Thank God for online booking. Walk into a foreign travel broker and it’s odds on they wouldn’t know how to spell Bydgoszcz, let alone pronounce it. Or what it was, for that matter. It’s impossible to open a holiday supplement without Kraków or Gdańsk eyeballing you in the face, and even Warsaw gets nice things printed about it nowadays. But Bydgoszcz, let’s be fair, sounds more like a crossword gone wrong than a tourist destination. First off, you’ll want to know how to get your mouth round the name – it’s Byd-gosh-ch. Secondly, you’ll be wanting to know what lies in store. And here’s the good news; it’s a belting city you’ve arrived in. Chopped into ribbons by the Brda and Wisła rivers, not to mention the Bydgoszcz Canal, it’s a scenic town of waterways, island, bridges and barges. It’s certainly not the Venice of the North, no matter what the locals claim otherwise, but that’s not to say Bydgoszcz doesn’t stand out in its own right.Just 45km from its more famous rival Toruń, Bydgoszcz was first mentioned in 1238 and hasn’t looked back since. The home, rightfully or otherwise, of the Teutonic Knights, Poles, Prussians and Germans over the centuries, Poland’s eighth biggest city grew on the back of its aquatic pedigree into an important centre of trade and commerce. Bristling with red brick Gothic architecture, restored riverside granaries and Art Nouveau masterpieces it’s a magnificent little city, and one that surprises all who make the trip.
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