Top things to do in Bydgoszcz

written by Maciek Bogdanski

Although Bydgoszcz is bigger and nearly as old as Torun, and the list of interesting things to do in Bydgoszcz is comparable to those in Torun, it has long been in the shadow of its neighbour. Although both cities are very close to each other and share some history, Torun was always considered more interesting. I have visited Torun many times, while Bydgoszcz never tempted me to come and have a look. Bydgoszcz simply lacked what its rival has: an Old Town that survived the war and a world-famous person – Nicolaus Copernicus – to be associated with.

But recently the situation has changed – Bydgoszcz started to invest in the city centre and renovate historical (not medieval, though) buildings, and interesting museums were opened, which resulted in mentioning the town as one of the top destinations in Poland. So if you ask yourself “Is Bydgoszcz worth visiting?”, the answer is simple: Yes, indeed, Bydgoszcz is worth visiting, and if you are still in doubt, below you’ll find a list of top places to see in Bydgoszcz that I prepared after my visit to this city.

Top things to do in Bydgoszcz – walk around the Old Town

Although the Old Town is tiny, it is charming. Don’t expect to see here old brick churches or walls, you’ll find here mainly XIXth century buildings. In addition to the Main Square, which is in the heart of the Old Town, another significant part of Bydgoszcz Old Town is the Brda river waterfront and Mill Island. But interesting architecture in Bydgoszcz is not limited to the Old Town. Gdanska Street and Adama Mickiewicza street are only two examples of many more streets worth going along and looking at tenement houses. You may choose to see them on your way to the Archer Lady statue.

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Things to do in Bydgoszcz - Market Square in Bydgoszcz Old Town
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Mill Island and Rother Mills

Mill Island is one of the most picturesque places in Bydgoszcz and this is the place that surprised me a lot. It is now the cultural centre of the city, with a grass square prepared to host outdoor events and Opera Nova in the proximity. There are several museums on the Island, including the Treasure and Mint and the gallery of Leon Wyczolkowski, a Polish painter, but if you are not really into museums, you may rent a pedalo in the marina. But it is also worth staying on the island for a bit more, as among the top places to see in Bydgoszcz Mill Island is Rother Mills, while it’s possible to enter.

Visiting Rother Mills

Rother Mills dominate the Island – these are the biggest buildings there. Built in 1840, they were operating until the 90s of the XXth century. Now they are the property of the city and are in the process of being transformed into an exhibition centre. But until it is open, it is still possible to make a tour through the mill. It is definitely worth visiting before it opens.

One of the top things to do in Bydgoszcz is to visit Rother Mills
One of the top things to do in Bydgoszcz is to visit Rother Mills

Bydgoszcz Cathedral

The Cathedral is one of the few gothic buildings in Bydgoszcz. It is located between the Mill Island and the Main Square. Its construction started in 1346, but as it was primarily made of wood, it soon was destroyed by fire. The works started again in 1425, this time with brick as the construction material. The most valuable masterpiece of the Cathedral is “Mary with the Rose” painted in the XVth century by an unknown painter.

Museum of soap and the history of dirt

This is a unique museum in Poland or even in Europe, and definitely should be placed on your list when you visit Bydgoszcz. The visit to the museum starts with a soap making workshop (work hard on your soap, as you will keep it after the workshop), and then you walk around the museum with a guide (guided tours in English start at 11:30, 13:00, 14:30 and 16:30, you may choose language while reserving ticket). It is necessary to book a ticket well in advance – I didn’t during my first visit to Bydgoszcz and didn’t have chance to enter.

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Top things to do in Bydgoszcz - visit Museum of Soap and history of dirt in Bydgoszcz
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Exploseum, the former nitroglycerine factory DAG Fabrik Bromberg is located in the outskirts of Bydgoszcz. It was built in 1939 and produced TNT and nitroglycerine for the German Army trying to conquer the Soviet Union. It was also hell for over 40 thousand forced workers who had to work in the factory. After the war, the compound was plundered by the Soviet Army and abandoned.

In 2008 part of the former factory was transformed into a museum. Inside you’ll see several exhibitions – from the biography of Alfred Nobel (the inventor of nitroglycerine), history of explosives, to history of production and sabotage during the Second World War.

Visits to the museum are available Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am until 6 pm, the last admission is at 5 pm. It takes about two hours to see the whole exhibition.

To get to Exploseum (Alfred Nobel Street) you need a car, taxi or take the bus 55 and change to bus 68. You may check the bus schedule for the buses here.

The Archer Lady

The archer lady is one of the symbols of Bydgoszcz. The naked statue realised by Ferdinand Lepcke, a German sculptor, at the beginning of the XXth century used to be a source of the embarrassment of puritans. Its breasts were covered on some occasions, and it was even close to being demolished. But those times are gone, and now it stands in the centre of Jan Kochanowski Park, vis a vis the Theatre. There are four copies of the statue in Germany.

Another sculpture by Ferdinand Lepcke, the Deluge Fountain, is located in Casimir the Great park.

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The Archer Lady - the symbol of Bydgoszcz
The Archer Lady – the symbol of Bydgoszcz


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