Poznan, the fifth-largest city in Poland, boasts a charming old town, colorful Renaissance-style buildings, and a town clock with mechanical goats that bump their heads at noon. Therefore, this ultimate guide to the top, fun, and free things to do in Poznań features attractions for history, arts, and culture lovers.
Why visit Poznan?
Is Poznan worth visiting? Absolutely! There are many reasons why Poznan should be on your Polish itinerary. The main reason is that it’s one of the underrated cities in Poland with fewer tourists. So you can wander the winding streets of Poznan’s old town peacefully, making it a great destination to escape crowds.
While Poland, in general, is budget-friendly, Poznan is even cheaper than more popular cities, including Warsaw, Krakow, and Gdansk. Accommodation options are diverse and cater to every budget. For instance, an entire apartment in the city center can cost anywhere between 30-50 USD per night. The same goes for food and entertainment.
ADVICE: always travel with comprehensive travel insurance that also covers COVID. I personally use SafetyWing.
Architecture-wise, Poznan is truly a gem, with stunning, colorful buildings encircling the Old Town. And if you are into Art-Nouveau, Poznan has separate neighborhoods featuring breathtaking Renaissance, Baroque, and Art-Nouveau-style buildings.
If this is not enough, Poznan has plenty of green spaces to enjoy a pleasant walk, visit museums to learn more about the city, or even take day trips to the neighboring villages and towns like Torun, Lodz, and even Wroclaw.
17 wonderful things to do in Poznan
Poznan is a city of gorgeous architecture, a vibrant food scene, plenty of green spaces, and historical landmarks to entertain you during the day. There is something for anyone to enjoy here.
Explore the Old Market Square (Stary Rynek)
Old Market Square is the heart of Poznan Old Town, spanning the area of the former walled medieval city. Therefore, one of the first things to do in Poznan is to come here and admire the architecture surrounding the square.
When the city expanded in the early 19th century, authorities took down the old walls. However, its urban layout still closely resembles how it looked when protected by the wall. Some wall parts are preserved in Ludgardy, Shawna, and Masztalarska streets.
Lined around the square, you’ll find colorful merchant houses dating from the 16th century. House number 17 displayed a coat of arms of the merchant’s guild from which these houses are named.
Other places to visit in Poznan Old Market Square:
Weighing house: right behind the Poznan town hall, was used to weigh goods and products back in the day. It was demolished at the end of the 19th century but rebuilt in its former style in the 1950s. Now, it’s used for weddings and other ceremonial events.
Guardhouse (Odwach): rebuilt in Classical style, the venue is now home to a Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919) Museum.
The Wielkopolska Military Museum: a modern building built on the spot of a former cloth hall (sukiennice).
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Don’t miss the spectacle of the Town Hall Clock at noon
The centerpiece of the Old Market Square is the Town Hall and its Clock Tower – the pride and glory of Poznan built in the mid-13th century. Come here at noon to see a small performance of mechanical goats at the top of the clock that hit their heads together daily.
Two goats are also a symbol of Poznan, so you’ll see a few statues or street art featuring them.
Visit beautiful pink Fara Poznan
When exploring the Old Town, one of the things to do in Poznan is to visit this charming Roman Catholic basilica hidden away from the Old Market Square. Done in Baroque architectural style, the basilica is dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mary Magdalene, and Saint Stanislaus. It is one of the most important Christian churches in the country.
The best view of the church is from Świętosławska Street, while it also has a pleasant courtyard accessible from Gołębia Street. When facing the church from Świętosławska, take your left, and you’ll find a gate to enter a yard. The entrance is also marked on Google Maps as Wolny Dziedziniec Urzędu Miasta.
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Admire Poznan’s Castles
Royal Castle was constructed in the 13th century but was destroyed during WWII. Now, it’s rebuilt and houses an Applied Arts Museum. You can wander through the castle grounds and visit its tower, observation deck, and Prince Przemysł I Hall.
On the other hand, the Imperial Castle, known as Zamek among locals, was built under German rule right before the First World War for German Emperor William II. Since its construction, the building has been home to governmental offices, first in Germany and Poland.
Find a former synagogue turned into a swimming pool
The New Synagogue on Wroniecka Street was designed by German architects in 1907. It was a lavish building accommodating 1,200 worshippers. Unfortunately, when Second World War broke out, the building was seized by Nazis and remodeled into a swimming pool and a rehabilitation center for German armed forces in 1939. Everything resembling the synagogue was gone, including its dome and flooring.
After the war, the synagogue continued to be a municipal pool, and many jokingly called it a ‘swimagogue’ until it was closed down due to its poor condition.
Since its closure as a public pool, authorities returned the building to the Jewish community in 2002, and at some point, it was turned into a gallery hosting occasional exhibitions. Although there have been plans to turn it into a community center with kosher restaurants, prayer halls, and conference hall – this never came to be.
According to my research, the building was sold to a hotel developer a few years ago, but the building stands empty even today.
We didn’t want to trespass on the private property and haven’t looked inside. Instead, we admired the former synagogue from the outside. You can still see the typical swimming pool glass windows and the sign marking in Polish Pływalnia Miejska (Municipal Pool). Now, there’s a small plaque notifying what it was before.
Join a private Jewish heritage tour
Visit a former brewery turned into a shopping center
Stary Browar, or Old Brewery, is now a shopping and business center encompassing restaurants and 210 stores with an adjacent office complex, hotel, art gallery, and entertainment venues.
On the spot of today’s shopping center, Huggerów Brewery produced beer from the 1850s till 1980 and mineral water until 1998. The mall’s interior and exterior resemble the industrial factory style and even won several awards.
If you don’t plan on shopping, it is still worth visiting the place for its astonishing design.
Find a secret courtyard with a cafe
If you are looking for a hidden place in Poznan, come to Mielżyńskiego on 27/29 to find a charming secret courtyard with a cafe to enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch. It’s hidden behind a hallway and a glass door. It’s a public space with a theatre and a library, so don’t be afraid to go inside; you won’t trespass.
Walk around Cathedral Island
Ostrów Tumski is a small island inside the city center, and relaxing around it is one of the best things to do in Poznan. The island’s highlight is Poznań Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the whole country, dating back to the 10th century.
Go on a hunt for beautiful street art
One of the following things to do in Poznan is to find some of its most beautiful murals dotted across the city. Like other Polish cities, Poznan also wanted to shake off the remaining gray and brutal communist architectural remnants and decided to beautify the town with giant murals.
It started in 2011 with the first edition of the Outer Spaces Festival to bring famous international muralists to spice up the facades of five carefully chosen buildings. After a successful year, the festival continued by adding more exciting murals to various neighborhoods of Poznan.
Seeing the positive feedback from the locals, the city decided to initiate an artistic movement titled ‘Poznan Promotes street art, not vandalism’ and gives artists an outlet and a canvas to express themselves. Specific zones for legal spay-painting include bridges, underpasses, walls, and building facades. Although, there are illegal murals across the city as well.
The city even permitted decorating the prison yard on Młyńska Street, but you can’t see it unless you are an inmate.
If you wish to go on a self-guided Poznan street art tour, ask the staff and Tourist Info Center to give you a street art map with all the locations. You can also download it from here. Alternatively, you can follow this user-generated street art platform with a map and even download their mobile app.
Here are some of the noteworthy places to see street art in Poznan.
- Śródka 3 – ‘A Śródka Tale’ Mural – a 3D mural of the neighborhood
- Nowowiejskiego 17 – ‘The Thin Wire’ Mural where a woman is sewing together the flag of Poland.
- Ogrodowa 5 is a mural inspired by The Little Prince, located next to an old church.
- Piekary 5 – a piece inspired by the legend of the two billy goats, the symbol of Poznan
- Marcinkowskiego 26 – done in watercolor painting style, the mural shows the city back in 1895
- Morka – a mosaic art piece
- Za Bramką 7 – a girl with flowers in the background – located in an enclosed private yard, but residents are happy to open it when asked. We stayed in one of the apartments (Apartament URBAN JUNGLE!), so it was easy to see it.
Admire beautiful Art-Nouveau architecture
Poznan is a great city to visit if you are into architecture. The city has several neighborhoods full of beautiful Art-Nouveau buildings that are easy to spot; look for floral or other nature motifs, wavy lines, and rounded corners. Most of those buildings also have the Latin word ‘salve’ written on the floor or above the entrance door. Salve stands for ‘Hello’ or ‘Welcome.’
Using floral elements in this architectural style was a creative response to 19th-century industrialization. They elegantly decorate fences and railings. They are sometimes seen in stucco decorations and stained glass windows or ceilings. And some buildings are intentionally asymmetrical. If you’ve been to Prague or Barcelona, where Art-Nouveau architecture is at its finest, you’ll find that the buildings here are much more modest.
The best areas for Poznan’s take on this architecture are the Jezyce or Lazarz districts. And here are the street names if you decide to DIY your tour:
- Jezyce district: Mickiewicza, Słowackiego, Zwierzyniecka, Dąbrowskiego, Kraszewskiego and Jackowskiego.
- Lazarz District: Matejki, Wyspiańskiego, Głogowska, Niegolewskich and Małeckiego
- Center: Święty Marcin (don’t miss the building at number 69), Garbary, Szewska, Półwiejska, and Kwiatowa.
Alternatively, you can also follow this guide.
Start your day with a specialty coffee
Poznan has a diverse coffee and cafe scene dotted all over the city. While there is no shortage of great coffee places, Stragan Kawiarnia strikes the most with its delicious specialty coffee. After all, they were one of the pioneers in Poznan in the specialty coffee business.
This highly prised and recommended place offers brewed coffee using drip-brewing, Chemex, Aeropress, and siphon methods.
Their simple yet cozy cafe also serves cakes and simple sandwiches that are well-paired with your coffee. And if you want to spice up your coffee-making game back home, they sell the equipment and coffee beans.
Dine at Soviet-era cafeterias
Milk Bar or Bar Mleczny is a local cafeteria from Soviet times. It started as a nationwide program to serve government-funded Polish meals at the lowest prices after the Second World War. Initially, the cafeteria focused on providing dairy products to the citizens, which is why they are called Milk Bars. However, the menu has changed, and now they offer a wide array of Polish dishes, from pierogies to pancakes.
They also have a set lunch menu with the main meal, a side salad, soup, and a non-alcoholic drink.
Pod Arkadami Bar Mleczny is the local favorite Milk Bar in Poznan.
Try delicious St. Martin’s Croissant
Poznan has its own traditional pastry – a croissant with poppy-seed filling – baked for St. Martin’s Day on November 11. But don’t be sad – bakeries prepare it year-round, so trying this croissant is one of the things to do in Poznan, no matter the season.
In Polish, it’s called rogale marcińskie or rogale świętomarcińskie, and the recipe is protected under EU law! Not everyone can make this croissant – you must follow the recipe precisely and have legal rights to make and sell it.
And just like any other protected item, this croissant has fake ones. To see if you are buying from a certified baker, look for a seal in yellow and blue that says Protected Geographical Indication.
So what’s so special about this croissant that it’s protected? The tradition dates back to 1891, but other beliefs show that the pastry has been around much earlier.
The story of its existence follows a warmhearted baker who took at heart the priest’s message to be charitable towards the poor and created a pastry to give out to those in need.
And unlike French croissants, this horseshoe-shaped croissant has 81 layers! Between each fold, bakers wait for 30 minutes, and when it’s ready for the next fold, they use a paste-like mixture of nuts, poppy seeds, sugar, almonds, raisins, and butter. After glazing and springling sugar, the finished product must be anywhere from 150 to 250 grams. Therefore, almost no one complains about its generous size. It’s pretty big and super filling!
We tried them at Hanna Piskorska Cukiernia, right at the Old Market Square. However, when visiting Poznan, I had no idea EU Law protected the croissant, so I honestly don’t know if it was from a certified baker or not. BUT it was freaking delicious, with the right amount of goodies inside, quite big and very sweet!
Learn how to make St. Martin Croissant
If you want to know more about this special croissant, one of the fun things to do in Poznan is actually to try your hands at making one.
Croissant Museum in Poznan is the place to book a visit. Despite its name, the venue is not a museum; it’s more of a cooking class experience, as there are no displays or exhibits you find in typical museums.
The museum hosts shows both in Polish and English. Their schedule for English shows is a bit scarce and infrequent, and sadly, we could not attend it during our stay in Poznan. Check the timetables here.
Drink hot chocolate
One of the best things to do in Poznan is to sip a cup, or maybe two, of a delicious hot chocolate from the E. Wedel Company.
The company has been a Polish confectionery manufacturer, making snacks, chocolates, and cakes since 1851. It is the national chocolate company with several cafes in almost every city in Poland.
You can undoubtedly buy some of their products in the grocery stores; however, trying their cakes and hot chocolate at their cafe is a must-do in Poznan.
They have three types of hot chocolate – bitter, milk, and white – costing 16 PLN for a small cup. It’s a bit expensive by Polish standards, but it’s worth every Zloty!
Eat lots of Pierogis
When in Poland, it’s not hard to find a place serving delicious local dumplings called pierogi. They have different fillings and can be sweet or sour.
The most traditional one is called Ruskie (Russian), followed by pickled cabbage, mushroom, cheese, strawberries, meat, or plums, to name a few.
Typically, when ordered at the restaurant, pierogi usually comes in an 8-piece serving, making it hard to try all different types.
So I was thrilled to discover Pierożak, who sells pierogi by piece. You can dine inside or take away cooked or uncooked ones.
And when you stop by Pierożak, make sure to order Poznanskie stuffed with duck and apple. While waiting for your order, you can admire ladies’ hand-wrapping pierogies right before you!
Try Polish doughnut
When walking in the streets of any city in Poland, you notice the impressive number of small or big bakeries. Most of them make Polish doughnuts called paczki.
They are deep-fried doughnuts stuffed with fruit or cream fillings and then covered with glaze, icing, or sugar.
The most traditional ones are wild rose and stewed plum jam paczki. Other varieties include salty caramel, strawberry, raspberry, and Nutella, to name a few.
The best bakery to try paczki in Poland is Dobra Pączkarnia, although others sell it too.
Poznan travel planning essentials
The best time to visit Poznan
Poznan is an all-year-round destination; however, visiting it on warmer days allows you to experience and explore more as the days are longer. Late May or early June is the best time to visit Poznan.
Summers bring more tourists to Poznan, which also raises the prices for food and accommodation.
September is another best time to visit Poznan, with longer and warmer days. It starts to get colder in October. However, if you like seeing a city in fall colors, this might be the best time to visit Poznan for you.
Winter in Poznan is also quite magical, with Christmas markets and lights. It’s a great time to see the city with festive vibes. If you aim for the Christmas holiday, plan it for the first two weeks in December.
How many days to spend in Poznan
Poznan is a walkable city with most sights within walking distance of each other. The season and your itinerary determine how many days to spend in Poznan.
For Spring and Summer, 2 or 3 full days are more than enough for Poznan sightseeing and various activities.
If you don’t have much time, you can even spend one full day in Poznan to see the highlights, enjoy traditional food, and even spend an evening at a local bar.
How to get to Poznan
Even though Poznan is an underrated city, it is surprisingly well-connected to other European cities. There are daily flights, buses (see schedules at Flixbus), and trains (see schedules at EuroRail) from various European countries.
Poznań–Ławica Henryk Wieniawski Airport serves international and domestic flights. You can find cheap flights from budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizzair. LOT, a local Polish airline, even flies directly from Warsaw to Poznan, starting from 40 USD if bought earlier. You can even fly cheaper with Ryanair and Wizzair domestically, but the flights are not direct. Get a private transfer from Poznan airport to the city center.
If you are traveling in Poland already, Poznan has a good train connection to the rest of the country. Therefore, you can quickly get to Poznan by train from Warsaw, Gdansk, and Wroclaw, among others.
Alternatively, if you want to travel on your own by renting a car, I recommend doing so at Discover Cars.
What to pack for Poznan
If you’re planning a trip to this adorable city, it’s essential to pack the right items to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Here are some things to consider packing for Poznan:
Backpack or suitcase? – We travel with backpacks as we find them more comfortable than suitcases. I have a 55 Liter Osprey Farpoint, and Oto has Cobra 60 from The North Face. Both are spacious but small enough to be considered as a carry-on for many budget airlines. Read why I love Osprey Backpack.
Day pack or purse/bag – besides your main bag or suitcase, I recommend bringing a small bag to use when exploring cities. We have a bag explicitly made for city wanderings – CITYC 2 in 1 Backpack from Driibe (get 15% off with code: FEDORA15).
Weather-appropriate clothing: Poznan has a continental climate, which means it experiences hot summers and cold winters. Pack clothing appropriate for the season, including light and breathable clothing for the summer and warm, layered clothing for the winter. In the warm season, I usually wear dresses or long skirts.
Comfortable shoes: Poznan is a walking city, so pack comfortable shoes to wear in Poznan that can handle a lot of walking. In summer I always wear sandals or sneakers. In colder months, I pack my Timberland boots.
Camera or a smartphone: Poznan is a photographer’s dream, with stunning architecture, historic landmarks, and picturesque streets. Make sure to bring a camera or smartphone with an excellent camera to capture all of the beautiful sights you’ll see. Don’t forget power chargers to never run out of phone battery.
Tripod: If you travel solo or with a partner but want to have cute and charming photos of you two, I recommend bringing a tripod. Depending on the destination, I either bring my big K&F tripod or this small Joby one to take my own pictures. I typically attach a phone mount from Ulanzi to take pictures with my tripods.
Adapters: If you’re traveling from outside Europe, bring the appropriate adapters and chargers for your electronic devices. Poland uses the European plug type, so you may need a converter if your devices are from a different region.
Travel-sized toiletries or zero-waste products: If you’re flying to Poznan, pack travel-sized toiletries to save space in your luggage. I follow a zero-waste lifestyle as much as I can, so I pack solid hygiene products, including tooth tablets, bamboo toothbrushes, solid shampoo and deodorants, to name a few. Check out my zero-waste travel products to get more inspiration.
Travel water bottle and collapsible cup: I always pack my Stojo collapsible water bottle to save money, be a responsible traveler, and always stay hydrated. I also throw in a collapsible cup and ask baristas to pour coffee into the cup.
Cash and credit cards: While many businesses in Poznan accept credit cards, having cash on hand for smaller purchases or in an emergency is always a good idea. I have WISE and their debit card for traveling.
By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared for your trip to Poznan and able to fully enjoy everything this beautiful city has to offer.
Where to stay in Poznan
Our choice: Apartament URBAN JUNGLE! – the apartment is spacious, with everything you might need for your comfortable stay, including a fully equipped kitchen, a dishwasher, and a microwave. It is very close to the city center and a shopping mall Stary Browar. It’s a self-serviced apartment where you can check in yourself. And to top it off, a giant stunning mural is in the courtyard!
Budget hotel: Hotel Traffic Poznań is within a few steps from Old Market Square, making it a great place to stay in Poznan if you want to be close to everything.
Mid-range apartment: Cocorico Apartments – this Poznan apartment is nestled in the city’s heart, very close to St. Stanislaus, the Bishop Church. It features a restaurant, city views, and a garden to enjoy the evening after the exploration. The apartment is well-equipped with everything you need to cook your meals.
Boutique hotel: City Solei Boutique Hotel – a great choice to stay in Poznan if you want to be in the city center. This unique hotel features beautiful wallpaper and colorful furniture in its modern and sophisticated design. For instance, the room interiors are inspired by Kyoto, New York, or Havana.
PURO Poznań Stare Miasto – with a restaurant and an open-air terrace garden, this hotel is very modern, offering a tablet to control lights, climate, and TV in the room. It also gives you free minutes for domestic and international phone calls if you need to make one. Rooms are stylish with underfloor heating.
My favorite travel Resources
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🚗 Rent a car with DiscoverCars, a trusted international car rental website.
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📱 Install the Airalo app, which provides local eSIMs for a more affordable internet connection when traveling. Get 3 USD with code: BAIA2592.
🏨 Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking.com.
❣ Pre-book a private car transfer with Welcome Pickups to your hotel.
🩺 Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, covering COVID with add-ons for adventure sports and electronics theft.
☀ Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here.
Want more inspiration?