Stepnica is approx. 60 km north of Szczecin and approx. 50 km from Świnoujście, while, You need to take the ferry to get to the town. The provincial road No. 112 from Goleniów leads to Stepnica. Stepnica is in the northern part of the Lower Oder Valley on the border with Goleniów Plain. The town and port are located by Stepnica Bay, which is a part of the Oder Lagoon, which is, in turn, the southern part of the Szczecin Lagoon. The town is situated south of the estuary section of the river Gowienica, i.e. between the river-channel Krępa and the Łącki Rów. The green R-66 international cycling route around the Szczecin Lagoon, and the green Stepnica tourist trail to Wolin with length of 31 km run through the town.
Stepnica is a town in north-western Poland, in Western Pomerania, in the district of Goleniów, and is the seat of the urban-rural commune of Stepnica. Located on the border of Goleniów Plain and the Lower Oder Valley, by the Oder Lagoon and the river Gowienica flowing into it. The name of the town derives from the Old Polish word 'stop', which means 'a muddy river or a lake overgrown with rushes'. The town is distinguished by the preserved urban planning scheme since the oval village system with a church in the town centre has been maintained to this day. The building system of Stepnica consists of 32 streets, including, among others, the Bogusławie housing estate or Czerwonak (an area of buildings at Krzywoustego Street). The coat of arms of Stepnica was granted on 15th September 1990. The escutcheon is two-coloured: the blue right part, and the green left one. The colour blue symbolises the waters of the Szczecin Lagoon and the green one epitomises the land. The two colours are separated by a golden belt in the shape of the letter S. That image has a double meaning. On the one hand, it refers to the coastline and the beach; but on the other hand, it makes the first letter of the name of the town. A silver symbol, an anchor, is placed on the blue field, and two golden items appear on the green field: an outline of trees and an ear of corn (as seen from the top). These signs symbolise the leading sectors of the economy. The anchor symbolises ports - commercial, fishing and yacht ones. Coniferous and deciduous trees symbolise the forestry and wood industry, and the ear - agriculture.
Stepnica was first mentioned in 1278, when Duke Barnim I gave the village as a fiefdom to Gottfried von Breslau. Stepnica was famous at the time for fishing, farming and as a port and timber processing centre. There is a written record of a fishing village in the thirteenth century. It belonged later to the family of von Fleming. Brothers Tinno, Dietrich and Henning von Fleming donated their property in Stepnica to the Cistercian nuns' monastery in Szczecin. A part of the village belonged also to the chapter of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Szczecin at the end of the fourteenth century. There was a church and convent of the Poor Clares in Stepnica since the Middle Ages, converted during the Reformation into the prince's hunting castle. It had a tower and bell in 1654. Later, it housed offices, including the court (the facility located at the corner of Dworcowa and Bolesława Krzywoustego Streets was dismantled in the 1950s). The village was incorporated into the prince's property and then to the domain of the State after the Reformation and secularisation of the monastery. There were two inns and a smithy in Stepnica in 1628; and, according to the description of 1721, Stepnica was regarded as a town. It was quite often afflicted by natural disasters like huge fires (e.g. in 1564, in 1739, in 1794), most often consuming Stepnica to a large extent. The townspeople repeatedly attempted to rebuild the town. The settlement was regulated after the fire of 1739, i.e. a square was created around the church, and the main street was given the equal width, then the village evolved into a clustered village. A new half-timbered church, designed by Schwatka and J. G. Dames, was built in 1741. A freight, fishing and sailing port was established in Stepnica in the nineteenth century, so that Stepnica was a tourist destination in the interwar period for not only the residents of Szczecin, but also of Goleniów and Stargard. You could then see there the wooden pier, relax at a nearby cafe and watch the white fleet ships landing at the marina. The advantage of Stepnica was also a large beach, as well as approx. 6,000 beds. Life flourished. Its colour is evidenced by the fact that a passenger narrow gauge railway to Gryfice functioned in the region. Passenger ships regularly plied to the towns along the Szczecin Lagoon. Travelling to Stepnica and around it caused no problems.
It is worth noting that Stepnica during was not seriously damaged during World War II. It was seized without any major problems in by the Red Army in 1945, and was handed over to polish administration. Presumably, the lack of military operations in the neighbourhood saved the substance of Stepnica. Stepnica was incorporated into Poland after World War II. The town was temporarily called Stobnica in 1945-1946, its present name was introduced by the Ministers of Public Administration and Recovered Territories' Regulation dated 12th November 1946. Then the village of Czerwonak was also included in it. Stepnica experienced a brief economic decline after the political transition. Suspended operation of narrow gauge railway in 1996, which was completely dismantled at the beginning of the twenty-first century, may be evidence of the worse condition of the town. In recent years, a development impulse was to Giving civic rights to Stepnica (1st January 2014) was and impulse to development in recent years. The wood factory of the Swedish company IKEA function in the town.
The Stepnica seaport is in the town, but it is only of local importance, acting as a fishing, sailing and trade and transhipment one (units with a draught of up to 3.1 m, length of 75 m and a width of 13 m can land at the port). Two yacht clubs operate at the port: The yacht club „Zalew ['Lagoon']" and the nautical-motor club under the auspices of the Liga Ochrony Kraju [National Defence League]. The fishing port belongs to the Commune of Stepnica, but is used by the Company Rybak [The Fisherman], which currently employs 12 fishermen working on 10 boats. The company cooperates with wholesalers in the receipt of fish; but, in the season from March to November, guests can also personally purchase fresh fish, straight from the board, mainly perch, roach, bream, pike-perch, pike, eel and burbot. The fish are caught in the waters of the Oder Lagoon, the Oder, Lake Dąbie and the Szczecin Lagoon. Fishermen, as a part of their activities, offer individual and group tours, as well as visiting the port together with observing the work of fisherman.
The residents of Stepnica are touristy oriented (fish and chip shops, restaurants, bars). However, Stepnica is located at an alternative route to the sea, which leads directly to Wolin, hence it is only a small tourist resort. Nevertheless, there is a beach and a marina in the town. The beach has dining facilities, and there is also a nearby square, which hosts regular outdoor events, e.g. the election of 'Miss Summer at the Lagoon' or 'Fishing Fair'. You can go boating or surfing on the lagoon. Several marinas are located around and near the town. These include the Marinas at the Młyński [Mill] Canal in Stepnica, in Gąsierzyn, in Kopice (called the Marina at Pirate Cape Tortuga - Kopice).
The town annually attracts viewers and participants in the Regatta of Stepnica. Viewers gathered at the pier can admire the struggle of competitors. The pier in Stepnica, which serves as a promenade, is intended exclusively for pedestrian traffic. The pier has the shape of the letter 'T' with a total length of 160 m, and a cross-platform at the end, which is roofed at the one end and allowing for occasional vessel mooring at the other. At the beach itself You can hire a deckchair, umbrella, beach basket, screen, kayak or water bike, which certainly increases recreation values of the town. Fully developed catering facilities also encourage to come to Stepnica. There are several guesthouses, tourist houses; but also private and agritourist housing are available in the town.
While in Stepnica, it is also worth seeing the English oak growing at 39 Bolesława Krzywoustego Street, which is a natural monument. You can also spend time in an extremely interesting way in the forest and peatland nature reserve 'Olszanka' (with an area of 1354.40 ha). It is located in the southern part of the town.
The urban planning scheme of Stepnica provided the location for St. Hyacinth's Church in the focal point of the town. Initially, religious buildings built in that place did not persist for long. The first church burnt down as soon as in 1564, the second one broke up in 1733, and the third one, yet unfinished, burnt down during the great fire of Stepnica in 1739. The church was consecrated in December 1945 after numerous alterations and modernisation. However, the church tower (now provisionally boarded up and topped with a pyramidal roof with a cross). The building, preserved to this day, has a framing built on an even-armed cruciform plan (the Greek one) with a tower added on the western arm. The walls were plastered in 1840, which unfortunately erased completely the beauty of the half-timbered facades. The exposed parts of the structure are visible only inside the church at the choir. The interior was covered with a wood-beamed panelled ceiling supported by four metal poles. Wooden galleries supported on columns were built in the three wings. External facades have simple walls with large divided, segmental arch windows with straight jambs. The three facades have also bisected door with straight jambs. The whole construction is topped with ceramic hipped roofs, intersecting in the middle. People visiting churches will undoubtedly be interested in a baroque ambo with a preserved canopy and a figure of an angel playing on its top; choir galleries with an organ prospect from the nineteenth century, as well as benches and chandeliers from the same century. The church interior is decorated in a Baroque style. The building is in the register of monuments.
Tourists staying in the region of Stepnica can also see a residential building, called the lodge, which is also in the register, as well as an outbuilding together with the adjacent estate from the eighteenth century. The residential building is a two-storey half-timbered detached house with a gable roof. The patches among the transoms are filled with brick and plaster. The interior was partially rebuilt in the nineteenth century. The outbuilding (the stable) was built in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. It is detached, located in the northern part of the yard, half-timbered, with a rectangular plan and a gabled roof.
However, it is worth visiting the Panorama restaurant to eat something. Its specialty are fried and baked fish such as pike-perch, perch, halibut, cod, trout, served with a salad and baked potatoes. The menu also contain lots of meat dishes served straight from the grill. But it is not only for catering reasons that it is worth visiting. The building is a former tavern ‘Standhalle Sak'. It was founded in the 1840s. The building has a unique wooden structure and original decoration preserved almost in the original. The tavern is maintained in a maritime style, it has 100 seats, large dance hall, and a garden with a beautiful viewing balcony.
A unique Szczecin Lagoon Nature Park is in the commune of Stepnica. You can find there a lot of valuable, protected and rare species of animals and plants, as well as admire the scenery. There is also konik polski [Polish horse] as the only Polish primitive breed of horses descended directly from the wild tarpans. Konik polski is a breed bred exclusively by Poles. It is now recognised as a unique natural-breeding relic, proving our material culture and contribution to the world culture of breeding. There are also Scottish Highland cows, birds: goose, redshank, yellowhammer, grey and yellow wagtail, red-backed shrike, starling, snipe, lark, corncrake, as well as crane strolling majestically in the meadows and pastures. Undoubtedly, a major attraction is the white-tailed eagle. A place where it nests and rears the young is under zone protection. Another place where white-tailed eagle can be met is the Island of Chełminek in the Szczecin Lagoon northwest of Stepnica at the height of the former town of Świętowice. The park has an area of approx. 4000 ha (meadows, pastures and the Goleniów Forest and the Szczecin Lagoon. It is located inside the so-called the Skoszewo Meadows - an area included in the European Ecological Network of Natura 2000, as a bird sanctuary.
It is interesting that a ship of the Danish company Maersk was named 'MS Maersk Stepnica'. The company chose this name in particular because it is easy to pronounce for foreigners (or at least easier than Szczecin and Świnoujście). It also considered that it would be easier to encourage investors from Central Europe when their vessels shall have the name of this particular region.
It is worth mentioning that the famous German impressionist Manfred Schatz came from Stepnica, and the famous sailor Robert Hilgendorf lived there.