The small city of Rzeszów (I still have no idea how to pronounce it – Che-sof I think!) lies to the east of the extremely popular city of Kraków. In May I was passing through on my way to Ukraine, as it’s small airport is served by Ryanair – hurrah! The border crossing is just one hour away by bus.
I decided to stay in Rzeszów on my return from Lviv, as I didn’t want to get stuck at the Ukraine border and potentially miss my flight back to Edinburgh. To be honest, I didn’t even read up on Rzeszów so I had no idea what to expect – I had imagined it would just be a dull modern industrial city. As you can see below, I was quite wrong!
The sun kissed market square (Rynek) is the centrepiece of the Old Town and looks absolutely splendid. This “Mini Krakow” – as it’s known locally is flanked on the west side by the impressively ornate Town Hall. The Square is immaculate, after spending a week in a somewhat filthy Ukraine I was astounded not to see a single bit of litter or graffiti in Rzeszów’s Old Town.
The Market Square is the social hub of the city, with countless bars and restaurants lining three sides of the square. My favourite place was Stary Browar Rzeszowski – the first microbrwery in Rzeszów. They serve 4 home brewed beers as well as homemade Polish dishes. Their speciality is their XXXL feasts, fit for a King and his soldiers! Alas I didmn’t have my army in tow so I settled the mixed pierogi, which were absolutely delicious! I hadn’t had pierogi since living in Canada 4 years ago so this was the perfect place to try them again and watch the sunset over the square.
The tourist office, located next to the town hall, is brand new and will soon feature tours of the underground vaults that run beneath the town square. Unfortunately they were yet to be opened when I visited in May but as far as I know they were meant to be ready for summer 2015.
Beyond the Market Square there are busy shopping streets and quiet residential areas. The town council have really done a superb job of improving the town for locals and visitors. What I thought was an ordinary fountained turned out to be a Multimedia Fountain – at night the fountain is lit up with the latest LED technology and lasers shoot up in to the sky. All of this is in sync with an impressive musical performance.
So if you looking to spend a night or two in one Poland’s quieter cities, I would totally recommed Rzeszów. It’s a refreshing break from the maddening crowds of Krakow and alot cheaper too. The town is clearly looking to make a dent in Poland’s flourishing tourism industry and I believe it will continue to attract more visitors in the future.
Get there: Rzeszów Airport is served by Ryanair, LOT and Lufthansa. Destinations include Dublin (€20), London (€15) and Oslo (€15). Rzeszów train station has direct trains to most major Polish cities, as well as connections to Lviv and Kiev. Buses depart for Polish cities as well the Ukraine border
Stay: I stayed at the imaginatively named Hostel Rzeszów. It’s a ideally located on Market Square above a cool antiques shop. It’s clean, friendly and offers WiFi and breakfast. (€10)
Eat: Get your fill of inhouse beer and hearty Polish food at the Stary Browar Rzeszowski (€1.75 beer and €3.50 for Pierogi). I also had one of the most awesome, juicy burgers at the new Burger Store. They have taken a leaf out of the gourmet burger craze in the UK and have burst onto the scene in Rzeszów. (€4.50 for Cheese + Bacon burger)