Lodz – it’s pronounced ‘Woodge’, by the way - was at one time a manufacturing city – a rich one too, thanks to its massive textile mills. Today the factories are long closed, but in their place something else has emerged… Lodz is a bright and vibrant city, an arty and alternative one that’s well regarded for its street art, museums, festivals, and of course its film school (it’s not called Holly-'woodge' for nothing). It’s a lovely city for a short break, with lots to keep you busy for a few days – here is some of the best advice I can give you..
There are lots of good reasons to visit Manufaktura. The five story building was once a huge textile mill, but in the early 2000s it was renovated and in 2006 opened as a massive 67-acre arts centre, leisure complex and shopping mall. There are over 300 different stores, cafés, pastry shops, pubs, bars, beauty salons and boutiques for you to browse, as well as a bowling alley, cinema, laser tag, climbing wall, and theatre.
You’ll find the factory museum in Manufaktura too, and this is worth a visit. It’s a great little place that details the rich and interesting history of the factory, and how the textile industry shaped the city.
Lodz is home to one of the world’s oldest film schools, the prestigious Leon Schiller School of Film, Television and Theatre, which counts numerous Oscar winners amongst its alumni. The city is packed with cinema themed hotels and monuments, and as I said it even has the nickname ‘Hollywoodge’… so of course it has a film museum, and it’s a good one too.
You’ll find it near the film school, in the former Scheibler factory palace. It’s the only museum of its kind in Poland & houses an impressive collection of cameras, posters & memorabilia. You can explore the set of a stop-motion animated film and watch an alternative movie in the Coach House Cinema – but the piece de resistance is the Fotoplastikon, a big drum-like contraption that was popular in the early 20th Century for showing 3D films.
Piwnica Lodzka is a gorgeous and fairly traditional restaurant that’s tucked away in a basement so it can be a little tricky to find, but well, well worth finding. The food here is superb; it’s one of those places where the menu is small and everything on it is phenomenally well made. You’ll find Poland’s famous pierogi on the menu here - but with a gourmet and modern twist – as well as lots of local flavours put together beautifully in unforgettable dishes.
Piwoteka is Lodz’s beer heaven, and the perfect place to refresh and refuel after a busy day exploring the city. Piwoteka offers a super beer menu that includes a load of locally brewed, home grown, small-batch beers, but also plenty of renowned beers from all over the world. The guys that work here really know their beers, so just turn up and be ready to taste, because they’ll make it their mission to find you your perfect flavour. The choice of drinks is extensive, an it even includes one herring-infused little number, which actually tastes an awful lot more palatable than you might think!
Ok, if fish beer is a little too alternative for you, at least you know that you can always rely on the sweet, dependable, delicious taste of good old chocolate. The Chocolate Factory in Lodz is a little chocoholics heaven, the only place in Poland where chocolate is made from bean all the away to the finished bar. You can visit the factory and learn how it all happens, as well as even designing and flavouring your very own bar of chocolate.
A 10-minute walk from Piotrkowska Street on Targowa Street you’ll find the newly opened Science & Technology centre (part of the city’s EC1 West project). It’s housed in a former power station, so it’s the perfect place to learn how electricity is produced and harnessed.
You can follow and explore the whole process, from the moment coal arrives to the station right through to the moment you flick that switch to boil some water – this is an interactive and fascinating space that will easily keep a family entertained for a few hours as you make your way through several floors of interactive games, 3D digital mapping and exhibits containing original machinery. This contemporary centre is great for all ages, is sure to be a hit with kids, & also boasts a 3D cinema and planetarium.
OFF Piotrkowska is yet another disused Lodz factory that has been ingenuously repurposed to create a vibrant space in the city – it's a great little centre packed with cafés and boutiques, galleries and bars, art and fashion… and Spółdzielnia, where I had a lovely lunch. The menu is simple and tasty – wood-fired pizzas and hearty pasta dishes, big sandwiches and burgers, salads that will actually fill you up – and affordable, and the atmosphere in the restaurant and in the entire OFF Piotrkowska area is well worth experiencing
Book flights to Lodz
- Lisa Whelan