For good coffee and a nutritious breakfast head to Owoce i Warzywa (“Fruits and Vegetables”), located on Traugutta 9, just off the famous Piotrkowska Street. Sip on a cup of carefully brewed specialty coffee while lounging in one of the vintage 366 chairs: iconic pieces of Polish mid-century furniture designed by Józef Chierowski. Aside from coffee, the cafe offers alcoholic drinks, local craft beers, and a variety of funky non-alcoholic beverages, including kvass, Russian Almdudler, and carob hot cocoa. If you are looking to grab breakfast, try the cafe’s “gryczanka” — vegan chocolate buckwheat porridge — or ask about their homemade waffles or grilled sandwiches. For something more substantial, check out the pan-Asian vegan joint Umamitu just next door.
A must-have Instagram snap is the Neoplastic Room, a true gem of the European avant-garde at the Museum of Art in Łódź. First constructed in 1948, the Neoplastic Room was designed by Władysław Strzemiński, a Polish avant-garde painter and art theorist. The space was meant to house a collection of 1930s European avant-garde works. Unfortunately, the room was destroyed in the 1950s by communist authorities because its constructivist aesthetics did not meet the tenets of socialist realism. It was reconstructed in 1960 by one of Strzemiński’s students, and remained the focal point of a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Art until 2008. Today, the museum commits to displaying and promoting experimental and socially-engaged art, and the Neoplastic room specifically serves as “a catalyst and a reference point for the activities of other artists.” Once you’ve got your fill of the exhibitions, unwind at the glass-panelled library on the top floor of the museum. The library’s cosy reading room on the mezzanine is a great space to sit down with a book — Strzemiński’s own Theory of Seeing makes an excellent choice. If you want to learn more about Władysław Strzemiński and his circle, we would also recommend watching Andrzej Wajda’s movie Afterimage.
If you buy one souvenir, make it a Pan Tu Nie Stał (“You were not standing here, sir!”) clothing item. This Łódź-based company creates and produces original items of clothing for men, women, and children, all inspired by retro Polish design, illustration, and typography. Pan Tu Nie Stał started in 2008, when a young couple — a sociologist and a graphic designer — decided to turn their passion for old-school Polish design into an online store, selling printed t-shirts that celebrated elements of Polish visual culture and language. Pan Tu Nie Stał‘s trademark qualities — a nostalgia-inducing sense of humour, and functionality of design – contribute to the brand’s popularity among today’s generation of young and creative Poles. The company’s flagship store (there are also PTNS stores in Warsaw and Kraków) is housed by OFF Piotrkowska Center — a former cotton mill that now serves as a multi-functional hangout space with bars, restaurants, clubs, stores, and workshops.
If you are a cinema lover, catch a glimpse of the Łódź Film School, whose alumni include directors Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polański, and Krzysztof Kieślowski. Following the destruction of Warsaw during the Second World War, the bulk of the Polish cinema industry moved to Łódź. Even today, many great Polish movies are created and shot in “HollyŁódź”. The Łódź Film School is situated just across the street from the fascinating Łódź Cinematography Museum (which is currently under renovation until late 2020) in the Scheibler Palace. The building featured in Wajda’s cult movie The Promised Land, which tells the story of a Pole, a German, and a Jew struggling to build a textile factory in Łódź in the face of rampant 19th-century industrialisation. You might also want to see what’s on in Kino Charlie. The independent cinema often screens Polish movies with English subtitles.
For a drink with locals in the evening, head to Niebostan (“Heavenstate”), a hip klubokawiarnia (cafe-club), used book store, and events venue where local creatives pass their time playing board games and lounging on seats made from shopping carts and bathtubs. In its eclectic activity, Niebostan contributes to the city’s reputation as Poland’s creative capital, and supports all sorts of cultural initiatives and civic engagement by hosting and organising movie screenings, art exhibitions, lectures, workshops, flea markets, meetings with writers, and alternative music concerts. Żarty Żartami (“Mockery Aside”) is another good spot if you are in the mood for a concert or a relaxed late night party, with themes including “Britney Spears’ 38th Birthday Celebration”, or “Queer Hawaii Party”.