19 Fun Things To Do in Torun, Poland
Torun may not be the biggest or most popular city in Poland, but it quickly became one of our favourite in the country. This medieval town is in the northern region of Poland, somewhere between Lodz and Gdansk and we're so glad we were able to visit. Torun is largely known for two things: Copernicus and gingerbread but there is plenty more to see and love so we're sharing our favourite 19 fun things to do in Torun.
Things to do in Torun, Poland
Often, Wes and I find ourselves chatting about what we would consider to be our perfect city. To this day, we don't have an ultimate favourite but we have found that the destinations we enjoy the most are cities that are not too big and not too small, can be easily explored on foot and have plenty of hidden gems to be discovered. Torun ticked all of those boxes for us and we still find ourselves wondering if we're meant to go back and spend more time there. I have a feeling that anyone who has visited would agree, Torun is a special place. In any case, we wanted to share our experiences for anyone who hasn't been and is looking to explore beyond the main cities in Poland. This post starts with all things gingerbread before sharing more fun things to do in Torun and ends with practical tips about getting there, where to stay and a link to our Torun travel vlog. Enjoy!
Visit the Gingerbread Museum
Museums aren't really our thing but they are when you get to bake your own gingerbread! The city is well-known for the tradition of gingerbread making and this museum has a really fun and interactive show that shares the secrets of Torun's gingerbread with visitors. Because this is one of the most popular things to do in Torun, I would suggest buying your tickets online ahead of time. The museum is open daily from 10 to 6pm with shows that last about 1.5 hours. Tickets are only 14 PLN (2016) and the museum was definitely one of the most memorable things to do in Torun for us.
Try Gingerbread Ice-Cream
For a real treat, head over to Kawiarnia Lenkiewicz for delicious ice cream, coffees and desserts. The cafe is busiest during the summer months but serves generous portions of ice cream for a very reasonable price!
Bring Back Gingerbread Souvenirs
As luck would have it, our Airbnb apartment was directly across from Kopernik, a store selling the infamous Torunskie Pierniki (Torun Gingerbread). There are a plenty of shops in the Old Town where you can buy these traditional treats for yourself or as a souvenir for a lucky someone back home. My only regret is not having bought more!
Cheers Over Gingerbread Beer
If you've been following the adventure on our YouTube channel, you know we love a good beer and we couldn't pass up the chance to try gingerbread beer in Torun. We met up with one of our viewers, Michał, and he brought us to a corner pub called Krajina Piva, well-known for it's wide selection of beer.
Visit the Local Brewery
For even more beer, visit Jan Olbracht Browar Staromiejski, a brewery, restaurant and pub all in one. There is a growing interest in craft beer throughout Poland and here you can try their selection of beers which includes, of course, gingerbread beer.
Lean Against the Leaning Tower
While walking around town on our first day in Torun, we noticed something strange about a tower near the riverbank. It was literally leaning to one side (not quite as drastically as the tower in Pisa but still pretty neat)! No one around seemed to notice this phenomena and it wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I even realized this is an important landmark in the city. You'll hear different legends about the tower but our favourite was shared by our local friend, Michał. The tower loved to hear stories from his good friend, the Vistula river until the river flowed too closely and started to erode his supporting walls. The tower begged the river to stop out of fear that he might fall over and instead the river said, "So then, fall down!" which is a phrase that can apparently be translated in Polish to "toruń" hence the name. ;)
Admire the Wardrobe Theatre
Not far from the castle ruins is a rather unusual building. The Baj Pomorski Theatre is unlike any I have seen with a facade that looks like an antique wardrobe, drawers and all! It is also the only puppet theatre in this region of Poland with performances for both children and adults.
Get the Best Views of Torun
To get the best views of Torun, you'll have to put in the effort and climb your way to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower. Entrance is 11 PLN (2016) but worth it for an impressive bird's eye view of the city, river and picturesque rooftops. Fun fact: the Gothic style building has 365 windows said to represent each day of the year.
Unwind by the River
Torun isn't one of those overwhelming cities that will tire you out but that doesn't mean you can't relax and unwind by the river. There are a couple of bars, restaurants and ice cream stands right on the river making it a perfect place for a drink before your sunset stroll to the other side of the Vistula. River boat tours are also available (depending on the season) and start at 10 PLN for 30 minutes.
Admire the Town from Across the River
As recommended by one of our viewers, we knew we could get a great view of the whole city by crossing the river. There's a tree-lined path that takes you from the Jozefa Piłsudskiego bridge to a great lookout point (Panorama Torunia) on the other side of the Vistula. From here, you can see the beautiful skyline of Torun and we found it most impressive by night.
Learn all About Copernicus
We all know now that the sun is the center of our solar system but that's all thanks to Nicolas Copernicus. He was born in Torun and his studies essentially revolutionized our way of thinking about the universe so it's no wonder the city is proud of his work. Learn more about the Polish astronomer by visiting his monument in the town square and the House of Nicolas Copernicus Museum. Real enthusiasts can head further north to Frombork Cathedral where he is buried.
Coffee for 'Friends' Fans
If you're a fan of the sitcom, you'll appreciate Torun's Central Coffee Perks cafe. Their talented baristas serve great coffee in a cozy setting much like the familiar cafe on the show. And yes, they have episodes of Friends playing all day long.
Capture the Monuments
There are plenty of statues and monuments throughout the Old Town of Torun and most come with a legend or story. Like the dragon of Torun that was apparently spotted by a couple in 1746. Or the torture donkey directly across from the Copernicus statue showing a painful contraption used to torture and humiliate the unfortunate who were forced to ride the donkey. My favourite is the statue of Filus, an adorable puppy with a hat in his mouth known from a popular Polish comic strip.
Explore the Castle Ruins
Before Malbork Castle, the knights of the Teutonic Order built Torun Castle. You can explore what is left of the castle ruins for 9 PLN which includes the underground, courtyard and even the knight's toilet. Depending on the season, you can also try archery (!!) for an additional fee or view one of the knight dual performances.
Cosmopolis Fountain Show
Each evening, at the Cosmopolis Fountain just outside of the Old Town, there is an impressive light and sound show (when the weather permits). While it isn't as large or spectacular as the multimedia fountains of Wroclaw and Warsaw, it is definitely worth seeing while in Torun. The times vary depending on the season but will start once it gets dark and continue until midnight. There are four shows an hour set to different music and only a few minutes break between each new show. Another reason to love it: it's among the many free things to do in Torun. :)
Indulge in Belgian Fries
Anyone missing a sweet tooth can enjoy the savoury delight of Belgian fries from Frytki Belgijskie. Their fries are fresh, affordable and come with your choice of sauce for dipping. Still hungry? They have crispy dumplings too!
Visit the Planetarium
Science lovers will appreciate a visit to the planetarium. Though a bit dated, it's one of the interesting things to do in Torun and both children and adults will learn from their interactive displays and movies that are also available in English. The planetarium is divided into three sections, each with their own admission fees: planetarium, geodium and orbitarium.
Fill up on Pierogi
Please don't leave Poland without trying their delicious dumplings. Torun has a great restaurant called Pierogarnia Stary Toruń and there's a reason why it's so popular. There is often a wait to get in and the service can be slow but I can't think of a better place in town to get the real pierogi experience.
If you have the time, visit the nearby city of Bydgoszcz which is less than an hour away. Trains depart from Torun Glowny and, though the city is larger than Torun, it is not as touristic. There is still plenty to do in Bydogoszcz to fill a day trip.
Torun, Poland: Getting There
We arrived to Torun from Wroclaw by train and left to go to Gdansk by bus. The Torun train station (Toruń Główny) is across from the Old Town on the south side of the Vistula River. At the station you'll find washrooms, small kiosks and an Information Centre where English is spoken. To get to the Old Town, you can take a taxi, bus or even walk.
To get into town on the cheap, purchase a bus ticket at the train station's Information Centre before making your way to the bus shelters outside the station. Buses 25 and 27 will cross the Józef Piłsudski bridge and take you to the Old Town in about 5 minutes. Alternatively, the walk into town is about 2km. Bus tickets in Torun must be validated and can be purchased at kiosks throughout town, though some newer buses have the option to purchase on board.
Our itinerary had us travelling from Torun to Gdansk and we found the bus was cheaper than a train. We booked with PolskiBus and buses depart from the Dworzec Autobusowy station just north of the Old Town (within walking distance). The PolskiBus platforms are on the far right side, #10-12. There is a charge to use the station washrooms and a coffee machine is available in the waiting area as well as small snack stands.
Where we stayed in Torun
Because Wes and I wanted to stay somewhere in the Old Town, we opted for a really cute Airbnb right on Kopernika street. The apartment was bright, spacious, and very central so we would definitely recommend the listing if you're looking for a quiet and budget-friendly option. The downside was there was no wifi but we made do without it and really enjoyed our stay. If you're new to Airbnb and wanting to give it a try, our sign up link lets you save up to $40 CAD on your first qualifying staying. This helps us toward our next stay too :)
Best time to go to Torun, Poland
Wes would say, just go right now. And though Torun is beautiful at any time of the year, the city hosts many festivals year-round that are worth checking out. From theatre festivals to the Bella Skyway, the list is long but here are some of the city's highlights:
Afryka Raggae Festival - January
Kontakt International Theatre Festival - May
Torun City Festival - June
Bella Skyway Festival - August
International Puppet Theatre Festival - October