Katowice is the largest city in Upper Silesia and Poland's main industrial centre. A rich cultural life with theatres, the Silesian Museum and Philharmonic Orchestras and the famous Spodek concert hall caters for a population of about 320,000 in the city itself and over 2.1 million if the surrounding cities of the Upper-Silesian Metropolitan Union are taken into account.
Located in the very middle of Silesia on the banks of the river Rawa, Katowice's mix of modern and historical architecture, easy access to the Beskids and other Silesian cities makes it a top visitor destination.
The city is at the intersection of major road and rail routes connecting Poland to the rest of Europe in all directions, with Katowice International Airport in nearby Pyrzowice. Until recently, the dominant economic sectors in the Katowice region were mining, steel, electrical machinery, electronics, and chemicals. Due to economic changes in Poland, this situation is changing, and heavy industry has given way to commerce and services.
The origins of Katowice go back to 1397 when the settlement of Kuźnica was founded. Katowice was first mentioned as a village in the middle of dense forests in 1598. In the 18th century numerous work colonies sprang up here and around 1769-70 the Duke of Pless established an underground coal mine. The next industrial sites were the Hohenlohe steelworks in the village of Wełnowiec, founded in 1805, the Baildon steelworks in 1828 (named after their founder, a Scotsman), and the Wilhelmina zinc works in 1834.
In 1873 Katowice achieved the status of county town. In 1897 Katowice was formed into a separate urban district, which also included the suburban municipalities of Bogucice - Zawodzie, Dąb, Wełnowiec and Załęże.
In 1889 one of the largest companies in Upper Silesia, the Kattowitzer Aktien-Gesellschaft, was set up with its headquarters in Katowice. As a result, major insurance companies and large-cap banks were attracted to the city. During the First World War, the steel industry continued to develop at a frenetic pace. Rail connections were also developed.
After Third Silesian Uprising Polish Government had decided to give Silesia considerable Autonomy with Katowice as a capital and home of the Silesian Parliament. It was the time of city most intense growth (1922-1939).
In 1975 the neighbouring municipalities of Piotrowice, Ochojec, Panewniki, Kostuchna, Wełnowiec, Szopienice, Giszowiec, Dąbrówka Mała and Murcki were merged with Katowice. Construction works were still continuing in the city centre. The main communications artery (al. W. Korfantego) was widened, old industrial buildings to the west of this road were demolished. To the east the historic Tiele-Winckler Palace was also demolished. On the market place, old buildings were replaced by modern shops: "Zenit" and "Skarbek", and also the "Dom Prasy".
The construction of the Roundabout and the "Flying Saucer" (Spodek) Sports Hall (1962–71) had a significant impact. The Millennium Housing Estate on the border of Katowice and Chorzów, the Paderewski Estate to the east of the city, the Południe Estate covering the suburbs of Kostuchna, Piotrowice, Ligota, and the Roździeński Housing Estate should also be mentioned.
In first decades of 21st century Katowice is going through another development phase. New main train station is being built and several competitions regarding redevelopment of strategic spaces (like Rynek, al. Korfantego and area behind Spodek) finished and are awaiting construction.
The Katowice-Pyrzowice Airport (KTW)  in Pyrzowice (34 km from Katowice) is an airport for both domestic and European flights. Operating airlines include:
WizzAir - Barcelona, Beauvais, Bergamo, Cologne/Bonn, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Forlì, Hahn, Madrid, Malmö, Pisa, Rome-Ciampino, Stockholm-Skavsta, Torp.
RyanAir - Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, London-Stansted, Manchester.
Cheaper option is to take the local bus (85 or 53) and then change. You can use this website to check connections rozklady.kzkgop.pl . It will cost 8 zł (you need to buy two tickets, 4 zł each).
There is also possibility to fly from and to nearby Kraków-Balice airport.
Katowice Main Railway Station has been remodeled in 2012 and is very convenient for travelers because of its numerous cafes, good signage, modern color scheme of white, blue, and occasional yellow, and bright lighting. It is located in the city center. The newly renovated train station has underneath it the bus depot, which has modern backlighting and nice colors to invite passengers on its 10 routes.
Trains from all parts of Poland and other countries arrive at Central Station. There are fourteen trains per day between Warsaw and Katowice and twenty-eight trains per day between Kraków and Katowice during the day; the journey takes 180 minutes (from Warsaw and Wrocław) and 80 minutes (from Kraków). You can arrive by train directly from Vienna, Budapest, Kiev, Berlin, Ostrava, Praha, Bohumin, Bratislava, Zilina, Český Těšín, Hamburg, Moscow, Minsk.
The Main Railway Station has left luggage lockers. The station is an easy two minute walk apart Main Bus Station.
The trains within Poland are run by Polskie Koleje Państwowe (see PKP). In the last few years privatization has split PKP into a number of different, smaller companies.
The ticket prices based on location and train type vary from 35 to over 100 zł, so be careful while choosing the train.
Long-distance bus services arrive at International Katowice Bus Station (in the city centre, close to Sadowa Street). The main operator is Eurolines.
Buses between Katowice and Kraków:
UNIBUS and Bus-Inter travel regularly (both operate twice per hour) throughout the day. The fare is 14 zł one way, and it is suggested that passengers book in advance, especially during Polish holidays and during peak commuting hours. UNIBUS use large modern coaches suitable for passengers with a lot of luggage, while Bus-Inter uses modern minibuses which may struggle to take large luggage during busy periods. On the other hand Bus-Inter is generally more responsive to demand and puts on extra minibuses during peak periods. Both operators state the route takes approximately 80 minutes dependent on traffic.
Buses are also operated by PKS Katowice, running something like once per each two hours: it takes ca. 2.5 hours to get to Kraków, costs 16 zł one way, but if you go round trip, it costs just 22 zł (6 zł less than UNIBUS or Bus-Inter). Note though that these are normal service buses which pretty much stop at every village on route between the cities.
There are also a number of private minibuses which operate between Kraków and Katowice. These though are difficult for non Polish speakers to find and use. Prices are comparable to the large companies listed above, so are only recommended when in the area with a local.
Buses between Katowice and Wrocław:
Buses operated by PKS Katowice run on different times, but there are at least 3 each day, some of them start in the night. It takes about 4 hours and the tickets cost about 25 zł.
The main approaches to Katowice are:
- from Kraków on the A-4 motorway; Katowice is about 60 km westward of Kraków
- from Wrocław on the A-4 motorway; Katowice is about 180 km eastward of Wroclaw
- from Warsaw on the E-67 European main road; Katowice is about 300 km south of Warsaw
- from Cieszyn (on the southern border) on the E-75 European main road; Katowice is about 70 km north of Cieszyn
All routes converge on the main crossroads (the A-4 and E-75) which lies near the city centre. Katowice has no big car parks system but there are many small car parks along the roads in the city center.
All public bus and tram transport is supervised by KZK GOP and the same tickets are used in 14 cities that constitute Silesian Metropolis. 24h free phone information: 0 800 16 30 30.
Buses & Trams
Many bus stations of the Passengers' Municipal Communication are situated in the core center of the city. At each bus-stop there is an information board with bus routes and where they go. The full map with bus routes is usually available in City Information Centre near Rynek (address: ul. Rynek 13; employees are multilingual).
There are also trams which transport passengers within the city and beyond the limits of the city. The dispatcher's office and information of the Municipal Tramway Enterprise are situated at the tram-stop in Rynek (the market square) in Katowice.
The same ticket type is used in bus and tram. Katowice offers many different tickets. One-zone ticket is suitable for traveling in the city limits. Zone bus stations (overstepping it in a bus or a tram means that one must buy next one-zone ticket or continue traveling with ticket suitable for more zones) usually are placed at the border of cities. Consider, if it is better to use one-ride ticket, week-ticket or monthly ticket. In the bus or the tram only one kind of ticket is available for sale - for three or more zones, for 4,40 PLN (or 2,20 PLN with reduced rate). One-ride tickets can be bought even in grocery stores. Newspaper stands or newsagent's stores sometimes sell other kinds. Ticket inspectors and bus/tram drivers often speak only Polish. When ticket inspector approaches you must show your ticket and proper document which allows the use of reduced rate.
One ride ticket price:
- within one zone (or 15 minutes) 3,00 PLN/ 1,50 PLN (reduced rate)
- within two zones (or 30 minutes) 3,60 PLN/ 1,80 PLN (reduced rate)
- within three or more zones (or one hour) 4,40 PLN/ 2,20 PLN (reduced rate)
- 1-day: normal rate 16 PLN, reduced rate 8 PLN
- 2-day: normal rate 26 PLN, reduced rate 13 PLN
- 5-day: normal rate 40 PLN, reduced rate 20 PLN
- 7-day: normal rate 46 PLN, reduced rate 23 PLN
- 14-day: normal rate 82 PLN, reduced rate 42 PLN
Taxi-stops are situated in several places in Katowice:
- at the entrance of the railway station on the ground floor from 3 Maja St.
- Plac Oddziałów Młodzieży Powstańczej
- the "Silesia" hotel
- Skargi St.
- the "Katowice" hotel
- Korfantego Av.
- Dworcowa St.
When you take a taxi always ask for the price beforehand unless you are willing to pay anything. Different types of taxis can charge very different prices which can vary up to 5 times the regular fare depending on location and time.
The finest examples of Modernism (International Style inspired architecture, in Polish Moderna) could be easily found in the city downtown. Central Katowice also contain a significant number of Art Nouveau (Secesja) buildings along with the Communist Era giants such as Spodek multipurpose arena complex or Superjednostka housing block.
- St. Michel Archangel A complex of the wooden churches in the Kościuszko Park
- The Cathedral, 49a Plebiscytowa Street.
- The Cemetery, 12 Kozielska St.
- Jewish cemetery, 16 Kozielska St. 06.00 to 19.00.
- Franciscan Monastery in Panewniki and Basilica, 76 Panewnicka, e-mail: email@example.com.
- The Wyspiański Theater
- Nikiszowiec, part of an administrative district Janów-Nikiszowiec built between 1908 and 1912 to house workers in the backyard of their place of employment – Giesche (now Wieczorek) coal mine.
- History of Katowice Museum, 9 Szafranka St.
- Silesian Museum, 3 W. Korfantego Av.
- Archidiocesan Museum, 39 Jordana St.
- Rondo Sztuki (The Roundabout of Art). Rondo im. Gen. Jerzego Ziętka 1. Two galleries and a cafeteria with concerts and parties in a building located in the middle of a roundabout, close to Spodek hall.
- Gallery "Szyb Wilson", 1 Oswobodzenia St. Motto: Before swallow us the fires - about spirituality of our factories.
- BWA Contemporary Art Gallery Katowice. 6 w. Korfantego Avenue
- Parnas Contemporary Art Gallery, 10 Kochanowskiego St.
- Katowice has several large parks, and some small forests either with its city limits or nearby
Katowice has several new, multi-screen cinemas as well as some surviving old, traditional ones. Check if films are shown dubbed or subbed.
- Światowid. 7 3-rd Maja Street. The primary place for art-house film in the city centre
- Rialto, 24 St Jana St. An artist run venue which specializes in more experimental film and music and has a lovely cafe too.
- Cinema City - Punkt 44, 44 Gliwicka St. Modern multiplex type cinema with approx 13 screens and IMAX 3-D system.
- Cinema City - Silesia City Center, 107 Chorzowska St. Modern multiplex type cinema with 13 screens. It is located inside the biggest shopping mall in Katowice, Silesia City Center.
- Helios, 13 Uniwersytecka St. Modern multiplex type cinema with approx 9 screens. This one is in Altus - the highest building in Katowice.
- Centrum Sztuki Filmowej - Kino Kosmos, 66 Sokolska Pl. For art-house film.
- Silesian Theatre. 2 Main Market. Katowice's main repertory theatre, located in the city center.
- Theatre Korez. 2 Plac Sejmu Slaskiego. Well known for being involved in some of the most cutting-edge theatre in the city.
- Theatre Cogitatur. 9a Gliwicka Street. Experimetal theatre known also as former organizers of A'Part Festival
- Theatre A PART. Is contemporary visual and physical theatre group, formed by Marcin Herich, actor, director and organizer of theater events. They are also organizers of A Part Theater Festival
- Silesian Theatre of Doll and Actor Ateneum, 10 Sw. Jana St. One of the oldest doll's bands in Poland. They are organizers of International Festival of Doll Theaters Katowice - For Children.
- Teatr 'Gry i ludzie' ('Games and People' Theater), 2 Niepodległości Av. Experimental and mainly outdoor theatrical group having their scene in the old railway station.
- Concert Hall The Spodek, 35 W. Korfantego Ave. Wide variety of concerts, performances and sports events.
- Silesian Philharmonic, 2 Sokolska St.
- National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice. 2 Plac Sejmu Slaskiego.
There is a lot of cultural events in Katowice. Exhibitions, concerts, festivals, spectacles and so on - they all happen in galleries, clubs and theaters. It is impossible to mention here all of them as they appear without any regular schedule. To get information 'whats on' it is suggested to have a look at up-to-date Internet releases of conventional press like Ultramaryna or Gazeta Wyborcza: Co jest grane bringing cultural news for whole agglomeration. Below there is a list of events that happen at regular schedule.
- Polish Directors' Art Festival "Interpretacje". Festival of theatres and TV drama - its a competition of directors for "Konrad Prize".
- "A Part" Theatre Festival. Is international review of alternative and experimental "OFF" theatres rather than classic ones.
- Summer Theater Garden. "LOT" are summertime outdoor every weekend theatre meetings with comedy and cabaret spectacles. It is organized by Korez theatre.
- "Cult" Film Festival. Festival of esteemed films. There are numerous in- and out-door movie shows and concerts.
- ARTerie young art festival. Annual festival of students' of art universities and faculties that take place in the autumn. Recent edition (2006) had international cast.
- Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition For Conductors. Prestige open competition for conductors of all nationalities.
- International Students' Festival of Folklore. Annual festival of folkloristic music and dance takes place at the end of summer not only in Katowice but also in many other places in the region. It is organized by Silesian University.
- Mayday. Polish edition of international technoparty located in "Spodek".
- OFF Festival. Possibly the most important new music festival in Poland. First weekend of August.
- "Rawa Blues" Festival. Is the biggest in-door blues festival in the world. It happens every year since 1981, from the beginning Rawa Blues is led by the bluesman Irek Dudek.
- Tauron Festival. Techno and dance rave that takes place in the Industrial Museum Complex, during August, not far from Spodek
- for board gaming, collectible card gaming, and similar pursuits, get in touch with the Silesian Fantasy Club, or visit the "Bard" store/gaming club at Kościuszko Street near the center (inside a building, hard to spot from the street, look for a yellow sign).
- Katowice has a zoo, an amusement park, and a planetarium
- University of Silesia (Uniwersytet Śląski)
- Karol Adamiecki University of Economics (Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny im. Karola Adamieckiego w Katowicach)
- Silesian Academy of Music (Akademia Muzyczna w Katowicach)
- Silesian Academy of Sports (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego w Katowicach)
- Medical University of Silesia (Śląski Uniwersytet Medyczny)
- Silesian Academy of Fine Arts (Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Katowicach)
- Silesian University of Technology - Faculty of Materials Science and Metallurgy, Faculty of Transport and Faculty of Management (all the rest of University is located in neighboring towns)
Katowice sports several large supermarkets, from general to specialized (electronics, home equipment), as well as department stores (malls), in addition to a wide variety of smaller shops. The largest, very modern department store is Silesia City Center.
For local handcrafts, gifts and such, ask or google for "Cepelia" stores. There is also a tiny store at the Katowice Airport, but don't expect to find much there; you'll be better served at the Krakow or Warsaw airports. The airport stores will carry more of the international tourist oriented items; Cepelia stores will have some rarer items.
There are many restaurants in Katowice, including international chains such as McDonald's, Burger King or Pizza Hut. Like elsewhere in Poland, majority of restaurants in Katowice represent European style cuisine, in particular, Polish one, with a number of Silesian regional dishes. It is not uncommon for a restaurant menu to have an English description, but you cannot always rely on it; similarly, younger staff may speak passable English, but no guarantees there neither.
In addition to restaurants accessible from the streets, there are also some to be found in large malls and shopping centers.
- Bar Mleczny "Europa", ul. Mickiewicza 8, one of so-called "milk bars" where you can have a meal without spending a lot of money, milk bars are preferred by students and travelers without fat wallet.
- Deka Smak. Ul. Stawowa 10, self-service restaurant where you pay for the weight of the food you chose.
- Dobra Karma. Ul. św. Jacka 1, healthy food (breakfasts, pizzas, soups, pastas), nice interiors, children welcome.
- Złoty Osioł. Ul. Mariacka 1, vegetarian bar having unusual atmosphere and events like poet meetings or concerts
- Buddha. Ul. Drzymały 9. Indian restaurant. Vegetarian and carnivore options.
- CityRock. Ul. Chorzowska 9B. Kitschy American style. No English menu necessary since the names of meals are in English.
- Fantasmagoria, ul. Gliwicka 51. Polish and Ukrainian cuisine. Bright interior and a terrace in summer.
- U Babuni. Ul. Kilińskiego 16. Rustic, wooden interior, traditional meals.
- Zaklęty Czardasz. Ul. Kopernika 9. Hungarian restaurant and a winery in the cellar.
- Kryształowa. Ul. Warszawska 5. Elegant place, Polish and Silesian meals. No prices in drinks menu, 10% for service is added to the tab.
- Karcma pod Strzechom. Ul. Grzyśki 13. Polish mountain style cottage in the area of blocks of flats. They serve folk dishes mainly.
- Marysin Dwór. Ul. Pukowca 17a. It is styled as countryside noble residence from old days and located in industrial area.
- Hipnoza Jazz Club. Pl. Sejmu Śląskiego 2. One of most active places in Katowice. A lot of concerts, drinks and interesting dishes.
- Elektro, pl. Sejmu Śląskiego 2, Hipnoza's cellar.
- 2B3. Ul. Sienkiewicza 28.
- GuGalander. Ul. Jagiellońska 17A - a bar, a scene, a gallery place with good music, concerts, spectacles and so on.
Mariacka Street has the highest density of drinking establishments, among others:
- Cooler Club & Lounge.
- KATO. Local patriots, bar is in a constant state of being built.
- Katofonia. Live rock, blues concerts.
- Lemoniada. Two floors; the first with dance and pop music, the second with electro, located in 4 Mariacka St.
- Lorneta z Meduzą. A bar inspired by bistros from the twenties. Open 24/7. Every drink costs 4 zł, every snack - 8 zł. Full of bums and hipsters.
- Pub Śruba. Students' place.
Rather common discos
- Inqbator. Ul. Dworcowa 2.
- Mega club. Ul. Dworcowa 4.
- Spiż. Ul. Opolska 22, a club with its own small brewery
- Carpe Diem. Plac Wolności 14. Katowice branch of Kraków's rock club.
There is a medium number of hotels and guest houses in the Katowice area. There are also some couchsurfing and similar hosts in the area.
- School Youth Hostel Ślązaczek, ul. Sokolska 26, ☎ . Check-in: 6PM, check-out: 10AM. Located just about centre of the city in building of technical high school. Special rules apply as this is a youth hostel . 25 - 35 PLN + 8 for linen.
- Jopi Hostel, ul. Plebiscytowa 23, ☎ . 28 beds in 2, 4, 6 person rooms. Six bathrooms. Free WiFi. There is also good shared kitchen and free tee. 41 - 54 PLN.
- Hotel Zaleze, ul. Gliwicka 106. in a secure, but a little miners' area two kilometers west of the railway station and downtown
- Hotel Jantor, ul. Nałkowskiej 10 (In old mining estate Nikiszowiec). Not modern but clean and cheap 2-Bed Rooms. The hotel has a free guarded car park and a restaurant.
- Hotel Monopol, ul. Dworcowa 5 (near Rynek and train station), ☎ +48 (0/32) 782 82 82, fax: +48 (0/32) 782 82 83, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 1PM. Located in the heart of the Old Town, this grand old hotel was opened in 1903.
- Qubus Hotel, ul. Uniwersytecka 13, ☎ +48 (0/32) 601 0 100, fax: +48 (0/32) 601 0 200, e-mail: email@example.com. Modern, four-star hotel located in the centre, has a Sky Bar with nice views on the 27th floor.
- angelo Hotel Katowice, ul. Stawowa 24 (500m from Spodek and train station), ☎ +48 (0/32) 783 81 00, fax: +48 (0/32) 783 81 03, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12 noon. Modern, four-star hotel located in the centre. It features 203 comfortable rooms and apartments and the biggest conference center in the area with 12 conference rooms with total area of 1 350m2. From €59.
- Katowice's area code (for landline numbers) is 32 when dialed from within Poland or +4832 from outside Poland.
- There are not many places that offer web and other Internet access. But there are some:
Katowice is a generally safe city to stay in. Beware of the usual nuisance of petty theft (especially at Railway Station).
- Important phone numbers: police: 997, fire department: 998, ambulance: 999, all three at common, universal number 112
- Municipal guard: +48 32 986
- Watch out for pickpockets in public transport and busy places.
- Park your car in safe place, on a guarded parking if possible.
- Most long-distance trains have compartments, choose the occupied ones so you don't ride alone. Also, during night - make sure that at least one person is not asleep.