Sopot Dolny is a seaside, eastern district of the city. About six thousand years ago, its entire area was covered by the waters of the Litoryne Sea, the remains of which is the Sopot Escarpment, stretching along Sobieskiego (it crosses Bohaterów Monte Cassino street), Chmielewskiego, Winieckiego, Jerzego Haffnera streets and further along the North Park. Until the 17th century, the entire area of today’s Sopot Dolny was made up of impassable wetlands with a few sandy islets. Melioration of the area began with digging channels to discharge water to twelve streams crossing the area. From that moment on, the inhabitants of Górny Sopot and Gdańsk looked more and more favorably towards the seaside settlement.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Carl Christoph Wegner, the largest landowner in Sopot, attempted to create a seaside resort in Dolny Sopot. Unfortunately, the idea did not appeal to neither the residents nor the potential patients. Or maybe the originator lacked charisma or consistency? Four years later, a similar plan was successfully implemented by Jan Georg Haffner, today called the father of Sopot. It was another project by a French doctor – he built the first bathing establishment by the sea in Gdańsk Brzeźno. The beginnings of the bathing establishment established in 1823 coincided with the construction of a paved road connecting Gdańsk (via Oliwa) with Sopot, which resulted in a significant influx of patients. J.J. Hafner reacted quickly to the need of the moment. A year later, he opened the first Spa House, where guests could relax after the effort of taking sea baths. Cultural life, especially night life, began to flourish.
Sopot became a real resort. The archetype of today’s pier was created – a 63-meter-long wooden walkway to which fishing boats docked, and fishermen took patients on short trips across the waters of the Gulf of Gdańsk. After JJ. Hafner’s death in 1830, the already impressive enterprise was taken over by his wealthy stepson Ernst Adolf Böttcher, who built more spa houses and bathing facilities, restaurants, a theater and even a casino. Years later, the Sopot commune bought all the property from Böttcher’s heirs and took care of the further development of the resort.
The previously sandy path connecting Górny Sopot with the sea was paved in 1874 and named Morska Street (Seestraße). From 1945, it commemorated the Marshal of Poland from the USSR, Konstanty Rokossowski, and since 1956 it has been known as “Monciak”, i.e. Bohaterów Monte Cassino street. The history of today’s prestigious J.J. Haffner street is also interesting. Initially it received the graceful name “Łąkowa” due to the surrounding landscape, to then take the name of Bolesław Bierut during communism.
On 1 April 1902, Sopot became a city, and its authorities did not cease to invest in the curative face of the city, the lower terrace of the city – for the needs of the casino guests, the delightful Grand Hotel was built, and the pier was extended to 315 m. Dolny Sopot had its role in Sopot being named Monte Carlo of the north.
Sopot Dolny borders on the Bay of Gdańsk to the east; to the south with Karlików, with a horse racing track known throughout Europe; to the north with Kamienny Potok and the Sopot Aquapark, and from the west with Górny Sopot, with its delightful residential atmosphere and the Forest Opera.
Dolny Sopot has two axes – the promenade commemorating the Heroes of Monte Cassino leading to the pier and the sea, and Grunwaldzka street, at the height of the Zdrojowy Square, changing into Powstańców Warszawy street.
The residential part of the district is primarily Art Nouveau and eclectic tenement houses from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, between which there are modern apartment buildings, offering apartments in the standard appropriate for the 21st century, i.e. with underground garages, lifts and 24-hour security. From spring to early autumn, the inhabitants of Sopot Dolny live the life of a summer resort – the main routes and the pier are filled with multilingual hustle and bustle of tourists, and restaurant gardens are are filled with people, street are full of artists, craft stalls and seasonal eateries, sometimes you can encounter a movie or music star. However, it is enough to enter one of the side streets to take a break from the hustle and bustle and feel the atmosphere of the spa from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In late autumn and winter, Sopot Dolny becomes a nostalgic seaside health resort. During this time, the inhabitants take great pleasure from walking along the charmingly empty pier, use the Salt Water Pump Room or visit Hansel the Fisherman – a sculpture / fountain, which is one of the symbols of the city.
The inhabitants of Sopot Dolny, apart from indulging in the pleasures associated with the privilege of living in a spa, also live normally – they shop, go to school, visit the post office, withdraw money from an ATM, run their dogs to the vet or pharmacy, or have their watches repaired.
Numerous hair, beauty and tattoo salons, dry cleaners and a pet shops were established for the needs of the residents. Those in need of medical assistance are consulted by private medical and dental offices, the Complex of Independent Public Healthcare Institutions and the Municipal Ambulance Service with an outpatient clinic.
The northern part of Sopot Dolny attracts active residents with a large concentration of sports facilities, while the southern part is more saturated with trade and medical services. The beach can be reached in just a few minutes’ walk from any part of the district.
Sopot Dolny is primarily beaches with all their infrastructure – aesthetic catering pavilions, beach bars, playgrounds for children integrated into the landscape, a windsurfing school and a sauna dedicated mainly to lovers of winter swimming in the sea. There is a modern marina waiting for the yacht owners at the pier, which has only one drawback – it cannot be reached by car.
Over the years, Sopot Dolny has been associated with great tennis, so it is not surprising that there is a large availability of outdoor and indoor tennis courts. There are tennis schools for students of all ages and tournaments are held.
For lovers of swimming, there is the Indoor Swimming Pool of the Municipal Sports and Recreation Center in Sopot, and a football pitch right next to it. The distance between the pier and the Sopot hippodrome (in the neighboring district of Karlikowo) is only 2.7 km.
Sopot Dolny has an outstanding number of places to walk. In addition to the 511.5 m long pier (residents have free admission), the main attraction is the seaside promenade,
along which there is also a bicycle path.
Residents rest in the alleys of the Lech and Maria Kaczyński Park or the North Park, where walking paths were built, but also educational and collision-free paths for cyclists and skaters.
The bus network connects Dolny Sopot with other districts of Sopot as well as with Gdańsk and Gdynia. Convenient connections ensure easy access to all Sopot stops of Szybka Kolej Miejska (SKM) and the trolleybus terminus on the Gdańsk-Gdynia route.
The bus line no. 122 connects Dolny Sopot directly with the Gdańsk Airport. Within a dozen or so minutes’ walk, you can get from the central square in Sopot – the Kuracyjny Square, to the Railway Station.
As Sopot Dolny is a small district, you can get to the kindergarten on foot from anywhere, including the Private English-speaking Kindergarten, primary school, high school or the Sopot Music Center. The Sopot School of Polish for Foreigners and the Sopocka Szkoła Fotografii WFH are also waiting for their enthusiasts.
The distance from the pier to the Sopot faculties of the University of Gdańsk (in Górny Sopot) is only 1.4 km.
Sopot Dolny is saturated with culture. For many years the theater lovers have been delighted by the “Teatr na Plaży”, located at 2 Franciszka Mamuszki alley, where the Sopot Dance Theater and the Atelier Theater of Agnieszka Osiecka is located. The latter operates only in the summer, and as part of it, the Sopot Theater Summer is organized, the foundations of which are two festivals: International Meetings with Jewish Culture and the interpretation of Agnieszka Osiecka’s songs contest.
Since 2010, in Dolny Sopot, BOTO Theater has been implementing bold and modern artistic projects that engage in dialogue with the viewer at Bohaterów Monte Cassino street. One of the most modern theater facilities in Poland – the Sopot Chamber Stage (Sopocka Scena Kameralna) of the Wybrzeże Theater in Gdańsk – has opened its doors on the same promenade.
During the holidays, the Sopot pier turns into an open-air cinema. The screenings under the stars are the result of the activities of the Orange Summer Cinema. Moreover, Multikino awaits cinema lovers all year round.
Every year in Dolny Sopot there is a Literary Festival called “Literacki Sopot” – debates and meetings with literature, workshops and performative activities, organized by the Municipal Public Library and the City of Sopot.
Dolny Sopot is also the legendary SPATiF – Creative Environment Club, which for 60 years has been a place that “inspires some, scares others”.
An important place on the cultural map of Sopot is the State Gallery, which organizes over twenty exhibitions presenting various artistic phenomena every year.
Sopot Dolny takes great care also of children. Performances are organized in the open air, and the State Art Gallery organizes art workshops for preschoolers.
Dolny Sopot is a real mecca for gourmets and foodies, regardless of the thickness of their wallet. Affluent guests are tempted by the Polskie Smaki restaurant, which offers not only excellent Kashubian dishes, but also an unforgettable view of the pier. For balance (in the summer season), customers with lower expectations are invited by the iconic Sopocki Kebab, whose recipe has not changed since 1970.
The locals’ list of favorite places will certainly include: “Śliwka w kompot” with Italian, American, Polish and Central European cuisine; the French restaurant “Petit Paris”; “Moshi Moshi Sushi”, “Pak Choi” Chinese Restaurant; Tuscan “Chianti Grill Bar” and “Toscana”, and for lovers of the sound of the sea waves, the “Bulaj” restaurant was created. Nearby (although outside the district) you can find the fish Bar Przystań, a favorite among the residents.
For a coffee with the best view in Sopot, it is worth visiting the Saltwater Pump Room, and if you want some ice cream, then you have to visit the Milano ice cream shop, founded in 1956 by a soldier from the Italian Battalion.