Travelling to Torun, Poland
The home of Nicholas Copernicus, Torun is also famous for its Medieval architecture and the delicious gingerbread cookies. It might not be one of the most popular Polish cities, but it is an amazing day trip (or a weekend getaway) options that you shouldn’t miss! Traveling to Torun includes amazing food, charming city center, gorgeous buildings and tons of history that will make you learn more about Poland, its culture nd traditions. I hope my modest attempt to list the best activities, places to see and restaurants to try will come in handy if you are in the area!
A picturesque walk through the foggy forest took us from the central train station of Torun to the heart of the city. Unless you have a lot of luggage or you feel tired, you can easily walk to the city center. Otherwise, the options are a 5-minute bus journey or a taxi ride. But seriously, would you want to miss this:
UNESCO’s Medieval Town Hall
Torun’s Medieval Town Hall is under the UNESCO heritage protection. It is one of the few Town Halls in Poland which layout hasn’t been changed since the Medieval times and preserved its original appearance allowing us to observe and admire the Gothic architectural complex nowadays. The Town Hall was the place of trading and administrative buildings symbolizing the city’s power. Torun was founded in the Medieval times by the Teutonic Order and had been under their influence and management for over 200 years.
You can visit the Town Hall Museum housing exhibitions of Gothic Art, Polish paintings, coins, ancient history and life in Torun. If you don’t have that much time I strongly advise you to climb the Clock Tower and have a spectacular view of the whole city!
Copernicus (or Mikołaj Kopernik – his original Polish name) is the symbol of Torun and the city’s most popular native. One of the biggest attraction in Torun is the Copernicus House Museum located at 15/17 Kopernika Street in a beautifully preserved Gothic house. There you can observe a few exhibitions representing his life and work as well as how Torun looked like at that time. The statue of Copernicus in the Town Hall is greeting the tourists just in front of the Clock Tower. It is a popular spot for photos or group meetings. There’s another monument in honor of the famous astronomer in the Rapackiego Square representing the idea of Copernicus System.
Gingerbread shops are tempting you with the famous sweets at every corner. The Polish word for these cookies is “pierniki” and you will see it everywhere in Torun. Personally, the gingerbread reminds me of Christmas but I definitely wouldn’t mind having it every day!
You can also visit the Museum of Torun Gingerbread – a former factory transformed into an interactive museum dedicated to the history and tradition of making the popular cookies. Perfect for families with kids, here you can get back in time with an exhibition of ancient ovens, house and shop settings from the past, movies and interactive spots. Probably the best thing is the baking workshop where you can get your hands dirty and learn the necessary ingredients and techniques for baking your own gingerbreads. This all comes in with a friendly guide aka a gingerbread baking master as well as the option to get your masterpiece as a souvenir. Definitely, a fun 1-hour experience you shouldn’t miss!
Other sightseeing & attractions
– The Ethnographic Museum is an open-air museum that is perfect to visit during the warmer days of the year. Observe the small cottages and how rural life in Poland used to be back in time with everyday objects from the farm to the kitchen.
– The Planetarium houses interactive exhibitions as well as a few shows a day that can bring you on an adventure through the Universe.
– Torun has its own Leaning Tower with its top being 1.5 meters displaced.
– Enjoy a lovely walk around the Torun castle complex that was built by the Teutonic Order.
Where to eat and drink
Visiting Torun is your excuse to stuff yourself with gingerbread cookies all day due to the numerous shops selling them in a wide variety of shapes.
Pierogarnia Stary Młyn and Pierogarnia Stary Torun
This is THE place to try the most traditional Polish dish ‘pierogi’ in Torun. ‘Pirogi’ are stuffed dumpling traditionally boiled in water with a variety of fillings including potatoes, cabbage, minced meat, mushrooms or cheese. Seasonal fruits are used to make sweet pierogi that are perfect for dessert. My favourites are ‘pierogi ruskie’ – dumplings filled with potatoes, cheese and stirred onion. Delicious!
Here you can try them freshly cooked and they will taste just as if a Polish grandma has cooked them for you. What makes this restaurant a total success is that they have them prepared in various ways. In addition to the traditional way of cooking – by boiling them, the pierogi could also be fried (much better in my opinion) and oven-baked (which is simply the best). You should definitely get both boiled and oven-baked to see the difference and decide what you like best.
Address: Łazienna 28/1 Str. & most Pauliński 2-10
Kona Coast Cafe
Owned by an American-Polish couple, this lovely Hawaiian themed café is perfect for brunch or take away coffee. Let’s start with the coffee because it was the highlight for my friends. It comes in a wide variety of options including drip coffee and Chemex. The portions are very generous, the coffee and tea are served in huge cups and the prices are reasonable. The staff is friendly and really helpful and they welcomed us with a smile even with the dog that was with us and even brought him water. This is probably one of the few places in Torun that open early so it is a perfect for a cup of coffee but I am sure you will get tempted by their breakfast options and delicious sandwiches. In addition, they have soups and salads and we even got a complimentary dessert. No wonder, we got back the next morning.
Address: Chełmińska 18 Str.
If you are a pancake lover, this will be your heaven in Poland. Manekin is a chain restaurant with 3 locations in Torun and a few more in various Polish cities. Here you can choose from more than 40 types of pancakes both sweet and sour with numerous combinations, ingredients, and flavours. Traditional and contemporary options (such as grilled tortilla pancake) are available and I am still trying to decide whether eating a second pancake as dessert after the first one is acceptable. Portions are quite enough and prices vary from €2 to €4.5 for a portion.
Keep in mind there’s usually a queue but it is worth it!
Address: ul.Gagarina 152, ul.Rynek Staromiejski 16 & ul. Wysoka 5
Jan Olbracht Old-Town Brewery
Eating gingerbread cookies by day and drinking gingerbread beer by night. This venue is a spacious restaurant and pub in one with an authentic wooden interior housed in a Gothic house. They have several types of beers all unfiltered and unpasteurized and you can get some for home which will be poured in a bottle in front of you.
Address: Szczytna 15 Str.
Thanks to its interior and menu, this restaurant stands out as probably the most modern restaurant in town. The place is spacious, painted in white and designed in a minimal Scandinavian style. The food is a contemporary mix of fresh salads, nice bagels and baguettes and good coffee to go.
Address: rynek Nowomiejski 4
Central Perk Café
Surprisingly, there’s a FRIENDS themed café with a cozy interior where you can get instantly transformed in the USA and back in the days where it was appropriate to binge-watch FRIENDS the whole day. Or was it just me?
9 types of lattes are waiting, each for a character from the TV show. Pretty fun! In addition, you can get freshly squeezed juice, smoothie, cocktails or coffee (they have quite the variety for each).
Address: Strumykowa 2 Str.
Pijalnia wódki i piwa
With its 22 locations all around Poland, Pijalnia is students’ favourite spot for going out. Prices are quite cheap and there are often special discounts and happy hours when drinks cost as little as €1 for beers, wine, and shots. Not my favourite place especially at late evenings as it is usually overcrowded to the point where you don’t have a place to move.
Address: Rynek Staromiejski 26-27 & Chełmińska 1 Str.
Coffee and Whisky House
Cozy and classy interior with raw brick walls, suitable both late evening drinks with friends, business meetings or lazy afternoons. With over 130 bottles of whisky from around the world, they are trying to educate the customers about the qualities of the alcohol that is suitable not only for men. They offer traditional coffee options such as espresso, cappuccino, and latte, but also including Viennese coffee with bitter chocolate and cream.
Their kitchen is open throughout the whole day but if you want something light to go with your drink – try the bruschettas. Chocolate soufflés, cheesecakes, and cookies are waiting for you in the afternoon to accompany your favourite cup of coffee.
Address: Ducha Świętego 3 Str.
Photos: Eo Stories and Blanca San Juan