Katowice is the largest city in Upper Silesia and Poland's main industrial centre. A rich cultural life with theatres, the Silesian Museum and Philharmonic Orchestras and the famous Spodek concert hall caters for a population of about 320,000 in the city itself and over 2.1 million if the surrounding cities of the Upper-Silesian Metropolitan Union are taken into account.

Located in the very middle of Silesia on the banks of the river Rawa, Katowice's mix of modern and historical architecture, easy access to the Beskids and other Silesian cities makes it a top visitor destination.

Spodek by night


Map of Katowice

The city is at the intersection of major road and rail routes connecting Poland to the rest of Europe in all directions, with Katowice International Airport in nearby Pyrzowice. Until recently, the dominant economic sectors in the Katowice region were mining, steel, electrical machinery, electronics, and chemicals. Due to economic changes in Poland, this situation is changing, and heavy industry has given way to commerce and services.


The origins of Katowice go back to 1397 when the settlement of Kuźnica was founded. Katowice was first mentioned as a village in the middle of dense forests in 1598. In the 18th century numerous work colonies sprang up here and around 1769-70 the Duke of Pless established an underground coal mine. The next industrial sites were the Hohenlohe steelworks in the village of Wełnowiec, founded in 1805, the Baildon steelworks in 1828 (named after their founder, a Scotsman), and the Wilhelmina zinc works in 1834.

In 1873 Katowice achieved the status of county town. In 1897 Katowice was formed into a separate urban district, which also included the suburban municipalities of Bogucice - Zawodzie, Dąb, Wełnowiec and Załęże.

In 1889 one of the largest companies in Upper Silesia, the Kattowitzer Aktien-Gesellschaft, was set up with its headquarters in Katowice. As a result, major insurance companies and large-cap banks were attracted to the city. During the First World War, the steel industry continued to develop at a frenetic pace. Rail connections were also developed.

After Third Silesian Uprising Polish Government had decided to give Silesia considerable Autonomy with Katowice as a capital and home of the Silesian Parliament. It was the time of city most intense growth (1922-1939).

In 1975 the neighbouring municipalities of Piotrowice, Ochojec, Panewniki, Kostuchna, Wełnowiec, Szopienice, Giszowiec, Dąbrówka Mała and Murcki were merged with Katowice. Construction works were still continuing in the city centre. The main communications artery (al. W. Korfantego) was widened, old industrial buildings to the west of this road were demolished. To the east the historic Tiele-Winckler Palace was also demolished. On the market place, old buildings were replaced by modern shops: "Zenit" and "Skarbek", and also the "Dom Prasy".

The construction of the Roundabout and the "Flying Saucer" (Spodek) Sports Hall (1962–71) had a significant impact. The Millennium Housing Estate on the border of Katowice and Chorzów, the Paderewski Estate to the east of the city, the Południe Estate covering the suburbs of Kostuchna, Piotrowice, Ligota, and the Roździeński Housing Estate should also be mentioned.

In first decades of 21st century Katowice is going through another development phase. New main train station is being built and several competitions regarding redevelopment of strategic spaces (like Rynek, al. Korfantego and area behind Spodek) finished and are awaiting construction.

Get in

By plane

The Katowice-Pyrzowice Airport (KTW) in Pyrzowice (34 km from Katowice) is an airport for both domestic and European flights. Operating airlines include:

Katowice Airport



Seasonal: Bourgas, Grenoble

There are shuttle buses from outside the terminal building to the city centre dropping off near main railway station. PKM Katowice, Matuszek.

Cheaper option is to take the local bus (85 or 53) and then change. You can use this website to check connections rozklady.kzkgop.pl . It will cost 8 zł (you need to buy two tickets, 4 zł each).

There is also possibility to fly from and to nearby Kraków-Balice airport.

By train

Katowice Main Railway Station has been remodeled in 2012 and is very convenient for travelers because of its numerous cafes, good signage, modern color scheme of white, blue, and occasional yellow, and bright lighting. It is located in the city center. The newly renovated train station has underneath it the bus depot, which has modern backlighting and nice colors to invite passengers on its 10 routes.

Trains from all parts of Poland and other countries arrive at Central Station. There are fourteen trains per day between Warsaw and Katowice and twenty-eight trains per day between Kraków and Katowice during the day; the journey takes 180 minutes (from Warsaw and Wrocław) and 80 minutes (from Kraków). You can arrive by train directly from Vienna, Budapest, Kiev, Berlin, Ostrava, Praha, Bohumin, Bratislava, Zilina, Český Těšín, Hamburg, Moscow, Minsk.

The Main Railway Station has left luggage lockers. The station is an easy two minute walk apart Main Bus Station.

The trains within Poland are run by Polskie Koleje Państwowe (see PKP). In the last few years privatization has split PKP into a number of different, smaller companies.

The ticket prices based on location and train type vary from 35 to over 100 zł, so be careful while choosing the train.

By bus

Long-distance bus services arrive at International Katowice Bus Station (in the city centre, close to Sadowa Street). The main operator is Eurolines.

Polskibus offers daily routes from Katowice to the following locations: Warsaw (near metro station Wilanów) via Częstochowa and Vienna, Austria via Bratislava, Slovakia. Fares can be as low as 2 zł.

Buses between Katowice and Kraków:

UNIBUS and Bus-Inter travel regularly (both operate twice per hour) throughout the day. The fare is 14 zł one way, and it is suggested that passengers book in advance, especially during Polish holidays and during peak commuting hours. UNIBUS use large modern coaches suitable for passengers with a lot of luggage, while Bus-Inter uses modern minibuses which may struggle to take large luggage during busy periods. On the other hand Bus-Inter is generally more responsive to demand and puts on extra minibuses during peak periods. Both operators state the route takes approximately 80 minutes dependent on traffic.

Buses are also operated by PKS Katowice, running something like once per each two hours: it takes ca. 2.5 hours to get to Kraków, costs 16 zł one way, but if you go round trip, it costs just 22 zł (6 zł less than UNIBUS or Bus-Inter). Note though that these are normal service buses which pretty much stop at every village on route between the cities.

There are also a number of private minibuses which operate between Kraków and Katowice. These though are difficult for non Polish speakers to find and use. Prices are comparable to the large companies listed above, so are only recommended when in the area with a local.

Buses between Katowice and Wrocław:

Buses operated by PKS Katowice run on different times, but there are at least 3 each day, some of them start in the night. It takes about 4 hours and the tickets cost about 25 zł.

By car

The main approaches to Katowice are:

All routes converge on the main crossroads (the A-4 and E-75) which lies near the city centre. Katowice has no big car parks system but there are many small car parks along the roads in the city center.

Get around

Public transport

All public bus and tram transport is supervised by KZK GOP and the same tickets are used in 14 cities that constitute Silesian Metropolis. 24h free phone information: 0 800 16 30 30.

Buses & Trams

Many bus stations of the Passengers' Municipal Communication are situated in the core center of the city. At each bus-stop there is an information board with bus routes and where they go. The full map with bus routes is usually available in City Information Centre near Rynek (address: ul. Rynek 13; employees are multilingual).

There are also trams which transport passengers within the city and beyond the limits of the city. The dispatcher's office and information of the Municipal Tramway Enterprise are situated at the tram-stop in Rynek (the market square) in Katowice.

The same ticket type is used in bus and tram. Katowice offers many different tickets. One-zone ticket is suitable for traveling in the city limits. Zone bus stations (overstepping it in a bus or a tram means that one must buy next one-zone ticket or continue traveling with ticket suitable for more zones) usually are placed at the border of cities. Consider, if it is better to use one-ride ticket, week-ticket or monthly ticket. In the bus or the tram only one kind of ticket is available for sale - for three or more zones, for 4,40 PLN (or 2,20 PLN with reduced rate). One-ride tickets can be bought even in grocery stores. Newspaper stands or newsagent's stores sometimes sell other kinds. Ticket inspectors and bus/tram drivers often speak only Polish. When ticket inspector approaches you must show your ticket and proper document which allows the use of reduced rate.

One ride ticket price:



Taxi-stops are situated in several places in Katowice:

When you take a taxi always ask for the price beforehand unless you are willing to pay anything. Different types of taxis can charge very different prices which can vary up to 5 times the regular fare depending on location and time.


The finest examples of Modernism (International Style inspired architecture, in Polish Moderna) could be easily found in the city downtown. Central Katowice also contain a significant number of Art Nouveau (Secesja) buildings along with the Communist Era giants such as Spodek multipurpose arena complex or Superjednostka housing block.






Katowice has several new, multi-screen cinemas as well as some surviving old, traditional ones. Check if films are shown dubbed or subbed.




There is a lot of cultural events in Katowice. Exhibitions, concerts, festivals, spectacles and so on - they all happen in galleries, clubs and theaters. It is impossible to mention here all of them as they appear without any regular schedule. To get information 'whats on' it is suggested to have a look at up-to-date Internet releases of conventional press like Ultramaryna or Gazeta Wyborcza: Co jest grane bringing cultural news for whole agglomeration. Below there is a list of events that happen at regular schedule.




Katowice sports several large supermarkets, from general to specialized (electronics, home equipment), as well as department stores (malls), in addition to a wide variety of smaller shops. The largest, very modern department store is Silesia City Center.

For local handcrafts, gifts and such, ask or google for "Cepelia" stores. There is also a tiny store at the Katowice Airport, but don't expect to find much there; you'll be better served at the Krakow or Warsaw airports. The airport stores will carry more of the international tourist oriented items; Cepelia stores will have some rarer items.


There are many restaurants in Katowice, including international chains such as McDonald's, Burger King or Pizza Hut. Like elsewhere in Poland, majority of restaurants in Katowice represent European style cuisine, in particular, Polish one, with a number of Silesian regional dishes. It is not uncommon for a restaurant menu to have an English description, but you cannot always rely on it; similarly, younger staff may speak passable English, but no guarantees there neither.

In addition to restaurants accessible from the streets, there are also some to be found in large malls and shopping centers.






Mariacka Street has the highest density of drinking establishments, among others:

Rather common discos

Student clubs


There is a medium number of hotels and guest houses in the Katowice area. There are also some couchsurfing and similar hosts in the area.





Stay safe

Katowice is a generally safe city to stay in. Beware of the usual nuisance of petty theft (especially at Railway Station).

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 24, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.