The city of Bielsko-Biala has been in existence since January 1951 when two cities on either side of the Biala River, which had marked an international boundary for centuries, were united. Biala has enjoyed a complex history spending most of its life as part of the “crown-land” of Austria, Galicia. Bielsko, the older of the two cities, was part of the Czech Kingdom until 1526 when it was encompassed into the Franco-Habsburg Dynasty. In 1918 both cities were returned to the newly reformed Polish Republic although much of the German population until the post-war liberation by the Red Army. The Jewish population was expelled to Auschwitz during the Second World War, and many tourists visit the area for this reason. The city is also home to one of Poland’s largest Jewish communities today. Before the War there was a huge number of different nationalities living in Bielsko and Biala, giving a broad and interesting culture, which is sadly no longer present although is evident in the architecture throughout the region. The area was famous for cloth production for centuries and then suffered intense industrialisation in the 1970s, much of the older areas remain and the overall impression is that of a rapidly developing area with a rich heritage. Beyond the busy streets lie the Silesian and Mały Beskid Mountain ranges are steeped in forests and streams and are extremely popular for outdoor pursuits, spa breaks and winter sports.


Town Hall and Square – The neo- Renaissance style of the Town Hall building instantly explains the city’s comparisons to Vienna, and its nickname “Little Vienna”. The ornate clock tower looks out over Biala and the Town Square which has recently been repaved and revamped, making it a very picturesque spot to have a coffee and watch the world go by. Other examples of the varied architecture include The "Pod Żabami" townhouse which has two frogs sitting atop one of the windowsills, the Catholic Church of the Providence, St Nicholas’ Cathedral and the Townhouse complex at the market square in Bielsko.

The Sulkowski Castle – The current form, which is a fusion of Gothic, Renaissance and Roman, was designed by Viennese architect Jan Potzelmeyer. Previous incarnations developed from a simple wooden fort and were prompted by Swedish invasion and later a series of fires. The castle is now host to one of the branches of the [ State Museum of Bielsko-Biala]. The collection in the castle includes artwork dating back from to the nineteenth century, historical artefacts relevant to the city, a functional concert room and hunting and armoury exhibits. Other parts of the museum include The Museum of Technology and Textile Industry, The Weaver’s House and Julian Falat’s Villa.

Szczyrk – The town is the main centre for winter sports in the area and has over 60 kilometres of ski runs. In addition to the fantastic outdoor opportunities, there is a strong traditional feel with traditional axe-dances taking place as a testament to the nomadic gangs which roamed the areas, robbing villages but also offering protection from the oppressive lords.


Lisptopoda Street has the most popular shops in the city, mostly selling clothes and souvenirs. The Pod Orlem Hotel on Zamkowa Street has several converted rooms that are now used as boutique shopping outlets. Wandering the smaller streets you may come across the polar opposite with elderly women selling cloth and woven garments on the street. The industrial area near the river has been redeveloped with the Sfera Shopping Mall, which has a seven screen multiplex cinema as well as modern sports, fashion, music and electronic stores. Sarni Stock is a slightly less glamorous version which is more similar to a hypermarket with warehouse style shops retailing cheap goods. Tesco has several superstores here which sell groceries and non-food items such as clothes and home goods.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The dining options are less varied than in Polish cities of a similar size with the majority being Polish cuisine, probably owing to the proximity to the mountains and traditional cultural feel. The decent food is complemented by excellent views of the city in the Bracka restaurant on the Deboweic Mountain. A more modern approach is taken at “Novy Swat” on Listopada Street in the centre, which offers both Polish and international cuisine, which to its credit manages to stretch beyond pizza. The [ Vasco De Gama] specialises in Mexican and Texan flavours, although the dishes don’t tend to look entirely authentic. There is often live music and wine-tasting events to showcase the extensive collection in the cellar. In addition to all the pizza restaurants, there are some good Eastern food outlets in the shopping centre food courts.

The majority of nightlife is focussed around the Old Town Square and Listopoda Street. The pubs are inviting and friendly in all seasons with terraced areas or beer-gardens for the summer months and comforting cellars for when the nights draw in. Not only does the [ Parkhotel Vienna] have a bar and restaurant with panoramic views of the city, but also runs its own garishly lit nightclub, although it is reputed that most of the clientele tend to be more senior and wealthy guests and the young women trying to ensnare them. E-Club has its own bar and separate club area which pumps out techno and some pop and there are a decent number of similar venues in the same central area. Masala is a concert venue which has concerts from most alternative rock acts touring this area of the world.

Tourist Information

Tourist Information Centre4 Ratuszowy SquareBielsko-Biala

  • Telephone: 819-00-50
  • Email:
  • Website: []


The nearest airport is [ Katowice Pyrzowice] which is 90km from Bielsko-Biala. The airport is 34km outside central Katowice and so visitors must take the shuttle bus for just under an hour to Katowice Station then a train for a further hour and a half to Bielsko-Biala. Direct flights take place to Greece, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and Ireland.