As of this writing, I am still in Poland. I’m enjoying the cheap meals, the rich history and the amazing culture. I started my trip in Lublin, in East Poland. This city is definitely not on the main tourist trail for visitors but I think it should be! I stayed at one of the main and most famous hotel in town, the IBB Grand Hotel Lublinianka. From there, there is one main trail to take all the way to the castle passing by the main attractions in town.
City: Lublin, Poland
When and how to visit Lublin
For sure, it’s possible to visit Lublin on a weekend trip as the city is connected to many cities in Europe either by plane, by bus or by train. In my case, I took a flight from London for £50 return with Ryanair. I also booked a flight return to Tel Aviv from Lublin for 30 euros (but I never used it). So, it cannot get any cheaper. There is no reason not to visit.
So, when to visit Lublin? The city has a great tradition of cultural events all year round. I was lucky to visit on a week-end which had 3 major events: the 700 years birthday of the city, the horror movie festival and finally the Cider Festival as the region is starting to produce one of the finest ciders in Poland. In terms of events, I have been told that the Magicians Carnival in July is one of the locals’ favourite festivals. I visited in September and I was unlucky with the weather as it was raining most of the time. I had fun, however, it would have been better if I visited in summer time.
Lublin’s Main Tourist Trail
Ideally, you would be located at the same hotel as me but you could be anywhere. This trail is easy to follow as it goes around Lublin’s main places of interest. Starting from Grand Hotel to Lublin Castle. The walk without stops can take 20 minutes maximum but with stops to visit, lunches and breaks, it can easily take 6 to 8 hours of your day. I didn’t include everything the city has to offer but you can take my plan as a base for your trip and add more museums, parks and religious sites.
I stayed at an iconic hotel in Lublin. It’s the IBB Grand Hotel Lublinianka. It’s located near the huge Lithuania Square and has easy access to the Old Town and many attractions. It was my base for visiting Lublin hassle-free. The hotel does not have a modern look because obviously it was not built in the 2000s but it has a great historic feel. The reception is decent and it has a bar serving all types of drinks including cocktails made in front of you. I checked-in at 11 am which is 3 hours before the normal check-in time for free, so I am glad the staff was very cooperative and friendly.
I was staying in an individual room, it had a single bed that was big enough for one person. The room was small but it didn’t feel small due to its design. There is enough storage for luggage and clothes. It was also clean and well maintained.
My favourite part of the hotel though was the breakfast buffet. It was amazing! It has all food I love and surely it has a bit for the taste of everyone. Great variety of cheese and meat. Two types of eggs, fried and scrambled. Two types of pancakes, savoury and salty. Many cereals and yoghurts. Fresh croissants and different types of bread. The cherry of top, they served varied juices including fresh fruit smoothies. Overall, for me it’s a 5 stars breakfast due to the quality of food and large choice.
To book your stay at IBB Grand Hotel Lublinianka visit here.
Lithuania Square (Plac Litewski)
Located right across the street from the hotel, this square features a great fountain installation and several gardens. During my visit, I was lucky to witness a fountain show with music and lights at night. The square is popular for many cultural events taking place in the city.
Krakow Street (Ulica Krakowskie Przedmiescie)
Directly connected to Lithuania Square, this pedestrian street is the heart of the city. It has many shops, restaurants and bars. It was full on the week-end when I visited and many people enjoyed their time there. On the same street, it’s possible to eat great meals for cheap despite its central location. I had a yummy sweet crepe at Vanilla Café. Right next to it, there is a popular ice-cream shop named Bosko. This street is definitely a great place to hangout but I personally would have enjoyed more in summer as restaurants offer large outdoor tables.
Krakow Gate (Brama Krakowska)
The Old Town is surrounded by a medieval wall and has two main entrances, one of them is Krakow Gate. It’s easy to notice as it’s at the end of Krakow Street. It’s possible to go to the top of the gate to enjoy panoramic views.
Get lost in the Old Town
Once you enter the Old Town, you can simply get lost and enjoy the colourful buildings. Apparently only 20% of the buildings were destroyed in the World War so the vast majority are historic buildings surviving for many years. You will notice many churches which are worth visiting like St John the Baptist’s Cathedral.
Crown Tribunal (Trybunal Koronny)
This building served as a high court for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Make sure you notice this Baroque and Renaissance building which now serves as an events and weddings space. It has a very nice façade. Nearby, many restaurants and bars to eat around Market Square.
Lunch at Mandragora
I found this restaurant via TripAdvisor’s recommendations and it was number 1 in Lublin. I went there to try. Basically, this restaurant speciality is Polish Jewish food with many Middle Eastern features and Vegetarian dishes too. The restaurant itself looks amazing as it made me feel like I was in the 1930s pre-war era. From the photos on the wall to the music, the theme is very well respected. However, there is no respect of time as service was quite slow (so as in every place I had food in Lublin, very slow service!). Food was good at Mandragora, I would recommend and go back again!
The Fortuna Cellar (Piwnica pod Fortuną)
There’s a famous house that belonged to Lubomelski family. Right now, It’s a small museum with an interactive exhibition but also a very well preserved winery with renaissance polichrome from the 16th century that survive until now. This polichrome is deemed ahead of it’s time back then as it featured images of naked women and was not a religious display. So its secular character made it popular in the region! At The Fortuna Cellar, it’s possible to see an exhibition about the 3 historic religions in Lublin: Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Jewish. They co-existed until the world war. Right now, most of Lublin population is Catholic.
Po Farze Square (Plac Po Farze)
This square in the heart of the Old Town is another testimonial of the past of the city as it features remains of a famous church. The panoramic views from the square are vast as they feature the nearby castle but also forests on the backgrounds.
Grodzka Gate (Brama Grodzka)
This is the second gate of the Old Town. It is also known as Jewish Gate as it separates the Jewish parts of Lublin with the rest of the Old Town. It is right now separating the Castle with the bar filled Grodzka Street, center of the nightlife in Lublin.
Lublin Castle (Zamek Lubelski)
Lublin Castle had a troubled history as it had many owners from the Polish monarchy to the Russian authorities and Nazi occupiers. It was used as a prison for part of it’s existence under Soviet and Polish occupation during the Communist Era. Finally, after 1954, it is no longer used as a prison. Right now, the castle regained its royal looks and is open to visitors.
Have you ever visited Lublin?
Disclaimer: Thanks to IBB Grand Hotel for hosting me in Lublin. I appreciate their support but all views on this article are my own.