Sometimes it’s the anonymous, unpromising names on the map that turn out to be the most charming halts, and that certainly could be said of Słupsk (pronounced ‘swoopsk’). A regional service centre with a country town pace, Słupsk has everything that makes a small Polish town just that, with its milk bar, PKP, PKS, PTTK and even a branch of Cepelia all in place. Wide 19th-century avenues lined with mature trees and park benches create an easy-going feel; throw in a touch of architectural interest and you have yourself a pleasant alternative to the busier centres on the coast, as well as a handy base between Gdańsk and Szczecin for flits to the seaside resorts of Darłowo and Ustka.
Like all Pomeranian cities, Słupsk’s history involves a complex list of owners: it began life in the 11th century as a Slav stronghold on the Gdańsk–Szczecin trading route, then was ruled by Gdańsk dukes from 1236, passed to the Brandenburg margraves in 1307 and later became part of the West Pomeranian Duchy. In 1648 it reverted to the Brandenburgs and became part of Prussia, then Germany, until returning to Polish rule after WWII.