Bielsko Biala is a charming town located at the foot of the Beskidy Mountains in Poland, merging urban and mountain benefits into one coherent piece. Its picturesque location, interesting architecture and beautiful historic old town make it one of the most beautiful cities in Poland
Only recently I decided to visit Bielsko Biala for the first time to see for myself what this city really has to offer, and of course, to go hiking!
For most of my (pre-nomadic) life, I have lived just a 1.5 hour train ride from Bielsko Biala, but I never even considered a visit.
Bielsko was just sitting there, on a map of southern Poland, without asking for anything, but hiding a surprising charm and an incredible tourist potential.
Hmm, do I want to change that? Should I write this article?
I think I should. Because if you are visiting the southern parts of Poland, you should definitely make a stop in Bielsko Biala.
Table of Contents
What is Bielsko Biala known for
Bielsko-Biała is affectionately called “Little Vienna” because of its abundance of Art Nouveau and Viennese-style architecture. The nickname may be somewhat exaggerated, but it very much reflects the atmosphere of the city.
Bielsko Biala is mostly known for two things – its striking architecture and for being a great getaway to the Beskidy mountains.
Historically, Bielsko Biala consisted of two separate towns – Silesian Bielsko and Lesser Poland’s Biala, located on opposite banks of the Biała River. The two towns were merged in 1951.
Until World War II, both Bielsko and Biała were characterized by multinationality and multireligiousness. Poles, Germans, Czechs, Jews and Moravians lived side by side, and each of these nations left its mark on the history of the city. The city was also known as an important manufacturing hub and today you can visit some interesting museums dedicated to Bielsko’s industrial past and admire Viennese-style villas where financial magnates once lived.
Is Bielsko Biala worth visiting
If you are looking for a destination in southern Poland that’s off the beaten track without compromising on awesomeness you should definitely visit Bielsko Biala.
Bielsko Biala is worth visiting for many reasons. It’s not just the beautiful architecture that should make you visit the town, although for many that’s enough of a reason. Bielsko Biala is simply a very charming town, with a stunning old town, cobbled streets and ornate townhouses, many interesting cafés and great restaurants, surrounded by beautiful Polish mountains.
Bielsko Biala has a very special vibe. Slightly vintage, a bit set back in time yet modern at the same time. But even what is modern in Bielsko, still seems a bit old school. While being a pretty big and busy city, it feels strangely peaceful. And very green! Similar to, and yet quite different from other cities in Poland you might find on a tourist map.
Bielsko is definitely worth a visit. Even if it seems a bit out of the way, it’s worth the trip. I bet once you arrived you will want to stay for a little bit longer.
Is One Day Enough to Visit Bielsko Biala
Is one day enough to visit Bielsko Biala? Yes, it is. If you come from Katowice or Krakow, you can definitely visit Bielsko Biala on a day trip. The train journey from Katowice takes just over an hour and from Krakow 2.5 hours.
But the question is whether you want to.
I highly recommend you stay at least one night in Bielsko Biala. The city shows a different, even more, charming face when the sun goes down. Bielsko Biala isn’t a party town, but there is plenty to do here in the evening as well.
The Sulkowski Castle and other historic buildings are beautifully lit up at night, the Old Town market square comes to life with many restaurants and bars open until late in the evening and the cobbled streets and nooks are very romantic. You shouldn’t miss out on this experience!
So stay at least one night in Bielsko Biala. Add some adventure to your stay and the next day go hiking or take the cable car up the mountain.
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Where to stay in Bielsko Biala
So if you are planning to spend a night or two in Bielsko Biala, you will have a great choice of very affordable and great accommodation options.
Bielsko Biala is very walkable and most of the best hotels and hostels are located near the city centre.
The best area to stay in Bielsko Biala is of course the historic Old Town, offering plenty of stunning apartments and homestays located in historic buildings.
If you are a budget traveller, you are in luck because there are many affordable accommodation options in Bielsko Biala. I stayed at the awesome Hello Hostel. It’s a really great hostel located just a 5-minute walk from the train station and 10 minutes from the Old Town. You can rent a private room for only 25 €.
I rented a private room as I took my mom on a trip. It was my mom’s first hostel experience and she loved it. The rooms are clean, the kitchen and common room are great, and the staff is very friendly.
The most popular accommodation type in Bielsko Biala is a private apartment, many of which you can find on Booking.com or Airbnb. You can find a great apartment like this one for as little as €30 per night. If you are travelling as a family or a couple, you can choose something like Apartament Piccolo or this apartment with a garden for example.
If you want to treat yourself, how about this rooftop apartment with a private spa and incredible view?
How to get to Bielsko Biala
The best way to get to Bielsko Biala is by train from Katowice. You can also take a train from Krakow, but on some routes, you will have to change trains in Katowice. But from there it is only a little more than an hour’s trip.
It is very easy to get to Bielsko Biala from katowice. There is a direct train that leaves every 1.5 hours and takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. The train ticket costs 15zl.
Things to do in Bielsko Biala
Discover charming streets of Bielsko Biala
If you simply walk around the city, you will undoubtedly come across many sights and interesting landmarks, as well as beautiful hidden streets. But to make it easy for you, I’ll lay out a little plan for your walk, and if you follow it, you’ll see the best parts of town.
But feel free to stop or deviate at any time, the town wandering is an art of freedom.
I recommend taking a walk to Biala first. You will cross the Biala River and as you walk down 11 Listopada Street, make your way towards Incredible Town Hall (Ratusz) and then to the Frog Hose – the Art Nouveau townhouse with an entrance decorated with two decadent frogs. Beautiful building worth snapping a photo of.
Take your time as you walk around. You’ll spot little figurines representing Polish cartoon characters like Reksio or the Baltazar Gąbka monument. Confused? Bielsko Biala is home to a famous cartoon production company, and these characters are some of the most famous Polish cartoon characters.
After seeing the Biala, head towards Chrobrego Square which is located in the Bielsko on the other side of the river, from where you can explore the historic Old Town. This is the oldest part of Bielsko Biala.
From Plac Chrobrego you can see Sulkowski Castle, which houses a museum and which I recommend visiting.
Then walk up Wzgorze Street. From here the world is your oyster. Wherever you turn, you will be amazed.
Head towards Rynek and don’t miss Podcienie Street, as well as Kreta, Cieszynska and Schodowa Streets. Especially the Schodowa Street!
Spend some time at the Rynek (the main square of the Old Town), grab lunch, a drink or an ice cream. It’s a nice historical square, not the biggest, but with a lot of charm.
Finally, you can take a walk towards St. Nicolas Cathedral and then the Martin Luther Monument.
St Nicolas Cathedral is a very interesting-looking building. After numerous reconstructions, it lost its Gothic character but gained an unusual tower, because it was modelled on the belfry from St. Mark in Venice.
If you want to learn a little bit more about those buildings and historical landmarks – I will describe them in a little more detail, in the next section.
Spot the architectural masterpieces of Bielsko Biala
In Bielsko Biala, there are many beautiful and attractive buildings and monuments that are really worth visiting or looking at. From historic mansions and buildings built for wealthy merchants and factory owners to beautifully decorated buildings and castles, I guarantee you will find at least a few that will truly wow you.
As I mentioned earlier just by walking around, inevitably you will come across the stunning architecture. But here are a few really worth mentioning and touching on.
The Bielsko Biala train station building makes an impression both from the outside and the inside.
It was built in 1890 in the style of Austrian provincial railway stations. When you get off the train and enter the station hall, be sure to take a look at the beautifully frescoed ceilings.
This unusual Art Nouveau tenement is among the several exceptional buildings of this type situated within the city, but it is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and well-known.
Its name makes total sense – the facade is adorned with fancy-attired frogs, with one strumming a mandolin and the other holding a pipe and a glass, leaning on a wine barrel. This decoration actually has a meaning; the building was once Rudolf Nahowski’s winery.
Historical villas in Bielsko-Biała which were homes of wealthy merchants and businessmen are a testament to the city’s rich cultural and architectural heritage and above all are very beautiful.
Take a look at the stunning Teodor Sixt Neo-Renaissance villa on Mickiewicza Street or located on the same street, the residence of the jute manufacturer Hermann Schneider combining Art Nouveau form with neo-baroque elements.
Originally built by the Cieszyn Piast dynasty in the 14th century, has undergone several renovations over time. Later on, Duke Ludwik Sułkowski gave it a contemporary and eclectic appearance in its final redesign.
Today, it serves as the Historical Museum in Bielsko-Biała, which showcases exhibits on the archaeology and history of Bielsko, Biała. The castle’s interior is also pretty impressive and worth exploring, showcasing the former quarters of the duke’s family, including a Music Room, Middle-Class Drawing Room, Lady’s Boudoir, and Gentleman’s Study.
Built-in 1890 and truly impressive – both inside and out. The exterior of the building, adorned with statues of Apollo and the muses Melpomene and Talia, is as remarkable as its richly decorated interior.
The interior of the theatre is reminiscent of such famous buildings as the Vienna Opera and the National Theater in Budapest with the antique curtain, depicting a nymph dance, being the most important preserved element of decoration.
Right across the street from the theatre and hard to miss, stands the Neo-baroque building of the Post Office with its characteristic dome and figures of Jupiter with an eagle and Mercury with a staff.
St Nicolas Cathedral
Right next to the Old Town Square, you will is the 15th-century St Nickolas Cathedral. Its a beautiful yet a bit odd building looking like someone just dropped a random historical monument from a different era. It is very much so because, after numerous reconstructions, it lost its Gothic character but gained an unusual tower which was modelled on the belfry from St. Mark in Venice.
Visit a Museum in Bielsko Biala
Stara Fabryka Museum
This is a must-visit attraction of Bielsko Biala!
Bielsko-Biała has a rich industrial history dating back to the 19th century. It was an important centre of the textile industry and produced wool, cotton, and silk fabrics. Today, you can learn about the city’s industrial heritage by visiting museums like the Stara Fabryka (formerly the Museum of Technology and Textile Industry), which contains a unique collection of historic textile machinery. It’s a very interesting museum definitely worth visiting.
If you are interested in the history of the region you should visit The Historical Museum located in the Sułkowski Castle. This is undoubtedly one of the most important places worth visiting while in Bielsko-Biała.
You can admire exhibits and interesting spaces like an ethnographic exhibition, a room of military and hunting art, a 19th-century representative staircase, a Music Salon, a Biedermeier Salon or a gallery of Polish and European paintings from the 19th to the 20th century.
Dom Tkacza (Weaver’s House)
A historic wooden cottage where you will see a traditional weavers workshop. The interior of the house has been reconstructed to illustrate the realities of the guild master’s life.
Indulge in Bielsko Biala Cafe scene
Now, if you are not into museums, castles or history and just looking to have a chilled day in beautiful surroundings, don’t worry you find plenty of that in Bielsko Biala too. And one of the best chilled things to do in Bielsko Biala is to indulge in its cafe scene.
You can for example grab a coffee and delicious cake in one of Bielsko Biala cafes.
Many Bielsko Biala cafes combine art with coffee where apart from indulging in this potion of the gods you can also witness exhibitions, live artists or simply admire the interesting interiors.
A must is the Oskar Cafe. As we walked in, our jaws dropped. This cafe is stunning and mega original. Its interior resembles the 20s and 30s deco and homemade cakes are divine.
Be sure to also pop into Klubokawiarnia Aquarium
It is a very special club cafe place where coffee meets art. In addition to drinking high-quality speciality coffee here, every Tuesday you can also watch a good movie, and take part in a concert or artistic workshops.
Happiness Cafe & Bar is one of the best cafes in Bielsko-Biała. It boasts a beautiful garden inside the courtyard, where guests can relax from the hustle and bustle of the city and drink tasty, aromatic coffee.
Every Wednesday, you can watch young, talented artists perform and The Mediterranean climate achieved with lots of greenery will make you happy indeed.
Right next to the theatre in the centre of Bielsko Biala, you will find KaFFka Cafe.
The stylish place has an unforgettable atmosphere. Guests can feel like in an enchanted land. It is a The Literary Café where Coffee is served in unique cups and while drinking coffee you can reach for one of the many books on display.
Eat, drink and be merry
You can eat very well in Bielsko Biala and you will find a restaurant for every budget and taste.
Bielsko Biala is standing strong when it comes to the food scene.
Where to eat in Bielsko Biala on a budget:
Zupolandia is the best place to eat in Bielsko Biala if you are on a budget but also if you want to try traditional Polish food at its best. The dishes are super tasty, the portions very generous and the prices very reasonable.
Bar Mleczny Pierozek was very much recommended to me but I didn’t enjoy it that much, to be honest. Most of the items were gone already (I agree I came a bit late), the food was nice but not mindblowing, the prices were a bit too high for this type of restaurant and they didn’t have a bathroom to at least wash my hands. Wasn’t impressed, to be honest.
I was however very much impressed with my yummy breakfast at Flat White Cafe. I had an omelette and my mom had sweet French toast and we both loved the food. The price was very decent. They have a very good coffee there too, duh, it’s a cafe.
Bistro Dżoj (pronounced Joy) located on Rynek is a great place to have a drink and people-watch. It is also stunning inside and offers excellent food for quite reasonable prices. I personally recommend this one.
Finally, if you are looking for a place to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening in a very atmospheric part of the town look no further than Malokarpatska Vinoteka. Fantastic place. Perfect for wine connoisseurs.
But there is so much more!
And here are more of the best and most recommended restaurants and bars in Bielsko Biala:
Trattoria da Tadeusz – one of the best Italian eateries in town
Paparazzi – Another great Italian restaurant, with great menu choices
Zielona Krowa – Healthy food restaurant located in Sfera Shopping Mall also serving vegan dishes
Jarmuzno – Excellent vegan and vegetarian restaurant
Budafest Langos – something for amateurs of Hungarian langos, very popular for a reason
Bistro Piekarnik – Cozy small restaurant, tastefully decorated and serving delicious food
Absolem Cocktail & Shisha Bar – an awesome place for cocktails, some food and of course, shisha.
Craftbar – as the name suggests, best for craft beer but also a good vibe.
Hike in nearby mountains / Best things to do in Bielsko Biala
One of the biggest attractions of Bielsko Biala is the vicinity of the mountains. The Żar Mountain, the Cable Car on Szyndzielnia and the Klimczok Mountain are especially recommended and most popular.
If you are a hiking enthusiast I recommend hiking to the peak of Klimczok, then taking a pass to Szyndzielnia and finally taking a cable car down back to Bielsko Biala. This will make a great day out in the mountains.
You can also just take a cable car to Szyndzielnia, enjoy the view or have a picnic and return the same way back. In fact taking cable car is one of the most popular things to do in Bielsko Biala.
If you dont fancy mountains but enjoy green spaces, take a short hike in Cyganski Forest – this place is so beautiful!
Brave some mountain biking
If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, you will find Enduro Trails, a series of mountain trails for bikes. These are a network of one-way tracks, known as ‘single tracks’ designed for bikes, and are the favourites of mountain bikers.
You will find narrow, winding and hilly bike trails with varying degrees of difficulty, from easy, gently descending inclines to steep and technically demanding rides down.
There you go, my friends. I hope after reading this Bielsko Biala travel guide you are heading to buy the train ticket! Because I promise you, you will not regret it.
There are many wonderful things to do in Bielsko Biala and it is such a charming beautiful town that I promised myself I will come back for more!
Let me know in the comments below if you visited and what you think!
Until then, happy travels!
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Exploring more of Poland?
Are you thinking of visiting Katowice and wondering if there are any interesting things to do there? Wonder no more and head to my Katowice travel guide!
And if you planning your winter escape in Zakopane don’t miss this article listing all the great things to do in Zakopane in Winter!
Don’t miss visiting the iconic city of Krakow which is a must-visit for every traveler to Poland!
And if you are planning your first solo trip, visit this post where I provide all the tips and hacks for solo travellers and backpackers.
My favourite Travel Resources
- For most of my accommodation, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellations and access to tons of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
- Make sure you download Google Maps and, for each new destination, download an offline map of your location and surrounding area. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to navigate around the town.
Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey-planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.
123Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for the overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey-planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport – you will use this app for sure!
The travel insurance I use is Heymondo, and their plan suits me perfectly. They have clear policies with no deductibles, the price is excellent for what they offer and the price doesn’t go up when you are over 30 years old. They have a dedicated, easy-to-use app and free assistance calls.
I can get a cover for a month or three months and I know I can travel with peace of mind and get the best product for my money. And it also covers COVID-19.
- I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and Wise work fantastically. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts.
- I booked most of my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations.
For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!