Naturally, any exploration must start at the Old Market Square (Stary Rynek), a lively spot filled with color, people, and a range of performance art from early morning to late at night. Poznan's unofficial nickname could well be the "Museum City," for you trip on museums everywhere. Some notable ones are the Model of Former Poznan (Ludgardy; tel. 61/855-14-35; www.makieta.poznan.pl), which has a meticulous miniature model of medieval Poznan and gives an audio narration of the city's history, and the Musical Instruments Museum (Stary Rynek 45; tel. 61/852-08-57). Note: Most museums have free admission on Saturdays.

Kórnik and Rogalin, both 20km (12 miles) south of Poznan and 12km (7 1/2 miles) apart from each other, visited together make for a good day out. The 14th-century neo-Gothic Kórnik Castle (Zamkowa 5, Kórnik; tel. 61/817-00-81; www.bkpan.poznan.pl) survived World War II and has many intriguing curios assembled by its former masters. The Rogalin Palace (Arciszewszkiego 2, Rogalin; tel. 61/813-80-30), an impressive late-baroque to early-classicism palace, was the seat of the Raczynski clan, a politically influential noble family. It was recently given a thorough spruce-up. Within the palace are works by the noted Polish painter Jan Matejko. The on-site restaurant, Dwa Pokoje z Kuchnia (tel. 61/898-17-47), is a homey spot that serves sweet and savory pancakes (crêpes). At the nearby park are the Oaks of Rogalin, three great oak trees that are more than a thousand years old (and look very much like they're on their last legs). They are named Lech, Czech, and Rus, after the legendary brothers and founding fathers of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Russia. Public buses from Poznan serve both Kórnik and Rogalin.

Huff and Puff -- Michael Palin did it. In his 2006-07 jaunt through New Europe, the travel show host (and Monty Python comedian) veered west to Poznan to hop on the steam-engine train that chugs regularly from Poznan to Wolsztyn. The Wolsztyn Experience (www.thewolsztynexperience.org) allows train enthusiasts to learn to drive a steam-engine train on a regular service line with commuters on board (about 600 z).

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.