“Half of the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” – attributed to Ray Bradbury
Summer is the perfect time for adventuring and making discoveries. So, how about trying something new? Solo travel might seem a little overwhelming, but it has many benefits. As a teenager, I insisted on travelling solo. I wanted to get more independent, take charge of my life and experience things on my own. I delved into the cities I visited. When you are alone, you are the master of your time, set all the rules and spend as much time as you want in any place. It’s a fulfilling and empowering experience. While plenty of exciting opportunities await in many places, I strongly recommend Lublin in eastern Poland for your next destination. Lublin is a very special place and here’s my recipe for the perfect solo summer in Lublin (and whereabouts).
Image credits: wojtek.pacewicz.5
Add a dose of sightseeing – discover the city
Image credits: jakubodys
Night of Culture
You can pace yourself with thematic audio guides available at the Tourist Information Centre located right at the entrance to the Old Town by Krakowska Gate.
You can also join a walking tour with Martin’s City Tours to mingle with other tourists visiting Lublin. Maybe your next best friend will also come to Lublin or maybe they are already here, waiting to meet you. When as a student I traveled to Galicia for my Erasmus exchange, before boarding the plane I struck a conversation with a girl who became my flatmate. We still keep in touch.
Aside from walking, you can also hop on an electric tourist bus. Lublin’s tourist card will give you discounts to several services and attractions – you can get it at the Tourist Information in the Old Town or its office located at the Lublin airport.
Image credits: Majdanek.Memorial
The State Museum at Majdanek, the site of the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp, is an important and solemn memorial site to visit.
In Lublin, you will find history at every corner.
The Lantern of Memory never fades in honour of the perished Jewish residents of the city
Image credits: margot_meanders
Photo: Margot Meanders
Grodzka Gate (Jewish Gate) separated the Christian and Jewish parts of the city and is now home to the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre
Photo: M. Bojczewski, Grodzka Gate on Night of Culture
One of their permanent exhibitions, “Lublin. The memory of the place” is arranged like an archive which you can walk through, see photos and listen to the sounds and recordings of the pre-war city. You don’t just see it. You experience it.
In the House of Words, you can examine old printing presses and learn the history of the printing house where it is located
Image credits: domslow_lublin
Courtesy of: Dom Słów – The House of Words
The Museum includes century-old, yet still functional, printing and book-binding machines from Lublin’s printing shops. The ancient, time-consuming typesetting process brings to our attention how computers, keyboards or editors such as MS Word make text processing ten thousand times easier. You can also learn about the history of books and printing in Lublin.
Stir it all with a drop of regional traditions
Image credits: muzeum_wsi_lubelskiej
Courtesy of: Muzeum Wsi Lubelskiej – Lublin’s Open Air Village Museum
To get a taste of the region’s village traditions and ethnographic diversity, head to the Open Air Village Museum with its reconstruction of a village, complete with furnished houses, stores and a mid-13th century manor house. Go back in time to experience the everyday life of the villagers and learn more about their lifestyle and work.
Meet folk artists at The Jagiellonian Fair
Photo: Katarzyna Motek, The Jagiellonian Fair
Between 21-23 August 2020 visit The Jagiellonian Fair. Folk artisans from Poland and neighboring countries set up stalls with authentic, handmade crafts and share their passions with the visitors. You can learn how to make traditional straw ornaments, instruments or bobbin lace and many other things.
Get to know them
Photo: Gutek Zegier, The Jagiellonian Fair
The artists who come to the fair are passionate about handicrafts. Many of them come from families where crafting has been passed down from generation to generation, others are self-taught and sometimes are the first in their families to pick up a craft.
They are great to talk to, have many stories to share. You can learn a lot from them!
Dance the night away to the tune of authentic folk music played live by real village musicians and their students
Photo: B. Żurawski. The Jagiellonian Fair
Take a day out with your favourite book/podcast/music
Image credits: miedzy_slowami_lublin/
Courtesy of: Między Słowami Cafe
One of the most bookish places in Lublin is Między Słowami Cafe – a bookshop and a cafe located in the Old Town. You can drink delicious tea or coffee in the company of books. It’s a quiet place to read.
Image credits: margot_meanders
Photo: Margot Meanders
For a pleasant outdoor experience, you can go to the Saxon Garden, where lovely fountains and benches invite you to sit down and enjoy quiet moments in the sun. Other good places to read include: Lech Kaczyński square next to the Centre for Culture, the gorge in Czuby district and the Zemborzycki lake. The lake is a great spot in winter too. When it snows and ice covers the surface of the water, it makes for a spectacular sight.
Rested up? Grab your camera and go on a photo walk
Image credits: lublin_extra
You can take a stroll along the river.
Scout around for unusual scupltures
Image credits: lublin_extra
You can find three in Lech Kaczyński square near the Centre for Culture.This group of sculptures shifts focus from heroes to ordinary, perhaps even stereotypical people – but it’s open to interpretation.
They have been inspired by roadside figures of saints that protected village residents and travellers. Ladies from Lublin’s yarn bombing group have given the wooden family stylish clothes to keep them warm in winter.
Peek inside gates and stairwells in the Old Town.
Photo: Ignac Tokarczyk, Night of Culture
You never know what you might find!
Photo: Franciszek Goszczyński, Night of Culture
Learn something new in a workshop or short course.
Photo: Jakub Bodys, The Jagiellonian Fair
Tonnes of free, one-day workshops are available all year round, including gardening or sewing. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with groups and perhaps even make your own souvenir. If you don’t speak Polish, don’t be afraid to ask about other language options – institutions like Galeria Labirynt, Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre centre and Workshops of Culture offer many events in English by default but they are flexible and are also happy to provide other translations. You can also volunteer at a festival, become a part of a dedicated team, and get to know the backstage of huge outdoor events.
Time for a tasty lunch? Ambaras is a great place for healthy and delicious soups.
Image credits: ambaraslublin
Próba Cafe serves a variety of excellent teas and coffees
Image credits: probacafe
Photo: Próba Cafe
Bezzz Cafe serves gluten-free, sugar-free healthy meals
Image credits: lublin_extra
It’s an elegant and quiet place at Lubartowska street, down from Krakowska Gate. They cook with passion and their meals are also neatly served.
The local specialty is cebularz
Photo shows a neon created by Katarzyna Bogucka in honour of “cebularz” in the Centre for the Meeting of Cultures, a reminder that Lublin has its distinct flavours.
Cebularz is a wheat dough flat cake topped with diced onion and poppy seeds. You can buy some in bakeries. I recommend cebularz from the bakery in Furmańska. For a pizza-size cebularz, you can go to Św. Michał.
Food festival in September encourages you to savour the smells and tastes of the world.
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Photo: Europejski Festiwal Smaku (European Festival of Taste)
If you are a fan of cider, you can sample ciders from Lublin during another festival in September, The Lublin Young Cider Festival.
Grab a film at a cosy cinema
Photo: Marcin Butryn, Workshops of Culture in Lublin
Bajka, Chatka Żaka and The Centre for Culture are cosy and friendly cinemas. You may even find rooms small enough to feel as if you were all alone in the cinema. These arthouse cinemas offer thoughtful films in original audio with Polish subtitles. Every Wednesday, Workshops of Culture offer free screenings of curated films within the project “Miasto Movie”. The films follow certain themes (like dance or news reporting), but the key element is always the city.
Go to free concerts
Photo: Krzysztof Mazur, East of Culture – Different Sounds
Plenty of live gigs are available all year round, many of them are free. Between 25-28 June 2020, drop by East of Culture – Different Sounds – for a sound dose of fantastic concerts by handpicked worldwide stars and rising talents from Eastern European countries. George Clinton had his final worldwide tour in Lublin.
The Japanese band Shibusashirazu Orchestra a few years back gave a phenomenal show at Different Sounds
Photo: Robert Grablewski, East of Culture – Different Sounds
They also hosted Juno Reactor and last year Lee Scratch Perry. Different Sounds is also an arts festival and aside from music you can watch lesser known Eastern European movies and see unique exhibitions. It is one of many music-oriented festivals, but it’s definitely one that I find the most memorable in the summer.
Other great music events later in the year
Image credits: mikolajki_folkowe
Photo: Jakub Bodys, Mikołajki Folkowe
If you come to Lublin at a different time of the year, there are many other interesting music events. Try Chatka Blues Festival for electric and acoustic blues, International Folk Music Festival “Mikołajki Folkowe” – one of the biggest and most famous folk music festivals in Poland or Jazz Bezz – a Polish-Ukrainian jazz festival focused on improvised music.
Add a drop of Museums and Galleries
Image credits: piccolecose_paulina
Photo: piccolecose_paulina, the Centre for the Meetings of Cultures
If you are tired of the usual art gallery fare, drop by Brain Damage Gallery located in the Centre for the Meeting of Cultures – one of the first, and still the only gallery in Poland, focused on graffiti writing. The name was first used in 1997 for a magazine which had an international distribution. When you’re done with the gallery, you can go up to the roof to admire the view.
Galeria Labirynt is another interesting space
Image credits: galerialabirynt
Photo: Galeria Labirynt
They offer many first-rate exhibitions and will guide you through the labyrinths of contemporary art.
Taste Lublin’s nightlife
Photo: Marcin Butryn. Night of Culture
The summer is when Lublin’s nightlife is most active, with many events taking place after the sunset. Night of Culture (6/7 June 2020) is a colourful celebration of the city. On Night of Culture, the city presents itself afresh as its streets fill up with art, light shows, music, and plays. Gates become installations and streets turn into stages. It’s a night of wonders when characters and animals from legends and myths come alive. Fish fly, beetles appear in unusual places, surprises await in all corners – there’s never a dull moment or place.
The Bridge of Culture on the Bystrzyca river is home to concerts and music.
Photo: Marcin Butryn, Night of Culture
The Bridge sleeps in wintertime but springs back to life come summer and continues to offer events throughout the three summer months. It connects four Lublin’s districts.
Learn to swing dance with Swingin’ Lublin
Photo: Jakub Orzechowski, Night of Culture
Swingin’ Lublin is the only Lublin-based project dedicated to Lindy Hop. They are passionate enthusiasts who hold practice sessions every Wednesday. They are always happy to welcome new faces.
Mix it all with a pinch of magic at Carnaval Sztukmistrzów
Photo: Wojciech Pacewicz, Carnaval Sztukmistrzów
Between 23-26 July 2020, fall under the spell of Carnaval Sztukmistrzów. The festival celebrates new circus as a ludic art form related to theatre and physical arts. You can expect breathtaking displays of acrobatics, clowning as well as acts that use the entertaining language of circus arts to offer serious food for thought along with witty or wise punchlines. The programme is varied and features many talented artists.
They walk on air too
Photo: Wojciech Pacewicz, Carnaval Sztukmistrzów – Urban Highline Festival
Look up while walking around the city during Carnaval Sztukmistrzów- you will find highliners walking among the clouds on tapes hung among old buildings and above busy streets.
These highliners come to Lublin to take part in Urban Highline Festival, an integrasl part of Carnaval Sztukmistrzów.
UHF is the largest highline festival in the world taking place in the city and specifically in the heart of the Old Town, among historic buildings. It’s really thrilling to watch.
Sprinkle everything with a trip outside Lublin
Photo: KM_Zorro , Kazimiernikejszyn festival
Kazimierz is a popular tourist destination and a venue for ggreat film and music festivals. Kazimiernikejszyn in July is one such great festival in Kazimierz. The music stage is inside a quarry. Kazimierz is also home to the Film and Art Festival “Two Riversides” that takes place at the end of July.
Many beautiful places await your visit outside Lublin proper. Kozłówka, Roztocze, Kazimierz, Nałęczów, Zamość are just a few places you can visit, each offers attractions that will surely take your breath away.
Nałęczów is a spa resort known for its healing waters
The story of the waters goes back as far as the 18th century, when a local nobleman, Antoni Małachowski, noticed that dipping in them soothed his gout and arthritis. Years after his death, in 1817 Piotr Celiński, a Warsaw-based professor, analysed the waters and concluded that they were indeed good for the body. This started drawing tourists to the resort. You can enjoy a stroll in the park surrounding the spa complex. It was a favourite holiday spot for Polish writers, including Bolesław Prus. As a fan of cycling, he established a cycling association in Warsaw. In Nałęczów, you will find the alley of cyclists featuring the sculpture that commemorates Polish cyclists.
The LAF film festival in Zwierzyniec is one of the best film festivals in Poland, rich in a variety of screenings
Image credits: piccolecose_paulina
You get a book / catalogue and choose the screenings you want. The area is beautiful and peaceful – perfect for chilling out. Zwierzyniec is home to a brewery producing a well-known Polish brand of beer. You can visit the brewery and take the opportunity to drink beer in its home.
By the way, if you are a fan of beer, you can also look into going to Krasnystaw, the city that hosts “Chmielaki”- the oldest beer festival in Poland.
Visit the palace and the beautiful forests in Kozłówka
Kozłówka is home to the Zamoyski Museum, one of the best preserved palaces in Europe. It has its own ghosts and sometimes, around November, the museum hosts ghostly tours. In the vicinity you will find beautiful forests perfect for pleasant strolls and picking mushrooms.
There is a place for you in Lublin Story Apartments
Image credits: lublin_story_apartments
If you are looking for an original, soulful place to stay in Lublin, I recommend Lublin Story Apartments. The apartments are located near the city centre and major tourist attractions.
Lublin is a city with a soul and has many heart-warming stories to tell
Photo: Roman Kravchenko
One such story is that of Roman Kravchenko, a photographer and historian, who was forced out of his home in Ukraine in the turbulent Euromaidan events and the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation in 2013/2014.
He came to Lublin, settled down and created his own, alternative photographic technique. He named it lublintone in honour of the city that welcomed him.
Read Roman’s story here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/spectraleye/lublintonea-athe-story-behind-a-tender-art-a0nt0shuhb
These are just a few ingredients. Every recipe has its own flavour depending on how you cook it and I hope yours will result in a truly delicious dish that you will want to make again.
And if you have energy to spare, here are a few more suggestions on what to do in Lublin. https://www.boredpanda.com/27-things-to-do-in-lublin/
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