When people think about travelling to Poland, most of them opt for Krakow or Warsaw. It’s no surprise really, as Krakow is probably the most beautiful Polish city and one of the oldest cities in Europe. Warsaw is the current capital. But Poznań is a city that is not to be overlooked. In fact, in my opinion, the old town market square has as much (if not more) beauty than Krakow and interestingly, Poznań has been the capital city of Poland twice in the past (In the 10th Century and in the 13th Century)! So, Is Poznań worth visiting?
Is Poznań Worth Visiting? Yes!
If you were to ask me ‘Is Poznan worth visiting?’ I would say a resounding yes! I’m actually writing this blog from Poznan right now, and when I flew in to Poznan my first impressions were very positive. I was presented with a clean and flat city with fantastic (and cheap) food and a beautiful old market square surrounded by tall colourful houses. They sometimes call Poznań ‘the colourful city’.
There’s plenty to do in Poznań including an abundance of museums, architecture and street art waiting to be explored. It’s also great value for money regarding food, drinks and accommodation, making it ideal for a backpacker on a budget.
Although some parts have been reconstructed since WW2, and some areas of the city are currently undergoing redevelopment in 2023 (including the old town square), Poznań is definitely worth visiting.
The Pros of visiting Poznan
I found Poznań really easy to get to and safe to walk around. It just felt to be an extremely cheap, friendly and navigable city. Poznan has the right mix of the old and modern – although some things were destroyed during the war (like Poznan castle), it has been lovingly restored. The infrastructure and nightlife in Poznan are fantastic.
Accessible from UK
Poznań is extremely accessible from England. Poznań-Ławica Airport is just 5km west of the city and it took me just 20 minutes and cost 32 Zloty (around £6.50) in an Uber. The airport has direct flights to Liverpool, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
As well as being accessible from the UK, Poznań itself has excellent public transport options, although it is such a walkable city, once you are in the centre, you may not need them.
There is an extensive network of buses and trams in Poznań. Poznań’s main train station links other Polish cities including Lodz, Wroclaw and Warsaw. The centre of Poznań is accessible by bike and it’s an easy and comfortable city to cycle. There is also the option of the Bolt Scooter hire which you can grab via the app.
Amazing Polish and International Food Scene
Poznań is a great place if you’re a big ‘foodie’ – you can find a great combination of Polish specialities and international dishes. There’s a gorgeous pork knuckle dish called Golonka that I recommend for you to try in Poznan. It’s cooked to perfection in a honey and mustard glaze and usually served with cabbage and horseradish sauce or mustard (try it at Brovaria).
If you’ve never eaten Polish Pierogi before then I highly recommend it! These gorgeous dumplings are usually served with butter and onion and the fillings vary from goats cheese to vegetables and meat. You can also get sweet pierogi as well with jam or chutney inside. I got mine from Pierożak Pierogarnia on Półwiejska where prices start from just 2 Zloty per pierogi! Order 3-5 for a lunch and the duck and apple ones are amazing!
There’s also some amazingly tasty soups available in Poznan which are the perfect light lunch whilst you are sight-seeing. Rosół (Polish chicken soup) is a great option. There are also a few other local soup dishes available such as fuzlapy (cabbage and potatoes) and czernina (duck and goose giblet broth) – not quite for me!
English is Widely Spoken
It’s great to learn a few words of Polish (I used Duolingo while I was there to get the basics). However, you really don’t need to worry about a language barrier as English is widely spoken in Poznań and there are menus in English as well as Polish in most restaurants. Museums and Churches all have guides in English.
Stunning Old Town Market Square
The main old town market square ‘Stary Rynek’ in Poznań is one of the most beautiful in Europe. It’s central City Hall has a beautiful main tower and door that open at midday to reveal two goats that will butt heads at the strike of 12! The houses around the main market square are very colourful, and so Poznan got its reputation as the colourful city.
Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski)
As well as exploring Stary Rynek, you can also head to Cathedral Island to learn about the history of Poznań that dates all the way back to the 10th Century. Poznań is home to the oldest Polish Cathedral. The island is walkable as it is connected by a series of vehicle and pedestrian bridges. In fact, Poznan is much more crucial to Polish history than you might expect…
Mieszko I, the very first Christian ruler of Poland was Baptised in Poznan (debated by some historians!), and they called this the ‘Baptism of Poland.’ This means that the city was instrumental in the Catholicization of Poland, and the country has remained predominantly Catholic ever since.
On Cathedral Island there is a great deal to explore in addition to the Cathedral itself. Don’t miss the Archbishop’s Palace, the Lubrański Academy building (now a Church archive and Museum) and the Church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and Psalmodists house (these are adjacent to the Cathderal). You will also find a statue of the Pope.
If you are eager to learn more, then you can visit Brama Poznania (an interactive exhibition that teaches you the history of the area), the Archdiocese Museum of Poznań and the Archeological Reserve Genius Loci. Also look out for the Sluza Katedraina (Cathedral Lock) – this links to the Brama Poznania exhibition via a glass bridge.
I would recommend going to the Brama Poznania exhibition first, because you will learn from the interactive exhibition and then they give you an additional audio guide for the area of Cathedral island including an audio tour of the Cathedral itself. The ticket price for Brama Poznania exhibition including the Cathedral Island audio guide tour is just 28 Zloty.
Fantastic Street Art
Did you know that Poznan is also a popular city for Street Art enthusiasts? From Cathedral Island, cross over the red Jordan bridge to the Srodka area and walk just a few minutes in. You will come to one of the best murals in Poznan – it almost looks 3D!
Other street art murals can be found around central Poznan. I came across a Buzz lightyear, an Alien and a Pikkachu Pokemon!
The Cons of Poznan
So what are the cons of Poznań? It’s honestly difficult to find any! The weather can be quite cold in the winter, so pick your time to travel carefully. As it’s currently undergoing extensive road and pavement reconstruction in the old town, you may want to wait until that’s finished. But overall, it’s hard to find negatives about this vibrant, exciting and great value city.
Extensive Reconstruction in Old Town
I need to warn you that if you visit Poznan in 2023 or early 2024, you are likely to get a very obscured view of the Old Town Market Square. At the moment they are re-laying all of the cobble stones and aspects of the utilities and infrastructure in Poznań Old Town. Expect pedestrian streets to be cornered off and traffic to be diverted. Your view will be at best obscured and at worst ruined! If the old town is the main reason for you to go to Poznan then consider delaying your trip until it is finished. There was rumour of it being finished by the end of 2023 but the date keeps getting extended and now it’s looking like it won’t be finished before the end of 2024. Keep an eye on the situation and consider this carefully before you book. Many old town walking tours are diverted or cancelled in the current renovations.
Remember to Convert some Zlotys!
You might laugh, but several people I know have rocked up in Poland with EUROs, only to find out that they need to change them again to Zloty! Poland still has the Zloty because it doesn’t quite meet the exchange criteria for the EURO and also Polish law is not completely compatible with the EU treaties.
For reference, it’s around 5 Zloty to the pound. So if you’re getting lunch for 20-30 Zloty, that’s really good value compared to the UK. The good news, though, is that your English or American credit/debit card is likely to work in Poland.
I have also used my Portuguese Multibanco card in Poznan and it worked just fine. Most places in Poland such as museums, hostels and restaurants take card. It’s mainly just local markets and small shops where you might need currency.
Cold in Winter
The winter time (particularly December and January) are very cold in Poznan, and (unless you are a fan of cold or specifically want to go at Christmas) I would give it a miss at this time of year. Temperatures in Poznan at this time can vary from 7 degrees C to -6!
Summers can be hot, but pleasant – when I was there in September (2023), it was between 25-31 degrees C. The perfect temperature for exploring, although I kept walking to mornings and evenings to avoid the heat of the day.
Unfortunately, smoking is still slightly more popular in Poland than it is in the UK. It’s not uncommon to find people smoking in public and smoking on the streets. It’s not great if you are asthmatic, but although the Polish seem to smoke more than the English, they are respectful with it. People will usually smoke in designated places so in general, you can avoid those and be ok (this wasn’t the situation in Belgrade where they seemed to smoke everywhere).
Most important Poznan Travel Tips
- Take some Zloty in cash (small coins) for buses and market stalls.
- When paying by card, always select ‘Polish or Zloty’ rather than English pounds, because then you will avoid exchange fees.
- Download Bolt for Taxis and Scooters in Poznan.
- Spend at least 2-3 days in Poznan if possible to truly enjoy the city.
- Don’t miss: Stary Rynek (Market square) and Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island).
- Head to the town hall for 12 noon to see the Poznan ‘Goats’ come out of the tower!
What to pack for Poznan
- Cash and Debit or Credit card (VISA works in Poznan).
- Comfortable walking boots or trainers (it’s a very walkable city and you will find yourself on your feet a lot of the time)
- Camera and Tripod – particularly if you want to film the goats coming out of the city hall tower at noon!
- A refillable water bottle – most hostels in Poland have drinking water available.
- Comfortable travel clothing – I lived in leggings and cycling shorts in Poland! Hiking trousers or combats are also great.
- A dress (or short and trousers for men) and pair of comfortable shoes for the evening as people make the effort to dress up at night in Polish cities.
- Sun screen and sun hat (if you are visiting in the summer months).
- Jumpers and Rain jacket if you are visiting in the winter.
- Some conservative clothes that cover your shoulders, cleavage and legs for visiting the Churches and Cathedral.
- European electrical adapter – Poland uses types C and E (operating on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz). Type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type E is the plug which has two round pins and a hole for the socket’s male earthing pin.
- Lonely Planet Poland – Although you can find out most things on the internet these days, I still like to have a printed guidebook such as the Money Planet Poland to take with me if I don’t have internet access and also to read in bed at night.
Where to stay in Poznan
If you are travelling on a budget then I recommend Blooms Hostel. They are located about 10-15 minutes walk to the old town and you can pay for a dorm bed with breakfast option. The breakfast takes place in a cafe over the road and the breakfast is massive! I paid just 343 Zloty for 4 nights, which works out at about £65 including breakfast.
For those of you looking for a private room (if you’re not feeling sociable enough for a hostel), there is a Park Inn and a Novotel in Poznan which are good standard options. There is also a Hampton by Hilton in the Old Town.
Looking for something a bit more upmarket and luxurious? Opt for the Sheraton Poznań or the City Park Hotel and residence. For these you could be looking at between 500-900 Zloty per night depending on the season.
Overall Opinion – Is Poznań Worth Visiting?
So back to the original question…is Poznan worth visiting? The answer is yes – Poznan is totally worth visiting. This city is clean, excellent value for money and backpacker friendly. Considering the fantastic architecture, street art, food and museums, I hope I have succeeded in selling it to you!
If you have any questions about visiting Poznan then feel free to comment on my blog. I will endeavour to answer you as soon as I have finished my Pierogi!
Further Reading on Poland
If you enjoyed this article then you might like to read some of my other blogs about Poland…
- How to spend one day in Poznan
- Solo female travel Poland
- Things to do in Katowice
- My 7 best cities in Poland