This charming medieval town doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves. With about 200 000 residents, Toruń is rather small but has a lot to offer. Unlike Cracow or Warsaw, Toruń isn’t a major tourist destination, even though it’s equally (or more) interesting. If you want to experience authentic Polish culture and avoid crowds of tourists, that’s your spot. With its cobbled streets, Gothic architecture, beautiful tenement houses, and small lights decorating the trees on the main Square (all year long, not only during Christmas), the old town is as cute as it gets.
Toruń is mainly known for two things: gingerbread, traditional Polish sweets, and Nicolaus Copernicus, a world-renowned astronomer who was born there. Several shops are selling those yummy cookies in various shapes and sizes, while the statue of Copernicus stands proudly in the very center of the Old Town and serves as a major meeting point for the locals. Toruń has one of Poland’s best universities, so the student community adds some creative liveliness to the city’s atmosphere.
Sightseeing in Toruń
You should visit the Dybowski Castle Ruins, the Old Town Hall, Nicolaus Copernicus’ House and Cathedral of SS. Johns. Climb to the Tower of the Old Town Hall; it offers an excellent view of the city. Dwór Artusa is a beautiful building situated on the Main Square. It’s a cultural center, so if you’re more into arts or music, you can check out their schedule and attend one of the events.
While strolling around the town, don’t overlook the building of Baj Pomorski Theatre. The theater has a shape like a book and it and stages puppet performances for children. In the evening, walk on the bridge above Vistula River and see the panorama of the Old Town, it’s magical. For folklore enthusiasts, there’s the Ethnographic Museum with lots of exciting exhibitions. If you walk a bit outside of the Old Town, you’ll reach a neighborhood called Bydgoskie Przedmieście, the second most beautiful part of the city with old houses and a large park. Don’t miss it! Many visitors only visit the Old Town, but Bydgoskie Przedmieście is enchanting too.
Some of the most famous restaurants belong to the brand called Manekin, and they serve heavenly pancakes at very reasonable prices. In the Old Town, you’ll find several great pierogarnias, restaurants specializing in traditional Polish dumplings. Pierogarnia Stary Toruń and Leniwa are the best. Jan Olbracht Browar is a brewery with an adjoining restaurant so that you can have a taste of both excellent beers and traditional foods.
Coffees and desserts
Near the Old Town Market Square, you can find Atmosphere, a small lovely café offering a broad range of teas and coffees. But, if you’re more into sweets, visit the Dom Czekolady (The House of Chocolate) at Szeroka 38 street. For a quick coffee and a sandwich, Kona Coast is the best. In the summer you can see incredibly long queues waiting in front of Cukiernia Lenkiewicz – not without reason, they have the most delicious ice-cream in the city.
For more of an alternative experience, visit NRD, a unique bar where local bohemians meet to talk philosophy. To spend a romantic evening with a candle light, go to Niebo, a small pub in the city center. Krajina Piva is a beer lover’s paradise, they offer over 100 brews, some of them coming from small, Polish breweries. Kadr and Czeski Sen are especially beloved by students. Both of the bars are great to hang out and have a couple of beers.
If you’re into jazz, visit Tutu, there’s always fantastic music being played. Hidden in a small street in the Old Town (Ducha Św. 5), Zezowate Szczęście is a place of which even most locals don’t know. It’s a small, charming pub where you can have a glass of wine, read a book and then discuss it with other visitors. If you rather fancy a wild night out, Toruń has some clubs as well. The most famous are called Kotłownia. Located amongst the dorms (Słowackiego 5), it’s a loud and crowded student organization. It’s terrible, but for some reason people still love it, so if all you want is dancing, drinking and being stupid for one night, that’s the right place to do it. One night only, remember, more can result in severe damage.
Toruń has all sorts of accommodations, so whether you’re a luxury-seeker or a backpacker, finding the right place won’t be a problem. One of the city’s best hotels is the fancy Bulwar. Hotel 1213 is equally luxurious, but smaller, so if you’re into comfortable hotels, you’ll most likely find it perfect. Hotel Gotyk is a superb mid-range hotel. And finally, as for backpacker options, Angel Hostel is lovely.
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Toruń is one of the biggest and for sure the most stunning city in Poland. With its 2 000 000 visitors it belongs to the 4 most favourite destinations in the country. If you hate crowds, it is not a place for you.