16 Best Sights in Excursions from Warsaw, Poland

Księży Młyn

Fodor's choice

This model city within a city was founded by the Scheibler and Grohman industrialist families, who were initially competitors but who have been partners and owners since 1921 in the largest cotton mill in Europe. Księży Młyn (or Priest's Mill) was a model industrial village with production facilities, shops, a fire department, hospital, school, railway station, residential quarters for the workers, and the owner's palace surrounded by a park. Today, it serves an interesting mix of new functions: offering luxury suites in the former factory building, a museum in the palace, and poorer housing mixed with artists' studios and galleries in the workers' quarters, where the "gentrification" progresses more slowly.

The palace (Rezydencja Księży Młyn)—called the Herbst Villa or Rezydencja Księży Młyn—under the management of Museum Sztuki, is now open to visitors, who can marvel at the fabulous and expensive taste of the early capitalists. It was home to Edward Herbst, Karol Scheibler's son in law, who lived here with his wife Matylda. In former stables, there is a small but excellent gallery of 19th- and early 20th-century Polish paintings. The palatial villa stands in a lovely, well-kept park, where you can enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine; on a cold day, drinks and snacks can be had under the roof, in the winter garden.

Muzeum Sztuki ms1

Fodor's choice
The older, original section of the Museum Sztuki hosts temporary exhibitions, but its greatest treasure is the Neoplastic Room, which was made for this very location in 1948. Imagine walking inside a 3-D avant-garde painting with blue, red, and yellow rectangles. Better still, come and experience it yourself.
Więckowskiego 36, Lódz, Lodz, 90-734, Poland
sights Details
Rate Includes: zł 10, Closed Mon., Tues. 10–6, Wed.–Sun. 11–7

Muzeum Sztuki ms2

Fodor's choice

One of the best art collections in Poland specializes mostly in modern avant-garde and contemporary art—both Polish and international. It originated as an artists' museum in late 1920s. The present building is too small to exhibit the whole collection, so only a selection is shown. Plus, you can always count on an interesting temporary exhibition. In 2008, the museum expanded to its current location within the Manufaktura complex (a former historical Poznański cotton mill). It is now referred to as ms2, as opposed to the original ms1 in Więckowskiego street nearby (with about a 10-minute walk between the two).

Ogrodowa 19, Lódz, Lodz, 91-065, Poland
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Rate Includes: zł 10, Closed Mon., Tues. 10–6, Wed.–Sun. 10–7

Recommended Fodor's Video

EC1 Planetarium

EC1 was the oldest power plant in Łódź, operational from 1907 to 2001. Since it closed down, this postindustrial area in the very center of town has received a second life, and it will continue changing and developing for another decade or so. In 2016, the brand-new planetarium opened its doors in one of the buildings, which looks like a group of space rockets ready to be launched. The Planetarium is just one part of a larger redevelopment project for the area.

Janów Podlaski

The stud farm in Janów Podlaski was established in 1817, and—wartime and other tribulations notwithstanding—its continuity has been kept until the 21st century. It is home to purebred Arabian horses with documented pedigree going back 10 generations, but there are also Anglo-Arabian horses, about 500 animals altogether. The stud farm is picturesquely located at the outskirts of Janów Podlaski, in a hamlet called Wygoda—among woods and lush meadows near the Bug River, which marks the border with Belarus. The spacious and beautiful stable buildings date back to the 19th century and were designed by Enrico Marconi, a Polish architect of Italian origin. The most famous buildings include the Clock Stable and the main Stud Stable, and they can both be visited. The stud farm organizes shows, sales, and auctions, as well as championships for sport Arabians. They can also arrange guided tours and horse-drawn carriage rides for visitors. It is best to call in advance, or ask in the souvenir shop (just behind the main gate, the white building to the left) on arrival. Groups (including small ones) can be accommodated most of the time; and individual tourists can join a guided tour at a fixed time, between May and September, on weekends, at 1 pm. If you can't make prior arrangements or make it on a given day, don't worry: it is OK just to show up and walk around the open area, but in that case, you cannot enter the stables or approach horses, for reasons of safety. You are also asked not to feed the animals or make noise, and you should follow the instructions of the staff.

Muzeum Historii Miasta Łodzi

The Pałac Poznańskiego, another grand home of another of Łódź's major industrialist families, is now the city's main museum. The opulent neo-baroque residence itself is magnificent. It is said that when the architect asked his client what style he would like for his residence, the latter replied: "Why, dear sir, all of them, of course! I can afford all!" There is nothing minimalist about the structure. Among the exhibits are memorabilia of famous Łódź citizens, including English-language writer Jerzy Kosiński (born in Łódź in 1933, died in New York in 1991) and Arthur Rubinstein, a great Polish-American classical pianist (1887–1982).

Ogrodowa 15, Lódz, Lodz, 91-065, Poland
sights Details
Rate Includes: zł 12, Closed Fri., Mon.,Tues., and Thurs. 10–4; Wed., Sat., and Sun. noon–6

Muzeum Puszczy Kampinoskiej

In the village of Granica, near Kampinos and Żelazowa Wola, you'll find the Muzeum Puszczy Kampinoskiej: a small and somewhat dusty museum in a lovely wooden villa, explaining both the local fauna and flora, and the local history. It contains mementoes from the times of the January Uprising (1863, against the Russian Empire) and World War II. Although the museum was established in the 1960s, the building itself is older: a lovely sample of the Polish "vernacular style," typical folk-inspired, wooden architecture of 1920s. The museum is a good starting point for a walk in the woods of the Kampinos National Park.

Granica, Mazovia, Poland
sights Details
Rate Includes: zł 4, Closed Mon., Tues.–Sun. 9–4

Muzeum w Nieborowie

The stunning country estate of the Radziwiłł family includes an impressive baroque palace designed by Tilman van Gameren in the late 17th century. In 1945, the estate was taken over by the National Museum of Warsaw, and it still contains the home's original furnishings. When you walk around the museum, you can admire wooden panels, cobalt tiles, imposing stoves and fireplaces, and numerous paintings and sculptures—notably the ancient head of Niobe. The palace outbuilding houses temporary exhibitions of modern art. The regular, symmetrical baroque park, designed in the 16th century, is truly magnificent. The palace's hunting pavilion contains a number of limited-access guest rooms, where you can stay if you apply far in advance and have a valid reference from an associated artistic, scientific, or political organization. (Book far ahead; no children allowed.)

To get here from Żelazowa Wola, return to the 2 (E30) and drive west to Łowicz; then take Route 70 southeast about 10 km (6 miles). PKS buses run from Warsaw's main bus station in the direction of Łowicz, with stops at both Nieborów and Arkadia. Several guided tours starting in Warsaw include both Chopin's birthplace in Żelazowa Wola and Nieborów (and sometimes Arkadia Park as well).

Nieborów 232, Nieborów, Lodz, 99-416, Poland
sights Details
Rate Includes: zł 18 for palace and park, zł 7 for park only, Closed Mon. in Mar., Apr., and Oct., Mar. and Apr., Tues.–Sun. 10–4; May and June, daily 10–4; July–Sept., weekdays 10–4, weekends 10–6; Oct., Tues.–Sun. 10–3:30. Park 10–sunset

Muzeum w Łowiczu

The Muzeum w Łowiczu displays folk crafts and traditions of the area, as well as Polish baroque art. Among the most interesting exhibits are local costumes with characteristic fabrics of colorful stripes, the coffin portraits of local burghers, and several good baroque sculptures.

Stary Rynek 5/7, Lowicz, Lodz, Poland
sights Details
Rate Includes: zł 10; guide zł 120, Closed Mon., Tues.–Sun. 10–4

Muzeum Włókiennictwa

This impressive collection of both machines and textiles is an important record of the industry that make Łódź the city it is today. Many of the displays are interactive, making the sightseeing fun for kids and for adults, too. The museum is housed in the Biała Fabryka Geyera (Geyer's White Factory). In this very building, in 1839, the first steam engine in Poland was launched. The Textile Museum organizes the International Triennial of Tapestry (the 15th edition took place in 2016).

Piotrkowska 282, Lódz, Lodz, Poland
sights Details
Rate Includes: zł 10; free Sat., Closed Mon., Tues., Wed., and Fri. 9–5, Thurs. 11–7; Sat. and Sun. 11–4

Park w Arkadii

Arkadia Park is, like Nieborów, a part of the Radziwiłł family estate and was a noble obsession of Helena z Przeździeckich Radziwiłłowa, who devoted 20 years of her life to the making of it. The imaginary realm of happiness, the romantic park is landscaped in the English style and was designed by renowned landscape architects of the time (in the late 18th century and early 19th century). The 14-hectare parkland is filled with nooks and oases for contemplation and paths for strolling around, brooks and lakes, and fairy-tale construction: artificial ruins, grottoes, and the like.

Paulawska, Nieborów, Lodz, Poland
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Rate Includes: zł 7, Daily 10 am–sunset

Puszcza Kampinoska

Officially established in 1959, the ancient kingdom of nature now known as Puszcza Kampinoska became a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve in 2000. The area has a variety of landscapes and diverse habitats with dune belts separated by swampy areas and a mixture of forest types (bog-alder forest, ash-alder floodplain forest, pine-oak mixed forest, and low oak-lime-hornbeam forest). In addition to the many elk, which feature in the Park's logo, many other species live there, including lynx, rabbits, foxes, deer, European beaver, and wild boar. Some 121 different birds species have been observed here—either as residents or more temporary visitors—including black stork, herons, and cranes. The forest also has some 4,000 resident insect species and more than 1,100 plant species, including 60 protected varieties. In most years, between 500,000 and 1 million visitors hike the park's many trails.

There are many well-marked walking trails in the Kampinos National Park. The main trail of 55 km (34 miles) crosses the park from east to west (from Dziekanów Leśny to Brochów). The lower, green trail also begins in Dziekanów and travels 51 km (32 miles), ending at Żelazowa Wola, Chopin's birthplace. There are several short trails starting in Truskaw—notably the yellow trail of insurgents and partisans—and the blue folklore trail. If you are planning a true hiking trip rather than a short walk, it is worth the trouble to pick up the map of Kampinoski National Park in advance. You can easily spend an entire day in the area.

The most convenient starting points for day-hikers include Truskaw village (in the eastern corner of the park) or Kampinos (in its southwestern section). Both can be reached by PKS bus from Warsaw. If you are driving from Warsaw, you can use one of the unguarded parking lots at the outskirts of the park These can be found in Truskaw, Wólka Węglowa, Granica, or Dąbrowa Stara. You can get to Kampinos in 30 minutes on the suburban Bus 208 towards Sieraków. First, you need to take a metro to Młociny terminus, where you will find the bus stop.

Tetmajera 38, Granica, Mazovia, Poland
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Rate Includes: Free, Daily sunrise–sunset

Tum Church

The Romanesque collegiate church in Tum, which is built of granite and sandstone, dates back to the 12th century and is one of the most magnificent churches throughout Poland—and it's well worth a detour from the main routes if you are traveling to Łódź or Toruń from Warsaw. Even though it was partly damaged and has been rebuilt periodically throughout its history, the church has retained its original shape and many of its original architectural details. At the main entrance, note the Romanesque portal, which is framed by adoring angels. Be sure to take a look at the crucifix in the main aisle and the surviving fragments of ancient frescoes in the western apse.

Today the church stands well off the beaten tourist path, so it's not often visited, though you should expect absolutely no tourist infrastructure in the small village. The church is usually open, but if it happens to be locked when you arrive, the keys can be collected from the priest at the parish house opposite the church (approximately 100 meters to the east). Admission is free, but contributions toward the restoration of the church are gratefully accepted.

Tum, Lodz, 99-122, Poland
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon. and Tues., Wed.–Sat. 10–6; Sun. between masses

Ulica Piotrkowska

Łódź's main boulevard is lined with shops, cafés, cinemas, galleries, bars, and clubs. And to think that in the mid–19th century it was a road leading through the woods. Today Piotrkowska is the longest street (with the longest uninterrupted line of buildings) in Europe, but if you get tired of walking, you can always take a rickshaw or a "retro streetcar." Along the street, you will find benches with life-size statues of famous Poles: poet Julian Tuwim, novelist Władysław Reymont, and pianist Artur Rubinstein. Since 2015, the courtyard at number 3, the Passage of the Rose, features an installation made from shattered mirrors by Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska. Much further up—and many lovely facades later—you get to OFF Piotkowska at number 138/140, an enclave of cool bars, shops, and designer studios.

Ulica Piotrkowska, Lódz, Lodz, Poland

Żelazowa Wola

A mecca for all Fryderyk Chopin lovers, the composer's birthplace is a small 19th-century manor house, still with its original furnishings and now a museum dedicated to telling the story of the composer's life. When Chopin was born here on February 22 (or March 1), 1810, his father was a live-in tutor for the children of the wealthy Skarbek family. Although the family soon moved to Warsaw, Fryderyk used to return many times for holidays, and the house—not to mention the sounds and sights of the Mazovian countryside—is said to have influenced him in his early years.

The manor is surrounded by a beautifully landscaped park that was planted in 1930s and designed by Franciszek Krzywda Polkowski. In summer, from May through September, concerts are held on the house's terrace every Sunday at noon and 3 pm. On weekdays, at noon, there are presentations of young artists and talented students playing Chopin.

If you are driving, take Route 2 (E30) west out of Warsaw, and at Sochaczew, turn north on Route 580. The house is also reachable by PKS bus and by private minibuses running from Warsaw's main bus station, but several companies also offer guided tours that include both Żelazowa Wola and Nieborów, the estate of the Radziwiłł family (and sometimes Arkadia Park as well).

Łowicz Cathedral

Łowicz Cathedral mixes Renaissance and baroque styles, but its history goes back to the 12th century. Buried under its floor are famous bishops and laypersons. Worth noting are the rococo altar, beautifully carved 17th-century stalls, and side chapels—especially the chapel of Saint Victoria, Łowicz's patron saint. The latter chapel was designed in the 16th century by Jan Michałowicz of Urzędów, a renowned Polish Renaissance-era artist, who is also buried in the cathedral's crypt.