If you’ve never heard of Poznan, you’re not the only one. Before I found the city on a map when looking for weekend trips out of Berlin, I’d never heard of it either. Poznan is the 5th biggest city in Poland, and it’s under 4 hours away from Berlin, in the west of the country. By bus it’s a breeze to get there, so we followed the unexpected and headed to Poznan.
What we found was a relaxed, beautiful city, with plenty to do for a 2 or 3 day stay. The main square is one of the prettiest I have ever seen, the city is full of cool coffee shops, unique restaurants and quirky vegetarian cafes. There’s a lake, beautiful Palmiarnia and a bunch of museums too. We went to Poznan not knowing what to expect, but left firm fans of the city. Go before the secret gets out!
Where to Stay
Blow Up Hall 5050
Almost an attraction in itself, the unique and quirky Blow Up Hall 5050 is a real highlight of any visit to Poznan. It’s a hotel with a difference. Housed within an old brewery, the exterior is red-bricked and grand. But the interior is modern, design heavy and rather sleek. Our room was bright white, and we felt a little like we’d taken a trip into a James Bond movie. While it’s undoubtedly stylish, it was also a very comfortable place to stay, with a huge soft bed, rain shower and cosy chairs around the TV.
Blow Up Hall 5050 is unique in many ways. You use an iPhone to access your room, and you can also take advantage of the phone for navigating around the city or making local calls. The design of the corridors was like being in a modern art museum, and the bar where every guest can enjoy a free welcome drink was rather swanky indeed. Breakfast was another highlight, with a delicious cold buffet, choice of a hot dish, cakes, fruits and good coffee.
Rooms at Blow Up Hall Hotel start from around €120 depending on dates. Click here to find out more and check availability.
What to Do
For such a small city, we were surprised with the amount of things to do in Poznan. We had nice weather on our visit, so chose to stick to the mostly outdoor activities. However, there’s also an abundance of museums which we missed and for any shopaholics, a range of unique shopping malls are dotted around the city.
Explore the Old Town and Market Square
The highlight of Poznan has got to be the town square. It’s incredibly pretty, brightly colored and looks in parts like a toy town. In appearance, I found it to be the prettiest square I’ve set eyes on in Europe. The ambiguity of Poznan also means that it’s almost completely empty of tourists, and it’s a quiet and peaceful place to wander at any time of the day. Restaurants, shops and a few museums occupy the square’s buildings, and in the center you can find the rather grand and unique-looking town hall.
Walk and relax around Lake Malta
Another highlight of Poznan is the number of outdoor spaces in the city. I love cities which feel green and open, with lots of places to relax, especially in the summer time. Poznan is definitely one of these cities, and the highlight is the huge 2.2km long Lake Malta. The lake is a hub for water-sports, and from the jetties and signs around you can see that it’s been used for some pretty big competitions.
On a mid-week afternoon though, you’ll just find cyclists zooming around the edge, local boys training in rowing and couples canoodling at the water’s edge. If the weather’s not good, you can also head to the Maltese Baths on the lake’s edge, an indoor and outdoor complex of pools and saunas. In wintertime, a ski slope and ice rink opens.
Visit the Palmiarnia
A short walk from the city centre is the Palmiarnia and surrounding Wilson Park. Essentially a giant botanical gardens greenhouse, the Palmiarnia is well worth a visit during your time in Poznan. It’s made up of 10 greenhouses each housing an array of tropical plants, cacti and much more. It’s the biggest of its kind in Poland, and definitely something you don’t expect to find in a small town. It only costs 9 PLN to get in (just over 2 euros).
I also highly recommend a trip to the cafe while you are there. Housed within the greenhouses, the cafe is filled with plants and a rather large scale ant farm which in part travels above your heads through a glass tube. They serve a great selection of homemade cakes, drinks and light lunches too.
Admire Polish art at the National Museum
Just around the corner from the main square, the National Museum of Poznan houses an impressive collection of Polish Art. With pieces ranging from the 16th century to the present day. It’s an impressive collection in a beautiful building, and I particularly liked seeing the contemporary pieces. Entrance costs 12 PLN (€2.80).
Chill and drink along the river at KontenerART
Another one of Poznan’s chill out spaces is the area along the Warta River. In the evening, you’ll find students and young people chilling out on the grass, sharing food and beers. KontenerART is an assortment of shipping containers where you’ll find a bar, arts events, exhibitions and live music. While we were there there wasn’t anything going on, but it was still a great place to sit back on a deck chair with a very cheap Polish beer and watch the world go by. Check out their Facebook to see what’s going on.
See the city from above at the tower of the Museum of Applied Arts
For the best view over the city, head just around the corner from the main square to the Museum of Applied Arts. Here you can take the lift up the tower for the best view over the city. Look down onto Poznan’s main square and town hall and take in all those pretty golden roofs. Entrance to the museum and tower costs 12 PLN (€2.80) or on Tuesday’s it’s free.
Where to Eat and Drink
Stepping into Raj is like taking a little trip around the world. From the beautiful photography which graces the walls, to the backstreet Vietnamese restaurant vibe of the back room, to the menu full of flavors from around the globe. Sitting in Raj tucking into a delicious bowl of Pad Thai, it was easy to forget I was in Poland and instead I was dreaming of the weather and spices of the East. I would love to know more of the story behind this restaurant, as it’s one of the most unique I have visited anywhere in the world. You can tell passion and detail has gone into every part of creating Raj, and that comes off in both the food and the atmosphere of the place.
The owners Monica and John have also created a cook book (again, full of stunning photography and delicious flavors) from their travels around the world. If you can read Polish, you can pick it up here. If not, get yourself to Poznan and to Raj to check out this amazing little place.
Who knew Poland had such an abundance of hipster coffee shops?! Poznan was certainly not short of them, and with reasonable prices and cozy interiors, the selection could rival Berlin’s any day. I recommend checking out Stragan Kawiarnia.
Porazka Vegan Restaurant
Something that surprised me about Poland was how well it caters to vegetarian and vegans. Even in a small city like Poznan, you’ll find multiple vegan and vegetarian restaurants, and even in omnivore restaurants, it’s easy to find vegetarian and vegan dishes. One of my favorite vegan stops in Poznan was Porazka, with minimalist white interiors, the cafe’s menu is big on flavors. We tried the vegan Pho and it was damn delicious, they also serve vegan deserts and some interesting drinks. The menu changes daily but is always 100% vegan and we guarantee it’ll be good!
Traditional Polish Food
Wherever I go in the world, I always like to try the local food. Being a vegetarian in Eastern Europe has in the past had it’s problems, but in Poland it was quite a breeze. We ate a couple of times at Polish restaurants around the main square and found the choice was great and really tasty. Some of my favorites are Pierogi, which we had filled with sauerkraut and mushrooms. One of my favorite Polish restaurants was Ludwiku do Rondla just off the main square. It was cheap and filling and down a lovely side street with outdoor seating.
Getting there & Away
From Berlin, getting to Poznan only took around 3 and a half hours and cost around €13 on the Polski Bus. You can also opt for the slightly more comfortable train which takes around the same amount of time. There are also direct bus and train routes from other major Polish cities, including Wroclaw, Warsaw and Krakow. If you are coming from further afield, Poznan has its own international airport which is served by budget airlines around Europe.
Poznan is a cheap city to visit, as is much of Poland. A 3 course lunch meal set us back around €6 while dinner in a hip modern restaurant cost around €8. Drinks in bars range from €1-€2 and Poland has a great selection of craft beer. Accommodation in the city varies but generally, luxury hotels here are much less than they would be around the rest of Europe.