Earlier this week, after canceling a plane ticket I’d already booked to the Canary Islands, I opted to stay home in Berlin and focus on more everyday adventures in and around my adopted home. So when my friend Cheryl (check out her blog, fyi) suggested a day trip to Szczecin, Poland, it was hard to turn it down. Especially considering my new “Fuck it!” attitude to blogging and travel.
The day started early—well, early for a Saturday, especially a Berlin Saturday. From Hauptbahnhof, with a Brandenburg 5-person day ticket, we hopped on a train and in about two hours later, we were already in Szczecin. Sure, the weather wasn’t super, but hey—this is northern Europe in January. What more could you expect?
Priority #1 upon arriving in Szczecin was pierogies. Actually, that’s essentially 100% of my reason for coming to Poland in the first place. Ever since visiting Poznan last summer, I’ve had a slight obsession with the popular Polish food. So much so that I just booked an entire day trip around the idea of eating pierogies in Poland. Too bad about that whole 2015 resolution to get fit. Ha.
Wandering around the city, and after picking up a tourist map (€1.50) from the main tourist office at the train station, Cheryl guided us around the city. She’s been a few times before and since we had no real goals (save for the food and the beer), it didn’t really matter what we would do. We ended up finding a cute café, an empty restaurant with plenty of pierogies (we literally ordered every single pierogi on the menu), a museum by the port and a restaurant at the top of one of Szczecin’s tallest towers. All-in-all, it was an easy day trip that wasn’t complicated and provided just enough distraction for a lazy Saturday. Plus it made for some great Instagram photos, and that’s all we ever need, right??
The Great Escape
This trip to Szczecin was just as much about pierogies as it was about the adventure of getting out and doing something. Anything. Anywhere. Traveling two hours by train just for an authentic Polish meal? No problem. Something I learned recently, after re-evaluating my life and travel goals (yes, it’s that time of year again), is the importance of taking time out for yourself. I cancelled a trip to the Canary Islands because I didn’t want to stress. Instead, I wanted to be with friends, to stay close to home, to enjoy the simpler things. Hopping on a train for a day out of the city? Easy decision.
The day was full of silly conversations, gossip, plum-flavored beer and meat-filled pierogies. There was Black Forest Cake and teatime with a panoramic view. Shopping at H&M and sampling vodka varieties at a grocery store. Just my kind of day. And one I could probably recreate in Berlin, too. But sometimes you have to take a step out of the ordinary to come back with a clear mind and a willingness to explore. And now I feel like I’m finally ready to take on 2015.
What I Learned on a Day Trip to Poland
- You don’t need to travel with local currency. Poland is on the złoty and we never once saw what one looked like. Some places, especially around the train station, accepted Euros and if they didn’t, everyone took credit cards—even for small purchases like coffee or chocolates.
- Train travel is easy. Really easy. The Bahn’s “Brandenburg” ticket allows you to travel the entire state of Brandenburg with up to 5 people all day (but only on regional trains). It’s only 31€ and even if you don’t have 5 friends to travel with, you can usually meet other people on the train platforms looking for seats.
- Poland is awesome. Seriously. Cafés accept credit cards for small purchases, Topshop/Topman exists in Polish malls, beer is cheap, the food is deliciously unhealthy and the old town squares are full of colorful row houses. So even when it’s grey, cold and/or wet outside (yesterday in Szczecin it was all three), the architecture is enough to keep you cheery.
- Anything can be pretty. It’s easy to find beauty in just about anything these days. Thank you, Instagram! In Szczecin, we climbed over a fence into a deserted lot trying to find a shortcut on the way to the city’s castle. Sure, it may have been grey and gross outside, but the deserted courtyard with overgrown bushes and bits of stenciled street art wasn’t ugly. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it.
- Don’t be afraid to get lost. With little to no objective for the day, we explored aimlessly. Szczecin is a small enough city that getting around by foot was easy enough. Wandering aimlessly, we stumbled into the Philharmonie symphony hall with a cute indoor café and a simple, but stunning, architecture. It was probably my favorite highlight of the day, just enjoying the empty calmness inside the Philharmonie with my friends.
YUM! I saw both of your posting pierogi photos throughout the day and was definitely a bit jealous ;)
Haha thanks Natalye! Excited to see you this week for some tacos. Also, if you’re ever interested, there’s supposed to be a really great pierogi restaurant in Wedding – still need to check that one out!
I really liked Szczecin too… although the name is positively monstrous to try to pronounce! It kind of reminded me of the Polish version of the Czech city I live in currently. Glad you enjoyed your time and got pierogi’ed out. I think if I lived only 2 hours from Poland I’d be there WAY more often! It’s super underrated :)
OMG yes, the city’s name is seemingly impossible to say and to SPELL! I must’ve spelt it wrong in 90% of my tweets haha. And yeah, I really need to get to Poland more often – it’s so close to Berlin!
Ah, Szczecin. That’s the first city in Poland I’ve been to. And yes, pierogis were featured in my visit as well. Did you happen to follow the red paint on the pavement? The city painted a red trail leading to several of its sights that you can actually walk and follow.
Hey Jeruen! Funny that it was your first city in Poland that you visited… It certainly has its charms!
I didn’t spot the red trail but the tourist information office was really helpful (even if the tourist maps weren’t free).
Nice of you to speak so higly of my city :) Though I’d like to expand on “You don’t need to travel with local currency.” It is true, but only in our border region, most supermarkets, restaurants, some fast-food chains (esp the ones located on roads to Germany) accept Euro, some even give change in Euro. However most small shops accept only Złoty. But this is still not a problem, because you can pay with credit/debit card EVERYWHERE. And you can pay any values. And DCC is a standard, so you pay in your currency. Almost every shop has a terminal, which accepts all cards, both chip-and-pin and contactless.
Hi Mateusz – yes, that’s an excellent point to make! Since Szczecin is so close to the border with Germany, it makes sense that Euros are so widely accepted. One thing I really love, though, is that so many shops and restaurants accept credit/debit cards unlike in Germany where paying with credit seems impossible!
I find the whole ‘local currency but the Euro’s OK’ thing so interesting and confusing! Explains why all the Brits who come from Europe are always trying to pay with Euros in Moscow!
Hey Polly – yeah it’s a funny little quirk of border towns I suppose. But even stranger that the British are wanting to use Euros in Moscow! It’s not even their own currency!
Nice! We used to go to Slubice all the time on day trips, to stock up on smokes and eat pierogies/drink beer. Unfortunately, we never made it out to Szczecin. Love the Brandenburg ticket though.
Slubice, eh? I’ll have to check it out. I should add that I also came home with a bottle of vodka and some Polish beer – you can never have enough!
Hi! I’m from Poland!!! I mean, Koszalin – it’s very close to Szczecin and well, I don’t like it. And… I HATE our pierogies, but it happens sometimes. It’s nice to read that Poland is awesome ;)
Greetings from Poland :DD
Hahaha, Hi Paulina!! Guess that just means more pierogies for me :-D
Is there anything special or interesting about Koszalin. Is it worth visiting for a day?
Hmm, well… If you like small cities, yes. We have 3 interesting, abandoned buildings (there is one hospital!). They’re great! And our cafe “Pauza” (https://www.facebook.com/kawiarniapauza?fref=ts) – the best Chai in the World! IMO small cities have awesome atmosphere, but if you want to spend some time here, well… only with great company ;) I like our amphitheater, because you can go there, even when it’s close – it’s illegal, but everyone knows it and goes there. You can feel that you’re an actor, singer, writer or something else. Sometimes I walk there to think – it’s really great. Close to amphitheater there is Philharmonic. It’s not Royal Albert Hall, of course, but it’s also interesting place. Oh! Our “rosarium” – very, very near to Philharmonic, amazing garden. And maybe CK105? It’s cinema (small, not commercial) and art gallery. In Koszalin there are 2 amazing art galleries: on the Dworcowa Street (both), 1. Na piętrze 2. Galeria Zbigniewa Murzyna. I think Koszalin is more interesting than Szczecin (sorry…), but it’s only my opinion. If you’ll want to visit Koszalin, write to me ;) I can say more info :) Oh! I forgot! We have also really, really excellent gorge. There are amazing trees, I mean, like… hm? Even in a fairytale. I’m writing and writing, sorry :)
Amazing tips, thank you Paulina. Saving all of this for later :)
Well, hello there! You’ve mentioned that Szczecin is ‘small’ which is not necessarily true. The central part of it may seem quite small and easy to move around, tho it takes about 45-60 mins to get from other city borderlines, with a car, of course. It is indeed one of the largest cities in Poland, though population density here is like… one of the smallest in our country overall! I recommend you to visit uninhabitated partd of Stettin in free time! Some parts are outstanding even for me, the Szczecin’s citizien.
Have a good time!
Hey Patrick – thanks for the great recommendations. You’re right, Szczecin isn’t really a small city, it just felt like one.
funny, I was eating pierogi when reading this post, such a coincidence ;) Sadly I don’t know Szczecin very well, I’ve been numerous time at the train station there (Berlin Brandenburg ticket is such a perfect option for travelling to Germany!) but only 3 years ago I visited the city properly and loved it though it was nothing like I had imagined it! I totally get it why you enjoyed it so much, those less known destinations are sometimes the best! If you feel like venturing deeper into Poland remember I’m in Warsaw and I’ll be glad to show you around the cool side of the city ;)
Hey Kami! I’m 100% going to take you up on your offer. Just need to find a good time to get over to Warsaw once it warms up.
Enjoy all the pierogies!
Hi Adam! Nice post about Szczecin. I left Sweden for Szczecin 15 years ago and I don’t regret it. Come and visit Szczecin for dentist, golf and nightlife. Beer and pierogi at afterparty of course. Se You soon :) All best!
Hi Przemek – Definitely want to return to Szczecin and check out the nightlife. If you’ve got some cool bar recommendations, please leave them here!
Hi Adam! My favorite bar is Towarzyska (Social) it’s quite small in 30-ties style with best of Polish vodka brands and a bunch of local journalist, lawyers and artists. There is also real old fashioned piano player who plays to loud and eget on my nerves but sets some extra flavor on it. I recommend also Fabryka and Bar Czysty. All of the You’ll find on Deptak Bogusława, where this city heart beats faster :) See You soon!
That place sounds amazing!! I definitely will use these recommendations for next time
BTW, I wrote about Your visit in Szczecin for my Swedish readers :)
Awww – that’s very cool Przemek – thank you so much!
Polish website wSzczecinie.pl did a short article about Your trip to Szczecin. Have You seen it?
Hi Karola – Yes, I saw it pop up. Super cool and thanks for sharing!!
Where have You eaten pierogies?
Hey Karola – it was at the Harnas Brewery & Restaurant in a square with lots of colorful houses not far from the castle. Hope that’s helpful!
I have smaller trips on my list for sure this year. I know what you mean by not wanting to stress. Bring trips can be a lot of work. Although I still love them and is planning one for the summer, my friends and I are going to do a short trip 3 hours away next month =)
PS: I love pierogies too!
Hey Jo – I think small trips are a great way to still get out and see the world. And yeah, they’re much easier to plan and offer just as much enjoyment :)
[…] czas temu na krótką, ponieważ jednodniową wycieczkę do Szczecina, którą opisał na swoim blogu o tematyce podróżniczo-lifestyle’owej. Z tego co piszę na swoim blogu widać, że podróż do Szczecina była raczej czymś nie […]
Hi Adam! Visit my website (URL above, gotta kill Java) to find out more about Szczecin. There’s much more to explore!
Hi Lukasz – Thanks for the tips! I hope to get back to Szczecin soon and see what else the city has to offer :)
Maybe Szczecin is not New York or Berlin but you won’t be disappointed. My website shows only some of it, the blog gives more info (the articles are translated). Why did you give it up? Graphic designer doesn’t sound much corporational.
Hey Lukasz – Thanks! … I was living in Boston and while I liked my job as a graphic designer… I just wasn’t living the life I wanted to live. Not enough time to travel and with my limited vacation time and expenses, it was hard to get out and see the world. Living in Europe gives me much more opportunity for exploring the world :)
Yummy, love pierogi :)
It’s a shame that during our time in Berlin we didn’t take some trips to the close by cities, the Polish ones included. :(
Aww, next time Franca! There are a lot of great day trips out of Berlin.
I always love to travel around the world and one of the best things i usually do is to explore everything. I love the foods and i always find the Polish foods as awesome! The great ideas from your article and other online magazines are always helpful in my travel gigs! Thanks!
Yay! Another +1 for Polish food :)
[…] one of the most important. So much so, it seems, that I traveled to Poland last weekend just to eat some pierogies. The things we […]
Fantastic! I just found your blog and a lot of your posts have resonated with me, particularly the one about over-use of social media. And I’ve just found out that you’ve been to Poland this year. Anyway, I haven’t been to Szczecin but I have just got back from a short break in Krakow which, whilst probably more popular for tourists, is absolutely worth a visit. I quickly developed a love for pierogi (and Polish doughnuts!) and am working on a recipe right now for dessert pierogi (because, come on, there’s nothing better than dumplings for pudding!). In fact, I’ve decided Polish food is pretty great generally, not that it’s at all obvious from my recent blog posts ;)
Hi Lorna – thanks for the comment and for finding my blog! Dessert pierogi sound pretty good, though I tend to personally prefer savory over sweet. Polish cuisine is definitely one of the good ones!
[…] across the border. I’ve never been to Szczecin, but Andy and I loved Poznan, and after seeing this and this, I think it’s a safe bet we’ll have a fun […]