24 Hours in PoznańIf you’ve only popped into Poznań for a day, perhaps as a quick side-trip from Warsaw (good choice), there will be two main things you’ll want to see: the Old Town Square (Stary Rynek) and Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island). Both contain an impressive amount of history, and both can take several hours if done right.
If you get here in the morning, start your day with breakfast at 239 or Uno, then meander through the Old Town streets to the heart of the city: Stary Rynek. Faithfully rebuilt from WWII rubble, it’s simply packed with monuments, landmarks, museums, and mementos from the city’s rich history. While you’re here, you might want to check out the Arsenał City Gallery, featuring free, ever-changing contemporary art exhibitions, and sample some St. Martin’s rogale at the Poznań Croissant Museum (especially if you’re with kids). Walk around to examine various statues including the Bamber Peasant Girl, John of Nepomuk, and the Pranger (okay, more of a corporal punishment site than a statue), maybe take a selfie with the technicolor row of Merchant’s houses - you’ll know them when you see them - and make sure to be around at noon to watch the mechanical billy goats emerge from a door above the Town Hall clock and butt heads while a trumpeter plays the traditional bugle hall, a Poznań trademark famous throughout Poland. A quick walk to the Royal Castle might be in order after that, or perhaps a dip into the beautiful Lesser Basilica of St. Stanislaus on ul. Gołębia 1.
Should you find yourself in need of a coffee break, Cafe Stragan and La Ruina are good options; or just head to ul. Żydowska, the semi-official cafe street, and see what you can find. In the afternoon, it’s off to Ostrów Tumski for a crash-course in Polish history. This little island is considered the likely location of the baptism of Prince Mieszko I, and for many that means by extension the place “where Poland began.” Your first stop should ideally be at the new and highly-recommended Porta Posnania Interactive Heritage Centre, where you can go through a multimedia exhibition explaining the importance of the Cathedral Island and pick up an audio-guide to enhance your sightseeing experience as you visit the Poznań Cathedral, the Church of the Virgin Mary, and the Genius Loci Archaeological Park.
Soaking up centuries of turmoil and intrigue might just make you hungry; for good eats close to Ostrów Tumski, just cross the red Jordan Bridge back to the small but ancient district of Śródka (adorned with a large, colourful mural) and head to Raj. If you prefer something a bit more formal, make your way back to Ratuszova on the Old Town Square. In the evening sip some wine at Wino na Kieliszki, sample microbrews at Brovaria, or try to catch a concert at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club.
3 Days in PoznańIf you’re hanging around for a bit longer, there’s plenty more to see. Given that it doesn’t rain, your next must-visit will be Citadel Park, a place brimming with history of the more recent kind: a Prussian fort was built here in the 1800s, set to became the last stronghold of the Nazis during the 1945 Battle of Poznań. Now featuring several military cemeteries, two museums housed in the remains of the fort, an array of headless cast-iron sculptures named The Unrecognised, and a splendid rose garden, it’s a place to both reflect and relax amid the greenery.
Another outdoor destination is the ever-so-popular Lake Malta, one of the region’s best recreation zones. Year-round attractions include a water park, thermal springs, spa, and zoo, while in the winter it’s also possible to ski and ice-skate. If you’d rather take a day-trip with a historical flavour, an easy option is Gniezno - the first Polish capital is only a short train ride away (30-55min, trains run every half hour or so). and features an impressive Cathedral and the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State, but little to make you feel the atmosphere of millennium-ago Poland.
For more of a challenge (and more of a reward), try to access Biskupin, home to an open-air archaeological museum, where you can imagine you’re king of your early-Slavic camp. Driving is by far the easiest option to get there; if you don’t have a car, try to book a tour from Poznań by inquiring at the Tourist Information Office (Stary Rynek 59/60).
If the weather just isn’t on your side, there are plenty of indoor options apart from the Malta Lake Baths: visit the Bamber Museum to find out about one of Poznań’s historical minority groups, or the 1956 Uprising Museum to immerse yourself in commie times; have a mystery meal at the Dark Restaurant; go see an opera at the Great Theatre; and definitely try to see if there’s a fair going on at another of the city’s trademarks - the Poznań Trade Fairgrounds (even if it’s just an expo of pots and pans or fishing equipment).
In short - enjoy your stay, have fun exploring the historical capital of Wielkopolska!