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While there are a few historical buildings scattered through the centre, the Polish city of Katowice is much more contemporary than many of its European counterparts. It has modernist and Brutalist buildings ornamented by street art – just poised for an arty photo. Katowice's industrial past is fused with a cutting-edge future; literally in the case of the Silesian Museum, where galleries are built into former coal seams illuminated by surface-level glass cubes. A UNESCO city of music, there are plenty of creative venues to explore here too.
Hostels in Katowice range from rooms in the central district designed by artists, a modern hostel close to the university, or cosy accommodation next to the railway station. Expect a lively atmosphere and communal spaces such as a kitchen or TV room where you can meet fellow travellers. Most Katowice hostels have a 24-hour reception so you can explore the city's vibrant nightlife to your heart's content, and several have extras like free tea and coffee, hair dryers and security lockers.
You'll find most of Katowice's attractions in the Culture Zone. This includes the central area of Śródmieście, where you'll find lively nightlife street Mariacka. It's pedestrianised, and cherry trees and pretty St Mary's Church make it a pleasant stroll in daytime. Giszowiec suburb has plenty of parks, while neighbouring Nikiszowiec has exhibitions about the everyday lives of the coal miners who once lived there. Two of the city's most important green spaces are 72-hectare Kościuszko Park, where you'll find sculptures and trails, and Silesia Park, which has a planetarium and an amusement park.
Katowice is home to the Cathedral of Christ the King, Poland's largest archcathedral. Built in the 1900s, it's worth visiting for its majestic architecture and its altar made from coal. Other interesting sights include the Provincial Park of Culture and Recreation, where you'll find a reconstructed Silesian village to explore – it even includes a traditional karczma (tavern) selling beer. Discover the city's cultural side by catching a performance at flying saucer-shaped Spodek arena.
There are regular shuttle buses to the city centre from Katowice Airport (34km out of town). You can also fly to Krakow or Warsaw and catch a train to Katowice Dworzec PKP station (journey time: around 2 and 3 hours respectively). The Dworzec Autobusowy Katowice bus terminal has connections to cities across Poland. Katowice has plenty of buses, trams and taxis, and the centre is easy to walk around.