Last Updated on 16 August 2021
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Wroclaw (pronounced vrots-wahf) is a beautiful city located in western Poland along the idyllic Odra River. It is the perfect place to go for a short city break to Europe, and is especially magical at Christmas. A University city, Wroclaw has a lively atmosphere and is studded with bars and restaurants. But it also has a rich history demonstrated by its abundance of Gothic and baroque architecture. Here is a guide to the 9 best things to do in Wroclaw which must not be missed…
1. Visit Wroclaw Christmas Market
Wroclaw Christmas Market is one of the most under-rated Christmas Markets in Europe! Weaving around the market place (Rynek) and spilling onto adjacent streets and squares, the traditional alpine huts stock a range of lovely things, such as traditional kitsch Christmas decorations, Polish foods, handmade gifts and sweet delights! The Christmas Market is scattered with pop up huts where you can drink warming mulled wine of many flavours, and festive joy fills the air with the sound of Christmas songs! Wroclaw certainly makes for one of the most magical city breaks in Europe!
2. Wander around Ostrow Tumski
Ostrow Tumski (Cathedral Island) is a lovely area of Wroclaw to spend a morning wandering. You will find various religious buildings, charming architecture and a whole lot of history in this river-side patch of the city. Make sure you visit the gothic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, with it’s double spires rising high into the sky, and take a wander around inside. The view across Tumski Bridge towards Church of Sts. Peter and Paul and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist makes for a postcard perfect picture, so be sure to have your camera at the ready!
3. Go dwarf hunting around Wroclaw Old Town
Yes you heard me right! There are over 300 of these little bronze gnome-like figurines hiding in plain sight all across the city! A dwarf riding a motorbike, a dwarf making gingerbread, a dwarf drinking beer with a dog, a Statue of Liberty dwarf, dwarves in an ATM, firefighting dwarves… They are placed all around the Old Town, so you can enjoy the colourful facades of Rynek and the magical Wroclaw Old Town Hall whilst you’re hunting for them! It is the perfect way to see the Old Town and more of the city, and becomes a little addictive. You can buy a map to help you find the Wroclaw dwarves. However, it is much more fun to just stumble across them, getting a little lost along the way!
4. Go shopping at Hala Targowa
Hala Targowa (Market Hall) is a traditional indoor market located right alongside the river. Stocking all sorts of sweet delights and local products, it is the perfect place spend a morning for some cultured retail therapy. Christmas time in Wroclaw is magical, and at Hala Targowa you will be able to buy and eat the sweetest festive iced biscuits by the kilo – these make lovely little gifts for those back home! Furthermore, at Christmas you find the most delicate handcrafted wreaths made from fresh plants for sale at Hala Targowa.
Tip: Consider stopping at Hala Targowa after a busy morning wandering Ostrow Tumski, as you will likely pass the market on the way back to the Old Town. And, you’ll probably be hungry! What better place to stop and find a local snack (if you’re like me, that will be way to many iced biscuits)?
5. Visit the Anonymous Pedestrians
The Anonymous Pedestrians are an interesting sculpture of people which gradually disappear into depths of the pavement, appear to go underneath the road, and then emerge from the other side. They are located on the corner of a busy intersection just South of the Old Town where modern life continues to rush by. The 14 figure art installation was unveiled in 2005 to represent those who worked to undermine the martial law regime in Poland.
6. Eat Georgian food in Wroclaw
Georgian food, in Poland? Yes! Eating at U Gruzina is a must-do on any Wroclaw itinerary. There are various restaurants around Wroclaw (I tried 3 of them), but I’d suggest you visit the one on Wojciecha Bogusławskiego, which is near the Anonymous Pedestrians (the perfect lunch spot). U Gruzina on Wojciecha Bogusławskiego is built into the railway arches underneath the train tracks. It has a really quirky and cosy vibe! I vow to go back to Wroclaw just to eat the Khackapuri (a traditional boat shaped Georgian bread) filled with cheese and an egg.
Tip: When served in Khackapuri the egg is raw. To cook it, you scramble it into the piping hot cheese as soon as it is served! I thought I’d let you know, so you don’t look around baffled by what you are meant to do with a raw egg (like I did)!
7. Take a trip out to Szczytnicki Park
Hop on the tram and navigate your way across to Szczytnicki Park. Here, you can visit the Japanese Garden and see the Multimedia Fountain. Admittedly, this was a complete fail for me! The Japanese Garden was not open and the Multimedia Fountain was not in operation (it was literally drained of each and every drop of water). This was probably because I visited Wroclaw in December, but it would be on my list of things to see in Wroclaw when I return, along with the Japanese Garden. I still got to see Centennial Hall (where there was a small Christmas Market during my trip), a red squirrel in Szczytnicki Park, and some camels through the fence in the zoo opposite – it’s the small wins, right?!
8. Unleash your inner child at Kolejkowo
Located in Swiebodzki Railway Station, Kolejkowo is an indoor model railway, comprising of 510 meters of track meandering through a delicately detailed miniature world. Kolejkowo is a fun place to spend a morning or afternoon, and is sure to bring out your inner child! The model railway depicts scenes from Wroclaw Old Town and the region of Lower Silesia. The child (and adult) in me thinks that Kolejkowo is definitely worth every zloty of the affordable entry fee!
9. Visit Wroclaw University and Mathematical Tower
The area surrounding Wroclaw University is a charming place to spend some time on your trip. The cobble-stoned streets are lined with beautiful architecture, and a fountain sculpture known as the Swordsman takes pride of place in University Square. Located inside the main baroque University building is the University of Wroclaw Museum. Here you can see some interesting historic exhibits which date as early as the 15th Century, such as scientific collections, and arts and handicrafts. After wandering the University of Wroclaw Museum, be sure to climb the stairs up to to Mathematical Tower that sits on top of the University building for stunning panoramic views across the city!
Tip: Consider visiting Wroclaw University Museum and the Mathematical Tower early in the morning. In my experience, this was a quiet time to visit and avoided crowds and tour groups.
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