Poznan is a compact university town in the north of Poland roughly equidistant between Berlin and Warsaw. It has a pretty Old Town which boasts a delightful Christmas market and is an ideal day trip from either city. It also has great nightlife so ideally you want to book an overnight hotel to sample the city’s evening entertainment too. Discover our top tips for a night out in the old town here.
Need to know
We visited in December so many of the guided tours were not running. Temperatures were just above freezing, but a bitter wind rattled through the old town so wrap up if you visit in winter. It can get very chilly. To check the weather for other times of year, visit Weatherspark.
Getting to Poznan
If you travel overland from Berlin or Warsaw, your best option is to take the bus. It costs less than €20 and takes 3 – 4 hours.
Getting around Poznan
The bus and train stations are a couple of miles from the Old Town on the outskirts of the city. From the bus station take bus 151 from Poznan Glowny to Solna or Tram 8 from Most Dworcowy to Pl Wielkopolski. You will be in town in less than 15 minutes and tickets cost around £1.
To check other options, visit Rome2Rio and put in your start and end points. This fabulous resource will then show you all your options for getting around. It has a simple interface and bright, funky design.
You can also find details of the location transport options on the Poznan transport website.
Where to stay
If you decide to stay overnight and enjoy the Poznan night scene, a few good options close to the Old Town Square are:
Palazzo Rosso – just minutes away from the main square, it has character filled rooms from £62 per night in March 2020.
Hampton by Hilton, Poznan Old Town – this funky modern hotel is around 5 minutes walk to the square. It has a small fitness room, inclusive breakfast and spacious rooms.
City Soleil Boutique Hotel – this funky hotel is just six minutes from the Old Square and has rooms from £102 in March.
Once you get to the city and have checked into your hotel (if you decide to stay over) what should you do if you only have 24 hours in Poznan?
24 hours in Poznan
Head to the Old Town and wander the cobble stones of the medieval streets, home to a myriad of brightly coloured buildings. Discover the colourful fishermen houses, the stunning town hall and the pink facade of the Bazylika Kolegiacka Matki which towers above the neighbouring houses. If you wander through the arch to the left of the basilica entrance, you will find a peaceful courtyard.
Head back to the Old Town square (shown on maps as Stary Rynek) for noon to witness the daily frolics of two goats locking horns as the clock of the Town Hall strikes noon. It’s a strange display high above the square but draws an enthusiastic crowd.
The gothic town hall dates back to the 13th century and the tower was added in the 16th century. It is a beautiful wedding cake concoction of pink and green hues, archways and turrets. By night over the Christmas period, it is transformed into an illuminated Christmas decoration.
Christmas market on Stary Rynek
On the same square in December, you will find a small Christmas market. Little wooden huts brim with jewellery, candles, woollens and mouth-watering treats.
Christmas market on Freedom Square, Plac Wolności
The Christmas market continues a short walk up the hill on Freedom Square. Yet more stalls will try to tempt you with their wares and the choice of food is staggering. Take your pick from mulled wine, chocolate fruits, waffles, kebabs, spicy sausages, and a vast range of other options.
Monument to the 1956 Uprising
From Freedom Square head to the Monument of the 1956 uprising. The two crosses commemorate the first mass protest in the Soviet bloc shortly after Stalin’s death. Demonstrations began in the city’s largest industrial plant when workers protested against an unfair tax. When their pleas were ignored, other workers from nearby plants joined the protest in the square.
Almost a quarter of the city’s population came to demand improved working conditions but to no avail. Things got violent and the uprising was eventually quashed by the arrival of tanks and the police firing on the crowd. The ensuing bloodshed resulted in over 70 deaths and 900 injured.
From the monument head back towards the Old Town along Święty Marcin to the Poznan Uprising Museum. The Imperial Castle, a large gothic mansion houses the museum, a cinema and art and music events. Sadly, the museum was closed during our visit, however don’t despair, there is something else equally fascinating to distract you.
In front of the museum entrance is a cube building which houses the Enigma exhibition. The pavilion is designed to resemble the Enigma machine, an enciphering machine designed by German engineer, Arthur Scherbius. It was used by the Germans to send wartime messages securely.
Polish mathematicians from the University of Poznan had worked out how to read the Enigma messages. They shared this information with the British, but the Germans increased its security during the war by changing the cipher system daily. As a result, it was thought the Enigma was inpenetrable.
The exhibition is open daily from 10 to 6 pm and is free to enter. It traces the story of those involved in the cracking of the Enigma code.
You can try your hand at deciphering encoded messages using a variety of techniques so allow at least an hour to visit the exhibition. Our group were enthralled with the tasks for some time!!
From the crypto museum, take tram 17 directly to the Cathedral.
It is an unusual design on the outskirts of town. There is a wonderful sculpture of Pope John Paul out front and it is free to enter the vast building.
From there, you can walk back to the Old Square for some evening entertainment.
For evening entertainment, there are plenty of drinking options in and around the main square. This post should give you some inspiration for a night out in the old town.
Retrace our footsteps
What are your top picks for Poznan?
So maybe you have travelled to Poznan and have other top tips for a fleeting visit. Be sure to share your ideas in the comments below.