and beach-side promenade with a bike path, part of a continuous walking-and-cycling route from Sopot Kamienny Potok to Gdansk Brzezno. Karlikowo is where the Sopot fishing boats can be found on the beach, still operating in season, and next to them, the famous and very busy (and overpriced but still pretty good) Bar Przystan where all kinds of fish prepared in many ways can be had in a beach side setting. At the other end of Karlikowo, near the Sopot Wyscigi station, is the Sopot Hippodrome, a venue for some serious horse competition as well as a venue of choice for stabling and training among the more leisurely riding enthusiasts. A newly built sports and entertainment venue, the ERGO arena sits directly on the border between Gdansk and Sopot and offers space for up to 13,000 spectators. All in all, Karlikowo is an attractive part of Sopot with quite a lot to offer in the way of accommodation and holiday activities and one that most visitors are bound to visit during their stay in Sopot.Swiemirowo Swiemirowo district lies in the Dolina Swiemirowska valley and stretches in a narrow crescent, following the Mikolaja Reja street into the Sopot woods towards the Lesna Polana forestry cottage. Neither particularly large nor populated, Swiemirowo is not of any interest to visitors, though its location among the woodland of Trojmiejski Park Krajobrazowy (Tri-city Landscape Park) and near several main forest roads (closed to cars) means that it offers a good access point to the trails and tracks that criss-cross the Park. Close
Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 08 Sep, 2009
Imagine a town placed between the wood-covered green hills and the blue, grey and green sea; flanked on one side by the heaving millennium of historical Gdansk and on the other by just-born, barely 80-years old newness of the port of Gdynia; a town abundant…Read More
Imagine a town placed between the wood-covered green hills and the blue, grey and green sea; flanked on one side by the heaving millennium of historical Gdansk and on the other by just-born, barely 80-years old newness of the port of Gdynia; a town abundant in students and artists, poets and architects; drunken houses and decorative people; full of places of which it is difficult to say if they are a bar, a cafe or a pub but which often stay open to early hours of the morning and where dancing on tables is still not uncommon; a town with a wide silvery sandy beach and a concert stage hidden in the wood amongst the pines and the beaches.Welcome to Sopot.Modern Sopot constitutes and inherent part of the Tri-City conurbation, located on the northern Baltic coast of Poland, on the shores of the Gdansk Bay. The town is by far the smallest of the three, with about 50 thousand inhabitants as opposed to almost half a million in Gdansk and quarter of a million in Gdynia; but such a location gives it a fairly cosmopolitan feel. Sopot's connection with Polish popular and high culture is strong and - as it has been for last 50 years at least - it remains a place to see and be seen. In July and August it gets almost unbearably crowded and although it is also at its most lively as well, the pressure of the human masses becomes too much. The best month to visit is perhaps early September when a rather charming, slightly end-of-the season melancholy starts to envelop the town; while the weather is usually still mild and, unless you want to lay on the beach and swim, you can engage in all holiday activities in much pleasanter atmosphere.Sopot forms an excellent launching pad for the rest of Tri-City. Accommodation choices cover everything from camp sites to private rooms to cheap hotels/holiday homes and pensions to luxury hotels.*Sights and attractions*Sopot spreads on two terraces, the upper one largely residential, adjacent to the forest and cut by several wooded valleys; the lower one, separated from the upper one by the railway and the main road, containing most of the tourist infrastructure and bordered by the beach and the sea.The main pedestrianised street of the town called Ulica Bohaterow Monte Cassino, commonly shortened to 'Monciak', gently slopes from the train station to the pier and the sea and is a place where one inevitably ends up if visiting Sopot for any length of time. It is lined with cafes and bars, with more in the side streets. It is not, however, a particularly beautiful street and its main function is a social one as a promenade, stomping ground and catwalk.The gems of Sopot architecture are to be found in other streets. Abrahama in Upper Sopot and Westerplatte just off Monciak at the top, Winieckiego in the Lower Sopot (the shabbiest) provide perhaps the best examples. Turn-of-the century villas and apartment houses, sometimes stylised for hunting lodges or little castles; sometimes just decorated in the style reminiscent of Art Nouveaux give Sopot its characteristic look. Granted, it is not a sight worth travelling for but if you happen to be there, make an effort to look up and you can be rewarded by a glimpse of a decorative detail, strange shape of the attic floor, bas-relief or a sculpture. The council is making some effort to regenerate the buildings and although most of the pavements outside the main tourist track are still a health hazard things are looking better every year. Upper Sopot houses another of Sopot's oft-mentioned attractions, so called 'Forest Opera' - a stage located in the woods, surrounded by tall trees, now mercifully covered by a fabric roof so performances need not to be marred by rain. It was, indeed, a venue for operatic performances at the beginning (inter-war period) but currently is the main Sopot stage for pop and rock music concerts. The location is superb, although the facilities shabby. On the way to the Opera it is possible to come off the concrete track to the right and walk straight up the side hill into the woods to reach a viewing point allowing views of the town and the surroundings. A walk in the Sopot woods is generally worth doing and can provide respite from the holiday crowd especially in the height of the season. There are numerous walking paths and trials as well as bicycle ones and maps are available from some newsagent kiosks.The beach and the sea are; however, what makes Sopot and to the beach we go now. The best way to get there is to walk down 'Monciak' to arrive at the gates of the MOLO or pier. Sopot pier claims to be the longest wooden pier in Europe (originally built in 1928 and extended since to over 500 m) and so far it has not been spoiled by many additions of attractions or rides. The Sopot beach is very wide, very sandy and well managed by Polish standards, with fresh water showers, quite a long stretch covered by life-guards and dune-side little cafes offering refreshments and toilet facilities. Occasional giant trampoline, bouncy cushion or bouncy castle and an odd climbing frame or see-saw provide entertainment for children and more playfully inclined adults; while beach equipment from loungers and deckchairs to wicker beach-chairs (we called them baskets) can be hired near the Grand Hotel. Windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing and jet-skiing equipment is available for hire for the more adventurous. A foot and bicycle path leads along the beach from the northern end of Sopot all the way to outskirts of Gdansk and bicycles and motorised scooters can be hired in few places. The walk along this path is one of the loveliest ones in town; with dunes and beach on one side and either hotels and pensions or parks on the other. Sport facilities in Sopot are quite good, with extensive earth tennis courts housing the most prestigious Polish tournament Polish Open and available for hire. There are also indoor tennis facilities for the winter. Park Wodny or Aquapark is only a few years old but for some the major Sopot attraction. It is a spacious and attractive complex of water attractions with toddler pool, extensive play pools as well as three-lane swimming pool. Other attractions in Sopot include 8th Century fort reconstruction, located off Haffnera street just beyond the tennis courts, to the back of Haffner Hotel which calls itself an archaeological skansen and is well worth a visit, especially if you happen to meet the lady who conducted the research and excavations on the site and who is often there, perhaps preparing the next dig. From time to time the fort holds shows by local enthusiasts' groups showing dress and everyday customs.SPATiF (Monte Cassino 52/54) is a Sopot institution. Originally it was a club for the workers of film and theatre industries; later on became an official artists' club. The club underwent extensive refurbishment few years ago; the door policy became somehow laxer and some claim it's a shadow of its former self, but still a great club and a must-see.***Is Sopot worth coming to by itself? This is arguable but hardly needs arguing as Sopot does not exist by itself but as a part of the conurbation. What is in my opinion certain is that it is definitely worth visiting if you are staying in Tri-City for more than a day or two. Close
Written by marif on 26 Apr, 2004
Sopot's location along one of the prettiest stretches of the Baltic coastline is the main reason why the town has developed into a top tourist resort and health centre. Besides comprising a wonderful historic area, Gdansk is also a big industrial harbour city of shipyards…Read More
Sopot's location along one of the prettiest stretches of the Baltic coastline is the main reason why the town has developed into a top tourist resort and health centre. Besides comprising a wonderful historic area, Gdansk is also a big industrial harbour city of shipyards while Gdynia is mostly oriented towards business enterprises and banking. Sopot sandwiched midway between these two larger towns was never meant to be industrial or business-like but it was the intention of its founder to create a city of leisure, a city meant to provide recreation spots and a vibrant social life.
The turning point came in 1827 when Jean Haffner, a doctor from Napoleon's army, settled down in the city and built the famous molo, a pier that juts out several metres into the Baltic sea. Soon after, medicinal baths and sanatoria were constructed, parks and gardens were designed and Sopot's foundations as a holiday centre and spa resort were established. When Jean Haffner died in 1830, the enterprise he founded ran into financial problems. Saved from bankruptcy by Haffner's stepson in 1834, the investment grew until it was sold out to German investors who flooded the town with more construction work.
During the first decade of the 20th century, the popularity of the town increased so rapidly that new tennis courts, horse racing tracks and an opera house were constructed to provide entertaining facilities for the ever-increasing number of tourists. The parks were renovated, spas were added and the pier was extended and modernized. In September 1939, Hotel Grand welcomed Adolf Hitler who stayed in the city for a week to watch his army marching towards Warsaw.
Today while retaining the atmosphere of days past, Sopot's centre has been upgraded to the status of a modern leisure resort. A spa garden with rounded pergolas and a central fountain has been constructed to mark the entrance to the pier from which 11kms of sandy beach stretch north and south. Sopot also hosts a diversity of annual sporting events which include tennis tournaments, horse races and an international song festival.
Pubs, restaurants and souvenir shops have taken the city by storm since foreign enterprises were allowed to invest after Soviet control loosened. This cannot be tasted better than along ul Bohaterow Monte Cassino, a charming pedestrianised boulevard that runs down from the west side of the town to the pier. Walk along this enchanting walkway and admire the amazing diversity of shops, some of them offering front terraces with outdoor seating.
Sopot is a top place for night partying. There are so many nightclubs that it's difficult to choose. One of the best is unquestionably 'Sfinks' located on ul Powstancow Warszawy. Great cabaret shows combined with excellent underground music contribute in making 'Sfinks' an enjoyable night-long venue. Add to these the wonderful summer terrace and you'll understand why you have to push yourself in. For a real night out, you can visit Hotel Grand's casino, Sopot's top entertaining and gambling centre.