10 things to do in Lublin Poland: a hidden gem
This post is a travelguide with the best things to do in Lublin.
Lublin is maybe one of the most underrated cities in Poland. Few people know about it. Myself included, before I travelled to the Eastern part of Poland.
What I found is that the old town of Lublin is just as scenic as the more famous cities of Krakow, Gdansk and Poznan. Pastel coloured merchant homes adorn the cobbled stoned winding lanes where you can sit down on one of the cafes to watch life pass by.
Besides the old town there are plenty of other things to do in Lublin. Museums, parks and castles make this city well worth a visit. With few tourists around Lublin is as authentic as it can get and a true Polish experience
Lublin is the capital of the Lublin province and has been a major city for trade and commerce in the region. Situated in between Krakow and Vilnius the city has always attracted merchants and business men and this wealthy history shows off in what is one of the most interesting cities in the eastern part of Poland.
The best things to do in Lublin
1. Lublin’s Old town
The picturesque old town of Lublin is a joy to wander around in with plenty of things to do within its walled gates. It’s like travelling back in time. The oldest part of Lublin are the medieval foundations of a church at the Po Farze square.
Several old gates give way to narrow alleys with pastel coloured buildings. The Krakow gate from 1320 is one of the oldest and now houses the Lublin Provincial museum.
The Grodzka gate is also one of the original gates left that once seperated the Jewish quarter from the old town in Lublin. In the 16th century Lublin was a vibrant and multicultural city with a large and active Jewish community that shaped the character of the city for more than 500 years.
During the second World war the old town in Lublin was largely left intact and sustained no damage. However, most of its Jewish population perished in the concentration camps of nearby Majdanek and Auschwitz.
If you are interested in the Jewish heritage in Lublin I can recommend this Lublin guide .
2. Lublin Castle
Lublin castle is a must among things to do in Lublin. The royal castle of king Casimir the Great was built in the 14th century and is now one of the oldest preserved royal castles in Poland. In its glory days the royal castle was at the centre of life in this region.
Nowadays there are no more kings and queens living in the castle. Wars in the seventeenth century ended the good times of the castle and gave it a more dark purpose. Under Russian rule the castle became a prison and later the Nazi’s used it as a detention center for political prisoners and Jews.
Even the communist security services kept using it that way untill they decided to preserve its heritage and renovate the castle. In 1957 the castle reopened as the Lublin Museum. The castle is clearly visible from the old town in Lublin. Even if you are not visiting the museum it is worth walking up the hill. There is a beautiful view and you can enter the castle courtyard for free.
3. Archcathedral of St. John Baptist and St. John Evangelist
There are quite some churches in Lublin, but the cathedral of Saint John Baptist was the most beautiful. The wall paintings are incredible and have plenty of stories to tell. It is easy to find, because it is connected to the trinity tower and close to the old town in Lublin.
4. Krakowskie Przedmieście street
If you just come from the old part of town this pedestrian shopping street feels new and modern. At night it is a lively affair with busy restaurants and cafés where young Lublin hangs out. The atmosphere is great and it is a good place to go for dinner.
But this street also has some interesting historical buildings. The street starts at the Krakow gate. At your right you have the new town hall dominating the square. If you continue on the Krakowskie Przedmiescie you will soon walk by the 15th century church of the holy spirit. The buildings are just as colourful as in the old part of town.
5. A free walking tour through Lublin
Lublin has several companies offering free walking tours that are an excellent way to see the city. Local guides will show you around and tell their stories of Lublin. Most of them are in the weekends and in summer, but you can check the times on Martin tours or Free walking tours
6. Litewski square multimedia fountains
When you walk through the Krakowskie Przedmieście street you come accross the Litewski square and its fountains. In the summer they sometimes have multimedia shows that are quite spectacular. Even though we could not understand polish it was an impressive story with angels and history that we truly enjoyed
7. Open air village museum Skansen
Skansen is one of the biggest open air museums in Poland. It is at the outskirts of Lublin in the Czechowka river valley. It aims to show the traditional village life and cultural traditions of people living in the past in the Lublin province.
The museum is a great thing to do in Lublin if you want to escape from the city. They also organize several events for christmas, winter, easter and other special occasions.
8. Botanical gardens
Near the open air village museum you have another opportunity to immerse yourself in scenic landscapes away from the city. You can visit the Botanical gardens of the Maria Curie Sklodowska university. With 25 hectares and more than 6500 plant species there is plenty to explore
The best things to do near Lublin
9. Majdanek State Museum
A visit to the Majdanek State museum requires some time afterwards to sit down and reflect on what you have just seen. The museum is situated outside Lublin on what is one of the best preserved Nazi concentration camps in Poland. The quickly advancing Red Army left no time to destroy all the evidence of what happened there.
It was both a work camp and extermination camp. Of the estimated 150,000 prisoners in Majdanek 80,000 were killed. Most of them Jews, but also political prisoners and Roma. It is hard to describe a visit to Majdanek in words, but it is a must thing to do in Lublin as this part of history should not be forgotten.
How to get there: Bus number 23 or trolley bus 156 leave frequently from the Krakow gate and stop right in front of the entrance of the museum.
10. Kazimierz Dolny
Lublin is already off the beaten path, but if you want to visit a real hidden gem you should make a day trip to Kazimierz Dolny. A medieval village with a picturesque location just an hour by car from Lublin.
How to get there: from Lublin there are several buses a day to Kazimierz Dolny and back. The journey takes about an hour making it a perfect day trip from Lublin.
Visit Lublin and the Lublin Card
There is also the Lublin card that you can buy online. There are different types that give free access to certain museums and public transport and discounts on a number of restaurants.
We were happy with just wandering around and because everything is within walking distance we only used the public transport to visit Majdanek. Therefore we choose not to buy the Lublin card.
The best restaurants in Lublin
Festival of European Taste
We were lucky when we were in Lublin, because it happened to be the Festival of European taste. The market square in the old town was full of street food stands where we could taste almost any food from all over Europe. Spanish paella, hungarian goulash, armenian barbecue, italian pizza and of course a lot of local specialities.
We decided to try some Polish cuisine and filled our stomach with bigosz. A stew of sauerkraut and pork meat. The next day we tried zapiekanka, the polish version of pizza and had a taste of oscypek. The salty and smoky flavour of the smoked sheeps cheese wasn’t my favourite.
This festival is every year at the end of August or the beginning of September.
Unfortunately there is only so many space in your stomach and with the festival in town we have seen very little of the restaurant scene in Lublin.
The one restaurant where we did go turned out to be a very good choice. Sielsko Anielsko had an extensive menu with traditional Polish dishes that made us regret it was our last night in Lublin and we couldn’t come back.
It’s the kind of menu where you want to try everything. Luckily the friendly waitress helped us in our choice and everything we ordered was absolutely delicious.
On top of that the restaurant is right in the middle of the market square of the old town in Lublin and prices are very reasonable.
The best hostels in Lublin
We stayed in Lolek hostel . A great place with large and comfy rooms near the old town and Krakow gate. There is a big kitchen that has a good breakfast menu and where you can make tea or coffee any time of the day.
When to visit Lublin
Lublin is the perfect destination for summer, but spring and autumn are also good times to visit the city. Winters can be cold, but even then Lublin will not dissapoint and snow makes the town even more beautiful.
How to get around in Lublin
Lublin has an excellent public transport system. To see the current timeschedules either check Google Maps or ZTM Lublin.
Most things to do in Lublin are within walking distance of each other so we only used the public transport to visit Majdanek.
How to get to Lublin
Lublin is easy to reach. From Warsaw it is only 3 hours by train and from Krakow it is around 6 to 7 hours by train. You can check the most recent timetables and connections with other cities in Poland on the site of the Polish Railways.
Internationally you can travel from Lublin by bus to Vilnius in Lithuania (8 hours), Minsk in Belarus (7 hours) and Lviv in Ukraine (4 hours)
There is also a daily sleepertrain from Warsawa that stops in Lublin and then continues to Kiev in Ukraine.
Read my other articles about this region
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