The beautiful city of Toruń in northern Poland was one of my favourite stops in the country. While we just loved wandering the streets, there are also so many things to do in Toruń. Here are some of my faves, as well as tips for visiting.
At first I was a bit worried about my decision to visit Toruń. “Uh, why Toruń?” my Polish friend asked. “Gingerbread?” I offered hopefully. He still looked kind of confused.
I’m not really sure what it was about Toruń that immediately appealed to me. But whatever it was, it grabbed on and compelled me to add this little town just south of Gdańsk to our itinerary. Maybe it was the intrigue of it being Nicolas Copernicus’ birthplace, or maybe it really was the gingerbread.
Whatever it was, I’ve learnt to trust my instincts so Toruń was added to our itinerary and it wasn’t coming off.
I’m so glad we stopped in at Toruń. It was just the breath of fresh air we needed after the crazy tourist hoards of Krakow (although I do really love Krakow). I just love a good Medieval city and Toruń is a really, really good medieval city. It’s not a place that is overflowing with things to do, but there is more than enough to keep you busy.
To help you plan your time in this gorgeous city, here’s 20 great things to do in Toruń.
An introduction to beautiful Toruń
Given I was kind of enamoured by Krakow, I was sort of worried about Torun’s descriptor as “the Krakow of the North”. I worried a little that it would be like Krakow, but not as good.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!
I am sorry, Toruń, for doubting you. Honestly, I didn’t find Toruń to be a great deal like Krakow. They are both beautiful cities that thankfully escaped World War II largely unscathed, but they have very different character.
Toruń is a compact, walled Medieval city which gives it a unique, historic atmosphere.
The buildings are also amazingly beautiful and very quirky.
Gingerbread is supposed to have been invented here, and I do wonder if Gingerbread houses were modelled on Toruń. Some of the houses look like you could tear off a brick and start chomping! (I do not recommend this.)
While Toruń is historic, it’s also got a healthy student population which gives it a fun and youthful vibe as well. There are lots of skateboard shops, tattoo parlours and bars tucked away down the cobbled streets.
Oh, and the coffee scene is kind of amazing as well.
All in all, Toruń was definitely one of the best places we stopped in Poland. Even having no air-conditioner and a hotel that I think was trying to cook us not house us didn’t deter us from falling madly in love.
I only hope you love Toruń as much as I did!
Things to do in Toruń by day
There’s lots to see and do in Toruń, so you best start the day early to fit it all in!
Walk around Toruń Castle
Castles are cool, but castles of the Teutonic Order are really cool. And that’s just what’s on offer with the ruins of the Toruń castle.
The Teutonic Order was a Catholic order that was made up of many people including knights. In fact, the Teutonic Order still exists, and it still knights people. New life goal, perhaps?
Anyway, back in the early 13th Century, the Duke at the time gave the land to the Teutonic Order to build a castle. They took their sweet time, and the castle was under construction for over a century.
Eventually, however, the Teutonic Order had their home base as they headed off on excursions to convert the Pagans who lived nearby.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, their actions weren’t popular with everyone. In 1454, the town rebelled, converging on the Toruń Castle.
Turns out, even Teutonic Knights are no match a mob of angry townspeople, and a deal was struck. Members of the Teutonic Order were allowed to leave the city and the castle, never to return.
The townspeople decided to destroy the castle, just in case it wasn’t clear that the Teutonic Order was persona non grata.
It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the castle was excavated. Today, it is in ruins, but it is still worth walking around. You can admire what’s left of the building, as well as the beautiful riverside setting.
See Toruń’s very own leaning tower
Alright, so first of all: check your expectations. We spent a long time looking for the leaning tower of Toruń, only to find out we’d seen it and just not noticed the lean.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Once you look closely, she is definitely leaning. Just not in a “oh God! Run for cover!” kind of way (probably for the best).
To get the best view of the lean, you’ll want to look at it facing east. From here, you can clearly see that the tower in on a very significant lean.
If you’re feeling any nerves about its likelihood of tumbling down, don’t worry. The building was built in the 13th century, and it’s been just fine ever since.
It even housed a woman’s prison – and if a hoard of angry, criminal women couldn’t knock it down then I think it’s up for the long haul.
The reason for the lean isn’t exactly known, but there are a fair few legends. My favourite is that my buddies the Teutonic Knights caused the lean as a result of their sinful behaviour. Scandalous!
See Nicolaus Copernicus’ House
Toruń is famous for two things: gingerbread, and Copernicus. A balanced offering to the world, I think.
For those unfamiliar, Nicolaus Copernicus is considered one of the most influential astronomers of all time.
Being an astronomer was a tough gig back in the 15th and 16th century. Not only was there no Wikipedia, but the Church also kind of wanted to kill you unless you toed the party line.
Copernicus didn’t, essentially disproving the theory that everything in space orbited around the Earth. This didn’t make him popular at the time, but it did make him world famous later on. So that’s good, I guess?
Anyway, we don’t know with 100% certainty where Copernicus was born, but it was almost certainly in this old building in Toruń.
As a result, it’s been turned into a museum of Copernicus’ life and scientific achievements. If you’re into science, it’s well worth a visit — or you can simply take a look from the outside.
Make gingerbread at the Muzeum Piernika
Gingerbread is kind of an obsession in Toruń. I’m kind of scared to admit this, but I am honestly kind of so-so about gingerbread. But I knew I couldn’t leave Toruń without trying some.
It is believed that gingerbread has been made in the city since the 13th century, so of course anything to do with gingerbread is likely to make the list of the best things to do in Toruń.
You’ll find plenty of places where you can try gingerbread, whether on its own, as part of a dessert or even in icecream.
The best place to find out about gingerbread in Toruń, however, is at the museum.
Now, Toruń actually has two gingerbread museums. (I told you they really like gingerbread!) Both are fun to visit, but we chose The Museum of Gingerbread. It’s located not far from the Friends cafe (more on that soon).
Located inside an old warehouse, here you can find out a lot more about gingerbread. Of course, the highlight of the visit is actually making it for yourself. Now that’s what I call a hands-on exhibit!
Be dazzled by Toruń cathedral
This is a Polish city, so you could bet your life savings there would be a gorgeous cathedral, or five.
Toruń Cathedral is arguably the most beautiful in the town, formally known as St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist. No wonder they gave it a nickname!
The Cathedral was first built in the 13th century, around the time the Teutonic Order waltzed into town.
Over the centuries, worshippers were constantly deciding it was too small. ‘Bigger!’ they’d cry, and more would be added – until it reached its current size. Which is pretty huge.
The interior of the Cathedral is really beautiful and you’re welcome to enter except during services. It’s a great free thing to do in Toruń if you’re on a budget!
Watch Friends reruns at Central Coffee Perks
I am not sure when the world rediscovered Friends, but the obsession seems to have spread. If you love the show, then you’ve got to drop by Central Coffee Perks in Toruń.
The lawyer in me is not quite sure that’s enough to escape a trademark, but let’s put that to one side…
Fans will probably immediately recognise the name, but that’s not where the similarities end. The interior is decked out to look like 90s NYC, and there’s even Friends episodes playing (in Polish and English).
The different types of coffee are named after the Friends cast — yes, I’m unashamedly a Monica and that one was pretty good.
Just the pictures were enough to get my Friends-obsessed sister-in-law screeching with delight. So, if you love Friends, you’ve definitely got to swing by and settle in.
Have an amazing coffee at Projekt Nano
I’m going to be honest. As an Australian, the coffee in Europe can be pretty dire. Not quite as bad as the USA, but I’m just not feeling it.
(Now that I’ve infuriated 99% of my audience, let’s move on!)
Every now and again, however, I do find a hidden coffee spot that reminds me of just how I like coffee. In Toruń, that place was Projekt Nano.
This fabulous coffee shop is a little off the beaten path, but it’s 100% worth tracking it down. The alleyway itself is pretty cool, and then this coffee shop is totally fabulous.
The owner/head barista has serious credentials, having competed at the World Barista Championships with her own blend of coffee beans.
I had to laugh when it turned out said coffee beans were from Australia! It seems like us Aussies really do know what we like.
Anyway, if you love coffee, or just want a gorgeous coffee shop to hang out in, visit this place!
Hang out in the Main Square of Toruń
All of Toruń is stupidly beautiful, but the Main Square is particularly gorgeous. It’s not hard to find; just follow the crowds and you’ll end up there.
You’ll find lots of shops and stalls selling various goods. Most notably, this is a great place to grab some gingerbread!
I really think this is one of the most charming small squares in Toruń. While it lacks the enormous size of Krakow, it boasts plenty of charisma and charm. As it was never bombed in the war, it is almost entirely original.
You can simply sit and enjoy the atmosphere for free. Or, you can always drop into one of the nearby cafes to enjoy it while sipping a drink.
Hint: it can get really busy with daytrippers from Gdańsk. If you go early in the morning or late in the evening, then you can enjoy the atmosphere sans the crowd.
Find the quirky statues
Something I wasn’t expecting when I visited Toruń was to fall in love with all the quirky statues! They really give the city lots of personalities, and tell a story.
They’re also great if you’re as hopeless with directions as I am. The statues make great landmarks when you’re trying to remember where to turn. Especially after a couple of vodkas.
Anyway, you can’t miss the statues if you’re just wandering around. As you find them, it’s worth looking up their significance as some are super cute and quirky.
There’s the huge Nicholaus Copernicus in the Main Square, of course. Then there’s Filus on the Rynek, the canine star of a Polish comic strip. Finally, I loved the lady with a puppy and gingerbread (all you need in life) on Male Garbary.
Find any more? Tell me about them in the comments!
Look out from the Old Town Hall
One of the most impressive buildings in Toruń (which is full of them) is the Old Town Hall.
The oldest part of the Old Town Hall dates from 1274, and it originally housed a huge undercover market. It was a bit like the Cloth Hall in Krakow, on a smaller scale.
Over the centuries, it was added to and added to until it became the huge site it is today. During this time it also had various uses, including as an armoury and a prison.
(Side note: why do they always go hand-in-hand? Did no one think that criminals and gunpowder might be a bad combination?)
Anyway, nowadays it offers a collection of Gothic artworks which are, to be honest, okay. But you can also get a gorgeous view of Toruń from the tower, which is highly recommended!
Explore the Museum of the History of Toruń
I’m all about history and think that it adds a lot to your visit to a place. Especially somewhere like Toruń, where it’s just so interesting!
The problem is that the history of Toruń – like much of Europe – can be crazy confusing. With knights and kings and empires and more, it all gets a bit much.
That’s why I recommend a visit to the history museum if you’re looking for Toruń things to do.
First of all, you get the chance to go inside a cool old merchant’s warehouse, which is pretty cool in itself. Inside, there’s four storeys that are all set out in a logical way.
There are lots of items relating to life in Toruń over the years. I really like that it focuses on the life of individual people, not just the city itself.
There are also some videos and interactive elements, although overall it is more on the hands-off side.
Channel Copernicus at the Planetarium
Confession! I actually didn’t get to visit the Planetarium because I just ran out of time. But I’m still kind of kicking myself and wanted to include it in case it’s your “thing”!
Also, what could be a better place to visit a planetarium than in the home town of one of the world’s greatest ever astronomers?
The planetarium opened back in 1994, and is a popular place for both locals and tourists to visit. I understand that most of the signs are in Polish, but hey, the stars are a universal language!
I hear that it is a little on the dated side, but again, how much has the sky changed in the last 25 years?
So, if you’re interested in the sky or looking for something to do in Torun when the weather is bad, this could be a great choice!
Fulfil your need for speed at the Speedway
This is another Toruń attraction that I didn’t personally visit. You see, I come from a car racing family and I can’t really hear the sound of an engine without running for cover.
Anyhoo, if you do have a need for speed then you’d best check this out.
Apparently, as well as gingerbread and Copernicus, Toruń is also kind of obsessed with the speedway: both motorcycle and car varieties.
There’s a fairly full calendar of events on at the MotoArena Speedway. So, if you love motorsport and you’re headed to Toruń – you might as well check it out!
The arena is also frequently used as a concert venue, so even if you’re no petrol head (I understand) then there still might be something worth checking out.
Enter the city via the Monastery Gate
Okay, back to things I actually did do in Toruń – the Monastery Gate.
I absolutely love walled Medieval cities, like Pedraza in Spain. Bonus points if entry is still restricted to just a few points in the city.
Toruń is one of these places, and the best entry point is through the Monastery Gate, also known as the Holy Spirit Gate.
This gate separates the city from the river, and it’s super beautiful. It was constructed back in the 14th Century, and has remained largely unchanged until today.
If you look up, you can even still see the Kaszownik. Basically, that is a hole where defenders of the city could pour oil and other hot liquids onto invading armies. Cool, hey!
It’s definitely one of the most atmospheric ways to enter the city.
Walk, walk, walk
One of the things I loved the most about Toruń is the fact that you actually don’t need to “do” all that much.
I feel like it’s an overused expression, but you really can just get lost and explore this city.
Firstly, there are plenty of monuments to help lead you back home – even I couldn’t get lost in Toruń! Secondly, this place is just STUPIDLY beautiful.
I mean really. This is one of those places where you could just sit and cry over how pretty it looks. Tell me that’s not just me?
Anyway, I’m not usually a fan of just walking for walking’s sake, but I made an exception for Toruń.
In the summer, Walkative (my buddies – still not sponsored) does run walking tours of Toruń. If you don’t want to or can’t join one, then you can simply grab a map and start exploring. Get ready to be amazed!
Things to do in Toruń at night
Still in Toruń once the sun goes down? No worries – there’s heaps to do in Toruń at night.
Watch the sun set and have a beer on a boat
One of my favourite moments of our time in Poland was enjoying a beer on the Vistula River. And we found it totally by accident!
Yep, if you head out from the city toward the river (you could always leave by the Monastery Gate), you’ll find a bunch of floating barges on the water. Great news: there’s a bar inside!
It’s such a relaxing place to enjoy a drink and look at out the water. So, the Vistula River is not one of those crystal-clear spaces you dive into, but it’s still relaxing and has such a chilled out vibe.
If you’d prefer not to be on a slightly rocking boat, then you can also grab a beer and sit on one of the deck chairs by the water instead.
Take in the view from Panorama Torunia
Once you’ve seen the sun set while sipping a beer on the boat, it’s time for another beautiful view of Toruń. Provided you haven’t had too much beer, of course!
Across the river Vistula you’ll find a great lookout spot, Panorama Torunia. As you might have guessed from the name – it’s got a gorgeous view of the city.
While you can take a peek at any time, I recommend waiting until the sun goes down. It’s a different and beautiful view of the city, and kind of magical!
Catch the Cosmopolis Fountain Show
For the last 10 years, the Cosmopolis Fountain Show has intrigued visitors and locals in Toruń. It’s a beautiful fountain, with a lovely nod to Toruń’s favourite son.
I’m talking about Nicholaus Copernicus, of course. The fountain was inspired by one of his great works, with the rings representing the planets and another nods to his life’s work.
The fountain operates all day, however there is a special show at night as long as the weather permits. It’s complete with lights and sound, including a score composed by one of Poland’s most famous modern composers.
During winter the weather sometimes stops it from going on, but in summer you have a great chance of catching it. If you can, it is definitely one of the best things to do in Toruń at night.
Eat lots and lots of pierogi (or something else, I guess)
In Poland, eating pierogi is always a good idea. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack, afternoon tea… just whenever you can, really.
This means that obviously eating pierogi is one of the best things to do in Toruń at night. One of the best places for pierogi is Pierogarnia Stary Toruń.
If you are incredibly strange and don’t like pierogi (just kidding, mostly) then of course, you can eat something else. It probably won’t be as good but hey, you do you.
When I wasn’t eating pierogi, I was generally eating Polish pancakes/crepes (or pizza, because hey – when the craving strikes, right?).
Luckily, there’s a great restaurant for those too! It’s called Manekin. You may want to book, ‘cos it’s super popular.
Enjoy the nightlife of Toruń
Torun is nowhere near as hectic as Krakow or Gdansk, but there’s still a great selection of bars and pubs if you’re up late.
There’s Krajina Pava which boasts over 100 different varieties of beer, while Piwnica Pod Antałkiem specialises in wine and whisky. You can bet which one I chose (the wine, always).
Some other bars that came heavily recommended include Heaven in the basement of the Old Tower, and Hipisówka, one of the best places for dancing.
Map of things to do in Toruń
Tips for visiting Toruń
- Like Krakow, I recommend booking the things you really want to do ahead of time. For example, although you can buy tickets at the door to the Gingerbread Museum, they’ve been known to sell out. It’s better to get them online!
- As Toruń is a walled concrete jungle, it can get FREAKING HOT in the summer. Yes, even as an Australian I thought it was roasting. Be sure to bring water while you’re sightseeing and if you find it hard to sleep in the warmth, ask if the hotel has airconditioning.
- Toruń is so easy to walk around, it would be a shame to bring a car. You can easily see everything on foot and the parking situation is less than ideal.
Want more tips for visiting Poland? Have a read of my top 20 travel tips for Poland!
How to get to Toruń
We got the Flixbus from Krakow to Toruń. It was long but not ridiculous, taking a total of about 7 hours. Honestly, there was nothing much to see in between the two stops so I’d recommend making sure your phone is nice and charged up.
Toruń is much closer to Gdańsk, which was our next stop. Again, the cheapest way to get between the two cities is to get the bus. We got Flixbus because we liked it, but there are multiple.
Cities like Wroclaw, Warsaw and Lodz are all somewhere between Krakow and Toruń. Although I haven’t done it personally, I’d imagine the bus is still the cheapest way to get between them.
Driving would be another good option if you have a car, although I suspect having a car in Torun would be a bit of an inconvenience. The parking situation is not great.