Located in the very middle of Silesia on the banks of the small river Rawa, Katowice's mix of modern and historical architecture, easy access to the Beskids and other Silesian cities makes it a top visitor destination.
HistoryThe settlement of Kuźnica was founded here in 1397. Katowice was first mentioned as a village in the middle of dense forests in 1598. In the 18th century numerous work colonies sprang up here and around 1769-70 the Duke of Pless established an underground coal mine. The next industrial sites were the Hohenlohe steelworks in the village of Wełnowiec, founded in 1805, the Baildon steelworks in 1828 (named after their founder, a Scotsman), and the Wilhelmina zinc works in 1834.
Thanks to one of the first railway stations in the region, Katowice grew quickly and in 1873 it achieved the status of county town. In 1897 Katowice was formed into a separate urban district, which also included the suburban municipalities of Bogucice - Zawodzie, Dąb, Wełnowiec and Załęże. In 1889 one of the largest companies in Upper Silesia, the Kattowitzer Aktien-Gesellschaft, was set up with its headquarters in Katowice. As a result, major insurance companies and large-cap banks were attracted to the city. During the First World War, the steel industry continued to develop at a frenetic pace. Rail connections were also developed.
In the aftermath of the First World War and the three Silesian Uprisings, Katowice ended up within the borders of the Polish state. The Polish Government decided to give Silesia considerable autonomy with Katowice as a capital and home of the Silesian Parliament. It was the time of city's most intense growth (1922-1939). Second World War inflicted some light damage to the city: most of the pre-war architecture in the city center survived, through some of the more damaged buildings were replaced by new communist-era architecture.
In 1975 the neighbouring municipalities of Piotrowice, Ochojec, Panewniki, Kostuchna, Wełnowiec, Szopienice, Giszowiec, Dąbrówka Mała and Murcki were merged with Katowice. The main communications artery (al. W. Korfantego) was widened, old industrial buildings to the west of this road were demolished. To the east the historic Tiele-Winckler Palace was also demolished. On the market place, old buildings were replaced by communist-style shopping malls: "Zenit" and "Skarbek", and also the "Dom Prasy".
The construction of the Roundabout and the "Flying Saucer" (Spodek) Sports Hall (1962–71) had a significant impact. Other major constructions of the communist period include a number of outlying residential districts, such as Tysiąclecie district on the border of Katowice and Chorzów, the Paderewski district to the east of the city, the Południe district covering the suburbs of Kostuchna, Piotrowice, Ligota, and the Roździeński district.
In first decades of 21st century Katowice is going through another development phase. A new main train station connected to the modern shopping mall has built in the town center. The town square has been redeveloped, as has been the Roundabout area. A new Silesian Museum, National Radio Orchestra and a country's largest conference center were constructed near the town center in mid-2010s. Renovation of town center is still ongoing; the historic Old Train Station has been partially renovated as of 2019 and will likely be fully open to the public in 2020 as a new commercial center.
Katowice-Pyrzowice AirportThis is an airport for domestic and European flights and has the fourth-biggest passenger flow in Poland. Operating airlines include:
- LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw)
- Eurowings (Dusseldorf)
- Lufthansa (Frankfurt Airport)
- Ryanair (Alicante, Birmingham, Chania, Dublin, -Stansted)
- Wizzair Barcelona El Prat, Bergen, Cologne, Dortmund, Doncaster, Eindhoven,Hahn, Kiev-Zhulyany, Kutaisi, Luton , Malmö-Sturup, Bergamo, Naples, Oslo-Torp, Paris-Beauvais, Rome-Ciampino, Stavanger, Stockholm-Skavsta, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport
- Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Sharm el-Sheikh, Edinburgh, Athens, Hamburg, Milan-Malpensa, Amsterdam, Punta Cana, Belfast-International, Bristol, Doncaster/Sheffield, Dubai-Al Maktoum, Glasgow, Kiev-Zhuliany, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bari, Beauvais, Bergamo, Bergen, Blogna, Catania, Cologne/Bonn, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Lanzarote, Laranca, Lisbon, Maastricht/Aachen, Malmo, Malta, Naples, Reykjavik-Keflavik, Rome-Fiumicino, Sandefjord, Stavanger, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Bourgas, Grenoble, Athens, Alghero, Batumi, Burgas, Chania, Corfu, Faro, Furertaventura, Heraklion, Malaga, Pama de Mallorca, Podgorica, Rhodes, Split, Tenerife-South, Zakynthos, Varna
The airport features three passenger terminals A, B (departures) and C (arrivals) as well as a cargo terminal. Operations at terminal B, much bigger than A. Terminal A handles all non-Schengen flights, while Terminal B handles all Schengen flights. The longest airport observation deck in Poland can be found inside Terminal B.
There are shuttle buses from outside the terminal building to the city centre dropping off near main railway station.
There are four bus lines running in different directions:
- KZK GOP: Bytom - lines: 85, 53 (it costs 8 zł — you must buy two 4-zł tickets); Mierzęcice - line: 17; Katowice, Sosnowiec - line Airport Bus
- Matuszek: Kraków; Katowice
- PyrzowiceExpress: Kraków;Częstochowa
You can also fly to nearby Kraków-Balice airport. Buses run directly from this airport to Katowice, but they are infrequent and tend to stop in the early evening. Getting a local train from this airport to the main station in Krakow, and from there a bus to Katowice (the bus station is next door) may be a better option.
Katowice Main Railway StationKatowice Main Railway Station has cafes, and good signage. Underneath it three is a bus depot that serves 10 routes. The train station is connected to a modern shopping mall.
Trains from all parts of Poland and other countries arrive at Central Station. There are 14 trains per day between Warsaw and Katowice and 28 trains per day between Kraków and Katowice during the day; the journey takes 180 minutes (from Warsaw and Wrocław) and 80 minutes (from Kraków). You can arrive by train directly from Vienna, Budapest, Kiev, Berlin, Ostrava, Praha, Bohumin, Bratislava, Zilina, Český Těšín, Hamburg, Moscow, Minsk.
The Main Railway Station has left luggage lockers. The station is an easy 2-minute walk from the Main Bus Station.
The trains within Poland are run by Polskie Koleje Państwowe (see PKP (in Polish)). In the last few years privatization has split PKP into a number of different, smaller companies.
The ticket prices based on location and train type vary from 35 zł to over 100 zł, so be careful while choosing the train.
Long-distance bus services arrive at International Katowice Bus Station (in the city centre, close to Sadowa Street). The main operator is Eurolines.
Polskibus offers daily routes from Katowice to the following locations: Warsaw (near metro station Wilanów) via Częstochowa and Vienna, Austria via Bratislava, Slovakia. Fares can be as low as 2 zł.
Buses between Katowice and Kraków:
UNIBUS and Bus-Inter travel regularly (both operate twice per hour) throughout the day. The fare is 15 zł one way, and it is suggested that passengers book in advance, especially during Polish holidays and during peak commuting hours. unibus use large modern coaches suitable for passengers with a lot of luggage, while Bus-Inter uses modern minibuses which may struggle to take large luggage during busy periods. On the other hand Bus-Inter is generally more responsive to demand and puts on extra minibuses during peak periods. Both operators state the route takes approximately 80 minutes dependent on traffic.
Buses are also operated by PKS Katowice, running something like once per each two hours: it takes about 2½ hours to get to Kraków, costs 16 zł one way, but if you go round trip, it costs just 22 zł (6 zł less than Unibus or Bus-Inter). These are normal service buses which pretty much stop at every village en route between the cities.
There are also a number of private minibuses which operate between Kraków and Katowice. These though are difficult for non Polish speakers to find and use. Prices are comparable to the large companies listed above, so are only recommended when in the area with a local.
Buses between Katowice and Wrocław: buses operated by PKS Katowice run on different times, but there are at least 3 each day, some of them start in the night. It takes about 4 hours and the tickets cost about 25 zł.
In 2019 a construction of a newer Main Bus Station has begun, it is expected to be finished in the late 2019/early 2020. The old bus station has very few amenities, being effectively a simple parking spot with no roof; the new bus station will provide a roof and more modern amenities.
The main approaches to Katowice are:
- from Kraków on the motorway; Katowice is about 60 km westward of Kraków
- from Wrocław on the motorway; Katowice is about 180 km eastward of Wroclaw
- from Warsaw on the European main road; Katowice is about 300 km south of Warsaw
- from Cieszyn (on the southern border) on the European main road; Katowice is about 70 km north of Cieszyn
All routes converge on the main crossroads (the and ) which lies near the city centre. Katowice has no big car parks system but there are many small car parks along the roads in the city center.
By public transport
All public bus and tram transport is supervised by ZTM Metropolia and the same tickets are used in 41 cities & communes that constitute Silesian Metropolis. 24-hr free phone information: 800 16 30 30.
By bus & tram
Many bus stations of the Passengers' Municipal Communication are situated in the core center of the city. At each bus-stop there is an information board with bus routes and where they go. The full map with bus routes is usually available in City Information Centre near Rynek (address: ul. Rynek 13; employees are multilingual).
There are also trams which transport passengers within the city and beyond the limits of the city. The dispatcher's office and information of the Municipal Tramway Enterprise are at the tram-stop in Rynek (the market square) in Katowice.
Most bus lines runs every 30 minutes at workdays and every 60 minutes at weekends. Lines 12, 115, 297 and 910 run more often. Trams usually run every 15 minutes. Take care that buses and trams may have the same line numbers and sometimes there are running from the same stop. Some daily tram lines operate also at night.
The same ticket type is used in bus and tram. Katowice offers many different tickets. One-zone ticket is suitable for traveling in the city limits. Zone bus stations (overstepping it in a bus or a tram means that one must buy next one-zone ticket or continue traveling with ticket suitable for more zones) usually are placed at the border of cities. Consider, if it is better to use one-ride ticket, week-ticket or monthly ticket. In the bus or the tram only one kind of ticket is available for sale - for three or more zones, for 4.80 zł (or 2.40 zł with reduced rate). One-ride tickets can be bought even in grocery stores. Newspaper stands or newsagent's stores sometimes sell other kinds. The good way to buy tickets is downloading a mobile app, e.g. Skycash. Tickets in Skycash are cheaper than paper tickets. Ticket inspectors and bus/tram drivers often speak only Polish. When ticket inspector approaches you must show your ticket and proper document which allows the use of reduced rate.
One ride ticket price:
- within one zone (or 20 minutes) 3.20 zł/1.60 zł (reduced rate)
- within two zones (or 40 minutes) 3.80 zł/1.90 zł (reduced rate)
- within three or more zones (or 90 minutes) 4.80 zł/2,40 zł (reduced rate)
- for animal or extra luggage 3.20 zł
- 1-day (paper ticket, valid on AP1-AP4 airport lines): normal rate 14 zł, reduced rate 7 zł
- 7-day (electronic ticket for unpersonalised metropolitan card, not valid on AP1-AP4 airport lines): normal rate 44 zł, reduced rate 22 zł
Taxi-stops are situated in several places in Katowice:
- at the entrance of the railway station on the ground floor from 3 Maja St.
- Plac Oddziałów Młodzieży Powstańczej
- the Silesia Hotel
- Skargi St.
- the Katowice Hotel
- Korfantego Av.
- Dworcowa St.
When you take a taxi always ask for the price beforehand unless you are willing to pay anything. Different types of taxis can charge very different prices which can vary up to 5 times the regular fare depending on location and time. You can also use Uber or download one of several local taxi application (Tele Taxi Katowice, Echo Taxi Katowice, City Taxi Katowice). If you use an app the chances are much better you can see and confirm the price before the ride and that the driver won't add any extra changers.
St. Michel ArchangelA small wooden church in the Kościuszko Park. One of the oldest buildings in the town. Dating to 1510, it formerly stood on a nearby village.
Cathedral of Christ the Kingaddress: ul. Plebiscytowa 49aConstructed in the mid-20th century, it is the largest archcathedral in Poland.
Jewish cemeteryaddress: ul. Kozielska 16Small Jewish cemetery within a larger communal cemetery, one of the few relics of the Jewish history in the town.
address: ul. Panewnicka 76Church and monastery from early 20th century. Surrounding it a park with small Catholiic shrines (a calvary).
NikiszowiecPart of the administrative district of Janów-Nikiszowiec, built between 1908 and 1912 to house workers in the backyard of their place of employment – Giesche (now Wieczorek) coal mine. Nikiszowiec is de facto an entire city district on its own, with a distinct architectural style, and one of the must-see locations. It hosts several museums and galleries, and an occasional festival.
GiszowiecAnother historical district of the town, similar to Nikiszowiec and nearby.
Silesian Zoological GardenLarge zoo on the border of Katowice and Chorzów
Silesian Amusement Park LegendiaThe oldest amusement park in Poland, on the border of Katowice and Chorzów.
St. Mary's ChurchA neogothic church in the city center.
Goldstein PalaceA neo-renaissance palace, which was built by two brothers, Abraham and Joseph Goldstein. The palace is representative for the building style of second part of the 1870s. Front elevations and interior staircases are decorated in typical neo-renaissance ornamentation. The opulent use of marble and sandstone testifies of the owner's wealth. It has two floors. It is owned by the city, which uses it as a marriage hall, and it can be accessed by the public.
Former Municipal BathhouseThe oldest still surviving municipal office in the city, dating to late 19th century.
Church of the ResurrectionA neo-Roman Evangelical-Augsburg church in the Śródmieście district, built in 1856–1858, the first masonry church in Katowice. It is also one of the relatively few non-Catholic churches in this predominantly Catholic country.
Silesian Insurgents' MonumentA characteristic monument from 1967 to those who took part in the three Silesian Uprisings of 1919, 1920 and 1921. The wings symbolize the three uprisings, and the names of places where battles were fought are etched on the vertical slopes.
address: ul. Szafranka 9Medium-sized museum containing exhibits relating to the local history.
address: al. Korfantego 3The old site of the museum is a relatively small building with few exhibition rooms. Don't expect to spend more than half an hour there at most. Go the new much larger and better new site which is within easy walking distance.
address: ul. Dobrowolskiego 1The new museum is a very large complex with world-class display of how people in Silesia lived through the times, plus a number of more traditional sections (paintings, sculptures, etc.) The museum complex stands on the grounds of an old mining complex, re-purposed for the museum.
address: 39 Jordana StSmall church museum.
Silesian Pipe Organ MuseumUniversity collection of pipe organs.
Wujek Coal Mine Memorial MuseumSmall museum dedicated to one of the local coal mines, focusing on the major anti-communist demonstration from the 1980s, part of the Solidarity movement.
Katowice Neon MuseumA small museum of neon advertising signs.
Katowice Museum of ComputersHas over 3,000 different computers in its collections.
Walcownia - Museum of Zinc ProductionA museum dedicated to one of local industries: zinc extraction and production.
Polish Radio Katowice Chamber MuseumA small museum dedicated to the history of local radio stations.
address: Rondo im. Gen. Jerzego Ziętka 1Two galleries and a cafeteria with concerts and parties.
address: 1 Oswobodzenia StMotto: Before swallow us the fires - about spirituality of our factories. The gallery is inside the historical buildings that were formerly part of the local coal mine.
address: 6 w. Korfantego
address: 10 Kochanowskiego St
- Katowice has several large parks, and some small forests in the city and nearby.
Katowice Forest ParkLarge park and forest complex, the largest green area in the city. Popular site for walking and biking.
Kościuszko ParkA large park near the town center.
Valley of Three PondsAnother large park in the city, connected to the Katowice Forest Park.
Silesian ParkOne of the largest parks in Poland and Europe, on the border of Katowice and Chorzów. The Zoo and Amusement Park are (small) parts of it.
address: 35 W. Korfantego AveA very characteristic building, shaped like a flying saucer. Hosts wide variety of concerts, performances and sports events.
address: Plac Sławika i Antalla 1Poland's largest conference center, built in mid-2010s.
address: plac Rady Europy 1Large modern regional library.
CinemaKatowice has several new, multi-screen cinemas and some surviving old, traditional ones. Check if films are shown dubbed or sub-titled.
address: 7 3-rd Maja StreetThe primary place for art-house film in the city centre.
address: 24 St Jana StAn artist-run venue which specializes in more experimental film and music and has a lovely café too.
address: 44 Gliwicka StModern multiplex cinema with approx 13 screens and IMAX 3-D system.
address: 107 Chorzowska StModern multiplex cinema with 13 screens.
address: 66 Sokolska PlFor art-house films.
address: 2 Main MarketKatowice's main repertory theatre, the largest theater in Silesia, dedicated to Stanisław Wyspiański.
address: 2 Main Market2 Plac Sejmu Slaskiego. Well known for being involved in some of the most cutting-edge theatre in the city.
Theatre A PartA contemporary visual and physical theatre group, formed by Marcin Herich, actor, director and organizer of theater events. They are also organizers of A Part Theater Festival
address: 10 Sw. Jana StOne of the oldest doll's bands in Poland. They are organizers of International Festival of Doll Theaters Katowice - For Children.
address: 2 Niepodległości AvExperimental and mainly outdoor theatrical group having their scene in the old railway station.
phone: +48 577-380-377address: Armii Krajowej 40 40 698
address: 2 Sokolska St
address: 2 Plac Sejmu SlaskiegoThe Orchestra got a new concert building in 2014. It's among the largest and most modern music venues in Poland and the world
There is a lot of cultural events in Katowice. Exhibitions, concerts, festivals, spectacles and so on - they all happen in galleries, clubs and theaters. It is impossible to mention here all of them as they appear without any regular schedule. To get information on 'what's on', have a look at up-to-date Internet releases of conventional press like Ultramaryna or Gazeta Wyborcza: Co jest grane bringing cultural news for whole agglomeration. Below there is a list of events that happen at regular schedule.
Polish Directors' Art Festival "Interpretacje"Festival of theatres and TV drama - it's a competition of directors for "Konrad Prize".
"A Part" Theatre FestivalInternational review of alternative and experimental "OFF" theatres rather than classic ones.
Summer Theater Garden"LOT" are summertime outdoor every weekend theatre meetings with comedy and cabaret spectacles. It is organized by Korez theatre.
ARTerie young art festivalAnnual festival of students of art universities and faculties that take place in the autumn.
Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for ConductorsPrestigious open competition for conductors of all nationalities.
International Students' Festival of FolkloreAnnual festival of folkloristic music and dance takes place at the end of August and the beginning of September in Katowice and in many other places in the region. It is organized by the Silesian University.
MaydayPolish edition of international technoparty in "Spodek".
OFF FestivalPossibly the most important new music festival in Poland.
"Rawa Blues" FestivalThe biggest indoor blues festival in the world. It has happened every year since 1981, from the beginning Rawa Blues is led by the bluesman Irek Dudek.
Tauron FestivalTechno and dance rave that takes place in the Industrial Museum Complex, during August, not far from Spodek.
- for board gaming, collectible card gaming, and similar pursuits, get in touch with the Silesian Fantasy Club, or visit the "Erpegie" store/gaming club in the city center, or the "Ludiversum" board gaming cafe.
- Katowice has a zoo, an amusement park, and a planetarium
- University of Silesia (Uniwersytet Śląski)
- Karol Adamiecki University of Economics (Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny im. Karola Adamieckiego w Katowicach)
- Silesian Academy of Music (Akademia Muzyczna w Katowicach)
- Silesian Academy of Sports (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego w Katowicach)
- Medical University of Silesia (Śląski Uniwersytet Medyczny)
- Silesian Academy of Fine Arts (Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Katowicach)
- Silesian University of Technology - Faculty of Materials Science and Metallurgy, Faculty of Transport and Faculty of Management (all the rest of university is in neighboring towns)
For local handcrafts, gifts and such, ask or google for "Cepelia" stores. There are also several stores at the Katowice Airport, through selection is a bit smaller than what you'll find at the Krakow or Warsaw airports. The airport stores will carry more of the international tourist oriented items; Cepelia stores will have some rarer items.
In addition to restaurants accessible from the streets, there are also some to be found in large malls and shopping centers.
- Bar Mleczny "Europa", ul. Mickiewicza 8, one of so-called "milk bars" where you can have a meal without spending a lot of money; milk bars are preferred by students and travelers without a fat wallet.
address: Ul. Stawowa 10Self-service restaurant where you pay for the weight of the food you chose.
address: Ul. św. Jacka 1Healthy food (breakfasts, pizzas, soups, pastas), nice interiors, children welcome.
address: Ul. Mariacka 1Vegetarian bar having unusual atmosphere and events like poet meetings or concerts.
address: Ul. Drzymały 9Indian restaurant. Vegetarian and carnivore options.
address: Ul. Chorzowska 9BKitschy American-style. The names of meals are in English.
- Fantasmagoria, ul. Gliwicka 51. Polish and Ukrainian cuisine. Bright interior and a terrace in summer.
address: Ul. Kilińskiego 16Rustic, wooden interior, traditional meals.
address: Ul. Kopernika 9Hungarian restaurant and a winery in the cellar.
address: ul. Stanisława 1Indian and Southeast Asian food, some vegetarian and vegan options available
- Patio, ul. Stawowa 3. Lengthy menu of Silesian and Polish specialties from a family with 70 years in the business. Always high quality and served with a smile.
phone: +48 32 350 30 10address: Plac Grunwaldzki 4Traditional Silesian cuisine.
- Patio-Park, Kosciuszki 101. The slightly more upscale cousin of Patio. Wonderful Polish cuisine, including a new seasonal tasting menu. Beautiful setting.
address: Ul. Warszawska 5Elegant place, Polish and Silesian meals. No prices in drinks menu; 10% for service is added to the tab.
address: Ul. Grzyśki 13Polish mountain style cottage in the area of blocks of flats. They serve folk dishes mainly.
address: Ul. Pukowca 17aIt is styled as countryside noble residence from old days and located in industrial area.
address: Pl. Sejmu Śląskiego 2One of most active places in Katowice. A lot of concerts, drinks and interesting dishes.
- Elektro, pl. Sejmu Śląskiego 2, Hipnoza's cellar.
address: Ul. Sienkiewicza 28
address: Ul. Jagiellońska 17AA bar, a scene, a gallery place with good music, concerts, spectacles and so on.
KATOLocal patriots, bar is in a constant state of being built.
KatofoniaLive rock, blues concerts.
address: 4 Mariacka StTwo floors; the first with dance and pop music, the second with electro.
Lorneta z MeduząA bar inspired by bistros from the 1920s. Open 24/7. Every drink costs 4 zł, every snack - 8 zł. Full of bums and hipsters.
Pub ŚrubaStudents' place.
Rather common discos
address: Ul. Dworcowa 2
address: Ul. Dworcowa 4
address: Ul. Opolska 22A club with its own small brewery.
address: Plac Wolności 14Katowice branch of Kraków's rock club.
phone: +48 32 35 11 956address: ul. Sokolska 26In the centre of the city in building of technical high school. Special rules apply as this is a school youth hostel.
phone: +48 32 204-34-32address: ul. Plebiscytowa 2328 beds in 2-, 4-, 6-person rooms. Six bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. There is also good shared kitchen and free tee.
Hotel Zalezeaddress: ul. Gliwicka 106In a secure, but a little miners' area 2 km west of the railway station and downtown
address: ul. Nałkowskiej 10Not modern but clean and cheap 2-bed rooms. The hotel has a free guarded car park and a restaurant.
phone: +48 32 782 82 82address: ul. Dworcowa 5This grand old hotel in the heart of the Old Town was opened in 1903.
phone: +48 32 601 0 100address: ul. Uniwersytecka 13Modern, four-star hotel in the centre. It has a Sky Bar with nice views on the 27th floor.
phone: +48 32 783 81 00address: ul. Stawowa 24Modern, four-star hotel in the centre with 203 comfortable rooms and apartments.
- Katowice's area code (for landline numbers) is 32 when dialed from within Poland or +4832 from outside Poland.
- There are not many places that offer web and other Internet access. But there are some:
- Costa Coffee - on Stawowa Street near the station. Free good wireless.
- Katowice-Pyrzowice Airport - Hot Spot
- Dekadencja Private Club - 20 Mariacka St. Hot Spot (free of charge). Wireless does not always work.
- Important phone numbers: police: 997, fire department: 998, ambulance: 999, all three at common, universal number 112
- Municipal guard: +48 32 986
- Watch out for pickpockets in public transport and busy places.
- Park your car in safe place, on a guarded parking if possible.
- Most long-distance trains have compartments, choose the occupied ones so you don't ride alone. Also, during night, make sure that at least one person is not asleep.