Katowice

Winter in Silesia

05 Nov 2019
Summer is over, the stunning atmosphere of the golden Polish autumn is gradually coming to an end, and you may well be thinking to yourself, what on earth will winter bring to Katowice? Is it even worth visiting during the coldest time of the year? First thing's first, it's no surprise that the colour palettes make a drastic change from the jovial summer greens, picturesque autumnal shades of golden brown to the rather bleak winter grey. It can seem tough to enjoy anything here amidst such a lifeless colour scheme. But don't let the book cover sway your decision, there's plenty to see and do in Katowice, and of course, the surrounding Silesian region, whether it's in the good ole outdoors, or indoors if the wind chill painfully freezes your face!

It's our job to give you some of the best tips on how to make the most out of your visit to the Silesian region, whether you're here for a short business trip or for a little bit longer to enjoy the sights. With all that in mind, let's start with Katowice, gradually working our way through the Silesian Metropolis and beyond to the more rugged outdoor terrains to the north and south.

KATOWICE

Christmas is pretty big in Poland, and it's taken quite seriously. Despite the creeping commercialisation of the holidays around the world, in Poland there's still very much a strong sense of maintaining an age old family centred tradition. The centrepiece in Katowice for the festive season is always the Christmas Market on the main market square (rynek) organised by the local authorities, which this year will run from 22 November – 23 December. Here you can buy some festive treats, traditional regional items and for the kids and kidults, there will be an ice rink available to swish and swoosh around in.

Before the official market square Christmas Market arrives to the city centre, we recommend a visit to the former workers' district of Nikiszowiec, a great attraction in itself, however, 04 December each year sees the observance of Barbórka, the local name for the feast day of St. Barbara, patron saint of miners, which always features a parade of miners dressed up in their ceremonial gear. Although observed across Poland, Nikiszowiec is in our opinion one of the best places to appreciate the celebration. Following Barbórka, from 05-08 December, Nikiszowiec will hold its own Christmas Fair, so check out how the locals approach Christmas.

If the weather is cold and crisp, and if you're lucky, snowy, then we fully recommend visiting some parks. Just south of the city centre, the Valley of Three Ponds is perfect, where you can walk around the well maintained paths and roads, getting away from the bustle of the city centre, feeling as though you're in the middle of nowhere, when really, you're still relatively close to the centre! If you're here in January/February, you may be lucky enough to see the annual winter swimming events which take place. That's right, in sub-zero temperatures, some people just can't wait to go for a brisk swim in nothing more than their trunks!

CHORZÓW

Now this is the place to go all times of the year to the star attraction: Silesia Park. Here, you not only have the option of long picturesque walks, but the added benefit of seeing the park from above on the Elka Cableway - let's call this a poor man's ski lift... and on that note, should you be in the region and wish to go south of the city to the Beskid Mountain Range for some winter sports but may be looking to get some practice, or even skiing/snowboarding lessons beforehand, then Chorzów has the perfect solution - an indoor ski centre, Freestyle Park (ul. Stalowa 25). This isn't your typical ski centre though, in fact, it's slightly strange as what they offer more or less resembles an oversized treadmill which can go up to speeds of 40 km/h (25 mph), and can accommodate two groups of two people at a time. Stay on the spot, curving from left to right without truly moving off! Lessons are also available for skiers and snowboarders, with all equipment provided.

BYTOM & SOSNOWIEC

Nearby Bytom and Sosnowiec also have outdoor ski centres for you to enjoy. In Bytom, the Sport Dolina centre has one medium sized hill (found at ul. Blachówka 94), whereas in Sosnowiec, Środula (ul. 3 Maja 51) offers small, medium and large hills. Both centres provide the possibility to hire equipment and are serviced by Poma ski lifts. Don't worry if it doesn't actually snow, as the centres also have snow machines to keep the fun going. These are perfect places to practice on something resembling real outdoor conditions without having to travel a great distance! They're popular places for the locals to go, and no wonder, they're so easy to get to being so close to Katowice.

BESKID MOUNTAIN RANGE

If you're more certain of your skiing/snowboarding abilities and you've mastered your bent knee stances with boards or planks attached to your feet, then the next step is to try out some real ski slopes in the Beskid Mountain Range! You have plenty of choices, from (take a big breath to read these in Polish all in one go!) Wisła, Żywiec, Bielsko-Biała, Ustroń, Istebna, Brenna, Korbielów, Zwardoń, Międzybrodzie Bialskie, Rajcza, Ujsoły but none more popular than Szczyrk!

The Szczyrk Mountain Resort is one of the biggest ski centres in Poland. The infrastructure is pretty top notch, and the stats will raise an eyebrow of interest from you: the resort is found on the mountains of Małe Skryznce (1211m) and Wierch Pośredni (1000m), with tracks spread across 22 km (5 km with lighting), however, if you also include the Central Sports Centre (Centralny Ośrodek Sportu) and Beskid Sport Arena, for which a unified ski-pass is available, the length of the tracks goes up to 40 km (8 km with lighting), with courses ranging in difficulty for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. There are no Poma ski lifts here, instead, you have the more comfortable 6-man ski chairs and 10-man gondolas to ride up in style. After it's all done, there's plenty to do in the evenings with après-ski events being a big part of the experience in the Beskids. To learn more about these ski resorts, visit the Silesian Tourism Organisation's website www.beskidy.travel.

KRAKÓW-CZĘSTOCHOWA UPLAND

If skiing is not your thing, and casual walks through the park or winter swimming don't quite cut it for you, there are some great trails for you to check out along the 160 km span of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland where you can experience the sights of limestone rocks, karst formations, cliffs, valleys, streams and caves, which can all be found by following the Trail of the Eagles' Nests - a collection of medieval castles and defensive fortifications. Perfect.

'SILESIAN TASTES' CULINARY TRAIL (ŚLĄSKIE SMAKI)

Whatever you choose to do during your time in Silesian region you'll need to eat, and there's no better time to check out some local cuisine when autumnal and winter recipes feature heavily on the menu. There's a whole host of seasonal ingredients to enjoy, from mushrooms, pumpkin, game meats etc. To learn more about this culinary treat, read more in our section about the 'Silesian Tastes' Culinary Trail or check out their website www.slaski.smaki.

IF THE WEATHER GETS TOO COLD...

Sometimes, even our best laid plans don't go quite as we had hoped, and if the winter really bites in Poland, it can leave you eager to spend as much time indoors as possible! But just because it can get cold outside, doesn't mean you have to get cabin fever in your accommodation.

If you wish to remain within Katowice's city centre, you can check out the downtown area, with everything fairly close meaning you won't need to do much walking or travelling. The nearby Cultural Zone, from the exciting NOSPR to the fascinating Silesian Museum are perfect for not only killing time, but enjoying the experience!

If you're looking for something more or less relaxing, or adrenaline pumping, check out our Leisure section for a few recommendations for those who love to be pampered, enjoy a good movie, or generally have fun. If you're with the kids, we have the perfect recommendations for Kids & Families that will keep not only young ones happy, but likewise entertain the adults too. If you feel young, we fully encourage you continue to play and have fun just like the kids!

Whatever you plan to do this winter in Silesia, we hope you enjoy some of our recommendations – we're certain you'll stay occupied and have some fun at the same time!

GETTING THERE

If you're planning to stay in and around Katowice or go well beyond the city during your stay, travelling around on buses, trains and trams is fairly easy, however, it's still always a good idea to plan your journey in advance, therefore, we recommend checking out our Useful Transport Apps & Tools article to ensure you don't get hopelessly lost! Staying locally, the JakDojade public transport route checker (and app) can be a lifesaver! As for those of you who are planning on trips way beyond the city, for instance travelling along the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland or wishing to go to the Beskid Mountain Range to enjoy winter sports, the e-podroznik.pl website is an essential tool to plan your journey - just fill out your start/end journey points, dates, click search and you'll be shown all possible regional travel connections!

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