Wrocław, pronounced “Rotes – slav”, is a beautiful Polish medieval city with a vibrant cultural scene. Looking at the restored buildings in the historic center one can imagine what life may have been like four or five hundred years ago, while sipping a nice Starbucks café latte macchiato!
The view from this café is incredible and, of course, free wifi is always enticing. But we weren’t in Poland to check the pulse of globalization; we were far more interested in getting out and walking the city, and finding the absolute best things to do in Wroclaw. Along our walk we found dwarfs galore and an enormous 360 degree panorama painting, markets, museums, as well as the best pierogies I’ve ever eaten.
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It’s easy to see why Wroclaw was voted the Best European Destination of 2018! We totally agree. In fact, as you can see from our Poland travel blog and guide, we are just starting to scratch the surface of this large country. Even so, we’ve traveled to Wroclaw twice; the city has such a good vibe we just love going there. In fact, we are already talking about our next visit.
What to do in Wroclaw
Tourist Information Center Wroclaw
We’ve written about the Wrocław dwarfs before and if you’re traveling with kids, you should go on the hunt. Since this is such a large part of your visit, we think your very first stop should be to pick up the map in the Tourist Center so you don’t miss a single statue.
They also will let you in on all the events happening in the city, plus they have a nice selection of souvenirs. You can find them right at the beginning of the main square, across from the cathedral.
Wroclaw Tourist Information Center Rynek 14, 50-101 Wrocław tel. + 48 71 3443 111 Open 9.00 – 21.00
Our Favorite Things to do in Wroclaw
Market Square Wroclaw – Rynek
If you followed our advice, you are already here, at the beautiful center of Wroclaw. From here you can visit so many different sights, but take the time to really enjoy your walk around. The square is lively at any time of the day with both tourists and locals out and about seeing and being seen.
The statues and fountains make it easy to spend time just gawking at all of the ornately decorated architecture. Pick one of the many sidewalk cafes and sit just to watch the world go by with a warm coffee or a cool ice cream.
Here are some of the tourist sights right on the Wroclaw market square:
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Check out the stunning wooden carvings on the door as well as the largest organ in Poland. You can also climb one of the towers for a few zloty to have a fantastic view of the city.
Piwnica Świdnicka, located in the Town Hall cellars, is one of the oldest restaurants in Europe. Delve into the underground vaults and explore the traditional Polish menu. There might be better places to eat in town, but none with the history and splendor of Piwnica Świdnicka.
John and Margaret House
These two houses, better known as the Hansel and Gretel house, are connected by an archway. They are a great little photo stop, but you can also enter them and see an exhibit about one of their artists, Eugeniusz Get-Stankiewicz. You can see his bust on one of the outer walls. There is also a small pub here worthy of a quick stop for a little libation.
There are plenty of markets all over the city with special markets in summer and winter offering traditional craft items right on the Rynek. Nearby, you should treat your senses to a walk through the flower market that takes up a bit of the Plac Solny (the old Salt Market). It is full of brilliant blooms and testy saleswomen. They don’t mind you taking photos, but only touch and smell if you plan on buying.
A more traditional all-day indoor market, the Hala Targowa is easy walking distance from Rynek and will take you right back to Soviet times (with a lot more availability of goods, I’m sure). It’s big, cement, surprisingly full of light, and has all the stalls you would expect.
We love watching the fishmongers and butchers preparing their goods for the customers, and who doesn’t love the vibrant and huge variety of pickled items you can find here.
Hala Targowa Piaskowa 17, 50-359 Wrocław, Poland Mon. – Fri. 8:00-18:30; Sat. 9:00-15:00
The City Museum of Wroclaw is made up of seven branches showcasing a variety of aspects of Wroclaw culture. The full list of venues includes museums for history, art, theater, archaeology, military, medallic and cemetery art. Exhibits for the branches are displayed in three of the most significant buildings in the old town.
The Royal Palace house the Historical, Theater, and Medallic Museums. The Museum for Bourgeois Art is in the old Town Hall, while the 15th century City Arsenal is the venue for the Military and Archaeology Museums.
The Cemetery Art branch is found in the old Jewish cemetery. Our favorite museums are listed below, do try to get to each of the venues, if for no other reason than to visit these incredible locales.
Old Town Hall – Museum of Bourgeois Art
This building is my favorite in all of Wroclaw; it’s so pretty. Then to put in it the museum with the best name ever! How can you go wrong. One of the main reasons to visit, of course, is to see the interior of the Old Town Hall, especially the Great Hall. The art is fantastic.
Of course there are some permanent exhibitions like a great silversmith collection, but they have also been great at nabbing some of the roving modern art exhibits, like Dali and Warhol.
Ratusz Wrocławski Rynek 50, 50-996 Wrocław, Poland (you can’t miss it) Wed. – Sun. 10:00-17:00
Historical Museum of Wroclaw
This magnificent historical museum is housed in the Royal Palace where you can visit the royal apartments as well as see exhibits of the city’s history for the past 100 years. While you’re here, check out the Theater and Medallic Museums as well.
Muzeum Historyczne Zamkowa, 50-076 Wrocław, Poland Wed. – Sun. 10:00-17:00
Panorama Raclawice (Racławice)
On our second morning we walked out to the Panorama Raclawice without stopping to think that we should have booked tickets in advance. This is Wroclaw’s number one tourist attraction and, as we soon discovered, it’s quite popular even in the off season! The museum only allows a set number of visitors during the periodic viewings of the day.
We walked right in as they were letting in a group. The lady at the ticket counter nearly laughed when we asked if we could join that group (there were almost a hundred people waiting inside and outside the museum for later entry times), but she must not have seen too many Americans.
Her mirth changed to pleasant surprise when we told her we were from the US and she quickly picked up the phone, asked some questions, smiled at us and sold us two tickets. We don’t recommend this way of booking, however. Instead just book ahead on the website.
The panorama painting is a life-sized circular depiction of the battle of Raclawice during Poland’s failed bid for Independence from Russia in 1794. From the middle of the room, the viewer is placed in the heart of the battlefield, and all of the main players of the day can be seen mid-fight (or flight as the case may be).
The museum has an excellent personal listening device that tells the story of the battle and helps the viewer understand the different factions. The crowd size was large, but we found that by moving slightly ahead of the main group, who had to wait for the narrative to come across the loudspeakers in Polish, we nearly had entire sections of the painting to ourselves since we were basically on our own.
Panorama Racławicka ul. Purkyniego 11 50-155 Wrocław Tue. – Sun. 9:00-16:00 Oct.-Apr. Mon. – Sun. 9:00-17:00 Apr.-Sep. (Take buses A or N or tram 2 or 10 if you don’t want to walk or have little ones with you.)
A UNESCO World Heritage site, inscribed for it’s architecture, the Centennial Hall was built in 1911 by Max Berg. It is massive and seats 6,000 people. You can visit this site everyday from 9:00 – 6:00 PM for 19 zlotys. Wystawowa 1, 51-618 Wrocław, Poland
Where to Eat in Wroclaw
Eating in Wroclaw is fantastic. The prices are pretty inexpensive, the waiters are friendly, and everyone seems to genuinely want to please you. Add to that some fantastic food and you have a winner. We were on a pierogi hunt, and we tried them all over the downtown area. You would think we would get tired of them, but no. We tried pierogi boiled, fried, covered with cheese, all kinds, and we loved them all.
These few restaurants are our recommendations, especially for pierogi, but there are plenty more fantastic restaurants so check out this article from our friend Karolina on where to eat in Wroclaw as well.
This was typical, hearty homestyle Polish cooking. Again, we walked in without a reservation, but were early enough to get in and out before the later diners, so they were happy to give us a seat. The food here was cheap, plentiful and amazing. I loved the baked pierogis. Kurna Chata Odrzańska 17, 50-113 Wrocław, Poland +48 71 341 06 68
Chatka przy Jatkach
Traditional Polish where everything is delicious. You must try the pierogi staropolskie and the borscht (barszcz). Make a reservation or take your chances. They will try to squeeze you in somewhere. There is plenty of outside seating in nice weather. Chatka Odrzańska 7, 50-113 Wrocław, Poland +48 530 230 811
Pierogarnia Stary Młyn
All pierogi, all the time! Try a combination of boiled, baked and fried with a variety of fillings. All pierogi are made to order and are delicious. Right off the Rynek, so it can get crowded quickly. Pierogarnia Rynek 26, 11-400 Wrocław, Poland +48 71 344 14 15
Hotels in Wroclaw
We have been a few times and stayed in various places, but our favorite is the Hotel Europeum, because of its good value, parking, and it has easy walking access right into the downtown area and nearby restaurants.
- Hotel Europeum Kazimierza Wielkiego 27A, 50-077 Wrocław, Poland +48 71 371 44 00
- Grand City Wroclaw Rzeźnicza1, 50-129 Wrocław, Poland +48 71 308 44 44
- Hotel Monopol Heleny Modrzejewskiej 2, 50-071 Wrocław, Poland +48 71 772 37
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More Practical Information for Wroclaw
Don’t forget to check out the Official Travel Guide of Wroclaw for lots more information.
Getting to Wroclaw
Wroclaw is serviced by an international airport about 10 km from the city center. You can find decent flights from Ryanair or Wizzair, cheap enough to go for a weekend. You can also get to Wroclaw by train.
It’s an easy ride from many eastern Germany cities, like Berlin (4 – 4.5 hrs.) and Dresden (about 3.5 hours) as well as all the major cities in Poland. Krakow is only about four hours away, and Poznan is a mere two. We drove both times and the signage is easy to follow in Poland, so it was no problem.
Getting Around with Public Transportation
Trams and buses are plentiful and easy to navigate. A one-way 30 minute ticket is only 3.00 zlotys or about 88 US cents. It is good on as many buses or trams you need to take to get to your destination within 30 minutes.
Don’t forget to validate your ticket or you could get fined. You can buy tickets at newspaper stands or ticket machines. It’s better to have one before you board, because the drivers are not always happy to sell you a ticket. You can buy a one day ticket for 11 zlotys as well. This is the best website for prices.
Bulive.pl will get you the bus schedules.
Places to Go Not Far From Wroclaw
Just an hour’s drive outside of the Wroclaw, you should visit the Peace Churches of Jawor and Swidnica, which are UNESCO World Heritage Site wooden churches. We visited them and found them to be beautiful and well worth the stops.