Katowice is a city founded on a rich living history and bursting with future potential. Once regarded as one of Poland’s industrial heartlands Katowice is quickly shedding its old industrial reputation to warmly welcome visitors with an inviting centre of boutique stores and independent restaurants, full of character and truly authentic local cuisine.
It’s shaking off a reputation as one of Poland’s industrial heartlands but whilst Katowice is on the up, the hotel options are still rather limited. Best is the city’s only five-star, Hotel Monopol (Dworcowa 5), where soulless décor and identikit rooms give way to walnut furniture, parquet flooring and individually styled rooms. At more moderate prices, Olympia Spodek (Aleja Korfantego 35), housed behind the flying saucer-shaped Spodek arena, has pool and Jacuzzi facilities, while the modern Angelo Hotel (Sokolska 24) is within walking distance from the tram and offers great value for money. At the new Best Western Premier (Bytkowska 1a), an excellent traditional restaurant makes up for the out-of-town location.
Katowice has got malls aplenty but Silesia City Centre (Chorzowska 107), set on the site of an old coal mine, is one of the largest, with over 300 shops, bars and restaurants. At Altus (Uniwersyecka 13), the skyscraper mall is home to a cinema and rooftop bar, perfect for relaxing after a hard day’s shopping. Art lovers should head to the charming old red-brick mining district of Nikiszowiec, where the Syzb Wilson gallery (Oswobodzenia 1) presents the works of young and upcoming local artists. For foodie souvenirs, try the Katowice outpost of Wawel (Warszawska 1), the famous Krakow chocolatiers.
Polish cuisine might conjure up thoughts of stodgy food and overcooked cabbage but there’s more variety than you’d think. Don’t leave without trying pierogi (potato dumplings filled with pork and vegetables) at Ambasador (Graniczna 54) which specialises in serving authentic Polish food. Or head to slicker Restauracja Fantasmagoria (Gliwicka 51) for some great borscht (beetroot soup). For international fare, try Restauracja Fanaberia (Dyrekcyjna 1), a Russian restaurant set in an atmospheric stone cellar, or Hurry Curry (Stanislava 8) has a small selection of spicy curries and German beers. Finish the night with drinks at Kredens (Stanisława 5), a candlelit bar with old-fashioned sewing machines for tables and cheap beer.
Katowice Street Art Festival
Every April, the streets of Katowice come alive with weird and wonderful installations, colourful murals and great graphic art, as part of a festival celebrating street art. It’s a great chance to see the city with fresh eyes.
Art Naif Festival
Taking place every summer for two months in the old miners’ residential district of Nikiszowiec, the Szyb Wilson Gallery holds an exhibition of native art featuring paintings and sculptures from over 200 artists from around the world. Watch them at work, whilst live bands play in the main square.
OFF Festival Katowice
One of the most important music festivals in Poland, the three-day OFF Festival Katowice gains in popularity with every passing year. Taking place in the green expanse of Dolin Trzech Stawów, the eclectic line-up veers from rock and indie to electronica and dance.
Rawa Blues Festival
Poland’s largest blues festival is a stalwart on the musical calendar. The centre of the action takes place at the Spodek complex, where you can watch international acts including Ruthie Foster, Otis Taylor and The Stone Foxes.
The run-up to Christmas sees the small district of Nikiszowiec put on a small advent fair selling cakes, pastries and decorations, the proceeds of which go towards the community’s regeneration.