While we were holidaying in Gdansk, we’d decided we wanted to explore a little more of Northern Poland. After referencing a map and researching nearby destinations, we came up with two: Sopot or Hel. We really wanted to go to Hel just so we could yell, “Go to Hel!” or “I’ll see you in Hel!” at each other, but quickly realised that it’s a summer-only type of destination, and, it being mid-September, we decided not to bother. So off to Sopot we went!
It’s only a 20-minute train journey from Gdansk Glowny train station to Sopot, and a whopping cost of 15 zl each (£3) for the return trip. If you haven’t read our post on Gdansk yet, we’ll repeat what we said in that: Poland is cheap! It’s the cheapest country we’ve been to so far (on par with, or cheaper, than Spain).
We stepped off the train and wandered into the very cute town. In front of us stood an impressive church and the main shopping street. The small group of other tourists and Poles who’d made the trip with us started to filter down the street so, not knowing where else to go, we followed.
This funny looking building that might make you question whether or not you’ve had a couple of drinks sits about halfway down the main street.
As we walked down the street we saw the typical arrangement of tourist-trap restaurants and their noisy staff calling out to everyone who walked past. We also saw the usual suspects of shops, an H&M, a McDonalds etc. It became pretty clear very fast that this was a heavily commercialised town which was somewhat expected, but not our cup of tea.
To be frank, at this point it’s probably fair to say that there isn’t a huge array of things to see and do in Sopot. Much like we assumed of Hel, it’s a summer day out destination, a beach resort town.
It does have the world’s longest wooden pier (which you must pay to walk on), and a couple of nice looking, and very large hotels near the beach. The beach itself is perfectly fine too – long, clean, soft sand. You know, the sort of features we like in a beach.
We stuck our toes in the Baltic Sea (brrr!) and enjoyed the scenery for a little while, however, as we’d visited in the Autumn, the place was pretty deserted and had an odd vibe about it so we didn’t stay long (we were also being circled by a particularly brave gang of seabirds who were eyeing up our crisps!).
Amber stalls can be found near the pier, as well as a little food stall and a restaurant. There was nothing that really stood out to us, so we decided to wander away from the main part of Sopot, and see if there was anything more authentic to be found on the quieter streets, and we weren’t disappointed.
It was the middle of the afternoon and we were getting a little peckish so, during our little adventure, we decided to stop for some local food at a very traditional-looking restaurant a few streets away from the crowds.
‘Pensjonat Irena’ was great. It was small, cosy, and full of Poles. They had a small menu of Polish food (we like a small menu – it often means the dishes are done really well). The décor consisted of chunky wooden stools and tables, Polish knick-knacks covering the walls, and a Hussar suit of armour standing in the corner. It looked like the sort of place that hadn’t changed for decades – to its credit. Needless to say, we took plenty of photographs.
The service was great and the waitress even taught us a little bit of Polish, although this might have been because we were trying to order two pints of beer and was pronouncing it, “Z-why-ek” as the label suggested, rather than the Polish, “Jeh-vee-ech”. Ah well, now we know! S
Should you ever find yourself in Sopot (go in the summer, it’s probably a lot better), we would highly recommend popping into this place for a meal. You won’t leave disappointed, or with an empty stomach.
So, Sopot. Would we recommend a visit? Honestly, probably not.
We only spent a total of three hours there, and half of that would’ve been in the restaurant. The only time we would recommend going would be on a hot day when you just want to sit and relax on a beach. Other than that, in our opinion, it doesn’t really have much to offer. Except, of course, that really long pier.
Have you been to Sopot before? Do you agree with our experience, or did we just not see the town properly? Let us know if we missed out on anything amazing below.