Sopot

On your bike

more than a year ago
With a sprawling network of bicycle paths and with most built or re-laid in the past few years, the Tri-city really has a quite impressive offer when it comes to active and/or health based holidays. Taking a look along the coast will not only give you an enjoyable day out but also allow you to visit some of the city’s lesser known past and present day sights and attractions including the Gdańsk seaside villages of Brzeźno and Jelitkowo.

Good to know

The following tour starts in Sopot and heads south towards Gdansk. Thanks to the beach entrances along the coast being marked with numbers and the city name, it should be easy to tailor the tour to the distance you wish to cycle and alternatively to turn it around and do it in reverse if you are starting in Gdańsk. In Sopot the beach entrances start at gate #21 Sopot and run to #45 Sopot.

You then pass over the border to Gdansk and start from gate #78 Gdansk. Gate numbers then fall as you continue in the direction of Brzeźno with the final sights of this tour appearing at #39 - #37 Gdansk. The ride is fairly flat for its entire length and there are many places to stop, eat and drink along the way. The main part of this trip takes in the path from Sopot to Brzeźno and is approximately 6.5km in length giving you a round-trip of 13km. There is a map available from the tourist offices called ‘Cycle Gdansk – City for fit’.

It contains a map of all the cycle paths and some listings of places along the way. Check the Bike Hire section in Leisure for places where you can pick up a bike.

What to see and do

The natural start/finish point are the gardens leading to the pier in Sopot. The gardens (Pl. Zdrojowy) can be traced back to the birth of Sopot as a health resort in the early 19th century and have been adapted over the years. The pier, Sopot’s most famous landmark, is reputedly the longest wooden pier on the Baltic at 511m and comes complete with a modern marina at its end. During the summer season (generally June to September) a pirate ship cruise docks at the end as do the ferries running to Hel and Gdansk and the pier also plays host to a number of businesses offering ‘water fun’ such as trips around the bay on a high-powered motor launch.

Back in the gardens you will find a fountain which is an original and dates to the extension of the gardens in 1903. It was renovated as part of the re-development that saw the Resort House and Sheraton hotel and conference centre complex built. Salt water rich in minerals flows directly up from the St. Wojciech well and it is this water which is used in many of the spa’s treatments.

The lighthouse built in 1904 offers beautiful views out over the sea and the spired rooftops of Sopot from a 25m high viewing platform. This bit of exercise will cost you around a euro.

As you head there if you look to your right you will see the Southern Park with the church of Christ the Saviour at its heart. Built in a baroque revival style by Adolf Bielefeld of Gdańsk between 1913 and 1919 the church originally served the city’s Lutheran community and is now used by the Evangelical-Augsburg church.

The park itself has also benefited from a facelift which has given it an atmosphere of inter-war Sopot. You can also benefit from sitting around one of the fountains as it has been for a long time claimed that the consumption or inhalation of the medicated salt waters from the ‘inhalation mushrooms’ can be of benefit to those with breathing complaints or rheumatism.

Moving off from here you will pass a large, single-story wooden building on your left. It started life as a series of bathhouses and was built in 1907 based on the architecture of Norwegian wooden houses. Today this is the Zhong Hua Chinese Hotel which was converted in 1995.

Passing by the seasonal beach bars such as Tropikalna Wyspa on your left (gate #28), your next point of interest is the Sopot Museum (ul. Poniatowskiego 8) at gate #29. Built in 1903 it was once the home of the influential Claaszen family and much of the collection appears to be their furniture and period belongings. The museum hosts live concerts in the summer and you can also find one a café (Birbant) located there.

Next up you’ll pass a landmark fish restaurant - the legendary Bar Przystań. Originally opened in the early 90s in a small shack that had housed a public toilet Przystań has gone onto become one of the best known restaurants on the coast.

You’ll next pass the very attractive Mera Spa hotel, which aside from offering a roof-top pool also has some of the best spa and beauty treatments in the region. If you’re spending the day on your bike rather you’ll be more interested in the outdoor BBQ they offer during the summer months – the terrace here is a great place to stop if you prefer something more presentable than fish and chips and there’s also a kids’ playground to keep the small ones happy.

A little further on you’ll see the Sopot Sailing Club where it is possible to rent windsurfing and sailing equipment and a few metres on from there, a fairly decrepit, but none the less worthwhile distraction of a mini-golf course.

As you continue cycling south you will notice the signs marking the border between Sopot and Gdańsk. The cycle path will turn right and lead you through the pleasant Jelitkowo Park, which has at its heart a collection of cheap and noisy drink and snack bars and some attractions for the kids.

As you come back close to the sea and leave the park you’ll pass over a small bridge underneath which the Oliwski Stream runs out into the Bay of Gdansk.

If you’ve got young children with you, you might want to turn off at gate #60 and follow this cycle path for a few hundred metres to what is the best outdoor playground in the city with plenty of things to swing, slide, spin and climb on.

Returning to the cycle path you’ll next come across another pier – this time the Brzezno pier. This pier was built at the end of the 1980s returning a pier to Brzezno, albeit in a different location, for the first time since its old one was pulled down after WWII. During the summer the pier is where you’ll find lots of summer time attractions set up along the adjacent beach.

Continuing onto Brzeźno village proper (making sure to stick close to the sea at the roundabout), you’ll pass by the Lival and Villa Pascal hotels. As you approach another right hand turn in the path take a look down ul. Mila, which is the last but one on the stretch before the turn, and you’ll see examples of the fishermen’s homes that once dominated the village of Brzeźno. That was before the communist authorities came along and changed the face of the village throwing up lots of blocks of apartments to house Gdansk workers.

The cycle path then leads you into Park Brzeźnieński and it’s here, on that empty plot on your left, that the former Hala Brzegowa (Strandhalle) stood. Built in the late 19th century, the Strandhalle was a hotel, spa and private beach to rival its neighbour in Sopot. It was also here that the original Brzezno pier stood. Both the pier and Strandhalle were badly damaged in WWII and were pulled down not long afterwards. While the pier has been rebuilt a little further up the coast, the plot where the Strandhalle stood has remained empty despite repeated attempts to rebuild it.

As you continue into Park Brzezinski keep an eye out for the network of bunkers which date from before WWI and which were destroyed when the city was demilitarised after 1919. They are in poor repair but impressive nonetheless.

At this point you have 4 options:

a) turn around and head back to Sopot via the cycle path,

b) continue onto the Nowy Port Lighthouse, where the first shots of WWII reputedly came from, by cycling along ul. Przemyslowa. From there you might want to sail across to the remains of the Wisloujscie Fortress which can be reached by a small ferry, just over a kilometre away at the end of ul. Wyzwolenia. From there you can also take in the Westerplatte peninsula, scene of the first battle of WWII.

c) continue onto Gdańsk via bike, a trip of about a further 7km using the marked cycle paths or

d) climb aboard the #3 or #5 tram to Gdańsk (bikes are allowed on low-level trams).

It is popular for the locals to ride down as far as Brzeźno before turning back to Sopot and this trip can take up the best part of your day if you take your time to stop and enjoy some of the sights as well as food, drink and the beach.
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