While this guidebook is succinctly called Gdańsk In Your Pocket, it actually covers the region that locals refer to as Trojmiasto, or the Tri-city. The Tri-city is made up of three cities - Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia - each proudly independent, each with its own city government, and, most importantly, each with its own unique history. All three cities are positioned along the Baltic Sea coast, with Gdańsk in the south, Gdynia in the north, and only about 20km of shoreline separating them - in the middle of which is Sopot. With each city extremely well-connected via public transport, it's not uncommon for locals to spend the day at the beach in Gdynia, have dinner in Gdańsk and go out for drinks afterwards in Sopot. Though steady development over the last 70 years has essentially turned the Tri-city into one continuous coastal conurbation today, each city, and each district of each city, possesses its own unique character, which is what makes hopping between them so rewarding in the first place.
The oldest, largest, and most internationally known city in Trojmiasto, Gdańsk has been a cosmopolitan city for centuries and has welcomed people of all nationalities and creeds for the vast majority of them. On two occasions it has even been a state in its own right, and traditionally people from here would describe themselves not by nationality, but as 'Danzigers' (to use the German name) or 'Gdańszczanin' (to use the Polish), which demonstrates the unique nature of this great port city. Founded by Polish ruler Mieszko I in the 10th century to be part of a coastal trade route, Gdańsk has changed hands innumerably over the centuries, but remained a major port through it all.
Sopot is one of the most famous and fashionable towns in PL, particularly in the summer months when it often feels that half of the country has decamped here to see and be seen. The town’s modern history began in the early 19th century with the building of a bathhouse and spa by a retired French doctor, after which - as part of the German Empire and then as a part of the Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk) - the spa resort's reputation as a playground for Europe's ruling classes, many of whom had summer homes here, steadily grew.
Today, Sopot's sandy beaches, top class hotels and spas, and kilometres of bike paths and forest trails continue to make it a popular place to come and relax, but it's also known for its energetic nightlife making it the Tri-city’s primary party destination. Lined with bars, restaurants and clubs, the main pedestrian thoroughfare - ul. Monte Cassino - is one of the most happening places anywhere in summertime, leading hundreds of tourists to the city's packed beaches and the iconic Sopot Pier.
Gdynia meanwhile is a city which was born with a purpose only one century ago. The League of Nations’ decision to create the Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk) in 1919 left the neighbouring village of Gdynia in the newly-reformed Polish state and at the end of the infamous Polish Corridor – the narrow strip of land granted to Poland to give it access to the sea. Thus this quiet fishing village became the focus of huge development, and by 1926 a new Polish port city had been created. Built to embody Polish independence, challenge and resist the influence of Gdańsk, though the world has changed a lot in the last century, Gdynia still often sees itself playing the role of yang to Gdańsk’s ying.
While it lacks the history of its better known neighbour, Gdynia is a wonderful example of a 20th century city with its construction covering the Modernist period of the 20s and 30s, the Socialist era of post-war Europe and the modern designs of post-communist Poland. Sometimes seen as the serious brother of the three, Gdynia boasts some beautiful beaches, as well as some surprisingly good restaurants, cafés and bars. Enjoy exploring the port, check out the WWII battleship 'Błyskawica' and don't miss the Emigration Museum.