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 (25 PLN), leaving from LOT's office (al. Wyzwolenia 17) about 90 minutes before departure, and Interglobus has minibuses for all international flights. From June 2013 there is also a direct railway link to the airport, but the train timetable is not coordinated with flight departures and arrivals. The journey takes 50-60 minutes.
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 Intercity (EIC) trains (4 per day) is about 5 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 (less than 2 hours).
The quality standards on Polish railways have significantly improved over the last years, and most regional trains are new or modernised trainsets (multiple units), with comfortable seating, air conditioning, WiFi and decent toilets.
The cheapest way to get to/from 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 Berlin-Stettin-Ticket for 10 Euros per person one way. It can be purchased from ticket offices at Szczecin Główny train station (in PLN) or from the Deutsche Bahn ticket machine on board the train (in EUR or by credit card).
Berlin-Stettin-Ticket, Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket, Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket Nacht, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Ticket and Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket 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 , valid on regional trains of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein until Padborg or Tonder (DK), paying a surcharge of 2,50 Euro for the bit from the Polish border to Szczecin.
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. Since the completion of the S3 expressway to Gorzów and further south, travelling to Warsaw by car is now much faster (less than 5 hours with light traffic), following the S3 and then A2 eastbound. Bear in mind that the A2 is a toll motorway.
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.
Many international and domestic connections (see Poland::By bus).
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 2015, a new marina (officially named "Northeast Marina"  was built at Wyspa Grodzka close to the city centre.
In April 2008, hydrofoil service was re-established between Szczecin and Świnoujście. Bosman-Express  hydrofoil used to run twice a day from the Wały Chrobrego embankment, reaching Świnoujście in about 75 minutes. Tickets were a bit overpriced at PLN 50/70 (economy/VIP class - but don't expect any luxury), with discounts for children and groups. There was a snack-bar on board, beer was served. There was 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, equipped with new engines, the hydrofoil was the quickest way to get to Świnoujście - mooring at the left (western) bank of the Świna, so the passengers avoid the need to use the ferry.
Caution: As of 2016, the hydrofoil is not operating, and there have been no news about its possible return to service.
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  or jakdojade.pl .
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:
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!
It is possible to use mobile services such as SkyCash or moBilet to pay for public transport tickets. These services are available for Android and iOS devices.
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.
There is a slowly expanding network of bicycle paths connecting the city center with the suburbs. You can take your bike on public transport for free (outside rush hours).
Over the last couple of years Szczeicn has been gradually evolving into a bicycle-friendly city, with new cycle lanes and paths along major streets in the centre. However, the system is still far from perfect, so expect the cycle lanes to end in some unconvenient/dangerous places, forcing cyclists to merge into motorised traffic or dismount. Also bear in mind that cycling on a sidewalk is generally prohibited and may sometimes result in an upleasant encounter with the police. Cycling under influence is an minor offence, with the same limits applicable as in case of driving, but the penalties are less severe (a fine of up to 500 PLN).
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.
Since 2015 Szczecin has a bike-sharing system called Bike_S , covering the city centre, with a planned expansion later in 2016. Once you set up your account (minimum account balance - 10 PLN), you can use the shared bikes for free (first 20 mins) of for a small amount (1st hour is 1 PLN). The bicycles are, however, in a poor general condition, so don't expect them to operate perfectly.
You can rent a bike at Turzyn trading center - Al. Bohaterów Warszawy 42. They have electrically accelerated bicycles which are very comfortable though a little bit expensive - 20 pln per hour.
Some of taxi companies operating in the city:
English teachers and IT developers/engineers are in high demand.
Szczecin has many shopping malls:
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).
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.
Local beer, local vodka
Free Wireless Internet
Even if Szczecin used to be infamous in Poland for its organised crime in the 1990s, Szczecin nowadays, like the most Polish cities, is a very safe place. However, you should stay away from some of its "bad" suburbs, like Gocław, especially after dark. As always, use your common sense.
One notable scam in Szczecin involves two more or less fraudulent 'nightclubs' in suburban Szczecin, Luna and Club Miami. Some taxi drivers near the train station Glowny will give people rides to their destination (at a reasonable price), while giving the hard sell to go to one or both of these clubs later in the night, and leave a business card to call later to get a ride to the club.
These 'clubs', shady operations in repurposed houses, guarded by Russian Mafia types, are for all intents and purposes houses of ill repute, and the girls will stop at nothing for love, and especially money, and will order drinks on your tab for exorbitant prices (by Polish and global standards) of 80-120 PLN per drink. Trying to fight the bill does nothing, and if they sense you are trying to leave, the girls can and will order more.
(A similar mention in the Krakow article says the bouncers there will rough people up on the way out - I didn't experience this, but then I'm also about 120kg)
The taxi drivers seem to be commissioned by the clubs as well - it is easy to get a ride to one, and VERY hard (and expensive) to get a ride from one.
On the mainland:
On the Wolin island: