Many people come to Katowice by chance - their low-fare flight happens to fly to the Katowice Airport, or they have a few hours to kill between trains at the Katowice Central Train Station. But we have a wild suggestion: don't just think of Katowice as a stopping-point on the way to Cracow or other larger cities, but take the time to discover this little city in south-western Poland - you might just be pleasantly surprised!
Polish rail (PKP) has a good connection to Katowice (the train to Wroclaw, not to mention Prague and Vienna, goes through there), and the journey takes an hour and a half. You can check their timetables here.
Katowice is located in Upper Silesia, which means it's changed hands many times in its long history. Originally inhabited by ethnic Silesians, it was ruled by the Polish Piast dynasty before falling into Czech hands in 1335, and then into the Hapsburg domain in 1526. The city of Katowice was founded in the 19th century, gaining city status in 1865. The city has a long history of being a multi-ethnic city, and its inhabitants consisted mainly of Poles, Germans, Jews, and Silesians. After the Industrial Revolution, the city became one of the largest centre of coal and steel production, and to this day is known as an industrial centre of Poland.
What to See
While it's not the cultural mecca Krakow is, Katowice still has several cultural centres, including the Wyspianski Silesian Theatre, Silesian Philharmonic, many museums including the Silesian Museum and the History of Katowice Museum, and is the site of numerous festivals and music concerts year-round.
Despite its industrial background, Katowice has plenty of green spaces and parks to relax in, particularly in the warmer months. Silesian Culture and Refreshment Park, Tadeusz Kosciuszko Park, and Zadole Park are just a few of the larger ones, and dozens of others lay hidden throughout the city.
The city centre itself displays a good contrast of modern skyscrapers and Modernist and Art Nouveau buildings from the turn of the century, notably the Cathedral in Katowice and Drapacz Chmur, one of Europe's first skyscrapers. Katowice's Rynek is getting a facelift soon as well, though today you'll find a nice promenade with many shops and restaurants. Other historic buildings worth seeing include St. Stephen's Church, Silesian Insurgents Monument, the Silesian Library, and the Goldstein Palace.
Fun in Katowice
Even though the city is much smaller than Krakow, Katowice gets a surprising number of good live music acts that play on its stages. Perhaps it's the quality of the larger venues it offers, whereas in Cracow you'll mostly find bands playing in smaller underground clubs. Here's some of our favourite venues for catching a great live show (or having a few beers on regular nights).
Cogitatur is Katowice's premier concert venue, featuring a spacious stage upstairs and a full bar with a tasty menu on the lower level. Our favourite Jekyll and Hyde type of club is Hipnoza Jazz Club and Electro, another spacious bar with high ceilings and jazz music on the top floor, and a cool basement bar with non-stop electro/lounge music in the basement. Spodek is where all the major foreign acts rock out on, so if you'd like to catch stars like Tool or Depeche Mode, chances are you'll see them here. Chorzow Stadium is another place to catch huge foreign acts, and is an outdoor venue located in wonderfully gigantic Chorzow Park.
For more information, please visit the city's official website.
Restaurants/Pubs: Zloty Oshau (misspelled) - (The Golden Donkey) This is my personal favourite, as it is a great, artsy vegetarian place with great homemade, fresh and healthy food. Also, it is very cheap for a main course complete with the choice of 2 types of salads. COGITATUR - This is Katowice's premier concert venue with the spacious stage upstairs and a full bar with a tasty menu on the lower level. New Century Classics are destined to rock it here someday! Hipnoza Jazz Club/Electro - Another spacious bar with high ceilings and jazz music on the top floor, (Hipnoza), and a cool basement bar with non-stop electro/lounge music in the basement. (Electro) Concert Venues: Spodek - A classic venue for all the major foreign acts to rock out on, including Tool headlining at this year's Metal Hammer Festival on Aug. 12th! Chorzow Stadion - Poland's premier outdoor concert venue in wonderfully gigantic Chorzow Park. Summer acts include PJ (June 13) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (July 7th)
Tee J Randall from United Kingdom Reply
I am thinking of heading to Krakow and Katowice this year (2016) to trace my Grandfather's lineage. His name was Jan Fojcik. He ended up in Scotland at the end of the war and then resettled in Peterborough. I have some cine footage of him visiting his family in Katowice in the late 70's. Would love to find them. I can be found on Facebook...... Tee J Randall
John Zajaczkowski from United States Reply
My grandfather was born in Katowice in 1879. His name was Teofil Zajaczkowski and he married Agnieska Skotnika. His parents were Julian Zajaczkowski and Stephanie Kulinska. Agnieska parents were Anthony Skotniki and Zophia Ubaski. I have been to Poland (Warsaw & Cracau but want to visit Katowice to check on old Catholic parish records. Anybody think I will have any luck finding information about my grandparents?
Irwin from Portugal Reply
Greetings! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!
sil from Poland Reply
Katowice is a city in agglomeration of Silesia, with about 310,000 citizens. So it is not a small town really.
J Barczyk from United Kingdom Reply
Did you know my father,Emil Barczyk who lived in Katowice before the war?
Prisila from United States Reply
um can someone tell me if katowice is a city, a large or a small town?
dar from Poland
avertus from Czech Republic Reply
What the F** is this article? Katowice a little town???? :D I spent some time in Katowice and it doesn't look like small city, Krakow - yes, small backward village, but Katowice small town????
George M. Hayward from United States Reply
As a child in 1943, I visited Katowice on numerous occasions. I think that is where my mother's parents lived. Their name is Maria Biernacka and Franchiszek Solecki.How cpuld I find out if they lived there?
nilds from Argentina Reply
mis abuelos, gaczynski, antonio y Victoria Tomchuk eran de Katowice, pero vinieron a Argentina en 1931. Como saber de familiares?
Sharon Flannery from United States Reply
I visited Katowice in 1972. I met some lovely friends. I corresponded with Jan& Bogusia Swierkot, who now live in Bytom, but have lost track of them. I love the Polish people!
Waclaw Kaniewski from United States Reply
Tadeusz Kubica (86 +-) wrocil do Polski po drugiej ,razem bylismy w Polskiej szkole w Palestynie ,Czy on jeszcze zyje.chcialem powiediec Halo. i porozmawiac jerzeli jeszcz jest obecny.
Voytek from France Reply
Although I live in France, I often go to Katowice (like twice a year or so) and I even bought an apartment there this year. I love this city, it's perfectly located, has great malls, awesome restaurants (karczma pod mlynem) and i just love Nikishowiec at daytime of course. there are cool parks and i just hang out with my old friends all the time. the best holiday destination ever, you simply can't get bored...
GinaMarie from United States Reply
My mothers family is from Katowice. My grandparents were fleeing the war when my grandmother was pregnant with my mother. I hope one day to visit and look for any relatives. The family name is Maj.
Dawid from United Kingdom Reply
First of all, I,m from Scotland - NOT UK. My Babcia lived and died in Chorzow, I went to visit her home last month and I nearly died with shock when I saw the lack of progress in Silesia in general. But I still belive in Silesia - the land of my Babcia i Dziadek.
Izabela from United States Reply
I was born there and actualy miss it. Lived here nearly in US 30 years yet, still something pulls me back. Visted few times and taken my children back. My kids loved it. Although, most of the family has moved back to Germany. Still we want to visit it again. Someone asked about orphanage the only one that i can recall was in Szopienice near a cemetary it was called Dom Dzieca. I remember walking pass it when walking up the hill to the cemetary. In 2003 it ws still there.
John BURZALA from United Kingdom Reply
I hope to travel to poland and visit the birth place of my father,he was born in kierzno which is near kepno.I'm told its's a beautiful country
regina klimaniec from Australia Reply
I was born in Kattowice.I will visit Kattowice in late July 2010 I would like to find my family, Kubica and Klimaniec.
anthony from United States Reply
Jesse and Tristan is sitting next to me
anthony from United States Reply
ofra from Israel Reply
iwant to know more details about foto "holas"in the past.if its possible,i want to know more about Bushman family that was the owners. thank you
Tracey Randall from United Kingdom Reply
My grandad came from Katowice; Jan Fojcik, (son of Maria and Josef Fojcik), any information or leads would be great as it is difficult to access records remotely. My mum and I have put off going to the city, but I feel the time is coming. I's good to read the range of opinions.
Koos from Netherlands Reply
All of the above sounds true. Katovice has 300000 inhabitants, but the urban sprawl is 3 million. A few streets are very attractive, and so are the recently developed huge shopping malls, but the general appearance is shabby. There is some seriousluy heavy industry left, but most factories and mines have been closed, which looks sad. The budget flights to Katowice are cheap, and hotel accommodation is from about 30 euros per night, breakfast included. Look up Hotel Polon1a in Katowice to see what I mean. Public transport costs per week what I spend in Holland in a day, and it's everywhere. I visited the Katowice area 3 times and I intend to go there again. I suppose that tells you something...
Pablo from Poland Reply
Well in fact Katowice's agglomeration is more than twice bigger than Krakow's. The point is history - while Krakow was developing and it dominates all surrounding villages around, cities in Katowice's agglomeration became more-less equally developed. In our area we say that we are different, but equal:) Plus something worth noting - Bytom, a city within Katowice's agglomeration is older than Krakow. I mean, it gained the rights to be a city a bit earlier in XIII century.
nosu from Poland Reply
Hi MT! I know Krzysztof Oset and the message was provide ;)
Anna from United States Reply
Just wanted to bring to everyones' attention, that the entire world has filty places. Check Mexico City, Los Angeles, New York, China, Belgrade to name a few... not that I am excusing the poles but reality is that there is no heaven on earth! To those there are from Poland can you tell how the heck you can find phone directories in your country? Have a great day!!!!
Katrin ;P from Germany Reply
Siema :P jestem z Niemczech, i co roku jade do polski 3 razy :PP i babcia mieszka w katowicach :)) Pozdrawiam wszystkich ;*;*;*
Trretop from United States Reply
Well said: "do not look like disney world, this place is real and i love it" I love this place too and all other cities around Katowice like Bytom or Gliwice with medieval market places surrounded by coal-mines...
david from United States Reply
When i was a little boy i was in a orphanige in katowice.... does it still exist?
okzebra2 from United States Reply
I'd like to know where the village of budnanuvka (sp?) is in relation to this city. Family may have come from there.
MT from China Reply
hi,people in katowice.i'm looking for a man who named krzysztof oset,if someone knows him,please tell him i still keep his lighter for him,please dont worry.i will try my best to send it to him.
Stephen Zajac from United Kingdom Reply
Hi i was looking as my Father(Tadeusz Zajac) came from here during the war he had a brother i knew as Eddie & i think he had sisters who stayed in Poland
john holliday from United States
My mother's mother had a younger sister Agnieszka who married a Tadeusz Zajac and moved to Brazil from Poland around 1938. My name is John Holiday and my grandmother was Marcella (Kedzierski) Lopuszynski. PEACE
Eryka Martin from United States Reply
I was born in Katowice have not visited but would like to some time.I'm looking for my mother's relatives but have no idea where to begin. My mother's name was Krystyne Filak
john from Ireland Reply
been there a few times and the more i go back the nicer thigs i see, it is interesting and alive. i like places that do not look like disney world, this place is real and i love it
Jo from United Kingdom Reply
This city was so dirty and we were robbed by two kids on scooters. So glad to live, or be from, this place. I would never go back there.
andrzej from Poland Reply
I was born in katowice poland I loved it and no it was not clean but you should see it now. now i have moved to wales to work and now im a builder and i visit family once a month out in poland we do have a lot to offer in poland
Dave from United States Reply
I visited Katowice in March, 1992--was only there briefly but my American sensibilities were shocked by the pollution and dirt. Yet I could see the lovely city still there under the grime, and I do hope, as the years have passed, that the dirt has been cleaned away and the gems of the old city brought back into view.
ooi from United Kingdom Reply
i would say that population of katowice can not be measured without surrounding cities of the upper silesian metropolitan union (katowice agglomeration). therefore it is about 3,000,000. this is one continuous high dense city area! krakow apart of the old town is rather a low dense type. as i said before, with the industrial heritage - katowice (and agglomeration) is not for wimps! krakow is pretty nice though but bit dull ;-)
from United Kingdom Reply
Can this the place I went to last month? It's a dump.
anka from Poland Reply
ooi, katowice is no way bigger than cracow! the population of katowice is just above 300,000! cracow has almost three times that, and is much prettier and more interesting culturally. katowice does have better concerts, but it's because it has better venues and a nice stadium.
ooi from United Kingdom Reply
katowice (and agglomeration) is a great, modern city! it is misleading in the article about size of katowice! about 3 milion people is living there, few times more than in cracow. music scene is much better than in cracow! i recommend the spodek arena - great concerts! according to locals classic music concerts are the best in poland (katowice is a home of polish national orchestra) . i went to one at a big white building in the katowice downtown - really impressive (the music). katowice - not for wimps!
alina surga from United States Reply
This is the city of my mother's birth. I am seeking anyone and all that may know her. Her name was Leokakja Kupiec. Born to Stanley Kupiec and Joanna. She was taken from this city at the age of 17. She was born in 1924 here. Her brothers were Joseph, Walter, and sisters, Amelia, Sophia. If you knew of her or her please let me know through this site.
Robert Anderson from United Kingdom Reply
Just found a cheap flight from Scotland so next free weekend I'll try Katowice .. thanks
from United States Reply
i was born in katowice Irka M
Peter from Germany Reply
kto pisze,ten zostajie. ;-) weiter so!,gruß an Katowice.
KinKa from Poland Reply
Nie¼le napisane, krótko, zwiê¼le i na temat :-)
natasza from Poland Reply