We're here to say it: Poland is a favorite. Gorgeous cities and architecture, delicious local foods, rich history, and incredible hikes. The only questions are, which cities should you visit and what should you do there?
Every semester we have volunteers who come vacation in Poland, and Krakow is usually the city the choose to enjoy for a few days. We definitely recommend experiencing Krakow since there's so much to do here, like touring the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, visiting Krakow's holocaust and art museums, and see its beautiful cathedrals. If you want to learn more, check out our guide to Krakow to get tips on planning your trip there.
Now I'm not recommending you skip Krakow — it really is an experience — but I think you should also check out the lesser-known city of Poznan.
What should you see in Europe if you're volunteering here?
Check out our list of recommendations
Poznan is one of those cities that tourists just miss. Too bad for them. Luckily for you though, we've made a list of things we recommend you check out if you decide to visit Poznan along with some tips on how to get there, what to eat, and possibly where to stay if you end up staying the night there.
What To Do In Poznan
Town Hall + Old Market Square
Whenever you visit a European town, you have to visit their main square — This is where you'll find the old architecture, cool restaurants, and dreamy cobbled stone paths. It feels like going back in time and Poznan is no exception. And actually ... an afternoon hanging around this spot is likely to be the highlight of your visit!
The town square is lined with rows of colorful painted homes known as the merchant houses. Some of them are green, others are pink, blue, orange, you name it. The houses certainly brighten up the town!
Then you have the stunning Town Hall (Koziolki Poznankie Ratusz) which almost looks like a cathedral and acts as Poznan's historical museum. You're welcome to visit: It's open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10am-4pm, Wednesdays from 12pm-6pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm (the museum's closed on Thursdays).
Even if you don't go inside the Town Hall, you can still watch the clock ring at 12pm. When it does, two mechanical billy goats come out just above it and butt heads twelve times to the bugle call.
Address: Stary Rynek 1, 61-768 Poznań, Poland
Check Out the Church of St. Stanislaus
St. Stanislaus is a gorgeous baroque style parish that was once a Jesuit college. It's filled with religious artwork of saints and Christ, has large columns inside it, and lovely alters. You can also hear the organ play if you come visit the parish on Saturday at 12:15.
The parish offers tours that cost about a dollar depending on what you want to see (some tours just take you around the church while others let you go underground) and last 30-40 minutes. You don't necessarily need a tour though since you're free to visit and explore the church by yourself from 6am-7:30pm.
You can learn more about the church at their website (Note: Everything is in Polish so you'll need to translate to English, unless you're fluent!)
Address: Klasztorna 11, 61-779 Poznań, Poland
This old neo-romanesque style palace was first built by Kaiser Wilhelm II, but it's since gone through massive changes. Today it's acts as a cultural centre that hosts theatre performances, concerts, films, and other events. There's also several restaurants and cafes!
In the basement of the Imperial Castle, they have a 1956 Uprising Museum which has information about the first armed Polish resistance to the Soviet Russia communist regime. This museum's open from 10am-5pm and closed on Mondays.
You can get an hour long audio guide of the castle from 11am-6pm for about $4. If you want to know about the cultural schedule, check out their programs here.
Address: Święty Marcin 80/82, 61-809 Poznań, Poland
Yep, you read that right ... a museum for croissants! Poznan has a very unique museum that's completely dedicated to St. Martin's special recipe for croissants. You get to see all that goes into making this type of croissant and by the end you get to sample the freshly made dessert. They only have English tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and they'd like you to show up at least 10 minutes early. The tour costs about $6.
If you're interested, check out their website and book your tour in advance.
Address: wejście od, Klasztorna 23, 61-779 Poznań, Poland
If you want to switch it up a bit after exploring the city, it might be nice to take a break at Cathedral Island (or Ostrow Tumski). It's connected by two bridges that lead to the city, but it still feels separate with its beautiful landscape that runs along the river. Inside are the tombs of the first rulers of Poland. It's also filled with Romanesque relics and filled with architecture from different eras. It's open from 9am-4pm.
Close by is the more modern Gate of Poznan (Brama Poznania). The museum is dedicated to teaching their visitors about the history of Cathedral Island in an intuitive and fun way. It's open from Tuesday to Friday from 11am-6pm while Saturday and Sunday is 10am-7pm (Monday's are closed) and costs about $5-$6.
Address: Ostrów Tumski 17, 61-109 Poznań, Poland
Out To Eat
Now this all depends on your budget and what you're interested in. If you want something cheap and yet traditional, I'd recommend you go to Pierożak Pierogarnia. It's a come in, eat, and leave kind of deal since they don't have any waiters and they only serve one dish: pierogis. Pierogis is a classic Polish dish that you absolutely must try while you're in Poland — it's basically dumplings wrapped around a savory filling and then fried. Here you get a Polish experience, but it also doesn't hurt your wallet!
- Pierożak Pierogarnia
Półwiejska 10 and Wrocławska 23
Open from 10am-9pm
If you're looking for variety and something more high-end, then I'd say go to Pierogarnia Stary Młyn. They still offer pierogis here, but you'll find other yummy options like potato pancakes and a variety of soups.
- Pierogarnia Stary Młyn
Open from 11am-11pm
Poles love their ice cream and you will too! You'll find a bunch of different kinds whether it be big soft served cones or specialized flavors. If you want to hit up one of the more popular restaurants, head to Kolorowa.
- 61-001 Poznań, Poland
Getting To + Around Poznan
Getting to Poznan from Krakow
Okay, so you've just finished seeing everything you want in Krakow and now you want to head north to visit Poznan. How do you get there?
By bus: One option would be to hop on a bus in Krakow and go straight to Poznan. This trip takes just over 7 hours and costs about $24 USD.
By train: A quicker (and often cheaper) option is going via train which is just under 5 hours and typically costs around $16 USD.
By plane: You might even want to consider just jumping on a flight. Traveling by plane is surprisingly cheap in Europe — you can often find flights for around $35 and it takes a little less than 4 hours. The biggest downside is that it's not a direct flight which means you'll have to hop over to Germany before getting on another plane to Poznan.
I'd personally recommend taking the train, but this all up to you and what you personally want or need. Decide for yourself by checking out Omio and finding the times and dates that work for you!
Getting around Poznan
Once you're actually in Poznan, the best way to travel is either on foot (especially when exploring Poznan's Old Town square) or by tram or bus. The day trams and buses run from 4:30am to 11pm in Poznan giving you plenty of time to explore the city.
The price of tram/bus varies depending on how long the ride is. A 24-hour pass costs about $4 USD while a 3-day one costs about $6. You can also buy one and done ticket to get to and from one place to another at about $1. I personally recommend using those feet to get around most of Poznan, but a long-lasting pass would help if you ever just needed to get on a tram and didn't want the stress of constantly having to buy a new ticket every time.
You can buy tram/bus tickets at ticket boxes that are usually in main bus/tram/train stations. You can learn more about that here! You can also check out which trams to take that lead to important places in Poznan here.
Come join us for a semester living + traveling in Europe!
There's so much to do in this underrated city! You can learn more about what to do in Poznan here and hopefully you'll come to visit the city for yourself.
If you decide that volunteering in Europe is what you want to do, we're more than happy to answer questions about it. Europe is truly a magical place and we hope you take the opportunity to really experience all it has to offer.