The growth of the cities in the past 60 years has meant that the spaces and boundaries between them have gradually been filled and whittled away to the point where there is now an almost seamless conurbation running over 40km along the Baltic coast from Gdansk in the south to Gdynia in the north.
For the purpose of brevity we have joined the three cities together in this guide but please note the city name included next to each review as they may literally be in a different city to the one you are in.
Gdansk 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 as Danzigers (to use the German name) or Gdańszczanin (to use the Polish) which demonstrates the unique nature of this once great port city. Seen as the main tourist attraction in the region, thanks to its long, rich history and beautifully rebuilt old town, Gdansk is also the region’s economic powerhouse.
And don’t forget that this is the city where two of the key moments in 20th century history took place – the first shots of WWII were fired here while 40 years later the first cracks in the Iron Curtain were forced open by the Solidarity movement.
Sopot is one of the country’s most famous and fashionable towns particularly in the summer months when it often feels that half of the capital has decamped here to see and be seen. The town’s modern history began with the building of a bathhouse and spa by a retired French doctor in Napoleon’s army and its reputation continued to grow through the first few decades of the 20th century when, as part of the German Empire and then as a part of the Free City of Gdansk, it became the summer home and playground for many of Europe’s ruling classes. Kaiser Wilhelm II, for instance, had a summer home here.
Today, Sopot is once again a hip and happening place with its trendy nightlife making it the Tri-city’s party town. Its sandy and sheltered beaches and range of top class hotel and spas, kilometres of cycle routes and forest paths makes it a popular place to come and relax.
Gdynia is a city born out of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The League of Nations’ decision to create the Free City of Danzig (Gdansk) 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. The quiet fishing village became the focus of huge development – construction began on May 21, 1921 and within 5 years a new city and major port had been created. While it lacks the 1,000 year history of its better known neighbour, Gdynia is a wonderful example of a 20th century city with its construction covering the Art Deco period of the 20s and 30s, the Socialist era of post-war Europe and the modern designs of the post-communist Poland. Sometimes seen as the serious brother of the three Gdynia has some beautiful beaches and walks as well as some good little restaurants, cafes and bars.