Wroclaw Travel Guide
Also known as Breslau, Wroclaw is a city with a complex past. As recently as 1945, it had been a German city. But in past centuries, it had been a Bohemian and Austrian possession as well. All this background has given Wroclaw a rich cultural background.
From its beautiful Old Town to its mischievous dwarfs, there is much to see and do here.
If you’re into churches, make the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist your first stop in Wroclaw. Christian churches have stood at this spot since the 10th century. However, a series of wars and fires brought them down no less than five times.
The Siege of Breslau in the Second World War razed 70% of the cathedral. However, by 1951, church authorities succeeded in reconstructing this treasured landmark. Within, you’ll find the largest pipe organ in Poland and a beautiful altar. For a fee, you can climb the bell tower, which offers great views of Wroclaw.
Fans of the visual arts owe it to themselves to check out the Racławice Panorama. A giant canvas painting arranged inside a giant cylinder, it’s Jan Styka homage to the Battle of Raclawice. Waged against the Russians in the late 18th century, it was a reminder of a time the Polish had stood strong against foreign invaders.
This piece was a massive undertaking, as it stands 15 metres tall by 114 metres long. It shows the battle, set against a dramatically beautiful depiction of the Polish countryside. To get the full story behind the battle and the artist, pick up an audio guide at the reception desk.
The 1980s were paranoid times on the streets of Wroclaw. Unveiled by artist Jerzy Kalina, The Passage remembers how secret police disappeared citizens suspected of opposing the government. These bronze figures sink into the pavement, only to reappear on the other side of the street. All in all, it’s a sobering reminder of the dangers of authoritarianism.
While in the Old Town, be sure to stop by Wroclaw Town Hall. Built in the 13th century, this Gothic masterpiece is a favourite of both local and visiting photographers.
As you sightsee, you’ll pick up on a pattern. Eventually, you’ll notice statues of gnomes – these are The Dwarfs of Wroclaw. Local authorities initially placed them to mark the meeting places of the Orange Alternative, Wroclaw’s anti-communist movement.
Recently though, they’ve become a fun aspect of this city. Today, you can find dozens of these lighthearted statues throughout the Old Town. If you wish, you can pick up maps from the local tourist office and hunt them all down.
If you’re travelling around Poland as a family, Wroclaw offers a pair of cool kid-friendly attractions. Kolejkowo is the first of these – located inside the Świebodzki Railway Station, you’ll find an amazing world of miniature trains here.
This massive display pays homage to railways and the city of Wroclaw on a miniature scale. In all, this attraction contains 27 trains and over one kilometre of track. Don’t worry about closures – this spot is open 365 days a year from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission is no more than 5 EUR for adults and 3.50 EUR per person for groups.
If you need another attraction to keep the kids entertained, take them to the Wroclaw Zoo. Since the mid-19th-century, this landmark has brought the world’s fauna to the locals. Here, you’ll find over 10,000 animals from more than 1,100 species.
While it has animals from all over the world, its African collection is especially detailed. With 33 hectares of space, plan on spending a good part of your day here.
End your stay by spending an evening in the Rynek of Wroclaw. Also known as Market Square, it is home to the city’s Christmas Market during the holiday season. In summer, take a seat in a sidewalk bar and watch street performers do their thing.
What To Eat
Feel like having something savoury for breakfast? Have some Placki ziemniaczane on your first morning in Wroclaw. Also known as potato pancakes, cooks make this well-loved dish by grating potatoes, mixing them with onions, eggs, and flour. After frying them for a short time, these treats will hit your plate toasty hot – try not to burn your mouth!
If you’re visiting Wroclaw during a chilly time of year, order a bowl of Rosół at lunch. A meat soup that features chicken, turkey, veal or beef, it features clear broth. Accompanied by celery, carrots, and mushrooms, it’ll bring your cold bones back to life.
In Wroclaw around Easter? Try some Mazurek if you have the chance to do so. This thin cake, which features a sponge or a marzipan dough, is usually very sweet. Topped with fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, and other delights, it is perfect for those who love rich desserts.