That sounds like hardwork
It’s really not. You’ll just need to leave around an hour to comfortably tackle the 9-mile (14km) route. The best part of cycling in Europe in particular are the cycle paths. Unlike much of the UK, where there is little provision for cyclists, especially in cities, here we are able to cycle pretty much from our apartment all the way along the beachfront, through a park, and finally into a big, bustling city, all on the same cycle path. It makes finding the way simple, circumnavigating a large unfamiliar city safe, plus you’ll have a loads of great opportunities to see more of the beach, where there is fresh food served, beach bars along the way, and in the summer, beach volleyball and entertainment.
Where to hire
So, first up, where do you get that shiny set of wheels. Cycling is very popular in this area for all the reasons I’ve stated above, which means there are plenty of bike shops from which to hire from. There are several dotted along the cycle path towards Gdańsk , just behind the beachfront. If you are right in the centre of the town, Sopocki Rower Cycle Tour Bike will be your closest. Located just off the main square, on skwer Kuracyjny, 81-586, they have a good range of bikes, both mountain bikes and city bikes. A little further towards Gdańsk is Alfa Rowery, Sopot Chiński Wypożyczalnia, next to the White Marlin restaurant, which hires pedal go-karts, which are great for the kids and ideal for pedalling up and down the beachfront. Expect to pay around 50 zloty, roughly £10 per bike, for 24 hours, but they are of course available for shorter rentals.
What to see and do
The first stretch of the route is along the gentle beachfront. The cycling is flat and easy, and there’s loads of space, but do watch out for faster cyclists overtaking you. If you like there are plenty of stops you can make along the beach, if you fancy a swim or a drink at one of the beach bars and restaurants. This first few miles are particularly picturesque, with the beach on your left, and for a large part the lush green space of the Park Prezydenta Ronalda Reagana on your right.
The Polish word “molo” (pier) is one you are likely to become familiar with during your visit. These old wooden structures are perfectly simple, with none of the cheap amusements that you’ll find on many a UK pier. The main pier in Sopot is a fine example of this simple, classic design, which first opened in 1827, and is the longest wooden pier in Europe. In the summer it hosts entertainment, and food festivals, and is the ideal vantage point from which to watch events such as the World Sailing Championship.
As we get closer to Gdansk, the beach becomes much busier. Most of the activity is based around the Brzeźno pier. This is well worth a stop, where there is a restaurant and a snack bar (Gofry Zapiekanki) selling the traditional Polish dessert of gofry, which is essentially a waffle with a bucketload of cream and fresh fruit. We take a break here, and push our bikes onto the pier, do a little people watching and enjoy the fresh sea air.
Once you are ready to get on your bike and start working off that sweet dessert, keep heading along the cycle route for another 500 metres. At this point the path will steer away from the beachfront and you’ll head south-east towards the city. While this is the far less pretty section of the ride, it is perfectly safe and easy to follow, and as long as you stay on the path, you’ll be away from the traffic and the city’s trams. To ensure you have a safe, enjoyable ride, make sure you give way to pedestrians who wish to cross the cycle path at the clearly marked zebra crossings.
Along the remaining 4.5 miles (7.6km) you will pass a couple of points of historical interest, including a Russian T-34 tank, which was reportedly the first tank to enter the nearby city of Gdynia in March 1945, as the German occupation began to come to an end. However, the tank is see as controversial as effectively Gdańsk was merely falling under another occupying army.
A little further along the cycle path and you will pass up and over a duel carriageway. To the left is the main train station, with its impressive tower and clock. The station, which was partially rebuilt after World War II, first opened in 1900.
Once you arrive in the Old Town of Gdansk, there are plenty of racks where you can lock up your bike. Now, enjoy the cafes, majestic architecture and the busy river – just make sure you leave plenty of time for the cycle back.