After spending a day or two in Lublin, you will have had a good grasp of the city and all of its unique places. This doesn’t mean that you’ve seen all there is to explore in this part of Poland. There’s plenty to discover in the nearby area if you want to make more out of your stay in the “far east”, as some locals like to call it. Time to discover my 5 recommended day trips from Lublin!
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Zamość: The Ideal Town
If you only have time for one of these day trips from Lublin, then definitely make your way to Zamosc. This town is located about an hour away from Lublin and makes a great addition to anyone’s travel itinerary.
Zamosc is a unique example of a Renaissance town. You will find no other places like this in Poland or even wider Central Europe. The town was consistently planned and built according to the Italian theory of an “ideal town”, which was very popular. The founder of the city, Jan Zamojski, even brought in an Italian architect called Bernardo Morando to help him develop his plans. As a result, the town centre still looks very stylish and homogeneous today. The masterpiece of the town is its town hall and centrally located market square.
The town had to function as a place of residence, as well as a fortress. You can still see large parts of the enormous walls and fortifications surrounding the town centre even today.
Like in most towns in this part of Poland, there existed a significant Jewish minority in Zamosc before the Second World War. Almost half of the town’s population belonged to it. Unfortunately, also in Zamosc, the community was completely destroyed. The only reminders about this part of history are the synagogues still standing in the town centre. They are unfortunately not in use anymore.
- Distance from Lublin: 87 km
- Time by car: approx. 1h 10min
- By public transport: minibus or train (2 hours and infrequent)
- Main sights: historic town centre, fortress
The colourful tenement houses in Zamość are also worth the trip
Kazimierz Dolny: Artists in a Pretty Setting
Kazimierz Dolny is a common choice for a weekend out among people from Warsaw. If you plan to visit this town during weekends, you will find this town most probably packed with local Polish tourists. The small village lies on the banks of the Vistula river nearby Puławy.
Kazimierz Dolny is a popular place for local artists like painters and photographers. This means that you will see many private galleries located in the historical tenement houses. The galleries often have local artwork and crafts of local people trying to make a living out of their passion.
A medieval castle ruin overlooks the town on a lush hill to make the setting even more picturesque. You can visit the castle ruins for a small fee and also the top of the hill. A great panorama over the town and the Vistula river valley will reward the small climb to the top of the hill.
- Distance from Lublin: 61 km
- Time by car: approx. 50 minutes
- By public transport: minibus, 1h 20min
- Main sights: historical town centre, castle ruins, art galleries
Polesie National Park and Włodawa: Bogs and Jewish Heritage
Polesie National Park (in Polish: Poleski Park Narodowy) covers a part of the swampy bog areas north of Lublin. The park area is flat and has numerous lakes and peat-bogs. Several trails have been marked and developed by the park authorities. When driving through the swampy fields and forgotten villages inside the National Park, you will for sure feel like you have been sent back in time. Make sure to check the website of the national park office if you would like to know more details.
Even further north of the Polesie National Park lies the town of Włodawa. A town on the Polish-Belarussian border on the banks of the majestic and wild Bug river. Until the Second World War, the town was an important centre of Jewish culture with a significant Jewish minority. At the end of the war, the town’s Jewish community was completely destroyed. The surviving Włodawa Synagogue serves as an important tourist sight in the town. It exhibits the Jewish history of the city.
For those who have a specific interest in Holocaust history, I would recommend including the nearby Sobibór Museum in your trip. The former extermination camp lies merely 17 km away from the Włodawa town centre. I had visited the Holocaust Museum when I spent a weekend in Budapest; the Jews have indeed suffered so much during that period.
All these places are located to the north of Lublin and make a great combined day trip. You may have to get up early to make the most of it, though.
- Distance from Lublin: 98 km
- Time by car: approx. 1h 10 min to Włodawa, around 50 minutes to Poleski National Park
- By public transport: to Włodawa: minibus, 1h 30 min. Minibuses may be very limited, so be careful while planning this day trip by public transport. Getting to the Polesie National Park by public transport is almost impossible.
- Main sights: hiking trails in peat-bogs and swamps, Jewish synagogues, Sobibór extermination camp museum
Chełm: Underground Experience
This town is often forgotten and skipped due to its remote location about halfway between Lublin and the Ukrainian border. However, the town’s biggest tourist draw is its chalk mines, consisting of kilometres of chalk tunnels under the historic town centre. The local people started extracting the chalk from the soil already in the 16th century. They did this until the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays you can visit the chalk tunnels with a guide. However, tours in English are limited, so it is worth checking the website in advance.
While in Chełm, I really recommend visiting Cathedral Hill as well. The pretty snow-white Basilica and belfry tower. If you find the church doors open, then make sure to have a quick look inside. In any case, the whole area and the surrounding park are worth a discovering walk.
- Distance from Lublin: 70 km
- Time by car: approx. 50 minutes
- By public transport: train, 1h 10min
- Main sights: chalk tunnels under the historic town centre, historic Basilica and belfry
Chełm’s snow-white Basilica proudly overlooks the town.
Puławy: Stately Palace
Puławy may be the last one on this list of day trips from Lublin, but this definitely doesn’t mean it’s the least spectacular one. The medium-sized town itself, at first sight, may seem very spectacular. However, despite the Vistula river that runs right next to the town, there is one big reason to make your way to Puławy. The stunning Czartoryski Palace is of great importance in Polish history. Its main owners, the Czartoryski family, was one of the country’s most influential aristocratic families. The current palace dates back to the 18th century. It was built on the exact location of a previous palace destroyed by the Swedes in 1706 during their invasion of Poland. Next to the garden, the English landscape garden makes a beautiful place for a stroll after visiting the castle museum.
Another interesting spot in Puławy is the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built between 1800 and 1803. The design of the church is based on the Pantheon in Rome.
- Distance from Lublin: 55 km
- Time by car: approx. 40 minutes
- By public transport: train, 50 minutes up to 1h 30min. It is worth checking the schedule in advance
- Main sights: Czartoryski Palace
Check out my 1-week trip to Ukraine, a country right next to Poland which is also worth visiting its capital, Kyiv.