A city set on the edge of the Warta River in west-central Poland, Poznań may not be the most prominent destination on any Polish travel itinerary but what it lacks in acclaim it makes up for with a multitude of surprises.
A vivid destination, you’ll find Poznań is a well-kept secret packed with fantastic museums, cosy bistros and storybook architecture to rival any European city of note.
Start your visit to Poznań in the charming Old Town. The Stary Rynek (Market Square) is the central focus where you can people-watch while you quaff a craft beer at a pub, or appreciate the Renaissance tenement houses shadowing the square. You’ll find cafeterias, a number of museums and captivating fountains. Join the tourists who flock to the Ratusz (Town Hall) at midday to watch a daily display from two goat figurines above the clock.
Set in the heart of Poznań, don’t miss stepping over the threshold into the Parish Church of St Stanislaus (Fara Church). One of the largest churches in Poland, this magnificent church has a rich Baroque interior with decorative marble columns, stucco and apostle statues. During summer, stop by to hear one of the free organ concerts that are held daily.
The Zamek Cesarski (Imperial Castle) is a young building by castle standards constructed in the 20th century as a residence for the German emperor. Parts of the castle have been modelled on monuments in Germany, Italy and Spain. During World War II, the castle was rebuilt to serve as Hitlers headquarters and the interior is touched with Third Reich decor. Today, the castle houses a museum, cinema, galleries and cultural centre.
Surrounded by sports centers and restaurants, head to Malta Lake for walking paths, biking and the chance to hire row boats. There is a thermal baths complex on the lake banks, and throughout the year you can see many events such as boating regattas and open air concerts.
Devour a St Martins croissant. Filled with raisins, orange peel and white poppy seed, these dense pastries can only be made by certified bakers in Poznań. Head to the Croissant Museum opposite the Town Hall for a baking lesson and taste test.
The best months to explore the areas near to Poznań are between May and September, with spring and autumn being particularly nice due to fine weather but less crowds. Jump in your rental car and seek out some great sights.
Zamek W Kórniku (Kórnik Castle) is found 30 kilometers south of Poznań and is the result of two of the region’s leading dynasties – the Górka family and the Działyński family. Particular highlights are the armory room with Moorish-influenced arches, and the library with manuscripts, postcards and autographs from Napoléon I, composer Chopin and famous Polish poets.
One of the leading archaeological sites in central Europe is found at Biskupin, 100 kilometers from Poznań. The exhibits comprise of a recreated wooden fortification and numerous displays of tools, weapons and relics from the settlement that existed here in the Bronze and Iron Ages. If you time your visit for September, don’t miss the annual Archaeological Festival with traditional music, workshops from blacksmiths, medieval combat demonstrations and crafts.