Katowice is a destination steeped in industrial history with coal mining and steel manufacture taking precedence over the construction of sumptuous palaces or baroque buildings.
Aside from this, the city is the site of music festivals year round, has many cultural attractions such as the Silesian Museum and Silesian Philharmonic and plenty of green parks such as Kościuszki Park or Zadole Park.
Take advantage of free entrance on Saturdays at the Silesian Museum that offers a glimpse into the region's ethnography, archaeology, and history with Polish paintings, archaeological findings, toys and photographs.
Get up close to over 2,500 animal species at the Silesian Zoo which is set in the Silesian Central Park. Zoo attractions include a mini zoo for hands-on animal encounters for children, a reproduction of a dinosaur valley with life-sized models and numerous snack kiosks for grabbing an ice cream or cold drink.
Immerse yourself in nature at the large wooded park, Kościuszki Park. Landscaped with multiple tree species such as cherry trees and beeches, you can walk pathways through English rose gardens. The park contains sculptures by local artists, a lovely wooden church (St Michael the Archangel), and the famous Parachute Tower.
Search out a picnic spot at the recreational area of the Valley of the 3 Ponds. Here you can find a lake beach for swimming or water sports and the entire park is criss-crossed with marked trails, making it a popular place for scenic walks, running, or cycling.
For an insight into a piece of industrial heritage, head to Nikiszowiec which is a former coal miners district. Originally built to house the coal workers, today the district remains greatly unchanged with examples of brickwork buildings, shops, a quaint church and art gallery.
Grab a concert ticket and head to Spodek, a futuristic reinforced concrete building that resembles a space ship and is now used as a venue for basketball games and rock concerts. If you think it looks alien, the building lives up to its bizarre architectural style as it is programmed to play the theme music for ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ when it is lit up – strange but true.
One hour east of Katowice is Poland’s second largest city, Kraków, that is filled with medieval buildings, good restaurants and lovely cycleways. Visit the iconic Wawel Castle and Cathedral (the location of local legend, the Wawel Dragon) and don’t pass on the chance to visit the unique Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Many tourists to Katowice venture one and a quarter hours south to Wisla that is located near the border with the Czech Republic. Attractions include a folk museum and mountains for skiing and hiking.
Częstochowa is located 74 kilometers north of Katowice and is home to the Monastery of Jasna Góra which holds the iconic Black Madonna. As the third largest Catholic pilgrimage site globally, the monastery is worth taking time to visit with a baroque basilica, paintings depicting the history of the monastery and a bell tower that gives wide views across the complex and surrounds.