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Szczecin LakeHave you ever visited a country’s central touristic city, only to discover that its smaller, less populated cities are just as attractive and with several advantages? Think Bologna vs. Rome, Seville vs. Barcelona, and York vs. London. Add to that Fukuoka vs. Tokyo, Osaka, etc.

The Odra cruises.

The Odra cruises.

I will write about that in a couple of articles – the city of Szczecin, Poland and the region of West Pomerania in Poland. We just spent two months there, and I will make a case for cities like Szczecin, an exciting alternative as your base. However, I want to be clear: Poland has some superb areas to explore – Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Poznan, Lodz, and many more.

Poland is, for some, one of the least explored countries in terms of tourism and has much to offer. However, I will now concentrate on Szczecin and the surrounding West Pomerania region.

With its numerous roundabouts and small streets, Szczecin reminds one of Paris. It’s called the “green city” because three large forest complexes surround it. The city centre is also full of parks and a city square. The Odra River flows through the city, so numerous sailing marinas, beaches, and fishing areas are available.

Other notable visits are Waly Chrobrego, the National Museum, the Marine Academy, the Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle, the Archcathedral Basilica, the Port Gate, Old Town Hall, and Market Squares. Cafes and restaurants are liberally dotted among these areas to appeal to any appetite. Polish food is simply fantastic. It deserves an article on its own.

Dukes Castle in Szczecin.

Dukes Castle in Szczecin.

I will mention here that costs in the smaller cities and towns can be up to half the cost of the usual cities visited, which applies to restaurants, pubs, attractions, concerts, etc. As I always say, see the best-known places, but do not forget what you can experience in smaller, lesser-known places.

Culture and the arts are essential in Poland, and you will find world-class orchestras and theatres in every Polish city. They are there because people want them to attend. We attended a concert in the Mieczyslaw Karlowicz Philharmonic Szczecin, featuring the Warsaw Symphony orchestra as guests, and for about AUD 25.00 (USD 19.00), we enjoyed actual quality performances in this prestigious architectural building. Opera, ballet, and chamber orchestras give seasonal performances. For golfers, near Szczecin is the world-class Binowo Park Golf Club.

My wife took me to see the “Kino Pionier 1907” cinema, one of the oldest operating cinemas in the world. I could go on and on, but I am still amazed at how much we could do and enjoy at a reasonable cost. We found Szczecin, West Pomerania, both a surprise and a delight—not just because it’s my wife’s place of birth but also because of the variety of things to do in Szczecin and surrounding areas.

This region in north-western Poland is connected with the rest of the country and Europe by car routes and railway lines. Further, the seaport and resorts of Swinoujscie facilitate connections with European cities. From here, you can take a ferry to Sweden or Denmark. Berlin and the rest of Germany are remarkably close. As is Prague and Vienna. West Pomerania is a diversified region with well-known Spas and water activities on the numerous lakes and rivers, including canoeing, windsurfing, water skiing, or diving. Beautiful forests and hills create opportunities for hikers and bikers.

Lastly, we stayed at 4-star hotels for the cost of a meal out in our home country—unbelievable value.

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Written by: Richard Coles