You’ve visited Warsaw, Poland’s capital and its cultural center, and Krakow with its medieval squares and UNESCO-worthy landmarks. Now, what? It’s time for the tri cities. This area in the north of the country spreads across the Baltic Coast and is home to three cities separated by only 12 miles. They form one metropolitan area but each town is unique. Connected by public transport, getting around has never been easier!
Trójmiasto, in the Pomeranian Voivodeship, encompasses the cities of Gdynia, Sopot and Gdánsk. The latter is the most famous and touristy, so we’ve come up with a route that leaves it at the end of a packed weekend exploring the lesser known two. Join us on a three-day journey into the tri cities and find out what makes each of them so special.
Gdynia—the city with a village soul
One hundred years ago, this quiet fishing village was thrown into the limelight when the League of Nations declared neighboring Gdánsk a free city. Gdynia became the main point of access to the Polish corridor, which resulted in a lavish mismash of architecture styles: from Modernist and Socialist to post-communist Polish.
Gdynia may not be touristy, but it doesn’t lack charm. Explore the nearby beaches, cozy cafes and traditional restaurants. History buffs head to the Naval Museum to view the ORP Błyskawica, a WWII battleship that played a pivotal role in helping the Allies win the war. Walk along the pier to Gdynia Aquarium (Akwarium Gdyńskie) or visit the Emigration Museum, which covers 200 years of Polish migration.
Coffee culture is ripe here. Café Cyganeria, with its wooden tables, exposed brick walls and intimate lighting, offers some of the best cappuccino in the city, as well as soups, sandwiches and wraps. Aleja40 boasts modern design and a family-friendly atmosphere and is the ideal spot for a late brunch with its selection of shakshuka (a Mediterranean egg and tomato stew), toasts, pastries and bagels.
Sopot—the jet-set spa town
Sopot is sort of an Eastern European Monte Carlo—expect glamour, sandy beaches, boutique hotels and vibrant nightlife. This summer city became “the place to be” for Europe’s elite in 1824 with the opening of a bathhouse and spa, the first of its kind to have a ballroom. Bombed during WWII, the building was rebuilt and reopened in 2009, and today houses the State Art Gallery.
The pedestrian Monte Cassino boulevard, with its iconic pier, spans nearly 2,000 feet and is lined with bars, restaurants and nightclubs. This is also the perfect starting point to a bike excursion or hiking into the nearby trails.
Sopot has a good vibe year round, and despite being small, it’s definitely happening come summer. See it for yourself at Restauracja Modern Food & Wine, which affords a breathtaking waterfront view. Enjoy fresh fish daily, Mediterranean cuisine and modern interiors as you people watch. If you’d rather stick to traditional Polish food, NOVA Sopot offers nicely presented herring, salmon carpaccio, beef-doused ham hock, and potato pancakes with a variety of tasty sauces for vegans and vegetarians.
Gdańsk—the independent older sister
The oldest and largest of the tri cities, Gdańsk was also a remote fishing village back in the seventh century. It later became a commercial hotspot, thanks to its enviable location, and was the final destination for Dutch Mennonites who fled their homeland to the city in the 16th century and who shaped the architecture we see today. Gdańsk is rich in history and maritime culture, which is visible along the Royal Way and through the many city gates and picturesque riverfront. The historic shipyards are worthy of a detour as you can check out the Brama Żuraw, a medieval port elevator.
Like many Polish cities, Gdańsk was bombed during WWII and rebuilt later on, including its Old Town. Visit the Uphagen House to see the living standards of the bourgeoisie in the 18th century, or look at the artefacts and relics at the WWII Museum with its massive array of narrative blocks. The European Solidarity Centre contains a library, research center and museum that showcases the fall of communism.
Gdańsk has always been cosmopolitan, and that’s evident in places such as Pilipili Cafe & Drink Bar. The cafe belongs to a hotel chain in Zanzibar, with a mission to bring a little bit of the African country to Poland. Savor authentic specialities such as the Americano Chilli or Amanula Latte or signature cocktails such as the Rose of Zanzibar, composed of vodka, peach schnapps, lime and grenadine with sugar syrup. Canis is also one of the more popular spots in town, serving traditional Polish food, a cozy vibe and live jam sessions. Enjoy a glass of Polish Riesling with some beef tenderloin steak or a surf and turf salad. Vegetarians have options, too!