Picturesquely located on the shores of the Oder River, the city of Szczecin is the perfect city break to explore an attractive and cosmopolitan city hidden away from the main tourist-trail.
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Few cities can boast a setting as lovely as Szczecin, which sits on the Oder River, flanked by the Bay of Pomerania, the Szczecin Lagoon and the D'bie Lake. As a result, many hotels have lake or river views, including the Marina Hotele Przestrzenna (Przestrzenna 7), a good-value option that looks out over the lake. While big-name chains such as Radisson Blu (Plac Rodła 10) are present in the city centre, go independent at Hotel Focus (Małopolska 23), which has buckets of charm and well-appointed rooms. A good choice for shoppers is Hotel Atrium (Wojska Polskiego 75) as it is surrounded by independent retailers and is also close to the city’s vast Centrun Handlowe Galaxy shopping centre.
Along with Centrun Handlowe Galaxy (Wyzwolenia 18-20), which boasts all of the usual international chains as well as some big local names, Szczecin is crammed with shops – many of which offer a quirky selection of locally made clothes and souvenirs. Find a concentration of these in the streets off Å»oÅ nierza Polskiego Square, which also has a wonderful street market during the winter months selling gorgeous hand-carved Christmas decorations. Most souvenir emporia also sell amber, which is found in the Baltic Sea and is a staple part of jewellery design in the region.
There’s no shortage of international fast-food chains in Szczecin, but give McDonalds and the like a miss in favour of some fast food with a distinctly Polish flavour. Head to the Turysta Milk Bar (Obro?ców Stalingradu 6A) for paszteciki – delicious deep-fried pasties stuffed with meat or mushrooms. At Restauracja Chata (Holdu Pruskiego 8), you can sample another Polish classic, kielbasa, a tangy sausage stew that goes nowhere near a deep fat fryer. For something a bit more international, try the Christopher Columbus (Waly Chrobrego 1), which combines nouveau Polish cuisine with Mediterranean flavours.
This mobile festival – that also takes in Poznań and Lublin – includes the cream of Polish pop acts, as well as the odd international artist for a veritable Europop fest.
Baltic Rock Meeting
Ear plugs at the ready – you’ll certainly need them at this annual celebration of all things heavy metal. Metallica tribute bands, local punks and theatrical metal heads combine in this full-on music festival.
Days of the Sea
It would be surprising if a city with the maritime traditions of Szczecin didn’t celebrate them in style, and Days of the Sea (Dni Morza) is no disappointment thanks to its flotillas of fishing boats and free musical performances.
Street Artists Festival
Rarely do city authorities take a benign view of graffiti, but it would appear that Szczecin’s are the exception to the rule courtesy of this quirky summer celebration of street art and performers. Expect a friendly atmosphere and plenty to see and do in the city streets.
Boogie Brain Festival
A wonderful little music festival that takes place on Lasztownia Island in the Oder River, Boogie Brain Festival focuses on a range of artists from three different countries: Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom.