Kolobrzeg Beach, Poland
It’s easy to think of the Baltic sea as cold and dreary, that is until you visit the Kołobrzeg beach in Poland on a nice summer day. It is an outstanding sandy white beach, when the weather is right. There are valets, from whom you can arrange to rent a chair by the hour. The large elegant chairs are built for two and seem to have come from another era. With a pull out foot rest and an attractive blue and white striped canopy, the chair is always a better selection than a hired umbrella on the beach in Poland.
[pullquote]“Kołobrzeg” literally means “by the shore” in Polish[/pullquote]
Unlike many other beach spots, there is no pollution in the water surrounding Kołobrzeg beach. The simple explanation for this is that there isn’t much industry in this part of Poland. The water is outright cold, but people do swim from July through September. The beach is generally pleasant after May and a nice spot to catch some sun.
Where is Kolobrzeg? 54°11′N 15°35′E
Beach Vacation to Poland
The small spa and beach town of Kołobrzeg is set in Poland’s northwest on a Baltic Sea beach. The Kołobrzeg beaches are quite long and it is a popular tourist resort for Poles and Germans. Incredibly, this beach spot has 7 miles of beach. With deep surrounding forests, and extensive trails and paths that stretch for miles along the beach, Kolobrzeg is easily the most charming Polish spa town. Nearby rare plants and animals can be found in the local marsh ecosystem, which also features large deposits of peat.
The history of Kolobrzeg is intertwined in the national history of Poland and Germany, and equally as complex.
This Polish beach town at the mouth of the Parseta River has population of 50,000 are heavily involved in the fishing industry in the Baltic Sea. Kolobrzeg has a long and rich history with fascinating heritage listed spots and monuments for tourists to visit. The lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor, town hall and neo-gothic Cathedral are the most notable landmarks in this coastal town.
Relax at the Kołobrzeg Spas
A number of healing medical spas with modern treatment centers, world class hotels, and guest houses can be found in Kolobrzeg. In addition to Polish and German visitors, the beaches and spas also see a large number of guests from Scandinavian places anxious to enjoy the many medical, beauty, and relaxation treatments.
Kolobrzeg is a top seaside health spa because of its unique microclimate and the natural curative substances in the area, mainly therapeutic mud and brine. Respiratory, cardiovascular, and endocrine problems are frequently treated here. Kolobrzeg specializes in the treatment of children.
[pullquote]From the port, take a fishing trip to the popular Bornholm and Ruggia Island.[/pullquote]
The Kolobrzeg beaches have recently been enlarged after a massive investment. The town has been in the news for winning a number of awards for being one of, if not the best tourist resort in Poland. The city is undergoing significant growth. Funding from the European Union is helping to improve the local standards of living after years of neglect. Recently, the discount airlines Ryan Air has even started flying into the area. A new football stadium was built in the past decade also, which had been used by Denmark’s national team. Revitalization efforts are currently ongoing in the Spa District too.
There is a wide array of summer entertainment offerings and cultural activities throughout the tourist season. So there is a lot to do in addition to enjoying the beach. The investments by the international community are starting to pay off and the Kolobrzeg beaches are rapidly gaining stature and acclaim. Besides the local airport, the town is also well connected by rail with direct trains to other Polish and German locations.
Kolobrzeg Beach Resorts and Spas
While Kołobrzeg exudes an Old Europe confidence and relaxation, the city has not always been so pleasant. In fact, the last few centuries have been rather bloody. Formerly, it was a German city named Colberg. Unfortunately, Napoleon “visited” in 1807 and the more recently, the city was left over 80% destroyed at the end of the Second World War. “Between March 4 and March 18, 1945, there was major urban fighting of the Soviet and Polish forces against the German army for the control over the city.”
In the sixth or seventh century AD, the earliest records of Kolobrzeg state that it was located a little more than 2 miles up the Parseta river. The inhabitants of the area have always been fisherman and since the 10th century have produced salt from the river.
For centuries, Kolobrzeg has alternated between being a German or Polish possession. The history of the town and region is closely intertwined with the national histories of both Germany and Poland. In the year 1000, Kolobrzeg was elevated to a bishopry, putting it on the same footing as Krakow and Wroclaw.
At times German, at others Polish
By medieval times, Kolobrzeg had been developed. The city of Kolobrzeg grew rich through favorable laws and received the official foundation act in 1255. The local salt was nicknamed “white gold”. This resource led the city to having its own war fleet and also led to its membership in the Hanseatic League.
The Hanseatic League was a confederation both defensive and commercial of merchant quilds and their market towns. It came to dominate the maritime trade of the Baltic for 300 years after starting humbly from few North German towns. During the late middle ages, it extended from the Baltic to the North Sea, gradually declining after 1450. Things were good if you were of Germanic origin and lived in one of the many sturdy brick houses. Not so much for the Slavic inhabitants who were excluded from the more profitable professions.
The rise and fall of the Baltic Coast’s Hanseatic League
An increase in competition for the salt trade and also the disastrous European religious wars in the 16th and 17th centuries led to the decline and later demise of the Hanseatic League. Kolobrzeg was taken over by Brandenburg in 1653 and converted into a massive fortress with impressive walls. The city deteriorated significantly by 1800 after being attacked multiple times over the course of a couple wars.
Later in the 19th century, the city wisely decided to move in a new more peaceful and pleasant direction. The trenches were filled in and also the salt works were disbanded after the Kolobrzeg fortress status was annulled in 1872. Immediately spas and small hotels started to proliferate. The Spa House was the pride and joy of this small Baltic beach town and featured prominently on most postcards from the area.
[pullquote]Kołobrzeg is a part of the European Route of Brick Gothic network. Along the seafront, A bike path “to Podczele” was commissioned in 2004. Financed by the European Union, this path extends from Kołobrzeg to Podczele. It is hoped to be part of a unique biking path that will ultimately circle the entire Baltic Sea.[/pullquote]
The resort city was a smashing success! Patients and travelers came quickly, followed by the hurried development of the rest of the city. With the town now on the map again, a railway connect to Berlin was established. Soon tourism facilitated the building of hospitals, a theater, churches, restaurants making the town quite a pleasant place to be and to be seen. With the outbreak of the first world war, there were 25,000 German and Polish inhabitants.
[pullquote]A strip of sand dunes separates Kolobrzeg from the open Baltic Sea. Some of the dunes are over 30 feet high![/pullquote]
The nation of Poland did not exist at the time of WW1, so the years following the hostilities were a transition to autonomous rule. Kolobrzeg was a shell of its previous self, but the city worked hard to bring back the former visitors and raised standards. By the 1930’s Kolobrzeg was back in holiday business and was a premier beach vacation destination once again.
As we all know, things did not go well in Poland a brief time later in the second world war. Hitler ordered the city to be remade into a fortress once again. Kolobrzeg was the site of a fierce between the Germans and Russians. The city was pummeled.
Wedding to the Sea: March 18th, 1945
A symbolic Wedding to the Sea took place March 18th, 1945 to symbolize the restored Polish access to the Baltic Sea that was lost in 1793 by the Partitions of Poland. During this patriotic ceremony, Corporal Franciszek Niewidziajlo gave a speech, saying: “We have come here, to the Sea, after a hard and bloody effort. We see that our effort has not been wasted. We swear that we will never leave you. By throwing this ring into your waves, I am marrying you, because you have always been and always be ours”. Every year this scene in reenacted to much fanfare.
After the war, Kolobrzeg faced a grim reality as the Red Army took over. There was nothing left. The place came back to life over a period of a few decades. The summer capital of Poland was back in business again by the 1970’s.
Kołobrzeg has returned to its glamorous 19th century roots as a beach resort town.
Set along the white sandy beaches of Poland’s Baltic shore, Kołobrzeg seems to be looking back to the end of the 19th century instead of looking ahead. It is not an unpleasant vibe. The town has a quite similar feel to the German vacation island of Usedom.
Reasons Why to Visit Kołobrzeg
Today from the port, tourists are taken on cruises in replica Viking ships that formerly sailed the waters. Undoubtedly, Scandinavians drinking cheap liquor is a much finer sight than their war ships. The downtown area does have some cool things to do, but if you vacation here, it’s for the beach. The beach promenade is full of tacky and fun trinkets like every other beach spot in the world. If faux-gemstones are your thing, look for either white or gold amber. Amber is a tree resin that resembles gemstones. The Baltic is home to a large portion of the global supply of amber.
There are a lot of spots to grab a quick drink in the summer. In the fancy hotels along the beach are the best places for late night fun. The busy beach resorts and the spas attract very diverse crowds. While, it is definitely a nice place, a main reason for people to visit is its affordability. So if you are thinking about northern Poland next summer, check the town out for a couple days. Cheap beach vacations while you are touring Eastern Europe are always a good idea as the Mediterranean beaches aren’t the only place with sand.
Thank you to my friend Justyna for the images. She is a tax lawyer I had the pleasure of knowing for a few years in Malta. Currently, she is working the international tax risk circuit on the island of Jersey (Channel Islands).