PRESS TRIP – Tucked away in a northern corner of Poland along the Baltic Sea is the town of Sopot. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone, and I’m here to change that. This lovely resort town is well known for its sandy beaches, healing waters and health spas. What surprised me the most was the unexpected Wes Anderson aesthetic that made me feel like I’d stepped onto a movie set.
I wasn’t that familiar with this part of Poland, so when an opportunity to visit on a press trip with Visit Sopot came up, I jumped right on it. Much like everyone who’s come here over the decades, I was in need of relaxation and inspiration. Between the lovely Sopot beach, fresh seaside breeze, elegant architecture and great food, I got all that and so much more.
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Sopot’s History as a Health Spa & Wellness Resort Town
Sopot started as a small fishing village during the 13th century. As the settlement grew, so did the local interest in the area’s healing properties. By the 16th century, all kinds of nobles from nearby Gdansk and foreign diplomats were building summer homes on the shores of the Baltic Sea to take advantage of its health benefits. It has since continued to attract visitors seeking to improve their health and well-being for centuries.
The town’s first official health spa opened in 1823. By the late 1800s, Sopot had established itself as one of Europe’s most popular destinations for those looking to escape the city and experience the benefits of fresh air and seawater. By 1900, Sopot grew into an elegant resort attracting many rich and famous visitors from across Europe.
By the late 19th century, Sopot was well connected by rail with other large cities, including Warsaw and Berlin. This brought even more visitors to the area, all eager to partake in the town’s healing amenities. As the city grew, so did the attractions.
In 1909 the Forest Opera was created to entertain visitors. The opera is actually in the forest, which might seem like a strange location for a concert venue, but it was carefully chosen for its acoustics. To find the perfect spot, several opera singers were invited to tour the town and tasked with finding the right location. The story goes that they walked around all over the town, randomly singing til they found the spot in the forest. It must have been quite the sight to see a group of people randomly singing in the woods, but I can attest that the acoustics where they settled are outstanding.
By the 1920s, there was a casino, a couple of sanitariums, tennis courts, a pier and a new fancy hotel – the Grand Hotel. Sopot became known as the Riviera of the North and was a playground for the rich and famous. Today, Sopot beach and its numerous spas continue to attract visitors looking for wellness and relaxation.
Architecture and the Wes Anderson Aesthetic
From the moment I arrived in Sopot, it felt magical. The pretty, pastel homes, tree-lined streets and the general vibe reminded me of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. A bit of Art Nuovo mixed with some turn of 19th-century romanticism and a bit of that Swiss chalet look mixed in. It finally hit me. It was a West Anderson aesthetic, and I was here for it!
At first, it wasn’t obvious, but there were little things that, when put together, totally made sense. If you’ve ever seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, then you totally would get what I mean once you got to the main square leading up to the pier. The architecture in the square and the nearby Grand Hotel (now the Sofitel Grand Sopot) goes back to Sopot’s golden age before the war. The hotel, built in 1928 in the Art Deco style, is a beautiful place that once hosted the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Charles de Gaulle, Fidel Castro and Greta Garbo.
In addition to the Grand Hotel, many other examples of Western Andersonian architecture are scattered throughout Sopot. From grandiose mansions to more modest homes, this unique architectural style can be seen throughout the town. Since Sopot avoided major damage during the war, many of the homes here date back to the town’s early days and you can feel that as you walk around.
Things to do in Sopot
As I’ve discovered, Sopot is a small little town that holds its own when it comes to attractions, and there is no shortage of things to do. It’s especially well-suited for outdoor lovers and adventure seekers looking for a bit of fun.
Visit the Molo pier in Sopot
No trip to Sopot would be complete without a walk down the famous wooden pier called Molo. It’s the longest wooden pier in Europe and offers great views of the sea and the sandy shore. I recommend visiting early in the morning to avoid crowds or in the evening to catch the sunset. If you’re visiting between April 16 and September 30, you have to get a ticket to access Molo. Always consult the official site for pricing and hours before going.
Stroll along the Sopot beach
With over three kilometres of coastline, Sopot beach is a great place to relax and unwind. There is something soothing about the sounds of the waves hitting the shore that is guaranteed to improve your well-being. During the summer, there’s plenty of space to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. And if you get tired of lounging on the beach, you can always take a refreshing dip in the Baltic Sea. In the off-season, the beach is a great place for running or going for a stroll.
Indulge in a spa in Sopot
For me, there is nothing more soothing than a visit to a spa. And when you visit a town known as a wellness destination, you can’t leave without experiencing one. As part of our visit, we went to the Mera Spa, where we indulged in some R&R. The spa features 35 treatment rooms for massages, various water therapies and more. I’ve been to many spas all over the world, and I can confidently say that the massage I got here was definitely one of the best. There are many spas in Sopot, and I recommend you visit at least one.
When I arrived, I was in pain. My back, neck and shoulder were in constant pain. I felt drained, tired and uninspired. After a 45-or so minutes back massage, some herbal tea, and a dip in the pool, hot tub and sauna, I felt rejuvenated. This experience alone is one of the main reasons I’m already planning on returning to Sopot and Mera Spa.
Enjoy the air and healing waters
So what is it exactly about Sopot that makes this a great location for healing? The secret is in the water. More specifically, the brine water from the St. Wojciech Spring underneath the town. The brine is high in iodine and bromide, with healthy doses of magnesium and potassium.
According to experts, brine water has many benefits, including the ability to help with skin conditions, respiratory problems and digestion. You can indulge in brine baths, use brine-infused cosmetics and even drink a diluted version of it. Spoiler, it tastes like salty water. If you don’t want to ingest it, you can go for inhaling the iodine-filled air at one of the few “inhalation mushrooms” in town. As many have done for decades, you can sit near them and enjoy the mist in the air.
Enjoy a night out at the Forest Opera
The Forest Opera (the one founded by opera singers) is an open-air amphitheatre that can seat about 5,000. It’s a popular concert venue that had grown from hosting famous operas, then the Sopot Music Festival, to the likes of Boney M, Whitey Huston and Lionel Richie.
Stroll along the main drag
Sopot’s main street, Monte Cassino, is a lively place full of cafes, bars, and nightclubs. It’s a popular destination and a perfect place to people-watch and relax. In the evening, the strip comes alive as people enjoy a drink or two at one of the many bars lining the street. If you venture out early in the morning, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy it without the crowds.
Sample the local cuisine
Sopot is known for its cafes, bars and restaurants. We’ve been able to dine at one of Sopot’s best restaurants – the Fisherman. The food was as inventive as the decor, and you can’t go wrong with a meal here. As for dessert, stop by the Kaiser Patisserie and indulge in one (or a few) of the pastries and chocolates.
Go for a bike ride
While Sopot is a very walkable place, there is something to be said about seeing it on two wheels. Our visit was led by a lovely team of Poland by Locals who took us around and showed us all the little gems. As we made our way back, we caught the sunset on the Sopot beach. It was a lovely way to end our tour.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of options when it comes to lodgings in Sopot. From boutique hotels to private accommodations and everything in between, you have a lot of options. Keep in mind that this is a popular tourist destination, so if you’re planning on visiting during summer, book ahead as places fill up fast.
PRO TIP: If you’re specifically looking to enjoy the spas, book a hotel with one on-site!
Rezydent Sopot Mgallery Hotel Collection
During my visit, I stayed at the gorgeous Rezydent Hotel. As I love architecture and interior design, this was the perfect hotel for me, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The outside is pure eye candy with a very Sopot Art Nouveau facade, while the interior gave me Art Deco feels. One of my fave features was the motion-activated under-the-bed lighting that went on as soon as your feet hit the floor. Now, that’s convenient.
The hotel has 63 rooms, an on-site spa, and steps away from Monte Cassino street. It’s also a short walk from the beach and the Molo. If you love staying close to bars, restaurants and shops like I do, this is a great spot for exploring. The hotel also offers a buffet breakfast with a wide variety of options.
Sopot Marriott Resort & Spa
If you’re looking for that five-star luxury experience, stay at the Sopot Mariott Resort and Spa. This recently renovated hotel overlooks Sopot beach and is home to the Mera Spa. It offers pet-friendly accommodations (I’m totally here for it!), conference rooms and a stylish and relaxing lobby. There is also a rooftop patio and infinity pool that are great for catching the sunset.
You don’t have to stay at the hotel to enjoy the spa, but if you want the whole luxury experience, treat yourself to a night here and feel like a whole new person.
How to get here
You can easily access Sopot by car, train or even bike. An extensive trail system connects Sopot, Gdansk and Gdynia (known as the Tri-Cities), making for an easy ride along the coast.
You can rent a car from the Gdansk airport or take the 122 bus. The tickets are 4.80 zlotys, and you must pay in cash. You can get the tickets from a vending machine or directly from the bus driver.
You can also take the train if you’re coming from Gdansk or Gdynia. The train station is conveniently located in the centre of town and easily accessible. Ticket offices, luggage storage, toilets and shopping are located in the station building.
Sopot is the perfect destination for your next weekend getaway. With its beautiful location on the Baltic Sea and so many things to do, it is the ideal place for relaxation and recharging your batteries. The trip did wonders for my well-being and mental health, and I can’t wait to go back. I am very grateful to Visit Sopot and all the local partners that made this trip such an amazing experience.
PRO TIP: Get the Sopot Tourist Card for discounts at local restaurants and attractions!
Whether you’re looking to experience any health and wellness spas, explore the sandy beach and natural attractions or attend a concert in the forest, Sopot has something for everyone. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit in the fall. September and October are just as lovely and less crowded. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!