Raise your hand if you like going for walks, but you’re totally over pandemic walks. Poland has entered a “third wave” of the pandemic and declared a nation wide lockdown until at least April 9. With our activities (once again) more limited, we went for a stroll along the river on Sunday. While I’m grateful for such a nice place to enjoy the city outdoors, and I love going for walks. . . I’m over it. But despite my grouchy feelings, this is a really good walk! If you’re ever in Szczecin and fancy a stroll, I recommend you head to the river.
Its funny, because now that I think about it, the last four towns we’ve lived in have been situated along a river. I grew up on the boardwalk in Grand Haven, Michigan. Dotted with ice cream stands and Pronto Pups, the boardwalk lined the channel of the Grand River. The river flowed in to Lake Michigan and the boardwalk finished at the end of the pier at the second lighthouse. I was totally spoiled, but it set a high bar. I’ve harshly judged the cities that didn’t have a place along the water for people to enjoy. And have personally equally applauded those which do. Not that my opinion matters to anyone, at all whatsoever. But, I can say that I’ve lived in a lot of places, and I’ve lived better in those that provide a place for the people to enjoy the natural landscape, around which the city is built.
Szczecin’s riverfront promenade is a nice breath of fresh air in the city of almost half a million people. Lined with sculptures, benches and adorable little restaurants, band cafes. It is definitely somewhere you’ll want to spend some time while you’re in town. Keep reading through to the end for a map of our walking route, with some key landmarks pinned along the way.
This is a loop. But not a long one, about 2 kilometers round trip. You’ll end where you begin. Begin at the Wały Chrobrego. There’s street parking all around, a tram stop right out front, and it is a not-far distance from city center, if you’re already on foot. The Wały Chrobrego is a gorgeous observation deck with stairs ascending the river escarpment, a promenade up top, statues, and a large fountain down below at river-level. Cross the street toward the river. This is where you can board the Odra Queen and Peene Queen for a river cruise tour of the city and port from the water. You’ll likely see the boat moored right there. Facing the river, to the left you’ll see the enormous yellow cranes of the Baltic seaport. Take a right, away from the port, toward the overpass bridge. The Marine Academy is on the hill above you, and the research ship is docked here. Keep walking toward the bridge.
You’ll pass under the overpass bridge, its concrete pillars covered in street art, and begin to see statues and benches along the newer part of the boardwalk. The sidewalk is divided in to a path for walking and a path for bikes. So keep an eye out and make sure you’re wandering on the correct side. A little farther down you’ll begin to see cute little restaurants on the right side of the walk. We had one of the best meals at The Kitchen, right after we arrived here in Poland. In the summer, and when restaurants are open in pre-and-post pandemic times, there are a couple of “floating” restaurants that dock here as well. Take a break and take your pick!
Walk up to the next bridge and go up its steps to the street level sidewalk. Cross the street away from the river, toward the cathedral and old town. You can wander through the old town square and if you haven’t already, or if you’re in the mood for a progressive dinner, stop for something to eat…maybe a coffee and dessert? Or a digestif? Or, simply sit on a bench, enjoy the view, and people watch. Next to the old town hall (big white and brick building housing Wyszak Family Brewery) you’ll see one of the bright blue water pumps that can be found throughout the city and are a symbol of Szczecin. This one has the handle bolted down, so you can’t try and pump water (but the one across from the Cathedral does still flow).
Continue up the street beyond the old town hall, toward the castle. You’ll now be heading back the way you came, parallel with the river, through the neighborhood behind it. More dining options abound, with Indian, Ukranian, Italian cuisine, and another brewery along the way. I LOVE the Pomeranian Duke’s Castle in Szczecin. Its white, swirly facade seems like something from a Candyland board. It is otherwise a low profile, and it can be glimpsed down streets and alleys all around, which make for some of my favorite surprise views in the city. My favorite of my favorite views is standing, looking up the street at the castle from the bottom of the steps across the corner from Bollywood restaurant. Check it out.
Then, continue on under the overpass bridge again. But this time, instead of walking along the riverfront directly, spot the stairs that ascend to the top of the beginning of the Wały Chrobrego promenade. Look for the giant shark hanging in front of Columbus restaurant and walk up toward it (you can tell your kids that its real, but don’t worry, it won’t bite). Enjoy the shade of the overhanging trees along the top of the promenade, the beautiful marine academy and national museum buildings, and the view of the river below. Keep going and you’ll end up at the top of the Wały Chrobrego steps.
This is where I’ll leave you to head back to your car, or tram, or wherever you want to take yourself next. But before I do, my final dining recommendation is to either reward yourselves and your kids with ice cream if there’s a food stand parked nearby (as there often is). Or, if you’ve saved your appetite for last, head all the way down to the other end of the promenade to Colorado steakhouse, and order the Jack Daniels BBQ burger. The best burger in Poland, if you ask me and my husband. Smacznego!