Wroclaw is fast earning a reputation as the “new Krakow”. With its postcard panoramas and rich cultural history, it is easy to make comparisons with its more illustrious neighbour in the south. Even if tourists are only just starting to take notice of Wroclaw's charms, the city has been fought over by a host of suitors in the past. Wroclaw has been under Mongol, Bohemian, Prussian and German rule, before being passed back to Poland after the second world war. Under German rule, it was one of the last German cities at the end of WWII to fall and a large percentage of the infrastructure suffered catastrophic damage. However, much like many of Poland's cities, Wroclaw has been lovingly restored, recapturing much the of ambiance and lost identity of the city.
Despite Wroclaw losing almost half of the Old Town in the 'Siege of Breslau', this has now been rebuilt and remains the focal point of the city. Wimdu has a selection of holiday apartments and family-friendly accommodation within walking distance of this historic old square, placing the visitor in the very heart of the city.
Where to Stay in Wroclaw
Whether you are searching for accommodation within touching distance of the vibrant, student-driven nightlife, or, are looking for a more family-orientated experience over the river in the tranquil, historic area of Ostrow Tumski - Wimdu has an array of accommodation options on offer. However, given the relatively small size of the city, the location of accommodation is not that important in terms of access to Wroclaw's main attractions which all lie within walking distance.
Fun Facts about Wroclaw
- The first person to theorize that the Earth was not the centre of the universe was the famous Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus.
- Polish people peel bananas from the blossom and not from the stem end.
- Wroclaw has roughly 220 bridges - more than any other city in Central Europe.
- Underneath the Plac Solny (The Salt Market), there is an underground shelter(about 1000m) which was used during World War II as an air raid shelter for the public. It had two toilets, a sewage system and had a maximum capacity of 300 people.
- Heavy rainfall caused the “Great flood of the river Oder” in 1997. Roughly half of Wroclaw was submerged.
Things to See and Do in Wroclaw
Wroclaw is the largest city in western Poland with a population of roughly 630,000 people. It is affectionately known as the 'Venice of the North' due to the hundreds of bridges, spires and passageways that give the city its identity.
In order to get one's bearings, we suggest you start at the Rynek (Main Square). In size, this is only bettered in Poland by Krakow. The impressive facades of the tall townhouses that line the square feature Gothic and Art Nouveau detailing. Your eyes, however, will be inevitably drawn to the stunning Town Hall. A masterpiece of medieval architecture that was built in the 13th century, then tweaked, adapted and developed over the 250 years that followed. Underneath the Town Hall, are three lively passageways filled with shops and bars.
Plac Solny (The Salt Market) is another architectural gem, with detailed reliefs and elaborate figurines. No longer used as a Salt Market, the square is now a 24-hour flower market – useful for those wanting to impress during a romantic break in the city.
St Elizabeth's Church, a short stroll from Plac Solny, holds the city's tallest summit. Although the view from the top is stunning, especially in summer, the climb up the spiral staircase in the heat can be arduos.
Wroclaw is very much a university city. The scores of students, over 30,000 in total, inject an energy vibrancy to the city's landscape. The University, founded in 1702, is one of the oldest in Central Europe, The elaborate interiors echo this claim. In addition, it is worth visiting the grand Baroque ceremonial hall, Aula Leopoldina, or enjoy impressive panoramic views from the Mathematical Tower.
Ostrow Tumski, over the river, is ideal for a stroll. Original gas lamps, cobblestone lanes and riverside greenery slow the pace, making it an ideal getaway from the buzz of Wroclaw. A trip to Wroclaw's Botanical Gardens, often overlooked on a weekend break in the city, is also highly recommended.
The relatively recent addition of the Wroclaw Fountain and the Discovery Centre, reachable by tram to the west of the city centre, is also a necessity. The multimedia fountain displays water, light and sound shows every hour. The UNESCO-listed Iglica monument - an iconic 96 metre tall steel spire – is another important landmark. The Spire was constructed in 1948 and was part of the propaganda laden 'Recovered Territories Exhibition', intended to symbolise the achievements of the western parts of Poland 'returned' to the communist state after the war.
Food in Wroclaw
First time visors to Poland may have preconceived opinions about the food on offer. But it is easy to delve beyond the delicious, if cliched stodge of Polish cuisine. The diversity and quality of restaurants in Wroclaw certainly puts pay to the limited preconceptions of the national cuisine.
Karczma Lwowska (Lviv Tavern) is a restaurant brimming with nostalgia for the simple country lifestyle. The ambiance created by rustic, rural artifacts, antiques and old photographs is perfect for the Galician specialties on offer. The excellent, locally-brewed Lwowskie beer on draught is served in large ceramic beer steins.
Wines and Olives is the go-to place for Mediterranean food. The on-site shop has thousands of Greek delicacies and the bilingual staff are happy to offer advice and recommendations to create authentic dishes. Again, another excellent place to enjoy a romantic Wimdu weekend.
Restaurancja Patio is hotel restaurant that draws more than just the guests from upstairs. The business lunch is cheap and highly-recommended, you can choose to either sit in the bight atrium or the more elegant, chandelier lit dining room.
Getting around Wroclaw
Wroclaw Copernicus Airport lies 13 kilometers west of the city. There are currently direct connections with Warsaw, Dublin, Frankfurt am Main, London Gatwick and London Stansted.
Bus and train services arrive in Wroclaw from Warsaw, Krakow and Katowice. You can also catch a direct bus from Prague which takes approximately four and a half hours.