Not often favoured on the tourist trail, Szczecin is a wonderful slice of Baltic Coast Poland, a major seaport with a wealth of interest waiting to be discovered. This is a lively, young, student city, hidden from the spotlight, but with an intriguing array of architecture and surrounded by forests, parks, lakes and waterways: it is definitely worth exploring.
Perfect for a stop-off if you’re heading from Gdansk to Berlin, get ready to be surprised by what Szczecin has to offer.
Szczecin’s Top Picks:
Szczecin is far from uniform, with its array of architectural influence. Hit hard during World War II, the renovation has been patchy and at times harsh, removing the old to make way for the modern. This makes it an intriguing city to explore.
- Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes: This vast Renaissance building is vast and towers over the Old Town of Szczecin and houses the 6 sarcophagi of the Pomeranian Dukes. It was built and expanded upon between the middle of the 14th Century and 1577. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in World War II so what you see are the extensive, sensitive restorations. In summer you can enjoy concerts in the open-air courtyard.
- Underground Szczecin: A highlight not to be missed is an opportunity to explore the underground tunnels of Szczecin – a labyrinth of bunkers and tunnels under the city used during World War II. Opt from one of two themed tours: World War II or the Cold War.
- Historical Museum of Szczecin: Housed in the 15th Century Gothic Town Hall with its imposing red-brick gable, fortunately surviving World War II, this museum literally houses a medieval treasure trove.
- Wały Chrobrego: Possibly the most iconic building in Szczecin, come and take a wander along the waterfront and enjoy the façade and its colourful fountains.
- Basilica of St James: Partially destroyed in World War II, this cathedral underwent a radical change via reconstruction in the 1970s. The result is somewhat mixed. However, despite its modern façade, this cathedral is well worth a visit for its impressive organs, stained glass, and its lift up the tower where you can enjoy panoramic views of the river.
- Museum of Technology and Communications: Young and old machinery and vehicle enthusiasts will love a foray in to this old tram depot that now plays home to a wealth of vehicles and machines from over the years. There is also a tram simulator for any budding enthusiasts.
- National Museum’s Department of Art: Housed in a former 18th Century Palace, the displays here mostly focus on religious art through the ages.
- Contemporary Art Museum: For modern art enthusiasts, this museum plays host to changing contemporary art exhibitions.
- Maritime Museum: A striking modern addition to the Szczecin skyline, this museum showcases life over the ages in this modern seaport.
Where to Eat – Szczecin
Largely because Szczecin is still making its way on to the Polish tourist scene, there isn’t a huge abundance of restaurants worth a visit. However, there are some gems to seek out:
- Bohema: if you’re looking for somewhere with a spot of romance, then Bohema is the place to be. Serving both Polish and International Food focused on local seasonal produce, this will be a meal to remember.
- Rybarex: a modern fish café to sample the delights of the Baltic.
- Karczema Polska Pod Kogutem: As you enter through the 2 giant roosters guarding the doors into the rustically-themed interior you’ll know this is a perfect spot to enjoy some traditional Polish fare. In warmer weather make the most of the outside deck overlooking the square.
- Bombay Resturant: High-quality Indian dishes at affordable prices.
- Avanti: the place to be for authentic Italian classics including pizza.
- Restauracja Chata: Come and enjoy hearty Polish cuisine, with a focus on pierogi dumplings as well as delights such as game and boar.
- Pannekoeken Restaurant Haga: You come here for one of two things: the Dutch filling pancakes with over 400 different flavour combinations, or the traditional soup served in a bread loaf.
- Cake Koch: Definitely a highlight in Szczecin is taking time to enjoy a cup of coffee with traditional cakes and pastries from this long-standing café.
Hitting the Town – Szczecin Nightlife
After dark, Szczecin comes to life largely focused around the market square. Hunt down the best spots for relaxing, drinking and dancing.
- Kafe Jerzy: frequently packed and showcasing skilled DJ’s.
- Mezzoforte/Zielony Abazur: This Italian Restaurant cum Bar-Club is popular with the locals. You can enjoy outside seating on the cobblestones.
- Christoper Columbus: a delightful beer garden with a wooden pavilion where you can make the most of the views of the river. If you’re lucky, there might be a band playing.
- Winiarnia Bachus: a wine bar with outdoor seating overlooking the square.
- Brama Café: housed in the Baroque Royal Gate, this is a perfect spot to have a drink either inside or out.
- Stara Komenda: Szczecin’s own micro-brewery with a choice of 4 beers.
- Trezor: If you’re over 20 and looking for a good dance spot with thumping tunes then this is the place to come.
- Alter Ego Club: For those who like live music with cosy atmosphere.
- City Hall: The basement of City Hall comes to life at night as a clubbing venue enjoyed by hundreds.
Kids in Szczecin – Family Highlights:
Children are most definitely not forgotten in Szczecin. Many will enjoy the main sites as well as chasing birds in the square, as well as the Museum of Technology and Communications, but also be sure to check out some other family-friendly sights:
- River Cruises: there are two boats – the Odra Queen and the Peene Queen – that take visitors on a water exploration of the city.
- Tarzania Park: high ropes and climbing.
- Canoeing: Hiring a kayak and taking yourselves for a self-guided tour and some nature exploration is possible both on the Odra River and on Lake Dabskie.
- Jasne Blonia: a large central park with plenty of open space, often playing host to various events.
- Silver Go-Kart Centre: For children who love the thrill of go-karts, this is the place to head.