The old seaside resort Sopot is a highly underestimated destination in Pomorskie in Northern Poland. Here’s our guide to the very best things to do in Sopot during your visit.
The Best Things to Do in Sopot: Explore the Pomorskie Region
I land in Gdansk five minutes before the clock strikes noon. As my flight carefully prepares itself for the sort of bumpy landing that you only ever experience with low-cost airlines, we circulate for a few stolen moments over a forest painted with a stunning autumn foliage, and a small shopping centre bearing the promises of both IKEA, Zara and Kappahl. For a wee moment I think I’m about to land back home in Norway. The resemblance between Norway and Northern Poland is, from an aerial perspective at least, uncanny.
Despite the instant familiarity, the Pomorskie region is an area I have yet to discover. The region is perhaps most known for Gdansk, one of the most popular Polish weekend destinations there is. I’m invited to Northern Poland as a guest of the tourism agency of the Pomorskie region, and even though I will be introduced to Gdansk, the main emphasis of the trip will be on Sopot.
To be honest, I know embarrassingly little of Sopot before I land. A quick Google search briefly reveals that it’s a small city with a beautiful beach. That’s it. That’s all I know. It’s, however, my assumption that the Pomorskie region are keen on introducing themselves as a region that offers more than cheap vodka and wild stag-do locations. Instead, my itinerary is filled with things that the Western world craves: shopping centres, delicious food experiences and spa treatments. Especially the numerous spa offers does not go unnoticed: no matter where you look you will find billboards promising you the ”ultimate spa experience”, a “million dollar smile” or the “perfect nose”.
It seems like Poland is the place to go for those looking for a new face.
Despite my initial doubt and lack of knowledge, I pretty soon found myself falling ever so slightly in love with Sopot. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Gdansk, and even people with a stress-level as high as mine will discover that they sooner or later will end up with a more relaxing heart beat.
Sopot – Historical Seaside Retreat by the Baltic Sea
Sopot built its magnificent reputation as a seaside retreat in the late 19th and early 20th century. Kaiser Wilhelm 2., amongst many other famous members of Europe’s ruling classes, chose the little town by the Baltic Sea as his summer home. Though it has a long history, Sopot only started to grow after Jean Georges Haffner, a now famous physician who served under Napoleon, discovered it by accident during the Napoleonic Wars. Haffner believed the environment would be perfect for a sanatorium, and only a few years later Sopot was the ultimate place to go for those looking to take care of their precious health. Meanwhile, Haffner married the daughter of a local merchant and decided to stay. The town does that you, it seems; it gives you an uncanny feeling of being at home.
Soon, the building of bathhouses and several spas resulted in Sopot becoming a fashionable health resort for the aristocratic families of Europe. They would spend the days in the spa and the evenings indulging in champagne, dancing and the vibrant social life of the city. During the early 20th century, Sopot, in all its decaying grandeur, really was the place to see and be seen.
Even today, Sopot is a fashionable seaside retreat – something which is highly visible in the fact that more and more fancy hotel chains have opened up retreats and spa resorts in the town. According to locals I spoke to, the microclimate in Sopot – perfectly located right on the shores of the Baltic Sea – is perfect for those in need of a spa experience. Especially in the off-season, during the autumn storms in October, there are lots of ions in the air therefore making it good for your health. Don’t see why some negatively charged ions would be good for you? According to, Organic Lifestyle Magazine:
Negatively charged ions have a positive effect. They elevate our mood by increasing serotonin levels, they help stabilize blood pressure, increase the body’s alkalinity, strengthen bones, heighten immunity, accelerate physical recovery, they purify and clean the air, and more.
See. Science got you covered. If you’re looking for a restful experience, Sopot should definitely be high up on your list. But remember to travel off-season so that you can have the beautiful beach and the picturesque streets all to yourself (and you can surround yourself by more negative ions as well!).
Embark on a Sopot Walking Tour:
Sopot is a vibrant city with a cute city centre. The streets are charmingly shabby, and in the town square you can buy local delicacies from one of the many stands.
You can’t walk through Sopot without visiting its most famous attraction: The Crooked House (built in 2004). The building is located on Monciak Street, and it certainly gives out a strong vibe of being in a fairytale – however, the spell is unfortunately broken as soon as you set foot in the building, as it currently houses a Costa and a shopping centre.
Besides the strange Crooked House, you can also find more charming buildings from the 19th century. If you’re lucky, you can enter one of the old bathhouses or sanatoriums. Well worth the visit!
You won’t get bored on a walking tour of Sopot. The many streets of Sopot are filled with cafes, restaurants and art galleries. The bohemian vibes are strong enough to vaguely resemble Paris’ Montmartre.
See Sopot Pier
The Sopot Pier is most likely the most famous landmark in Sopot, and it’s always filled to the brim with both tourists and locals alike. The pier was originally built by Haffner, the doctor from Napoleon’s army, in 1827, but it has been rebuilt and renovated several times since then. In Your Pocket, can report that the pier with its 511m, is the longest pier in the Baltic region and the longest wooden pier in Europe. Now that’s impressive, if you ask me!
I’ve heard some rumours that you have to pay a small fee to visit the pier, but this did not happen to me while I was there. I assume it’s just in the high-season? Anyway, it gives you a beautiful view of Sopot.
If you visit the Sopot Pier, you have to walk all the way to the end and rub the pole. According to the locals, this will bring you good luck!
BONUS TIP: If you find the Sopot Pier to be too busy, you should head to the Pier in nearby Gdynia instead. Very few tourists know about it, so you might get lucky and have it all to yourself.
Have the Ultimate Spa Day in Sopot
If you are looking to explore the Pomorskie region, it’s hard to avoid Sopot. The luxurious cousin of Gdansk, Sopot is a famous health and spa town filled to the brim with luxurious hotels promising you the very best in spa treatments.
I recently spent a few lush days at the fancy Marriott Hotel Sopot, and the luxuriuous rooms and its beautiful architecture certainly made my heart race a little bit faster. Anyway, one of the main reasons people stay at this hotel is Mera Spa. The spa is supposed to be one of the best in Poland, and I loved every second of my experiences there. I kid you not, I had the best full body massage of my life here. For real.
And the best thing? You don’t have to stay at the hotel to use the spa facilities. You can simply just walk in, book a full spa day experience and RELAX. A spa day in Sopot feels like heaven, I promise you that.
Discover the History of the Grand Hotel Sopot
If you are a film enthusiast, you might find that the building of Grand Hotel Sopot will remind you ever so slightly of Wes Anderson’s whimsical and charming The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Grand Hotel Sopot, originally known as The Kasino Hotel, was built between 1924-1927 and it cost the astonishing amount of 20 million danzig gulden. It’s located on the Sopot promenade, right next to the famous Sopot Pier. Once a popular spa resort for the Polish aristocracy, the Grand Hotel used to be the ultimate place to see and be seen for the wealthy Northern Polish families. Today, you can see remnants of their glamorous past by visiting the hotel bar – here you can find photos of all the famous guests that have stayed at the Grand Hotel Sopot: Hitler, Fidel Castro, Josephine Baker, Vladimir Putin, Shakira and the list goes on.
The perfect place to go for some everyday glamour, I reckon.
Chase the Waves on Sopot Beach
You might not think that the Balkan Sea is a good place for a beach resort, but I urge you to rethink that!
During summer, the long and sandy Sopot beach is filled to the brim with holiday guests eagerly soaking up the sun. In Autumn, it’s the perfect place to go for a relaxing stroll (and for soaking up all those ions, you know!)
Indulge in Some Delicious Polish Food
Ha! So you thought that you had finally found an article on Cavaforlunch that does not include me raving endlessly about food? It’s time to face it, I’m a foodie at heart.
According to Lonely Planet, one of Poland’s best restaurants, Bulaj, is located in Sopot. Apparently, foodies from all over the world flock here to sample the delicious seafood dishes of head chef Artur Moroz. We spent a lovely evening indulging in a 6 course meal – and it was absolutely delicious! But beware – Bulaj does not look like a super fancy restaurant, instead it offers a cozy and laidback bistro-ish atmosphere. You can find the restaurant along the beach, with a breathtaking view over the sea, at entrance No 12. You will not regret having a meal (or six!) here.
Go to Hel
You might be wondering why on earth I would advice you to go to Hel, but hang on for just a minute – this isn’t the real deal, I promise!
The Hel is a peninsula located right between Gdansk and the Baltic Sea. Hel is a 35 KM long sand bar which is only 300 meters wide at its narrowest. During the summer months, it’s a popular day trip for families and tourists. In the cold, Baltic winters, you can get most of the peninsula to yourself.
If you are wondering how Hel looks like, you can check out these Hel Snapshots by Piran Cafe.
The Small Print: I was invited to Gdansk and Sopot as a guest by the tourism agency in the Pomorskie Region. However, all opinons (and possible mistakes!) are as always my own. #LifestylePolen #PomorskieAdventures
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