Do you need a perfect and complete Wroclaw travel guide? Are you wondering if Wroclaw is even worth visiting? Are you looking for the best things to do in Wroclaw? You found yourself in a perfect place! In this post I will answer those, and many more of your Wroclaw-related questions.
I can’t believe it took me so long to actually get to know this city.
Wroclaw surprised me in all sorts of incredible ways.
All my life, whenever I craved a cultured weekend city escape – Krakow was the place. And as I was sitting on the train to Wroclaw for the first time, I knew that once I arrived, I would be comparing those 2 cities.
I couldn’t be more wrong. When I crossed another bridge over the Odra River and walked into the district of Nadodrze where my hostel was located – I forgot about Krakow. Wroclaw charmed me in ways that no other city has charmed me since I visited Seville or Lisbon. For real.
I think in part it’s how undefined and unpredictable it can be.
In Wroclaw you can walk from the charming colourful old town right into art deco neon lights square, to just a few minutes later, find yourself surrounded by brutalism architecture or inside of colourfully painted with wall art yard. Half an hour later you are standing in front of the Centennial Hall watching a multimedia fountain show with the Japanese garden right behind you.
Yet all this mish-mash somehow makes total sense.
The way I see Wroclaw is like this tall multi-layered cake. As you slice through it you will see all the colourful layers of Polish history, from a medieval witch hunt, through renascence to German and then Soviet occupation, all the way to today’s modern art and culture.
And here you have it, the most delicious Wroclaw cake.
I think if you really want to taste a little bit of everything Polish, Wroclaw is a great town to experience it.
And I am truly surprised by me saying it. In the end Wroclaw was a part of Prussia and then Germany for many years, and at times, its landscape feels a bit German. But Poland disappeared from European maps for over 130 years, and each part of it at some point belonged to another country, for a very long time. But what makes Wroclaw so Polish is that you can see the remnants of the resistance everywhere.
The references to dramatic Polish history can be seen on each corner. The bars, cafes and restaurants so often took on a deco and vibe referring to soviet occupation, communist reality but also the glorious 20s and 30s era.
Among modern international cuisine, a Polish classic is proudly served and often with a fine twist. The unknown number of street dwarfs who appear on the streets since 2005 and refer to peaceful resistance towards communist regime.
Even the students gathering on the banks of the river seem much more unapologetic and raw in comparison to a polished and cultured Krakow.
Wroclaw feels real, is absolutely beautiful and has incredible character.
Is Wroclaw worth visiting?
Wroclaw is not only worth visiting, I truly believe, that if you really want to experience Polish culture, you should visit Wroclaw alongside Krakow. Wroclaw has an incredible history with architecture and sights to show for it.
The culinary scene is on another level and along with the vibrant cultural scene, gorgeous river and multiple islands and promenades, Wrocław is the most underrated city in Poland that you need to visit.
And to top it up, there are so many fantastic things to do in Wroclaw that a weekend won’t be enough to do it all. Trust me!
What is Wroclaw known for
Wroclaw is often called Venice of Poland. “City of One Hundred Bridges” or “Venice of the North” is what tourists and residents of Wroclaw often call the city, and that’s because of the way Odra river runs through it creating many canals and small islands.
Wroclaw boasts the largest number of bridges in Poland and one of the largest number of bridges in Europe.
But Wroclaw is best known for its colourful old town. Wroclaw’s Old Town Market Square features a beautiful gothic town hall and rows of the most colourful townhouses.
Some claim that Wroclaw is home to the most beautiful Old Town Market Square in Poland, but I haven’t seen them all, so I will not be judging it just yet.
How many days for visiting Wroclaw
Wroclaw has so many incredible attractions and places to see that visiting Wroclaw for 2 days is an absolute minimum. I would say 3 days (2 nights) is an optimal duration to spend in Wroclaw if you want to see all the best sights and spend some time relaxing as well.
If your list of things to do in Wroclaw is as long as mine was – consider spending an extended weekend, maybe 4 to 5 days. Apart from all the things to do in Wroclaw, there are also many great day trips that you can take like Ksiaz Castle and Church of Peace in Swidnica, hiking tour to Rock City or even day trip to Auschwitz from Wroclaw.
You will not run out of things to do.
If you don’t have much time and really want to make it a day trip, of course, you can too! But be sure to choose 2 or 3 things that interest you the most and leave the rest for the next time you come by, because you will, trust me!
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Things to do in Wroclaw
The Market Square / Things to do in Wroclaw
The Wrocław Market Square and its colourful buildings are the city’s showpiece and make it to all postcards and Instagram posts. No wonder. It’s one of the largest and most beautiful market squares in Poland.
A beautiful mix of architecture, atmospheric tenement houses, many bars and restaurants and interesting sights and museums make it the most popular attraction of Wrocław.
You could easily just stroll around and soak in the mood, but I recommend visiting Gothic Stary Ratusz (Former City Hall). For more than 740 years, in its cellars have operated the oldest pub in Europe, and inside the Old Town Hall, you will find the Museum of Burgers’ Art, which can be visited every day except Monday and Tuesday.
Take a walk towards Solny Square and stroll down the Więzienna and Malarska Streets. You will find numerous cafes and bars, interesting shops and buildings.
Discovering Market Square and its adjacent streets is definitely one of the best things to do in Wroclaw.
Spot the hidden Wroclaw Dwarfs
What Wroclaw is certainly the most famous for are the hundreds of dwarf sculptures spread around the town. Small statues of dwarfs have been placed in Wrocław successively since 2005.
The idea originated from graffiti painted in the 1980s, and then from events organized by the “Orange Alternative” movement, which was ridiculing the communist system. After the fall of the communist regime, the dwarfs were forgotten until August 2005, when the idea became alive again thanks to a Polish sculptor who, set up the first five dwarfs.
Since then, dwarf figurines have become an integral part of city space and a social phenomenon. New characters are created by artists from all over Poland all the time, and today more than 600 dwarfs live in Wroclaw. There are special tours on the trail of the dwarfs, outdoor games and maps for tourists who want to combine the search for dwarfs with a tour of Wroclaw.
See how many dwarfs you can spot – they are smaller than you think!
Discover Wroclaw’s hidden Art
Culture and art in Wroclaw are much more than just museums. Wroclaw’s artistic scene is funky, unconventional and often hidden along residential streets. Let’s say you will walk the Swidnicka street towards Nasyp (recommended for a good evening meal and drink).
Upon arriving at the crossing you will see a series of bronze figurines built as if they were disappearing into the pavement and appearing again on the other side. It’s called “Przejście” – The Passage.
This monument was supposed to refer to the realities of the former communist regime. The descent of these figures points to a conspirative struggle in the form of initiatives such as the war on the walls, underground printing, strikes or the activities of the underground organizations.
The second part of the monument, that is, the figures coming out of the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, shows society after changes, with new possibilities and perspectives. But this is just one of the interpretations.
Along with changing times and new realities, new interpretations are emerging.
Another interesting cultural concept can be found along Roosevelt Street. Kolorowe Podworka (Colourful Yards) located in the Nadodrze district of Wroclaw, present the contrast between grey, dirty and often shabby tenement houses and the amazing colours, paintings and ceramics that covered their walls.
The project called “Our atelier yard” was created with the cooperation of local artists and residents of those tenement houses. Children, adults and seniors – all neighbours from the yard at Roosevelt Street, worked on the project for two years.
They transferred their ideas to the walls of their houses and created the most spectacular wall art. On the walls, you will see cosmic figures, lots of greenery and nature, numerous animals, palm trees, colourful fish and coral reefs, and everything imagination could produce. You will also discover numerous portraits here. They are not random figures, but the inhabitants of these tenement houses.
The contrast between often run-down yards and those incredible paintings creates a fantastic artistic experience.
Last but not least, there is a Neon Side Galerry – one of my favourite places in Wroclaw.
By day, Ruska 46 Cultural Street is a place that brings together cultural organizations, art galleries, music bands, clubs, theaters and freelance artists who have their headquarters or studios here. The walls are covered with wall art and as you step into this pretty small space you will know you have found something special.
At night, this place turns into an old neon gallery. The former commercials of shops, outlets and companies that do not exist today found shelter in this yard and illuminated the facades of the artistic urban outbuilding creating a unique atmosphere.
The Recepcja club, located in the very heart of the artistic enclave, is a place where people meet in the evening, have a drink and have fun and discuss things that matter.
I love this place. Day and night!
Wroclaw Museums / Best Things to do in Wroclaw
Wroclaw has an incredible amount of museums but few of them are definitely worth visiting:
- Hydropolis, The Water Knowledge Cente is a museum where water is presented from different and fascinating perspectives via various multimedia technologies, interactive installations, models and information-rich touch screens. You can ‘explore’ vast depths of the oceans and learn about the organisms that live there, learn the history of water engineering or visit a room where a cloud is “grown”.
- In Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, you will find exhibitions of paintings, installations and other artistic forms of the best contemporary artists. It is home to one of the most important collections of contemporary art throughout the country.
- Zajezdnia is a former bus depot which was transformed into an amazingly interactive museum. But it’s not just some bus depot. In August 1980, a strike to support workers on the Coast began in the depot and “Solidarity” was born there. The heart of the Zajzdnia is the main exhibition “Wrocław 1945-2016”, dedicated to the post-war history of Wrocław, Lower Silesia and other regions that became part of Poland. It’s a very interesting and interactive exhibition and part of it was created on the basis of souvenirs, documents and photographs donated by the inhabitants of Wrocław.
- Wroclaw Museum Games and Computers of the Past Era is one of Wroclaw’s coolest museums. You will find exhibition of video game consoles from different periods, such as the Magnavox Odyssey from 1972, the Nintendo GameCube from 2001 or unusual devices like Action Max that plug into your VCR. At the Retro computers exhibition, we will follow the history of the first copies of this type, starting with the Apple II from 1977 and the Atari 400. You will also have the opportunity to play the retro Arcade slot machines.
Jatki Street / Best Things to do in Wroclaw
Although a small street, Jatki deserves its own separate mention.
It is a small street where slaughterhouses were located and the meat was sold since the 13th century. Fortunately, the former meat shops are now replaced by galleries, art studios and shops, but you can still get the medieval feel as you enter.
As you enter the first thing you will see is The Monument of Slaughter Animals, which was funded by consumers. What I love most about Jatki Street are numerous privately owned arts and crafts shops where you can buy beautiful craft jewelry, ceramics and much more. It’s a very photogenic place as well!
Walk down the Piaskowy bridge towards Nadodrze
The red painted steel Piaskowy Bridge leads towards Ostrow Tumski and Nadodrze district. It’s a very picturesque bridge and one of the oldest constructions of this type in the city.
The views are great and this part of Wroclaw has a special atmosphere. There are many bridges in Wroclaw, but this one is my favorite. As you cross you will find yourself in the Nadodrze district which was once run down and is now becoming the cool artsy and alternative part of the city.
Once here, you can walk towards Roosevelt Street for the colourful yards, wander towards the river bank and sit in one of the beach bars, or hang around the river islands like Piasek or Slodowa Island.
Ostrow Tumski / Best Things to do in Wroclaw
The best time to visit Ostrow Tumski is before dusk. The lighting of Ostrów Tumski is provided by 103 original gas lamps, which are manually lit and extinguished every day throughout the year.
Ostrow Tumski is the oldest part of Wrocław, whose history dates back to the 10th century. Around here you will find the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a three-nave Gothic basilica built between the 13th and 14th centuries. The Cathedral tower can be climbed for some amazing views!
The streets are charming and the architecture is so different from the rest of Wroclaw that it feels like a completely different town. Or Era.
It is worth finishing your visit to Ostrów Tumski at the Botanical Garden of the University of Wroclaw, whose entrance is located next to the cathedral. The Wroclaw Botanical Garden is full of various plant species, greenhouses, ponds and benches where you can rest and relax. It’s a gorgeous peaceful place.
District of Mutual Respect
In the area of St Antoni and Włodkowica Street sits the district of Four Denominations, which is also called the district of mutual respect.
Here, in close proximity to each other are: the Catholic church, the Evangelical church, the Orthodox cathedral, and the synagogue. This place has a symbolic dimension – it reflects the diversity and tolerance of Wrocław, which in the past and today is inhabited by people of many faiths, cultures and traditions.
The district is full of charming nooks, cafes and restaurants, and also hosts a number of cultural and educational events. Great place to visit in the afternoon or in the evening. Don’t miss it!
Walk the River promenades
Start at the Boulevard of Xawery Dunikowski and stroll towards the Grunwaldzki Bridge. On a good sunny day, the Odra banks and boulevards offer unforgettable views. If you don’t feel like sightseeing and just want to stroll around and be surprised – walk along the river.
Take a river Cruise / Best Things to do in Wroclaw
Or take a river cruise. Because why not?
There is a reason why Wroclaw is called ‘Venice of the North’ With many small canals, river nooks and bays, taking a river cruise on a sunny day is one of the best things to do in Wroclaw.
See Wroclaw from different perspective
If you are looking for the perfect photo of Wroclaw and don’t mind climbing some crazy stairs, there are plenty of towers and viewpoints offering just that!
The most famous is The Penitential Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Witches. Climbing the spiral staircase toward Penitential Bridge located at a height of 45 meters, and connecting the two towers of the Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene, is one of the most popular things to do in Wroclaw.
The bridge is not only famous for its beautiful views but also for its legends. One of them says that in the evening you can see the souls of young women who preferred to have fun instead of getting married and becoming housewives. According to another legend, if the accused of witchcraft woman managed to cross the bridge, she was considered to be helped by evil powers and sentenced to death. However, if she fell off the bridge, she was acquitted.
Another tower worth climbing is the tower of the Church of St. Elizabeth, near Market Square. That tower is over 91 meters high and the observation deck is located at a height of 75 meters. To enter the observation deck, you have to climb 300 steps, but believe me, it’s worth it!
Shop in Hala Targowa
Hala Targowa, Wroclaw’s Market Hall is just awesome. It’s not a secret that I love local markets, and Hala Targowa has it all!
Spread across two floors and containing 190 stores, Hala Targowa was built between 1905 and 1908 by German architects using reinforced concrete to build the Hall. It’s indeed very impressive, and if you are in Wroclaw on a weekday, you have to come by.
You can buy your regular fruit, veg, flowers and other products, but it’s a great place to hang around too. Enjoy a cuppa at Targowa Cafe or grab a delicious and extra cheap meal at the food bar.
Take a tram to Pergola and Centennial Hall and let your senses go crazy
This now iconic part of town is full of contrasts and surprises.
Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia), one of the 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland It is one of the most important works in the world architecture of the 20th century and is one of the symbols of Wroclaw. Not my type of architecture, but I must admit it is definitely interesting.
Right behind it, you will find a gorgeous historic Pergola surrounding the biggest multimedia fountain in Poland. 300 water jets, 3 fire jets, 800 light points on the area of approx. 1 hectare come alive every hour with music and lights.
As I walked around I felt dizzy from the senses overload. The fountain, the music, the strange centennial architecture, the gorgeous green pergola and hmm, what?
A Japanese garden!
The place was created in accordance with Japanese tradition and garden art. Water cascades, pond surrounded by beautiful vegetation, bridges, paths, all arranged by specialists from the city of Nagoya. The garden is magical.
I recommend you spend a whole afternoon here. Right next to the Centennial Hall there is a small place with food tracks where you can grab a wonderful burger or Greek souvlaki (amazing) and wash it down with craft beer. Much better than the overpriced cafe at the Hall. Then make sure you stay till the evening for the show.
Where to eat and drink in Wroclaw
Eating and drinking are one of the best things to do in Wroclaw. Here you will find everything you might drea of, from pizza and burgers, to Polish traditional cruising with a modern twist.
For live music visit Bat Nietota, it’s a great place to have a drink and if you are lucky there will be a live band entertaining your night. The very original interiors, awesome outside seating and very affordable prices will make for a great night out in Wroclaw.
If you want to be where locals hang around in the evening head towards Nasyp. A long line of bars and restaurants is placed right under the railway viaduct, just a few minutes from the Wrocław Główny Railway Station.
You will eat here to the rhythm of the trains passing over and experience some great food and drink in a unique atmosphere. This place is particularly busy on a weekend. But I didn’t mind waiting for my delish food for half an hour while sipping an Aperol spritz after hours of walking. This is a great place to finish the day.
Not into drinking? No problem! Wroclaw has an incredible cafe scene. Pop in to Cafe Bohema for the most delicious cake or to Cafe Targowa for any type of tea you can dream of.
Where to stay in Wroclaw
Wroclaw is very walkable, so if only you stay around the center you will be just fine.
I stayed at Grandpa’s Hostel in the Nadodrze district and liked it very much there. I enjoyed the lower price as it was not in the center, but it took me only about 15 minutes to get to the heart of Wroclaw. The hostel is really cool, clean and has an awesome kitchen and living space.
If you are not into hostels and looking for a great but comfortable room in Wroclaw, consider PURO Wrocław or Villa Art Novis. The Bridge Wroclaw is one of the best hotels in Wroclaw and Marina Apartments offers great apartments with self-catering amenities.
How to Get Around Wroclaw?
You can definitely visit Wroclaw and see most of it without worrying about transportation. But some places like Centennial Hall and Japanese Garden can take well over an hour to get to on foot. So, in this case, public transport is the best choice.
I do not recommend driving around Wroclaw so if you don’t like taking public transport opt for Uber or Bolt which are very affordable and reliable.
There is an efficient network of city bus and tram connections in Wroclaw. If you plan to move around the city by public transport a lot I recommend getting a 24-hour ticket that you can buy from a machine located at many bus stops.
For a single ride, you can buy a ticket inside the bus or tram in the machine. You pay by card only and the ticket is not printed; instead during the inspection, you must show your payment card.
One of the most popular ways to move around Wroclaw is using electric scooters or bicycles. They are available in abundance all around the city and all easy to use. You just need to install an application and add your credit card.
The huge advantage is that you can leave the bike or scooter wherever you want, and get another if you are ready to move to another part of the town.
That’s it, my friends! I hope you will find this complete Wroclaw guide helpful and you will enjoy your trip.
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Visiting Katowice and wondering if there are any interesting things to do there? Wonder no more and head to my Katowice travel guide!
And if you planning your winter escape in Zakopane don’t miss this article listing all the great things to do in Zakopane in Winter!
And if you are planning your first solo trip, visit this post where I provide all the tips and hacks for solo travellers and backpackers.
My favourite Travel Resources
- For most of my accommodation management, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellation and access to tones of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
- Make sure you download Google Maps and, on the first day, download an offline map of your location. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to your destination.
Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.
12Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport – you will use this app for sure!
- I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and TransferWise work fantastic. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts.
- I booked most my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. I also use TripAdvisor when I spot a good deal. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations. For cooking classes and workshops, consider checking out Eatwith.
For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!