Torun is one of the oldest Polish cities, and its history is related to the history of the Teutonic Order in Poland. However, today among the top things to see in Torun there are little that relate to those times. This is due to Mikolaj Kopernik, the most famous Polish Astronomer, who was born in Torun in 1473.
Torun was settled in the VIIIth century and was relocated and expanded by Teutonic Knights who started to christianize some regions of Poland and made Torun their headquarters before they moved to Malbork.
Although Torun had no direct access to the Baltic Sea, its location at the Vistula River bank allowed the city to become a member of Hansa and thus filled its treasury with gold and money – Torun was one of the richest cities in Poland in medieval ages.
During the Second World War, there were almost no fights inside the city, which saved the Old Town from destruction.
Below you’ll find a list of top things to do in Torun, but if you decide to come here, consider also making a day trip to Bydgoszcz.
Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikolaj Kopernik) house
Famous Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus was born in one of the two buildings that belonged to his family. Now, both host a very modern museum dedicated to his legacy, and also present how people lived here in the medieval ages. The entrance fee is 15 PLN (free entrance on Wednesday) and 15 PLN more if you wish to watch a 4D film (earlier arrangement might be needed for the English version). In the museum, audio guides in English and German are available.
The Old Town
Torun is often related to as a “small Krakow”, due to its Old Town, which sometimes resembles Krakow. It is of course much smaller than Krakow Old Town but is very beautiful and definitely worth paying a visit. It has been awarded many awards, including being declared one of the 7 miracles of Poland and getting on the list of 10 most beautiful places to visit in Europe by The Huffington Post. Torun Old Town has been also listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites
Torun Old Town was not destroyed during the Second World War and kept its medieval layout. But except for that, there are a lot of places to visit in this part of town, including many gothic churches, Town Hall, city fortifications, ruins of Teutonic Knights’ Castle and many tenement houses, with “Kamienica pod Gwiazda” as an example.
You might not be aware of that, but Torun is famous in Poland for its gingerbread. There are two museums in Torun dedicated to this delicious cake:
The Museum of Torun Gingerbread
This museum is located in the former Weese Gingerbread Factory and is the biggest Gingerbread Museum in Europe. Its impressive exhibition is very modern and uses many interactive, high-tech equipment, but at the same time, it consists of many exhibits that have origins in the XVII century. For a small extra fee, you will have a chance to bake your own gingerbread. Ticket price is 12 PLN (16 PLN if you want to bake your gingerbread). English/German guide is 90 PLN/group.
The Living Museum of Gingerbread
In this museum, baking your own gingerbread is the main show and attraction and is included in the price. Except for that, you will also visit rooms resembling the manufacturing room from 19/20th century. There are shows in English or German as well, please consult the museum’s website for details.
There is no better place to touch Universe than the city where Nicolaus Copernicus was born. Planetarium in Torun was opened in February 1994 in a historical tank of the old municipal gasworks in Torun. The Planetarium offers astronomical shows and two interactive exhibitions, presenting the construction of the Universe, stars, constellations, and planets of the Solar System as well as the history of astronomic discoveries more familiar. Some of the shows are available in foreign languages: English, Spanish, German or Russian. Consult Planetarium website for details. The show lasts about 40 minutes, and the ticket costs 17 PLN and may be bought online. Look for or ask about Family ticket (Bilet rodzinny) – entrance for 3-4 people (max 2 adults and 1-3 children costs 12 PLN/person).
You may see teasers of some shows on Youtube.
Vistula river cruise
If you have seen Torun from inside, maybe it’s time to look at it from outside? From May to the end of September, starting at 9 am, every hour until 6 pm, 40 minutes long cruises start at Bulwar Filadelfijski. The ticket for the cruise costs 15 PLN and 10 PLN for children.
Another option to look at Torun from Vistula River is to take a cruise with punter’s boat. Punters offer a wide range of cruises, including sunrise, sunset and night cruises at the price of 40-60 PLN depending on the cuise. These cruises may be booked over the internet on Torun Punters website. (unfortunately, in Polish only).