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Over the last year and a half, I got to visit the city of Łódź on two separate occasions. It isn’t usually people’s first choice when visiting Poland due to its post-industrial character and run-down city centre.
At first I was a little apprehensive myself, but I soon fell in love with its artistic atmosphere and laid-back vibe, and I know it’s a city I will gladly keep returning to.
A little bit of history…
The dynamic development of Łódź started back in 1820, when the land was cleared to build housing and factories which shaped the city’s character for decades to come. At that time, it had a little under 900 inhabitants. With thousands of people coming to Łódź in the hope for a better tomorrow, the city gained the nickname “Promised Land”.
Shortly after, the city’s textile industry reached a level that other cities envied. A century later, there were 677 textile factories which employed nearly 67,000 people. However, in the 90s of the 20th century, the textile industry almost entirely collapsed. The city was forced to develop and focus on other branches instead.
Where we stayed in Łódź
When I first came to Łódź with a friend and her husband for a Thirty Seconds to Mars concert, we chose Lite House. The place was in a great location, had everything we could possibly need, and most importantly – was very reasonably priced. I don’t remember the exact price because my friend booked it on her account, but I’m pretty sure we paid under 200 PLN (£40) between the three of us.
Once my friend and her husband left in the morning, I checked into Hotel Savoy for my second night in the city. It was definitely one of the most old school hotels I’ve ever stayed in, but I enjoyed it. Hotel Savoy is one of the only two hotels in Łódź to have a man-operated lift. The operator was a lovely elderly man who made sure I sat down comfortably and kept cracking jokes. I paid around 90 PLN (£18) for a single room, which I thought was a really good price for a hotel right in the heart of the city.
A year later, I came to Łódź with my boyfriend and his mum for a Florence and the Machine concert and we stayed in the coolest Airbnb (Update – July 2020: Sadly, it looks like the flat is no longer available). It was located in a monitored flat complex within walking distance from Piotrkowska Street. As guests, we had unlimited access to a Finnish sauna, fitness centre and a swimming pool, which we definitely took advantage of. Overall, this place deserves a glowing review and we’ve been recommending it to everyone ever since. We paid around £110 for 3 nights between the three of us. It included a referral discount, but the price would’ve been very attractive even without it.
If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can get £25 off your first booking if you sign up via this* link, and I will get some money off my next booking too!
What we saw in Łódź
Piotrkowska Street, commonly known as Pietryna among locals, is the commercial and social centre of the city. Around 4.2 km long, this street is lined with renovated tenement buildings, shops, beer gardens, clubs, and restaurants. It serves a similar function as Old Towns in other cities, and I would argue that strolling down Piotrkowska Street and admiring the architecture is a great attraction in itself.
Pasaż Róży (Róża’s Passage)
While wandering around Piotrkowska Street, you simply cannot miss this courtyard. Its walls are covered with thousands of mirror shards which reflect the daylight, creating an outstanding effect. The artist named this installation after her daughter who was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer. Just like this once-run-down passage into which new life has been breathed, Róża regained her eyesight following extensive treatment.
For many years, the city has been regarded as the capital of Polish cinematography, earning the nickname HollyŁódź. The post-war period saw the establishment of the elite Łódź Film School. It has educated multiple outstanding film directors and actors, including Cannes and Oscars winners.
The city pays homage to prominent Polish actors, film directors, camera operators, and composers with its very own Alley of Stars, inspired by the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, located on Piotrkowska Street.
People visiting the city with children or cartoon enthusiasts of any age might find it worth looking into Fairytale Łódź. Łódź is home to the Se-ma-for studio, which has been producing animated films and cartoons for over seven decades. There are ten small statues of various cartoon characters scattered around the city – happy searching!
Taking a street art route is a great way to discover Łódź. The first murals appeared in the 1960s as a way of covering grey walls and breathing life into the city landscape. Soon, they began springing up like mushrooms and became the city’s showpiece.
There are currently approximately 150 murals located around the city. You can download the latest map for easier navigation, and if you want to find out more about each mural, In Your Pocket has you covered.
Even if retail therapy is not your thing, this shopping centre situated in a renovated 19th-century industrial complex is a must-see place. In the central part, there is a market square with fountains where in the summer you can attend a concert, relax in one of the beer gardens, or on an artificial beach. In the winter, it is transformed into a skating rink. The complex, which spans over an area equivalent to 54 football pitches, also includes various restaurants, a cinema, a modern art museum, and a luxury hotel.
Księży Młyn (Priest’s Mill) and the Palm House
One of the most beautiful areas of Łódź is definitely Księży Młyn. Back in the day, it used to be essentially a city within a city – a factory complex with residential buildings for workers, mansions of the owners, as well as its own school, hospitals, and a fire station. The area has recently been revitalised – mansions were turned into museums, while the old factory was converted into lofts. These post-industrial buildings also play host to a number of cultural events.
Nestled in the area is the most modern palm house in Poland which houses around 4500 specimens across three different pavilions. You can also find turtles and multiple species of fish.
I love visiting palm houses and botanical gardens wherever I go. With ticket prices ranging between 5 and 10 PLN (£1-2) it was a no-brainer, and it was easily one of my favourite things I got to do in Łódź.
OFF Piotrkowska is a dining and shopping area located in an old cotton mill. You can find plenty of food trucks, shops, clubs, and restaurants with a vast outdoor seating area. A number of design companies and publishing houses also have their headquarters there. I would highly recommend heading there for lunch or dinner to relax and just soak up the atmosphere.
The Central Museum of Textiles
The Central Museum of Textiles is the perfect place to visit in order to really understand the city’s history. The museum’s collection includes textile machinery, various fabrics, garments, and other artefacts related to the textile manufacturing process.
I wrote a separate post about my experience visiting the museum, but if you want to see what is currently on display, it is worth checking the museum’s website.
Where we ate in Łódź
Disclaimer: I visited the first two restaurants during my first visit back in April 2018 and the last two during my second time in Łódź in March 2019.
I’ll admit the restaurant’s decor was the main reason I chose to dine there in the first place, but it was the quality of food that made me come back the following day. I tried one of their burgers and a pesto pasta, and I left full and content both times. It also goes to show that online reviews aren’t the be-all and end-all. Although I very often check them when looking for new restaurants, we should always follow our instincts. At the time of my visit, Agrafka was one of the lower-ranked restaurants in Łódź on TripAdvisor. I cannot understand why, as I would certainly recommend this place to anyone!
Owoce i Warzywa
I went there for breakfast upon my boyfriend’s recommendation (he used to live in the city and it was one of his favourites). It is located right across the street from Hotel Savoy, so it doesn’t get more convenient than that. I got an amaretto latte and a hot sandwich with Parma ham, mozzarella, basil pesto, and rocket salad. Although it was admittedly rather pricey, I catch myself thinking about that breakfast every now and then, which in my opinion justifies the splurge (and what drove the price up was the fact that I mistakenly ordered a latte with real amaretto instead of amaretto syrup).
We decided to head to Breadnia for breakfast having seen glowing reviews on TripAdvisor. Famous for its freshly baked bread and pastries, the place offers an almost overwhelming choice of breakfast sets.
I got a croissant stuffed with an omelette with Parma ham and pesto, and an Irish coffee. My boyfriend got a Greek set – buns with feta cheese, eggplant paste, hummus, dried tomato paste, goat cheese and olives, while his mum went for a vegetarian option with three different types of spreads.
We enjoyed our food so much we decided to go back on our final day to get a full English. This time it took forever to get our food, but they offered us free croissants as compensation – extra points for good customer service!
One evening, we decided to head to OFF Piotrkowska for dinner. Our visit coincided with St. Patrick’s Day and the restaurant had a special Ireland-themed menu to celebrate. I had a pide with pulled pork slow-cooked in Guinness beer, cheddar, parsley pesto, rocket salad, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. If their regular menu is as good as the special one, you are in for a real treat!
So, that’s the end of my mini guide! If you’ve been to Łódź, what was your favourite place? If not, I hope my post made you consider adding the city to your bucket list. I, for one, have a few more things that I want to tick off, so another visit is only a matter of time…