Sopot has always been a popular holiday destination for the wealthier part of Polish society. Ever since the first sanatorium was opened in the 18th century, the rich and stylish flocked to Sopot to rest, enjoy the fresh ocean breeze and lay down on the pretty beaches. While not as glamorous as in the past, Sopot still remains one of the most attractive coastal towns for a holiday in Poland.
The area around Sopot’s wooden pier or “Molo” is the liveliest part of town. People are taking long walks on the beach or along the esplanade, where vendors serve the famous Polish “Gofry” waffles with whipped cream and seasonal fruits to hungry passersby. Those who crave a more fulfilling meal or just a place to sit down will always find a seat at one of the fine restaurants, quirky pubs or small cafés that are plentiful in the area.
Sopot wasn’t much more than a small fishing village when the first villas were erected near the beach in the 16th century. Soon after the first spa for citizens of the nearby city of Gdańsk followed. The town grew and started to become popular with the rich and the country’s magnates.
When Poland was annexed by Prussia, doctors started promoting Sopot as a place for relaxation and revitalisation. Fresh air, naturally occurring bromide spring water and the construction of multiple sanatoriums later made the small coastal town a haven for those suffering from chronic illnesses. However it took until 1999 for Sopot to finally receive the status of a “spa town”.
The bromide water that flows underneath the city, was once considered a common cure for all kinds of serious illnesses. Nowadays it is more of a tourist curiosity. You can still try it for free from the fountain located in the Southern Park (Park Południowy). It is safe to drink despite its off-putting smell and very salty taste.
Nowadays, most visitors come to Sopot to spend time on the beautiful beach and swim in the Bay of Gdańsk, because waters here are much calmer and warmer than in the other parts of Poland’s Pomerania region.
The beach is also where the town’s most famous attraction is located. With a length of over 500 metres, the Sopot pier is the longest wooden pier in Europe and among the longest wooden piers in the world. While it hosts a small marina at its end, most people come here solely to take a walk and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze and the spectacular view – especially during sunsets.
Monte Cassino, or “Monciak” for short, is the main street of Sopot and the city centre, where you will find the most restaurants, shops and cafés. It’s a very lively area, especially during the summer, when vendors set up small stalls to sell food and souvenirs and street performances as well as free open-air theatre shows take place.
Even at night, “Monciak” stays lively. Young people come to sip on cocktails and to dance until the early morning hours. Amongst Sopot’s most popular bars is a small place called Spatif. Once a hangout for artists, it now serves as a café at day and a club at night.
Although the atmosphere is far from glamorous, bouncers at Spatif are very strict when it comes to dress code and appearance. It’s an exclusive club for local artists and Polish celebrities, with a unique decor that smells and feels like it has been there forever.
Sopot has changed a lot over the centuries and it is still changing today. With more and more hotels being built here, property prices sky-rocketing and the city centre of Sopot becoming more and more beautiful, the city is trying to get back to its glory days. It sure is not the cheapest holiday spot in Poland but with its beautiful beach, amazing views from the Sopot pier and some of the most unique houses and villas in the whole country, it is definitely one of the most enjoyable places in Poland’s Pomerania region.