Szczecin – the pearl of north-western Poland, a city with a spectacular star-shaped layout of major streets, comparable to that of Paris. It is visible from the International Space Station, as Chris Hadfield, a famous Canadian astronaut, showed in his photographs a few years ago. But you don’t need to fly into the skies to explore the beauty and highlights of Szczecin. Here are some of the most interesting places and events worth seeing this summer!
Unobvious and uncommon
The Chrobry Embankment, the Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle, the Port Gate ‒ these are only some of Szczecin’s recognisable symbols. However, this year you should not miss other unique places on the city map. Take a look at our mini-guide.
Pogodno Housing Estate
This picturesque, intimate and green corner of the city is called the most beautiful villa estate in Poland. While it is dominated by villa and palace buildings from the early 20th century, you will also find here a lot of typical modernist residential buildings, erected in the 1930s, all of which add up to an almost Berlin-like atmosphere. The wealth of detail adorning the historic buildings, which often resemble miniature castles, is what also draws particular attention.
The Lentz Villa proudly stands at the heart of the Łękno Housing Estate, neighbouring on Pogodno. This eclectic building that highlights pre-war architecture houses a cultural institution, very popular with tourists. It was erected in the 1880s for August Lentz, Director of the Szczecin Fireclay Bricks Factory. The amply decorated interiors of the villa can be seen with a guide or individually.
This is one of the longest-operating cinemas in the world, and for many years it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Founded in September 1909, it changed its name several times ‒ first, it operated as Weltkinotheater, then as Odra, and finally, in 1950, it was renamed Pioneer. It currently features two halls ‒ the main, and at the same time the historical, hall, and the cinema room (Kiniarnia) created in 2002. The cinema repertoire includes mainly art-house, European and Asian films.
Museum of Technology and Communication
This is definitely a place for enthusiasts of old vehicles, featuring real automotive treasures from the past, including trams, buses, cars and motorbikes. The Museum also houses an exhibition dedicated to Stoewer, a company which manufactured sewing machines, bicycles, motorbikes, cars and lorries before the war. Interestingly, it was also Stoewer that produced buses operating in London!
Maritime Science Centre
Exploring this facility may take you all day long! Opened just a few days ago, on 27 May, the maritime, oceans and sailing centre features over two hundred interactive stations arranged on three levels. A sailing boat, where you can learn how to tack, different types of sails, a crow’s nest, a dummy of the Polish bathyscaphe Meduza II, a piece of the ship’s side against which you can ‒ not literally though ‒ break a bottle modelled on a champagne bottle and become the ship’s godmother, a moving dummy of a ship’s galley where dinners are made for the crew, and a ship’s deck that needs washing. On top of that, a levitating sphere visible from the outside of the building, which is the most modern planetarium in Poland, providing extremely realistic experiences.
In recent years, Szczecin has become a city associated with modern architecture, which has received many international awards. Below are some examples.
Dialogue Centre “Przełomy”
Part of the National Museum in Szczecin, the Centre is dedicated to the post-war history of Szczecin and Pomerania, and the city’s and region’s ways to freedom. It was right here that the strikes changing the course of Polish history began. The Museum’s underground pavilion is located just below the Solidarity Square, a place where the first shots were fired at protesting workers in December 1970. The Dialogue Centre “Przełomy” was awarded the titles of ‘Best Building’ in the World Building of the Year competition and ‘Best Public Space in Europe’ in the European Prize for Urban Public Space competition, both in 2016.
Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic
Iconic and enchanting with its white and soaring structure, the Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic building offers fantastic acoustics. In 2015, it was honoured with the greatest prize for Polish architecture in its recent history, namely, the Mies van der Rohe Award. This is the most important architectural award in Europe and one of the most prestigious in the world.
Helena Majdaniec Summer Theatre
Helena Majdaniec Summer Theatre is Szczecin’s latest architectural highlight. This year, it was awarded the title of ‘Best Public Space in Poland’ in the Property Design Awards competition. In its category, it beat the following four rivals: the area of the historic Ignacy mine in Rybnik, the market square in Stary Fordon in Bydgoszcz, the Five Corners Square in Warsaw, and the new playground in Łazienki Królewskie.
Along the charming Oder River
It goes without saying in the summer season that all roads in Szczecin lead to the Oder boulevards. It is here that the holiday heart of the city beats in a warm rhythm. Both residents and tourists are equally attracted to the municipal beach on Grodzka Island, the numerous restaurants, the monument to Krzysztof Jarzyna from Szczecin, the Paprykarz Monument or the Dźwigosaurs ‒ the symbol of the port city. There is also a spectacular view of the city centre, which is best admired from one of the highest mill wheels in Europe.
Szczecin’s natural beauty
Natural areas of various kinds account for nearly half of Szczecin’s space. There are many islands, canals, rivers and lakes within the city, and plenty of greenery. All this makes Szczecin an attractive place for those who appreciate relaxing close to nature.
Water spots can be reached within just 10 minutes from the city centre. These are stop-off points in the centre of the Natura 2000 area, ideal for relaxing and exploring the water charms of Szczecin. The city and its surroundings offer some of the most beautiful places for sailing in Poland. Thanks to numerous equipment rental points, they are easily accessible by kayak or motorboat (no permits required).
The proximity of nature will also attract those who are keen on hiking and cycling. Starting a hike at Jasne Błonia, you can reach the cross-border Wkrzańska Forest (which in the west reaches the Pasewalk-Ueckermünde line) – passing by the Summer Theatre, the Rose Garden, the Syrenie Ponds, the modern Arkonka bathing site, and the charming Głębokie Lake. The forest covers more than 1550 square kilometres of picturesque area, 22% of which is found on the Polish side of the border. Thanks to its proximity to the city and the Szczecin Lagoon, the forest is a great place for recreation and regeneration.
The largest necropolis in Poland and the third largest in Europe, the Central Cemetery, apart from its funerary functions, accommodates an extensive park with a remarkable history. Its distinguishing feature is the multitude of exotic plant species, which are not naturally found in this part of the globe. The Cemetery, due to its natural highlights, is an interesting destination for walkers and strollers, and even dates.
Szczecin also hosts many cultural events taking place cyclically.
Major cultural events planned for this summer will begin as early as mid-June (16-17.06), with Męskie Granie resounding at the Szczecin Aeroclub airport. It is in Szczecin that this year’s Męskie Granie concert tour will begin, featuring the following artists: Julia Pietrucha, Brodka, Karaś/Rogucki, Paktofonika: Retrospekcje, Krzysztof Zalewski, Rosalie, Sarsa, Szczyl: 8171 Live, Mery Spolsky, Wojciech Waglewski & Zbigniew Hołdys, Vito Bambino and Baasch.
Sails and illuminations
On 14 August, Szczecin’s illuminations will be launched in the Żeromski Park and at selected spots in the city as part of a unique festival of light. During the event, one of the city’s oldest parks will transform into a fairy-tale land of light and sound.
Every year, Szczecin also hosts the largest sailing event in Poland ‒ Żagle, during which dozens of the world’s most beautiful sailing ships arrive at the Chrobry Embankment. This year’s event will take place between 18 and 20 August.
A bite to eat
Man cannot live by sightseeing alone! Discover some of Szczecin’s traditional flavours.
Paprykarz Szczeciński, patties, fritburger
The first of these is undoubtedly recognisable throughout Poland. The legendary ‘Paprykarz Szczeciński’ ‒ a canned stew made of fish, rice, onion, tomato paste, vegetable oil, spices and salt ‒ is not just a tin known from shop shelves but there are also several restaurants in the city that specialise in its production! You can eat Paprykarz on the spot or take it with you in a souvenir jar.
At 46 Wojska Polskiego Ave., you can enjoy the famous patties, most commonly with meat, cheese and mushroom stuffing, or with cabbage and mushrooms, which have been available for over 50 years. They are best served with a cup of borscht (red beet soup).
An equally popular delicacy among Szczecin residents is the so-called fritburger ‒ a bun with... fries. Sounds calorific? Perhaps, but you should sometimes indulge yourself!