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When planning a trip to Poland, you’re not going to have any problem finding interesting cities to visit. I mean, there are heaps of great cities in Poland to visit and that’s typically where people start when exploring Poland. Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk are natural first choices, but what if you want to choose somewhere a little left field? That’s where Lublin comes in. With all the character and sights you expect to get in Poland, this eastern city is still sorely overlooked. You won’t find crowds of tourists here this summer that’s for sure. If that kind of intrigues you, then let’s get to what you can expect out of a visit to Lublin.
City of Lublin
Chances are you probably haven’t heard of Lublin, so a little background on the city may be useful. Found right by Poland’s eastern borders with Ukraine and Belarus, Lublin is kind of out the way for many travellers. And yet, it’s actually the 9th largest city in Poland, bigger than cities like Bialystok and Katowice that I’ve mentioned before.
The modern city is mostly focused around industry and IT, but business has long been a part of its DNA. In the past, Lublin was a prosperous trading junction between merchants from Krakow, Lviv and Vilnius. Thankfully that history has survived to this day, as the historic centre of Lublin managed to survive bombing in WWII mostly unscathed.
Lublin Old Town
Much like many European city destinations, the beautiful Old Town of Lublin is where you’ll spend much of your time here. With several gates including Brama Krakowska above, it’s easy to see that Lublin was once a fully walled city. The modern city easily dwarfs the historical city centre, as it won’t take you long to explore the limited number of streets that weave through the Old Town.
One spot you’ll surely want to see is the Plac Po Farze square. On three sides you’ll find several really pretty historic houses, while the fourth is a superb terrace viewpoint where you can sit and look out to one side of Lublin. What I really like about this square though are the low stone remains that fill the space. These stones show you the foundations of what was once the medieval Church of St. Michael. It’s a nice touch and a novel approach to highlighting the local history.
Old Town Market Square
For visitors to Lublin, one sight that’s sure to impress is the Old Town Market Square. In the heart of the Old Town, this main square circles around the city’s modest Crown Tribunal building with beautiful old buildings. The Crown Tribunal building some of the surrounding tenement houses are actually quite plain in, but all the Mannerist and Renaissance buildings here really make up for them. There’s a reason I kept doing laps of the square while taking photos until dusk fell my first day there.
The main square is also an ideal place to find traditional food in Lublin, as I happily learned. With plenty of choices, I settled on Starówka Restaurant and was beyond pleased with my choice when I tasted their strawberry pierogi. Yes, they do sweet pierogi here and they are awesome!
The other major landmark that is sure to grab your attention as you visit Lubin is the city’s castle. Part of why I visited the city was I promised a castle and Lublin delivered. Easily viewed from Plac Po Farze, this royal castle will quickly climb up your list of things to see in Lublin. To reach the castle, first exit the northern Grodzka Gate and follow the bridge until you’re on the castle steps.
Lublin Castle doesn’t really have what you’d call a traditional look to it. The outer walls of this chateau are of an ornate neogothic style, as they were added in the 1820s. You see, the castle fell into disrepair for several centuries and it wasn’t until the 1820s under Russian rule that someone decided to renovate the castle. However this does mean that the few original sections of the castle like the chapel and main tower look quite out of place among their restored surroundings.
With a visit to Lublin Castle, you have a few options open to you. The castle now hosts the Lublin Museum, full of historical artifacts, plus local and foreign pieces of art. If you’re not in the mood for a museum visit then you can instead choose to just climb up the castle tower and get a 360-degree view of Lublin from the top. Lublin has many great viewpoints but to me this was the best one.
Beyond the Old Town
While most of the things to see in Lublin are found throughout the Old Town, it is worth sightseeing elsewhere as well. Lublin is much bigger than its Old Town and there are a couple of sights you might want to see. Right outside the Old Town you’ll find the Town Hall to the west and the Lublin Cathedral to the south. I found the cathedral particularly impressive, but could only duck a head in as a service was happening.
It’s also a good idea to walk down to Litewski Square, where you’ll see various memorials, but also just city life in general. You may not be bowled over with sights in Lublin but I think there’s enough to deserve at least a day of your time.
If you’re looking to visit Lublin, then two things you’re going to want to know about are accommodation and transport. Reaching Lublin is easy enough if you’re coming from Warsaw or Rzeszow, as both cities connect to Lublin by train. Rzeszow should be just under 3 hours travel time, while Warsaw is a bit over 3 hours.
As for accommodation in Lublin, there’s no problems there either. The city has plenty of hotels, hostels and guesthouses for you to choose from, but I can personally recommend LoLek Hostel. It’s cheap, clean, has nice staff and is just a short walk to the Old Town Market Square, perfect right?
Have you ever heard of this city in eastern Poland? Would you consider visiting Lublin on your next trip to Poland? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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