“Katowice? Come on, it’s nothing interesting. Just coal mines and heavy industry. It’s grey, nothing to look at. The air makes your throat itch, your eyes cover with tears and the dust turns your clothes grey and ugly!” a fellow long distance bus passenger told me about my home city. I clenched my teeth. I know my city is not the most beautiful one. It’s far from perfect. But this opinion hurt me almost personally. “It’s not that bad, it’s clean, there is less industry now”, I tried to convince her. “The city is changing…”
“I go to Katowice only when I have to and I will never go there otherwise!” my interlocutor finished the discussion.
It was eight years ago. And back then it was actually my local patriotism that made me defend Katowice.
But I was right – the city did change. And I can proudly boast about Katowice now and I enjoy proving the common opinion about it wrong 🙂
If you’re not Polish, chances are you have never heard of Katowice. Tourists visiting Poland go to see the highlights of Kraków or Wieliczka Salt Mine and are not aware there are other interesting cities within 100 km. But let me show you the best things to do in Katowice, Poland.
Things to do in Katowice, Upper Silesia, Poland
Table of Contents
- Things to do in Katowice, Upper Silesia, Poland
- Congress Center
- NOSPR and the Culture Zone
- Muzeum Śląskie (Silesian Museum)
- Silesian Insurgents’ Monument
- Things to do in Katowice: In the city center
- Visiting Katowice: Interesting districts
- Things to do in Katowice: Dolina Trzech Stawów, Kościuszki Park, Silesian Park
- Visiting Katowice: Street art
- Where to eat in Katowice?
- Where to drink a beer in Katowice?
- Seasonal attractions in Katowice
- Things to do in Katowice – indoor attractions
- Where to stay in Katowice?
Spodek (literally “Saucer”) is an arena complex. It looks like a flying saucer which makes it a distinctive point of Katowice. It will be fifty years old soon. Concerts, trade fairs and sport events take place in Spodek – Metallica, Modern Talking, Rammstein, Pearl Jam and many other famous bands played here.
Currently it’s the biggest congress center in Poland and one of the most interesting buildings in the city. I like to look at it, I think this project turned out outstandingly well 🙂 It relates to the coal mines widely present in the city’s history – it looks like a piece of coal underground. You can climb up the stairs to the viewing platform on the roof.
You can rest there and enjoy the panorama of Katowice, overlook at Spodek and the Culture Zone
NOSPR and the Culture Zone
Congress center and the building of Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) belongs to so called Culture Zone. The Culture Zone was built on the area of an old coal mine – currently it is a beautiful terrain which will encourage you to take a walk 🙂
You can take a lift up the mineshaft – it is now a viewing platform.
The Culture Zone amazes me every time I am there. A walk there is one of the best things to do in Katowice. I still remember how neglected this place was before – full of teenagers drinking cheap wine (oh, these memories of my first 😉 ). The Culture Zone for me is a symbol how big and great are the changes in Katowice.
Muzeum Śląskie (Silesian Museum)
Visit the new Silesian Museum, especially the part about the history of the region. You will learn about Silesia from Middle Ages until today. The exhibitions are modern and interesting. Except for it, in the museum you can see an exhibition of Polish and sacral art, an exhibition of theatre costumes and many temporary exhibitions.
Silesian Insurgents’ Monument
Another symbol of Katowice – three eagle wings, symbols of three Silesian uprisings from 1919-1921. Silesia was a part of Germany back then and people fought for the region to become Polish again. Between the wings there is an eternal fire to commemorate the victims.
You will have a great view at Spodek from the monument. I spent a lot of time by the wings with my friends. There was no better place to talk about boys than there, looking at Spodek and busy traffic on the nearby roundabout 🙂
When you are next to the monument pay attention to the long, grey building on the other side of the street. It’s called Superjednostka” (a super-unit) and it’s one of the biggest residential buildings in Poland.
Things to do in Katowice: In the city center
The Main Square
The Main Square in Katowice has recently changed dramatically. Until 2012 it was an awful asphalt square and its only “attraction” was a tram stop in the middle with awful stands of flower sellers 🙂 Now you can spend time on the Main Square with pleasure and it definitely is one of the things to do in Katowice.
The square is divided in three parts. “Flower square” where you can relax on wooden benches, drink a coffee and – of course, buy flowers from a lovely stand 🙂
The second part is a square for organizing events – food trucks and beer festivals, night markets, French markets, Silesian markets and many more. There is also a building of Aioli restaurant. And a toilet – the city spent over a million zlotys (250 000 EUR) for it… 🙂
The last part of the Square is the most beautiful and surprising.
I’ve heard many names for it – California of Katowice, Buenos Aires, Riviera… What is it? An artificial river, a symbol of the river Rawa flowing below the Market Square. You can lie on sunbeds under… palm trees from Gliwice Palm House 🙂 Don’t miss this fun thing to do in Katowice!
The Strip or Khao San Road of Katowice 🙂 It’s a perfect place to enjoy your evening beer or a drink. At times I feel like in Temple Bar district in Dublin 😉 You can find all kinds of bars and restaurants along the street – from “all drinks for 1 EUR” to a place brewing their own aromatic beer. In summer the street is full of people enjoying their drinks outside and on a winter Friday night you need to be lucky to find a place in one of the bars. Highly recommended 🙂
Neo-Gothic building of Mickiewicz high school
At the first glance it will seem to you that this neo-gothic building with its big rosette is a church or a museum. It’s not – it’s a high school I attended. But that’s not the factor which makes it interesting 😉 It’s beautiful, dates back to XIXth century and currently I love seeing it contrast with the modern building of shopping mall Supersam.
Visiting Katowice: Interesting districts
Probably the oldest district of Katowice, the oldest mentions of a village Bogucice date back to XIVth century and the village itself was probably even older. It is not popular at all among tourists visiting Katowice. Pity… 🙂
In Bogucice you will see numerous historical, traditional coal miners’ houses made of red brick called “familoki”. They are not as cute and well maintained as in a more famous district Nikiszowiec but it is more lively and “real” 🙂 Along Markiefki street you will see many historical buildings. Now, I know that people living in Bogucice laugh at me for recommending you to see Markiefki. But I bet they haven’t seen the list of historical buildings of Markiefki, they would be surprised 🙂 It’s in Polish only but I’m sure you can figure it out!
Just one thing – go there when it’s bright, in the evenings and at night you can feel uncomfortable there. Even though I walked there after dark many times, it’s definitely not something I would recommend 😉
At the end of Markiefki you will see a neo-gothic building of St. Stephen’s church. If you’re interested, go inside – it’s been beautifully renovated recently. You will see a painting of Our Lady of Bogucice coming from XVth century.
Moreover, in Markiefki street Jerzy Kukuczka was born and lived and you can see his house there. He was a famous and one of the best high-altitude climbers. He climbed all eight-thousanders, many of them in winter and establishing new routes. He died trying to climb the South Face of Lhotse and his body remains buried there in an icy crevase until today.
We have an amazing mural of him in Bogucice too – I will show you later on.
Another interesting thing about Bogucice – if you were interested in Polish hip-hop music ( 🙂 ), you would hear about a famous band Paktofonika. Its singer, Piotr Łuszcz, also called “Magik” (The Magician) was born and lived in Bogucice. He is buried on a cemetery in Bogucice too – marked on a map here.
Coal miners’ district full of traditional “familoki” buildings. Currently – one of the most popular tourist attractions and places to see in Katowice both among Polish and international tourists. Fellow blogger Amy visited Nikiszowiec too while she visited the attractions of Katowice – shame on me but living in the city most of my life, I’ve been to Nikiszowiec just twice, as far as I remember 😉
It’s a cute “postcard place”. It’s calm and pleasant during the day, you can take a casual stroll between the buildings. Their windows are painted red – but there’s no interesting tradition behind it. I heard that coal miners could get red paint for free at work… 🙂
If you pass the buildings in Nikiszowiec, they all seem to be the same. But if you look closely – each of them is different. Architects designed them this way on a purpose. So that nobody gets confused, going home after a tough workday or a very fun party… 🙂
Another coal miners’ district but very different from Bogucice and Nikiszowiec. Coal miners living here came from villages – so for them the city built a “garden district” full of traditional Upper Silesian village houses.
Walking there between the houses you can feel like in a village. Even though currently big blocks of flats surround the old part, you can still imagine what it was like here before.
Things to do in Katowice: Dolina Trzech Stawów, Kościuszki Park, Silesian Park
If you feel like spending time in the nature, you can find many suitable places in Katowice. Dolina Trzech Stawów (Three Ponds Valley) and Kościuszki Park are big green areas close to the city center. They are perfect for a relaxing time after sightseeing.
If you want to spend more time in the nature, go to Park Śląski (Silesian Park). Even though it is in the city of Chorzów, all Upper Silesia is proud of it 🙂 It’s one of the biggest city parks in Europe, bigger than Central Park in New York. You can spend the whole day in Silesian Park without getting bored.
Visiting Katowice: Street art
Every year in Katowice we have a Street Art Festival. Artists from all around the world come to the city and decorate it. One of the things to do in Katowice is – not to miss this impressive street art 🙂 I will show you the ones from Bogucice and Szopienice districts – for more, check this post about murals in Silesia. It’s in Polish only but the map and photos are clear enough 🙂 Karol shows some murals from the city center (Mariacka Tylna and 1 Maja street) and many more.
Underground passage between Markiefki and Bogucicka streets
Piotr Łuszcz, Magik
The passage is all painted and it’s truly impressive
Building on Markiefki street
Update 2020: in this spot now you can see a great new street art of Jerzy Kukuczka. I will soon go take a photo – but maybe you will be first? 🙂
Building at Siewna 9
Building at Wiosny Ludów 62
And from the other side
Building at Krakowska 148
There are many more murals in the city – keep your eyes open while visiting Katowice and you will see a lot 🙂
Where to eat in Katowice?
Silesian and Polish food
Chata z Zalipia, Wojewódzka 15: My favorite place to eat traditional Polish food. I love their “gołąbki” so much… 🙂
Żurownia, Ligonia 16: If you want to try a traditional Polish soup żurek – this is the place to go. You can eat it from a plate or order the soup in a mug and drink it. In Żurownia you can also eat a few interesting main dishes. I recommend you to try “kulebele” – traditional Silesian dumplings filled with meat and cabbage 🙂
Vegetarian and vegan
Złoty Osioł, Mariacka 1: One of the most popular places on a gastro-map of Katowice. It’s for a reason – their food is delicious and cheap. Book a table if you plan to go there at lunch/dinner time (which in Poland can be anywhere between 1 pm and 5 pm 🙂 )
Dobra Karma, Świętego Jacka 1: They feed you well in Dobra Karma and they follow the Five Elements Theory of Chinese cooking. Tasty and cute place 🙂
Thali House, Mariacka 4: Great Indian cuisine. Make sure to book your table, it gets busy!
Biała Małpa Mexico, 3 Maja 38: Great place with Mexican food. And it is connected with a multi-tap. What else could you possibly need? 🙂
Mr Fox Pub & Resto, Dyrekcyjna 3: Mr Fox appeared recently in Katowice and they stole many hearts (and stomachs) with their roasted beetroot soup 🙂 You can also get a good pizza, pasta, quesadilla and others. They also have the cheapest Aperol Spritz in the city (correct me if you know I’m wrong!)… 🙂
Absurdalna, ul. Dworcowa 3: Absurdalna with its ridiculous decorations is more a bar than a restaurant – but if you feel like eating in a relaxed atmosphere with a good beer, it’s the place to go. They have great quesadillas, burgers, fried cheese, Belgian fries and others.
Where to drink a beer in Katowice?
Mariacka street I mentioned before is the place where most locals will go 🙂 If the amount of pubs along Mariacka overwhelms you – I’ll tell you my favorites:
Amnezja (Mariacka 18A. They have fresh 14-days Tyskie right from the brewery 🙂 ), Lorneta z Meduzą (Mariacka 5), Kato (Mariacka 13). I also like Mały Kredens on Stanisława street, super close from Mariacka or Katofonia on Mielęckiego 6.
If you feel like tasting Polish craft beers, my favorite multitaps in Katowice are Upojeni (świętego Jana 10), Kontynuacja (Staromiejska 8), Absurdalna (Dworcowa 3, I mentioned it before). There is also Biała Małpa (3 Maja 38), the first multitap in Katowice which started the “beer revolution” here. But I must admit I haven’t been there for quite a while.
Namaste (Sobieskiego 27) – great pub and “travellers club”. Travel presentations often take place here so if you want to visit, check their fanpage and make sure if there aren’t any 🙂 The owner loves mountains, he spent a lot of time in Nepal. Place made with passion and you can feel it.
Fanaberia Tea Garden (Wita Stwosza 6) – even though you can grab a beer there too, Fanaberia is more a tea or coffee place. You can also smoke shisha there. I recommend it to couples mostly – the atmosphere is quite romantic 🙂
Seasonal attractions in Katowice
Every year one month before Christmas, you can find a Christmas market on Katowice main square. And every year it gets better and better with more attractions for both big and small visitors. 🙂
In the summer you can find a “night market”, called Gastrofajer near Spodek and Congress Centre. It is a place where you can eat good food, a nice drink and lie on the grass, enjoy the weather. There are also concerts and summer cinema. Great place to be on summer weekends 🙂
Things to do in Katowice – indoor attractions
If the weather isn’t very favourable, check the places below – I like to spend rainy afternoons there 🙂
Escape Rooms: here is the ranking of the best rooms in the city
Trampoline Park Jump City
Billiard, snooker and bowling in Garage Club
Korez Theatre – that’s for Polish speakers obviously 🙂 But it’s the best theatre I know, all plays are great – funny but also thought-provoking. Check Polish version of this post for more info 🙂
Where to stay in Katowice?
I found three interesting and different options to consider for your stay in Katowice. Choose the one meeting your needs best 🙂
Hostel Katowice Centrum – great hostel in the city centre, located close to the railway station and to the most famous street with pubs and bars – Mariacka. They offer single beds in collective rooms or private double rooms.
KATO Apartments Central 3 – Apartements for two, four or six people in the city center. Equipped with everything you need to live comfortably for a couple of days 🙂
B&B Hotel Katowice – comfortable and modernly designed hotel close to the train station. Breakfast is included – and it’s diversified and tasty 🙂
Here you will find a comparison of all best accommodations in Katowice (in Polish, sorry! 😉 )
I hope I showed you that Katowice are not as scary as some say. That there is more than coal mines and heavy industry. That it’s not grey. It is modern and interesting, there are many things to do in Katowice and it’s worth visiting. Not only if you have to 🙂
While in Katowice, consider also visiting Auschwitz concentration camp located nearby. It’s a difficult trip – but everybody should experience such place once in their life. Another advantage of Katowice is how close to mountains it is – you can hike many trails during a day trip. Take a look at the most beautiful trails in Polish mountains 🙂
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