10 Great Things to do in Lublin: Poland’s hidden gem
This post is a travelguide with the best things to do in Lublin Poland. 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 with its pastel coloured merchant homes is just as scenic as the more famous cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Poznan. While other parts of Lublin were severely damaged in the second World war, its medieval center was somehow spared, making it one of the most picturesque in all of Poland.
If that’s not enough reason to visit Lublin, there are also great museums, churches, castles and restaurants that reflect its wealthy past as a thriving city. Because of its strategic location in between Krakow, Lviv and Vilnius, Lublin has a long history as a multicultural city of trade and commerce in the region.
Lublin still is the capital of the Lublin province and is now close to the borders of Belarus and Ukraine. Despite being one of the most interesting cities in eastern Poland, it is still an off the beaten path destination. Few travellers head this far east. Part of its charm is the lack of tourist crowds. Therefore, Lublin is as authentic as it can get and a true Polish experience.
The best things to do in Lublin Poland
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 of Lublin I can recommend this 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. It was a safe place that was often visited by the kings and queens of the Polish royal family.
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 it. In 1957 the castle reopened as the Lublin Museum. It is clearly visible from the old town. Even if you are not visiting the museum it is worth walking up the hill. There are beautiful views over the city and you can enter the castle courtyard for free.
3. The Saint John Baptist Archcathedral
There are quite some churches in Lublin, but the cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and John the Evangelist was the most beautiful. Inside you will find beautiful frescoes depicting biblical stories and figures of saints.
It was built in the 16th century for the Society of Jesus. After damage in the second World war, the cathedral was rebuilt into its current structure. The altar is still the original altar from the 17th century though. You can also visit the crypts where the Lublin bishops were burried.
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. 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.
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 Poland
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: There are several buses a day to Kazimierz Dolny and back. The journey takes about an hour making it a perfect day trip.
Lublin Travel tips
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 card.
The best hostels in Lublin
Budget: A good budget option in the center is Rodmos hostel. A great place with large and comfy rooms near the old town and Krakow gate.
Midrange: For more comfort and privacy, you can’t go wrong with the Old Town Boutique rooms right in the middle of the old town.
What to eat in Lublin
Lublin has a great culinary scene with lots of cheap restaurants serving traditional food from the region. Of course you can find Polish cuisine, but the region has its own specialities too as well as food from neighbouring Lithuania and Ukraine.
Here are some local delicacies that you should definetly try. Pierogi dumplings are famous throughout Poland, but Lublin has its own variety. Pierogi po lubelsku are filled with a sweet cottage cheese. People eat them with yoghurt and sugar. There is another variety that mixes the cottage cheese with buckwheat.
Forszmak is an Eastern European dish with Jewish roots. The name refers to the use of salted meat and fish. Forszmak Lubelski is a soup or stew made with salted meat, pickled cucumbers and tomato paste. You can find it in some restaurants.
You should also visit one of the local bakeries to try lublin’s gingerbread and cebularz. The latter is a flatbread with onions and poppyseeds. Cebularz were first made by the Jewish community. The Jewish bakers were famous for their great quality of work. Unfortunately, most Jews did not survive the war, but Cebularz remains a popular snack.
Where to eat 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.
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, smoked sheeps chease. This festival is every year at the end of August or the beginning of September.
Sielsko Anielsko: Unfortunately there is only so many space in your stomach and with the festival in town we have seen very little of the great restaurant scene in Lublin.
The 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 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.
When to visit Lublin
Lublin is a year round destination. In general, the summer months of June to August are the warmest and have the longest days, making them a good time to explore the city and participate in outdoor activities. However, this time of year can also be the most crowded and expensive.
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall offer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, and can be a great time to visit for those looking for a more relaxed experience. the perfect destination for summer, but spring and autumn are also good times to visit the city.
Winters can be cold, but the snow makes the town even more beautiful. Winter is also the time when you can visit the christmas market.
If you are interested in cultural events, it is worth checking the events calendar and plan your trip accordingly. For example, the Lublin Castle Festival, which is held in June, is a popular cultural event that features performances, music, and other activities in and around the castle. Another popular event is the annual Film Festival, which is held in November.
How to get around in Lublin
Most things to do in Lublin are within walking distance of each other so we only used the public transport to visit Majdanek. The city has an excellent public transport system. To see the current timeschedules either check Google Maps or ZTM Lublin.
How to get to Lublin
Lublin is easy to reach by train. 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 by bus to Vilnius in Lithuania (8 hours), Minsk in Belarus (7 hours) and Lviv in Ukraine (4 hours). Lublin also has a small airport served by several budget airlines such as Wizz Air that connects the city with several European destinations.
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