White European Beaches Where You Least Expect It: Sopot, Poland

Sometimes when someone starts telling you about where they’re from, they make bold claims.  Sometimes they turn out to be true, and other times you discover that person’s perception is clouded by their love of their home town.  My biggest bold claim, which I invite you to fact check, is that New Jersey is home to the best bagels in the world. 

Even knowing a person’s propensity to elevate their home town, you can imagine my surprise when one of Michael’s Polish coworkers once proclaimed:

“Poland has the best beaches of Europe.”

My first thought was wait...Poland has beaches?! I knew that the north part of Poland bordered the Baltic Sea, but I never really made the logical jump that it followed that there would then be a coastline, perhaps lined with beaches.

Then a year later I planned my trip to Poland and got to see a Polish beach for myself. Just look at that beautiful white sand!

Seriously, did you have any idea this existed in Poland?

Granted, if I were to say that the Jersey Shore is the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the United States, you would rightly laugh at the thought. I am a proud New Jerseyan who will talk up bagels and belt out Bon Jovi, but I have my limits. Though I think Sopot and Jersey Shore have much in common - they both have provided generations worth of happy summer memories along their boardwalks and beaches. 

Let me back up for one minute. I know I said on Monday that this week was going to focus on Gdańsk, and here I am talking about the white sand beaches of Sopot. We stayed in Gdańsk for four days, but took a few side trips from our home base. Sopot made for a perfect afternoon jaunt. It’s a 25-minute train ride from Gdańsk and was a perfect little diversion for a few hours. 

But back to Sopot. Maybe it has more in common with the Jersey Shore than you might think. Sopot became a resort town in the late 19th century, attracting the wealthy with its casinos and therapeutic spas (the water from the Baltic Sea was supposed to be good for the body). Boardwalk, resorts, vacation hot-spot - you might as well be talking about Atlantic City during the same time period. Though you won’t find a casino any more in Sopot, it is still a popular place for some summertime fun in the sun.

Above: Sopot boasts the longest wooden pier in Europe.

Off-season in the beginning of May wasn’t the most interesting time to go. It was quiet and pretty empty when we went, especially given it was a weekday afternoon. We had to pay an entry fee to walk on the pier, and the wind from the sea didn’t make me want to linger and get my zloty-worth.

These were the only ones brave enough to splash around in the Baltic Sea on the chilly May afternoon we visited Sopot!

This is Krzywy Domek, the Crooked House, in Sopot. People say that when the house looks normal, it's time to stop drinking! (I imagine this happens more often during the summertime when the town is more alive...)

But even in the shoulder season, we were still able to partake in one Polish pastime: eating ice cream! One thing I learned on my trip through Poland (to my surprise) was the love the country has for this cold treat. Despite rain and cold, we still observed Poles enjoying ice cream at all times of day, undeterred. So while this looks like I’m double fisting soft-serves because I’m at the beach, it’s less about being by the boardwalk and more about following the lead of the Polish people. When in Poland…

It may be chilly, but it's always time for some ice cream in Poland.

Apparently Sopot carries the nickname the “Nice of the North” but I’m sticking with the “Atlantic City of the East.” If you’ve been, what would you compare it to, if anywhere? And if not, have you ever found a beautiful beach in an unexpected location?