Travel around Poland by train

Polish cities are undergoing a renaissance of sorts. Thanks to a combination of urban renovation, bold contemporary architecture and blossoming nightlife, there’s never been a better time to travel around Poland. And never a better time to travel by train. Here’s why:

 

1. You can cover more ground

Poland’s cities all have very different personalities, and you can’t really get to grips with the country’s culture until you’ve visited a handful of them.

For many people it’s Kraków that tops the list. It’s got all the classic Central European charms of Vienna or Prague, but on a more manageable, human scale.

However, it would be a shame to miss out on the Gothic canal-side warehouses of Gdańsk; the Baroque magic of Lublin; the grand architecture and ebullient nightlife of Wrocław; or the magnificent red-brick factory buildings of post-industrial Łódź.

The joker in the pack is the gruff coal-and-steel town of Katowice, home to a fabulous semi-underground museum and hedonistic weekend nights. And it’s all an easy train ride away.

 

2. Poland’s stations are a sight in themselves

Gdańsk boasts a delightful nineteenth-century Neo-Renaissance pile, while Warsaw Central is an archetypal slab of grey 1970s brutalism (recently spruced up, it’s now an asset rather than an eyesore).

Many stations have been totally rebuilt in recent years – the semi-submerged glass-and-concrete palace that is Łódź Fabryczna is one of those temples to modern travel that make you wish you could take the train more often.

Big-city stations such as Katowice, Kraków and the alien spaceship that is Poznań Głowny have been redeveloped in conjunction with large shopping malls, which – whatever your views on consumer culture – have returned the railway station to the heart of urban life.