Szczecin, also known as Stettin, its German name, and alternate English name (known in Latin as Stetinum); is maritime port city in Pomerania and the capital of West Pomerania in Poland. The city has population of 406,427, metro area 777,000 (2009 census).
The place now known as Szczecin was first mentioned in written history in 1st century when West-Roman historian Tacitus located East Germanic tribe of Rugians somewhere in the area; the Rugians left in 5th Century during the Great Migration. Sometime in the 8th century Western Slavic tribe of Pomeranians built their stronghold here. In 10th century the town was mentioned as "one of major in Pomerania" in Abraham ben Jacob's chronicle. In approximately 1080 its area was incorporated into Poland, but within eight years, the town was controlled by the Dukedom of Pomerania, and five years later, Denmark. In 12th century when its competitor, Wolin (also known as Veneta in medieval chronicles) declined Szczecin began to prosper from trade and became one of the major Baltic sea harbours. Its name was first recorded in 1133 as "Stetin". In 1181 Pomeranian dukes joined Holy Roman Empire. In 1243 Szczecin got city rights before it became member of the Hanseatic League in 1278. Until early 17th century the city was the capital of Pomeranian Dukedom, then in 1630 when local dukes died out it became part of Sweden, then Kingdom of Prussia, then for a brief period, due to Napoleon's conquests, the Empire of France. Beginning in the 18th century, the city constituted as a part of Germany and served as the "port of Berlin". During World War II the city was hit hard by Allied bombers - city centre, Old Town and industrial areas were totally ruined. After the Soviet forces invaded Nazi Germany in 1945, according to Potsdam Conference agreements Poland annexed all lands up to the Oder river, expelling the native German population and ultimately extending the border to include Stettin. Poland thus gained control of the city.
In more recent history, the city was (together with Tricity) one of the birthplaces of Solidarity movement.
An unusual feature of Szczecin is its urban planning - many roundabouts and wide avenues. Stettin was rebuilt in 1880's using designs by Georges-Eugene Haussmann, who also did the urban planning for Paris. His design style is still being used for newly-built (or modified) city areas.
The maritime industry is still strong with a busy port and repair shipyard, as well as being a center of service industries in Poland. Situated near the border between Germany and Poland, Szczecin is sometimes considered one of most liberal Polish cities.
Szczecin-Goleniów airport (SZZ)  is located almost 50 km from the city centre, near Goleniów. You can reach the airport by car (the journey may take up to 1 hour, depending on traffic), by taxi (about 120 PLN), or by minibus - LOT operates a minibus to and from the airport for all LOT's flights (free of charge for passengers), leaving from LOT's office (al. Wyzwolenia 17) about 90 minutes before departure, and Interglobus has minibuses for all international flights.
Ryanair operates daily flights between Szczecin and London (Stansted), and 2 flights per week to and from Dublin and Liverpool.
LOT has several flights daily between Szczecin and Warsaw. Note that cancellations do happen, so take that into account when planning onward travel.
Eurolot  has flights from Szczecin to Kraków (both direct and via Poznań, 4 times a week) and to Rzeszów (twice a week).
Norwegian operates two flights per week between Szczecin and both Trondheim and Oslo.
If you arrive from abroad, avoid flying via Warsaw. A much better option is to use one of Berlin's airports. This may save you a lot of time, and gives you more flexibility as Berlin is served by many international carriers. From there, you can reach Szczecin by minibus (numerous Szczecin-based companies, including Atlastransfer - Berlinia.eu and Interglobus, operate regular services to Tegel and Schoenefeld airports at attractive prices), by car or by train in 2-3 hours.
Polish State Railways (PKP)  has connections to and from all major Polish cities. There are several trains daily to and from Warsaw - travel time on express or Intercity trains is less than 6 hours, but minor delays are not uncommon. To Poznań, travel time is about 2.5 hours (from PLN 40), with frequent trains running throughout the day. There are also frequent trains to Świnoujście (2 hours).
The cheapest way to get to Berlin is by joining a group of up to 5 people riding on one Berlin-Brandenburg Ticket, which is valid from 9 am to 3 am the following day for travel on all local and regional German trains and on local public transport systems in all cities and towns, including Berlin and Szczecin. The ticket costs 28 euros, so one person can travel for ca. 5 euros. The groups often form spontaneously before departure or on the train itself. There is also the new Berlin-Stettin-Ticket for 10 Euros per person one way.
Berlin-Stettin-Ticket, Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Ticket, Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket, Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket and Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket Nacht are valid for routes to and from the city of Szczecin and for the entire public transport system in Szczecin.
You even can get from or to the Danish border via Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket, valide in the regional trains of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein until Padborg or Tonder (DK).
You can reach Szczecin by car from major Polish cities, including Warsaw, Poznań, Gdańsk, Wrocław, and also from Berlin. Thanks to its location close to the border and direct link with the German motorway system, Szczecin has the best road connection with Western Europe of all Polish cities.
The main route to Szczecin from Berlin is the E28 (German: A11, Polish: A6). The journey takes about 2 hours, depending on traffic. Note that the German A11 motorway is undergoing continuous improvements, resulting in some disturbances in certain sections.
Travelling by car to and from other parts of Poland can be troublesome - the traffic is pretty heavy, the distances are large and there is a general shortage of motorways. It also takes quite some time - for example, the trip to Gdańsk (350 km) usually takes 4-5 hours, and to Warsaw (520 km along national road no. 10) you need at least 6-7 hours, even if you don't follow the speed limits too strictly.
You can also reach Szczecin from Sweden (Ystad) and Denmark (Copenhagen) using the ferry connections to and from Świnoujście. From there, the journey takes about 1.5 hours, although this road gets completely jammed on summer weekends. To avoid traffic jams in high season, follow the yellow "tourist route" ("Trasa turystyczna") signs. These will take you along B-roads, bypassing the most crowded section of national road no.3.
Szczecin is situated on the banks of the Oder (Polish: Odra) and Regalica (branch of the Oder) rivers and Lake Dąbie, near the Szczecin Lagoon. There is a number of marinas, most of them situated in the northern districts and on the shores of Lake Dabie.
In April 2008, hydrofoil service was re-established between Szczecin and Świnoujście. Bosman-Express  hydrofoil runs twice a day from the Wały Chrobrego embankment, reaching Świnoujście in about 75 minutes. Tickets are a bit overpriced at PLN 50/70 (economy/VIP class - but don't expect any luxury), and there are discounts for children and groups. There is a snack-bar on board, beer is served. There is also a small viewing deck. Along the way you can see some quite interesting industrial sights in the northern part of Szczecin.
Despite being a restored Soviet-made Meteor, now equipped with new engines, the hydrofoil is the quickest way to get to Świnoujście - it moors at the left (western) bank of the Świna, so the passengers avoid the need to use the ferry.
Szczecin is split in two parts (Lewobrzeże and Prawobrzeże) named after their location on banks of Oder (Lewobrzeże = left bank) and Regalica (Prawobrzeże = right bank) rivers. The port is situated in between. City centre and most of attractions are situated in Lewobrzeże.
Szczecin has extensive public transport network covered by trams and buses. See the maps  (dziennej = by day, nocnej = by night, tramwajowej = trams) and schedules . You can also install the timetables on your mobile phone: for J2ME compatible phones and Symbian: MPK Mobile , Microbus , for Android and Windows Phone: Transportoid .
Tickets are randomly checked by plain clothed inspectors; fines are severe and can be a major hassle, so it's better for you to buy them. They are available at all newspaper stands and you can buy them from the driver after 18:00. If you happen to have an account in Polish bank you can also use your mobile phone . Rush hours are 7:00-8:00 and 16:00-17:00, night hours are between 23:00 and 5:00. Tickets for express buses are twice expensive. You can change between lines freely as long you stay within time limit (the exception is changing from "normal" bus or tram to express bus). Prices:
15 minutes: 2.00 zł
30 minutes: 3.00 zł
1 hour: 4.00 zł
2 hours: 5.00 zł
24 hours: 12 zł
5 days: 35 zł
Family weekend ticket: 14 zł - valid on weekends for one or two adults with at least one child up to 16 years old.
There are also tickets valid for 10 days, a month and a quarter.
Remember to stamp your ticket immediately after you board the tram/bus!
Brandenburg-Berlin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Schönes Wochenende and Brandenburg-Berlin Nacht tickets issued by Deutsche Bahn are valid for public transport operated by ZDiTM (trams and buses) in Szczecin. Monthly/quarterly tickets issued by ZDiTM are valid for DB trains within the city (Szczecin Główny-Szczecin Gumieńce) .
If for any reason you want to go to or from the city centre (station name: Szczecin Główny) to districts of Dąbie, Gumieńce, Podjuchy, Zdroje, Zdunowo or Załom (or nearby suburbian towns of Goleniów, Gryfino or Stargard), the fastest way might be the train. Check times with PKP ; you have to buy separate ticket (6 zł, one way, no matter how many stops), the exception are trains operated by DB (see above).
City center can be covered by foot (depending on your fitness, etc). Look for the red line on the pavements - so called "red walk" which connects nearly all the attractions within the centre. This is by far the best way to discover the centre on foot, as all attractions are marked by a number (there are about 40) on the pavement, so you won't miss one. At each of them there is a sign explaining some details about the sight.
The red line starts and ends at the train station. When you exit through the main entrance, turn left on the sidewalk and look for it, some of the paint may have already vanished. Close to the start is also a map showing the route and the attractions. You can get a similar map that also includes the red line at the tourist information center.
Streets in Szczecin are (compared to other Polish cities) easy to navigate and not congested.
However: parking within the centre during business hours (8:00 - 17:00, from Monday to Friday - after 17:00 and on weekends it is free) is paid; the pay depends on the zone and parking time. You can buy tickets from vending machines. Most of malls have free parking, and no one will check if you visited the mall or just used free parking opportunity.
DUI is serious criminal offense (up to 3 years in prison) and the police have no mercy for drunk drivers - many of "zero tolerance for drunk drivers" programs ongoing in Poland have started in Szczecin.
Because of major renovation works in the city centre and Niebuszewo district held this year expect detours and/or traffic jams, especially during rush hours. If you stay in the city consider leaving your car on parking and using public transport.
There is network of bicycle paths connecting the city center with the suburbs. You can take your bike on public transport for free (outside rush hours).
If you want to see Szczecin from the bicycle but don't have one you can rent it:
Bicyklownia , ul. Wielkopolska 15, tel. +48784152358. (near City Park)
Biker , ul. Świętego Ducha 2a, tel. +48506667400 (Center)
Centrum Wynajmu i Turystyki , ul. Kolumba 1/6m, tel. +48914340006 (near Szczecin Główny railway station]
If you happen to be present in Szczecin on any last friday of the month, feel free to join the Critical Mass - the start point is Plac Lotników square, 6:00 pm.
Hail taxi cab from the street or stand only in emergency or if very tired/drunk! It is much cheaper to call for one - ask locals for numbers or see taxi advertisements, they are nearly everywhere. When you call, ask the operator when the taxi will arrive and then look for car plastered with number of company you called.
There is taxi "mafia" operating from stands near railway station, popular clubs, hotels etc. - avoid these rip-offs, they are VERY expensive!
Taxi fare within the centre shouldn't cost you more than about 12-15 zł. Fare from left side of the river (Lewobrzeże) to the right side (Prawobrzeże) or the other way is about 40-50 zł. Fares during the night are slightly more expensive.
All officially registered taxis have meters, the driver should turn them on just after you enter.
Payment: have cash ready, only the minority of taxi drivers have necessary equipment for payments with debit or credit cards. Ask if in doubt.
Pomeranian Dukes Castle  (Zamek Książąt Pomorskich), which houses museum, restaurants and cafes. It also houses tourist information office, you can get some free maps, pamphlets etc. here.
Old Town - despite being jokingly refered to by locals as "Brand New Old Town" (it was started to be rebuilt in late 1990s, the reconstruction is still ongoing), there are some nice houses rebuilt to original plans. Many shops, restaurants and cafes. There is museum situated in Old Town Hall.
Outside the Maritime Museum
Kamienica Loitzów (Loitzs Tenement) - interesting tenement just next to Old Town. Go from Old Town in direction of Castle, and you'll see it after about 20-30 meters on the left side. It is painted flashy orange, you can't miss it.
Wały Chrobrego (German name: Hakenterrasse) - promenade with great views on Oder river and port. Many cafes are situated here. See the museum (Muzeum Morskie), situated just in the center of Waly which houses some artifacts from history of the city and also has big collections of African and maritime artifacts.
Katedra św. Jakuba (St. Jacob's Cathedral) - big Gothic cathedral.
Park Kasprowicza - city park, place for all kinds of physical activities by locals, spreading through nearly all of the city. Just behind the City Council.
Park Żeromskiego - another city park, situated in the very center of the city between Waly Chrobrego and Pazim/Galaxy.
Cmentarz Centralny  - third biggest cemetery in Europe.
S-1 blast & fallout shelter  - biggest in Poland (entry 15 zł). Two tours to choose: WWII or Cold War.
Pionier Cinema  - oldest cinema in the world still in operation (est. 1909) .
Railway suspension bridge on Regalica - something for railway fans, the only one of a kind in operation in Poland. Podjuchy district, ul. Szklana Huta.
Emerald Lake (jezioro Szmaragdowe) and Puszcza Bukowa - lake, artificial cave and forest area situated in Zdroje district. Many great views on the city and nice area for one day hiking/bike riding.
Pałac pod Globusem (Palace under the Globe / Palace of Grumbkov) - the building where two rulers of Russia (Catherine II and Maria Fiodorovna) were born. Pl. Orła Białego.
Parisienne Sub-Urb: Many historistic and art nouveau boulevards in prussian pseudo-parissienne style around Plac Grunwaldzki, Jagiellońska and Wielkopolska streets.
Museum of Technology (Muzeum Techniki)  - has nice collection of vintage cars, motorcycles, buses and trams. Niemierzyńska 18A.
See the panorama of Szczecin - from the cafe on top of Pazim building, just by Galaxy shopping center (admission free), from St.Jacob's Cathedral tower (paid admission) or from one of the towers of Pomeranian Dukes Castle.
Take a trip through Szczecin's waterways and port - many boats go from the river bank near Waly Chrobrego.
Kayak through the city and lower Oder valley - if you don't have your kayak you can borrow one at Kąpielisko Dziewoklicz (ul. Autostrada Poznańska, public transport - bus No. 61, stop "Dziewoklicz") or any of the neighbouring towns situated by the Oder river - look for wypożyczalnia kajaków (kayak rentals) or kajaki (kayaks).
See dancing fountain near Teatr Pleciuga (ul. Wielkopolska). It might not be the most impressive fountain show in the world but still it's nice eyecandy and it's free. The show lasts 30 minutes and starts every summer day at 21:30.
You will easily find global favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs, kebabs, pizza etc., but for unique Szczecin twist on fast food try paszteciki (plural, singular is pasztecik) - which are kind of deep fried cake with meat or cheese and mushrooms filling. They taste best hot and combined with a cup of barszcz czerwony (red beetroot soup).
Amar, Śląska 9 (open monday-friday 11:00-19:00, saturday & sunday 12:00-17:00) - vegan & vegetarian. If you are on limited budget, order their "danie dnia" (dish of a day) and/or "zupa dnia" (soup of a day) which are always very affordable.
Sushi Mado, Pocztowa 20 (entry from Bohaterów Warszawy) - Japanese
Columbus - On Waly Chrobrego by Marine Academy
Chrobry, Waly Chrobrego 1B (by Provincial Government building), ☎ ''+48'' 914880163 (email@example.com), . Good polish food. Chrobry is located under a dome supported by pillars. There is a bar and a two-story restaurant below ground and also serving upstairs between the columns with a view over the Oder.PLN 40 for a main course. edit
The majority of pubs and bars can be found in the old town (Stary Rynek) or around ul. Boguslawa in the middle town area. Expect to pay between 6zl and 8zl for a large beer and around 6zl for a 50ml shot of vodka.
Alter Ego, Pl. Batorego 4 (under the red town house, near bus and rail stations), . 11:00-until the last client. Restaurant during the day, live music and/or DJs on weekend nights.edit
Boston Pub & Club, Niepodległości 22 (city centre), . Every day parties! Music: 70's, 80's & 90's. Karaoke Nights, Student Nights, Every Weekend Parties & Afterparty till 6 a.m.edit
City Hall, ul. 3 maja (near the railway station), . 21:00-last client. Funk, hip-hop, house, etc.edit
Free Blues Club, Powstańców Wielkopolskich 20 (Pomorzany District, trams 4, 11, 12), ☎ +48914853161, . 19:30-until the last client. Something for blues (and rock) fans - live music, jam sessions, etc.edit
Hormon, ul. Piłsudskiego (middle town area), ☎ +48914341303, . 19:00-until the last client. Very popular among the students; rock/alternative party every day, live music from time to time.edit
Mezzoforte, ul. Bogusława (pedestrian area), . Italian food restaurant during the day, DJ parties on weekends.edit
Petit Paris, Św. Wojciecha 11 (city centre), ☎ +48692489167, . 12:00-24:00. Restaurant and bar owned by French expatriate. French food, nice collection of beers and quirky prices on menu (paying the decimal parts of 1 zł is a part of experience).edit
Piwnica Kany, Plac Piotra i Pawła 4/5 (across the main street from Pomeranian Dukes Castle, near Wały Chrobrego). 15:00-last client. Pub belonging to Kana alternative theatre, popular among students and artists (and theatre visitors). Has free wireless Internet (ask the bartender for the password).edit
Rocker Club, Partyzantów 2 (The very city centre), . 19:00-last client. Live rock music, karaoke, you name it.edit
Royal Jazz Club, Mariacka 26 (near the Pomeranian Dukes Castle), . 12:00-until the last client. jazz, all that jazz. Often live.edit
Tiger Club, Felczaka 9 (under the City Council Building, near the city park), . Restaurant during the day, disco on weekends, live jazz every monday.edit
Bosman beer is made by local brewery. There are variants with red (czerwony) and green (zielony) label, both of them are lager. You can buy it at most of general stores and some pubs.
Taverna pub has its own microbrewery making lager and porter type beers.
Starka is a special kind of seasoned vodka made by Polmos Szczecin distillery. There are variants which are 10, 18, 25 and 50 years old. You can buy them at Polmos store (situated corner of Jagiellońska and Bohaterów Warszawy streets); as you can guess, Starka is rather expensive (especially the 50 year old one) and available only in limited amounts. You can also tour the factory, which is quite interesting, tasting Starka is included with the tour (email them for booking and information).
Hotel Migrand, Robotnicza 28/29, tel. +48914420960, 
Marina Hotele () - two objects, first one is located in city centre at Twardowskiego 12 street and the second one next to the yacht marina at the shore of lovely Dabie Lake, Przestrzenna 7 street. Prices starts from 110 PLN for a single room and double is 135 PLN. Bigger rooms are also available, from quad room which costs 210 PLN up to 7-person room for 325 PLN. All rooms have private bathroom, they also offer student discounts. Good value for the money option.
Szczecin used to be infamous in Poland for its organised crime, but these days are long gone - nearly all the gangsters are dead or in prison. Nowadays it is a very safe city. However, you should stay away from some of its "bad" suburbs, like Gocław, especially after dark. As always, use your common sense.
The town of Police and its Jasienica district - monuments from the Middle Ages, small marina in the Old Town on the Łarpia (Oder) River and WWII ruins of Hydrierwerke synthetic gasoline factory. Szczecin shares its public transport with Police and borders the town - you can go to Police by taking public bus.
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