Bydgoszcz isn’t often on the list of places to visit in Poland yet the 8th largest city in the country offers plenty of attractions and is definitely worth visiting.
While there are no major monuments or landmarks in Bydgoszcz, the city is really pretty and pleasant and the list of things to do in Bydgoszcz can get fairly long. If you decide to visit Bydgoszcz you will surely not regret it!
The city dates back to the 13th century and still today many historic buildings can be found there. Due to its location “on water”, with lots of canals of Brda river and with the Vistula river passing nearby, it used to be an important stop on the trade routes. Thanks to the recent renovations Bydgoszcz and especially its central part shines like never before.
I don’t know Bydgoszcz as well as other major Polish cities as I’ve been there only a handful of times. Recently I spent there a few days and I must say I enjoyed it much more than I expected.
I especially liked the beautiful and diverse architecture of the city and its laid-back yet vibrant atmosphere. Now, that the city has enchanted me I’m sure I will return to Bydgoszcz sooner rather than later.
If you are debating whether you should visit Bydgoszcz too my answer is simple – yes, you should. And here are a few reasons and many more pictures why Bydgoszcz should be included in your Poland itinerary.
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Reasons to visit Bydgoszcz
Due to its location on the water, Bydgoszcz is often called “Polish Venice”. The main river that flows through the city is Brda but there are also smaller leaks and canals in the city. Overall there is around 100 km of water stretches within the city borders.
The city has always been water-focused and still today most of the main Bydgoszcz attractions are located next to the river or canals, facing the water: granaries, churches, the opera house, or buildings of the public use (like the post office), just to name a few examples.
One of the symbols of the city is the art installation – “man crossing the river” – hanging above the waters of Brda. The sculpture was unveiled on 1st May 2004, the day when Poland joined European Union. When I visited Bydgoszcz the man was wearing the white-red-white shirt to show support to Belarus society during the protests in the country.
The main area of Bydgoszcz, surrounded by water, is Mill Island – the green getaway in the heart of the city and probably the most pleasant part of Bydgoszcz. That’s where you will find recreational areas, cultural institutions such as museums, and part of the city called Bydgoszcz’s Venice, dating back to the 19th century.
If you would like to see the city from the water’s perspective you can go on a tour in the water tram. There are two routes available, operating between spring and autumn.
Beautiful and diverse architecture
One of the things that surprised me the most in Bydgoszcz was the impressive architecture of the city. I was literally walking around in awe, looking at all the stunning details and beauty around.
I’m a big fan of art nouveau buildings and the center of Bydgoszcz has so many incredible examples of this architecture style. I even dare to say Bydgoszcz might be one of the best Polish cities when it comes to art nouveau.
I found the most beautiful buildings on Gdanska, Dworcowa, and Cieszkowskiego streets but there are so many more corners of Bydgoszcz that catch your attention.
One of my favorite buildings in Bydgoszcz was Copernicanum, designed by architects from Berlin and built at the beginning of the 20th century. Today this masterpiece is home to the local university.
Besides art nouveau architecture you can also find many beautiful brick buildings in the city, especially at the waterfront. Some of the most important ones include the post office, Rother Mill, or the former building of the Prussian Railways.
Fans of modern architecture will surely appreciate the Opera building that was completed in 2006, located across Mill Island. And if you like pre-war modernist architecture there is a nice neighborhood of houses from that period located between Copernicanum and Basilica of St. Vincent de Paul (one of the largest churches in Poland).
Bydgoszcz is home to some of the interesting and unique museums that you can find only there. The most popular one is the Museum of Soap and History of Dirt, the first of that kind in Europe. You can learn there more about the history of hygiene or learn how to make soap.
Another interesting place to visit in Bydgoszcz is Exploseum – the former factory from World War 2 where ammunition and explosive materials were produced. Today the place works as a museum focusing on military technology.
During your visit, you will explore the maze of concrete corridors that can give you chills. Unfortunately, since Exploseum is located on the outskirts of Bydgoszcz you need to plan your visit there properly.
European Best Destination 2020
Bydgoszcz was rewarded with the title of European Best Destination 2020 as one of the top 10 trendiest places to visit in Europe. The city was appreciated for its vibrant atmosphere, unique experiences, and impressive architecture.
Good base for exploring the region
During my last trip to Bydgoszcz, I used the city as the base to explore the Kuyavian-Pomeranian region. Since Bydgoszcz is its capital there are decent public transport connections to numerous nearby places that have been on my Poland bucket list for years.
When visiting Bydgoszcz you can easily go on a day trip to places like Torun (UNESCO-listed gem of Gothic architecture), Chelmno (with one of the most beautiful town halls in Poland), Grudziadz (where you can see an impressive complex of medieval granaries), Ostromecko (with a beautiful palace) or Biskupin (one of the largest and most popular archeological sites in Europe).
Final thoughts on visiting Bydgoszcz
As you can see above, even if there are not too many major monuments in Bydgoszcz the city is pleasant and interesting enough that it deserves your time during your trip to Poland. I was really surprised by how cool and pretty the city is and I know I will be returning there to find even more hidden gems Bydgoszcz has to offer.
I missed the street art scene there or Exploseum, just to name a few things I need to visit Bydgoszcz for again. And I hope that with the list of reasons above I convinced you to give this Polish city a chance too!
And if you are wondering what to see in Bydgoszcz I recommend visiting the website of the local tourism organization, I found it very informative and helpful. You can find it here.
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