Torun is Poland’s second Krakow. It is a compact, charming city enclosed within the magnificent city walls and has a distinctive Gothic heritage and feel. Located in northern Poland, on the Vistula River, the red sandstone and tiles make for a distinctive feel very similar to Krakow.
Once the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, the famed and world-renowned astronomer, Torun is rich with wonderfully preserved historical sites, many on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Fortunately, and unlike many other Polish cities, Torun was largely unscathed in World War II meaning it is able to display its rich cultural history alongside each other. Torun is a popular university city and as such also has a student vibe. It is popular with tourists, with numbers exceeding 1.5 million each year.
Torun’s Top Picks:
Toruń is rich with history, architecture and culture. There is a huge amount to see and do and a wealth of options for everyone. Being relatively small and compact, it is possible to tour Torun quite easily and plan your days to your own agenda.
- House of Copernicus: Torun is famous for being the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, the famous astronomer. This branch of the regional museum is dedicated to his life and works, as well as astronomy in general.
- Old Town Hall: With its dominating tower affording splendid views over the city, the Old Town Hall is well worth a visit. It dates back to the 14th Century and now houses the Gothic Art section of the Torun Regional Museum with many treasures awaiting discovery.
- Cathedral of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist: This is a mammoth cathedral dominating the city and worth a visit for the ornamental and elaborate altars within. The building of the Cathedral began in 1260 and continued through until the 15th This rich history is depicted every way you look.
- Torun Donkey: Reminiscent of a darker past, the current donkey is a sculpted replica of the original wooden Torun Donkey that was used for punishing criminals. It is now a landmark synonymous with the city of Torun.
- Raftsman Fountain: Found in the Old Market Square, this fountain tells of the legend of Torun. Belief has it that the medieval city was once plagued with frogs from the river. The plague was ended when a raftsman, using his violin, rid the city of the frogs.
- Krzywa Wieża: Fondly nicknamed the Leaning Tower of Torun this tower was built in the 14th Century as part of the original city wall.
- Historical War Museum: Located in the basement of a senior school, this is a fascinating little museum with artefacts saved from the many Prisoner of War Camps that were surrounding Torun in World War II.
- Ethnographical Museum: To head back in time even further, to an original Polish village, right in the heart of the city, is like stepping in to a time machine.
- Dwór Artusa: Built between 1889 and 1891, this old red sandstone building plays host to a range of concerts, exhibitions and conferences.
- Centre of Contemporary Arts: For modern art lovers, this museum is a must. It also showcases the annual World Press Photo Exhibition as well as having an art-house cinema.
Where to Eat – Torun:
Torun has an excellent range of different styles of cafes and restaurants. You can find many purveyors of traditional Polish fare, as well as international cuisine. The one thing that Torun is specifically renowned for is the Torun Gingerbread. This unique gingerbread has been baked in Torun since the 14th Century, in traditional moulds. A trip to Torun wouldn’t be complete without sampling this local treat.
- Bar Miś: A fun Soviet themed café based on the 80’s Polish Comedy Miś that was based on life in Poland under Communist rule.
- Sioux: For excellent quality steaks and hearty fare.
- Pierogaria Stary Torun: Pierogi, the famous Polish dumplings, can be found across the town, and are filled with a range of different flavours.
- Pierogaria Leniwa: A huge range of Pierogi to choose from.
- Kona Coast Café: This little gem of a restaurant is run by a Polish-American couple, but the focus is on fresh produce and amazing sandwiches and salads.
- Karczma U Damroki: Situated in the Ethnographical Museum, this restaurant offers a range of Polish, German and Bavarian food, in a beautiful 19th Century style pub.
- Kafeteria Dworu Artusa: A small yet stylish café situated within the Dwór Artusa, it is well loved for its cakes, snacks and beer.
- Czarna Oberża: For plentiful cheap Polish fare, this is the place to head. It’s rustic and atmospheric and enjoying Polish food in wooden huts is a unique experience.
- Artemis: A Greek restaurant popular for its baklava.
Hitting the Town – Torun Nightlife:
Torun might be a compact city but it’s definitely not lacking in excellent nightlife. There is a huge choice and something to satisfy everyone’s requirements.
- Beer Barges: On the Vistula River in Torun are two static beer barges, and if you’re a beer lover they are worth a visit for a unique night. However, be warned, it’s beer or beer here, no spirits are available.
- Krajina Piva: Another highlight for beer lovers, this World of Beers has over 100 different types to choose from.
- eNeRDe: This is a popular student club with a popular courtyard. It’s inexpensive with a relaxed vibe.
- Szwejk: Another popular bar for the younger crowd. It has a fantastic summer garden with bar.
- Heaven: In the basement of the Town Hall you can find Heaven – a small and cosy bar to while away the evening.
- Lizard King: Regular acts perform here in this live venue complete with a small dance floor.
- Hipisówka: Head here late at night when the party really gets started, and if the mood takes you there is a drum kit that is free to use.
- Kuranty: This is a popular pub in the heart of Torun mostly frequented by tourists and expats giving it a real international feel.
- Jan Olbracht: With beer brewed on site and enjoyed in the wooden panelled interior, this is a pub with elegance.
- Konie Świata: If you’re looking to enjoy a drink on a summer’s evening then you can’t beat the beer garden hidden behind walls at this pub.
Kids in Torun – Family Highlights:
Despite Torun’s appeal mainly lying in culture and heritage, younger visitors are not neglected. There is plenty to do within many of the museums, but in addition, families may enjoy the following attractions in Torun:
- Paintball: This fun adrenalin-pumping competitive game is available incredibly close to the Old Town making it easily accessible. Plenty of obstacles and challenges await even the most energetic players.
- Gingerbread Museum: A real favourite with families from within Poland and overseas, the Gingerbread Museum allows you to come and make your own Torun Gingerbread. Learn the process and enjoy this hands on activity that everyone can do.
- Puppet Theatre: Whilst the majority of performances here are in Polish, there are some English options if you keep your eye out. These are traditional wooden puppets and loved by families.
- Pienikowe Miasteczko: If your kids need to let off some steam then head to this delightful gingerbread-themed playground in the centre of the Old Town.