Contrary to Warsaw, Gdańsk and some other Polish cities, Toruń suffered no damage during World War II, which is why it has retained its authentic character. The city has much to offer apart from the traditional tourist sights and historic places. A full-day sightseeing tour or, if you have time, three days or even a week, will pass in a trice, spent on exploring the city, especially the countless and usually crowded pubs and summer cafes in the evening. Those visiting the Old Quarter after the sunset will revel in the compelling charm of brightly illuminated buildings.
In Toruń, particularly attractive is the oldest part of the city, i.e. the Old Quarter, with innumerable cozy alleys and the most important tourist attractions. It encloses three medieval elements: the Old City (1233), the New City (1264) and the Teutonic Castle (mid.-13th century), which comprise most of the highlights of Toruń. Here, every step brings you closer to the real Gothic architecture and Nicolaus Copernicus’s spirit pervading the city for over 500 years. The whole Old Quarter Complex has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, gaining prestige and recognition on a world scale. Toruń’s uniqueness is an immediate consequence of its unquestionable contribution to the general history and the history of cities developing in medieval Europe, as well as the monumental authentic medieval buildings, both religious and secular, being the best achievements of Gothic brick architecture in Europe. The surviving examples of Gothic residential architecture form the largest and best preserved complex of this kind in Northern Europe.
Those already in love with Toruń who wish to know the city better, should not forget about other areas and places fascinating for their architecture, history and natural beauty. A trip to the opposite bank of the Vistula, which can be made by boat available at Mostowa Gate or over Joseph Piłsudski Bridge, will be unforgettable. Here, from Kępa Bazarowa Islet, the magnificent Toruń panorama – acclaimed as the second of the Seven Wonders of Poland – is to be seen. The trip can be followed by visiting the ruins of medieval Dybów Castle – the former residence of Polish district governors, which additionally served as both the Vistula traffic and border security checkpoint between Poland and the Teutonic State. Next, a visit to one of Toruń’s two Ethnographic Parks is recommended, especially the one located centrally, which offers the opportunity to explore “the country within the city”.
Equally attractive is the complex of huge 19th-century forts of the Prussian Toruń Fortress, increasingly better adapted for sightseeing. A trip to Barbarka can also be a relaxing experience – it is an old forest settlement reaching as far back as the late 13th and was formerly linked with the cult of St. Barbara.
St. Catherine District (Przedmieście św. Katarzyny) and Bydgoskie District (Przedmieście Bydgoskie), full of beautiful and richly ornamental 19th-century buildings, offer some insight into the Art Nouveau and Eclectic architectural styles in Toruń. In the 19th century, both districts were considered exclusive. Bydgoskie District owes its particularly impressive look to its greenery, especially the Zoo-Botanical Garden, the park and the grassland.