10 reasons to visit the Polish Riviera
Stunning powder-white beaches, warm temperatures, sun-bleached boardwalks lined with fancy bars… we could be describing an exotic Caribbean island.
And we’re here to let you in on a little secret – you should seriously consider the Polish Riviera (the coastal stretch of Gdynia, Sopot and Gdańsk) for your next summer holiday. Here’s why:
1. Yes, Poland has an actual beach. Several in fact
And they’re pretty spectacular – think swathes of white sand backed by woodland that’s filled with long grasses, wild roses, and sycamore, oak, chestnut and willow trees.
2. You might find unexpected treasure on those beaches
Amber – known locally as Baltic gold – often washes up on the sand after a storm. If you’re lucky, you could spot something glistening in the shallows as you go for a paddle.
3. The weather can be inexplicably hot
There might be snow on the beach in January, but temperatures on the Polish Riviera can reach the mid-20s in the summer months. We’ve even heard tales of the mercury hitting 28°C in September, a time of year that’s fondly called złota jesień (golden autumn).
4. The beach-bar scene is seriously swanky
Behind the dunes in Sopot, you’ll find a walkway lined with wooden bars where Polish tapas (Zakaski Przekaski) is increasingly popular. Sample pierogi (filled dumplings, pictured) and sledz (pickled herring), washed down with a beer, distilled vodka or fancy cocktail. As night falls, impromptu music acts often pop up on the beach.
5. There’s an amazing alternative to seaside ice cream
Gofry: crunchy waffle topped with whipped cream, ice cream and all the sweet treats you can imagine. Enough said.
6. In fact, the food’s all pretty impressive
Because of the coastal location, deliciously fresh fish is plentiful and there’s a real focus on local ingredients (locals love foraging for mushrooms, for example). You can go fancy – even in the fine-dining restaurants, mains only average £12 – or you can try potato pancakes at a super-cheap “milk bar”.
7. It has the longest wooden pier in Europe – and a 300km trail of waterways
Sopot’s 511-metre-long pier is less Brighton, more bleached wood and gorgeous views. Stroll along the boardwalk and watch the yachts moor, or climb to the lighthouse’s viewing platform. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could tackle the West Pomeranian Sailing Trail, which snakes through rivers, lagoons and pretty bays along the Baltic coast.
8. You can go to Hel…
…but it’s more like heaven. Across from Sopot lies Hel Peninsula, a long, tapered spit of sand that’s bookended by two fishing ports. The beaches are near-deserted and edged with vibrant purple heather.
9. There’s plenty to keep history buffs interested
Head along the beach path from Sopot all the way to Gdańsk (or take the train). The first shots of the Second World War were fired here and the city has a tumultuous 1,000-year history that’s evident in its diverse architecture and monuments. For even more history, take a 30-minute train ride to the 13th-century Malbork Castle. Built by the Teutonic Knights, it's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the biggest castle in the world by land area.
10. You can even catch a Shakespeare play
Gdańsk claims to be the only place outside England where Shakespeare’s plays were performed in his lifetime, so it makes sense that the city has a Shakespeare Theatre. The starkly modernist building has a retractable rooftop, so it’s the perfect setting to watch some of the Bard’s work on a summer’s day.