Wrocław, also called Vratislavia in Latin and Breslau in German is a city voted the Best European Destination of 2018 leaving cities such as Lisbon, Paris, Vienna and Milan behind. Both representative and yet undiscovered by many tourists it is located in the southwestern part of the country in Silesian voivodeship.
In its history, Wrocław has been a melting pot of different cultures, religions and nationalities. Over the centuries different countries claimed the right to a city called “a gate to the west”. Let’s also not forget that the capital of Silesia is also called the “Polish Venice” due to a network of canals surrounding the city with over 120 little bridges connecting 12 different islands.
The city is soaked with history and it provides all kinds of entertainment from landmarked buildings to most interesting theatres and public spaces. It is here, that the oldest beer house is located - Piwnica Świdnicka (Świdnicka Basement) dating back to 1273!
Old Town Market
The pearl of the pearls of western Poland has the third biggest market space in Poland (after Kraków and Olecko). Once you’re there do not miss a City Hall building, European one-of-a-kind building in construction for 250 years with the oldest beerhouse in Europe (mentioned earlier) - Piwnica świdnicka. Currently, the the City Hall functions as the City Museum of Wrocław.
The market hosts annual Christmas market, New Years Eve as well as military and religious celebrations (it could fit as much as 30 000 people). The most recognizable landmarks worth spending a minute are the pillory, the “Spring Fountain” and Fredro Monument - the meeting posts of all locals.
If you have the courage to walk up 90 meters up for great views of the Old Town then make your way to Saint Elizabeth Church for the observation deck!
City Hall building is one of the most important and the oldest buildings of Wrocław (photo: Pxhere)
Old Town Square has a number of important landmarks (photo: Pxhere)
The History of a Great Win - Panorama Racławicka
Every time I travel to a place I can’t help but check out the map of the most important artworks to see in the area. In case of Wrocław, among countless priceless works of art one stands out due to its size and artistic grandeur. Panorama Racławicka (Racławicki Landscape) is a rare piece of art and a take on tackling the idea of 360 degrees painting from the end of 19th century. It is a painting 15m wide and 114m long filling the whole space of a special rotunda. The works were initiated by a famous painter Jan Styka in collaboration with many talented Polish artists. It was opened in 1894 in Lwów (current territory of Ukraine) and after WWII moved to Wrocław. It was supposed to commemorate Kościuszko’s winning battle of Racławice. With a precise use of perspective, light and space a masterpiece was created, which, to this day, stunns thousands of tourists each year!
The building, where Panorama Racławicka is displayed (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Jump in! - the Gondola Bay
Personally, I am a great fan off kayaks and gondolas - they make you relax, they take away the stress, they calm you down and… they are simply loads of fun! When in Wrocław you do not need to travel long hours to enjoy water fun - just make your way to 9 Purkyniego street not too far away from a place where Panorama Racławicka is and rent a boat or simply enjoy a drink by the canals! As I mentioned before, Wrocław is called the “Polish Venice” for a reason. You can travel between the islands and enjoy the views only available from the water!
A part of gondola bay with one of the channels (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The Centennial Hall - the UNESCO World Heritage treasure since 2006
Undoubtedly, one of the grandest buildings of the past century, Hala Stulecia is a building opened in 1913 and created by a leading architect of Wrocław - Max Berg. Constructed out of ferroconcrete (an innovation at the time) till this day serves as a place of concerts, exhibits and gatherings with the capacity to hold 10 000 people. When in Wrocław I highly recommend a visit.
The outside of the Centennial Hall (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The interior of the Hall is truly breathtaking! (photo: Flickr)
Dive in Deep - Afrykarium
The only object of this scale and rank in the world, Wrocław’s Afrykarium is a collection of different aquatic environments precisely crafted to uncover the mysteries of the water of the Dark Continent. While visiting you could look into flora and fauna of the Red Sea, Eastern Africa, the Mozambique Channel, the Skeleton Coast (Namibia) and Jungle by Kongo riverside. It is the only place in the world displaying the underwater life of the costal Africa. A visit to Afrykarium is a real treat, so make your way to the Wrocław ZOO and I am sure you will enjoy it!
One of a kind underwater tunnel to enjoy the ocean life (photo: Wikipedia)
Afrykarium allows guests to observe different acquatic ecosystems of Africa (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Like a Bird in the Sky - Sky Tower observation deck
Fancy to see the city from a bird’s perspective? Make your way to the Sky Tower on 95 Powstańców Śląskich street (entrance from Gwiaździsta street) and see the area from the 49th floor! The elevator will take you there in less than a minute (have your stomach empty!) Ticket purchases can be made in the Shopping Mall floor 1. Group reservations are also available.
Sky Tower skyline over sleepy Wrocław (photo: Wikipedia)
Ostrów Tumski - Little Paris
Fancy a romantic walk in the oldest part of the city? Nothing easier! Wrocław is not only known for its charming and representative Old Town - one of many things tourists really enjoy about Wrocław. A truly picturesque area of Ostrów Tumski is a great place for a satisfying and relaxing walk or a bike tour!
It is probably one of the oldest parts of the city, as its history reaches back to 10th century A.D. Till 1807 Ostrów was an island however, after the construction works one of the legs of Odra river was covered and the area connected to the mainland.
Wrocław Cathedral is probably one of the most important landmarks in Ostrów is the Cathedral of John the Baptist located on Katedralny Square. It is hard to miss as it towers above the rest of the city. Destroyed during WWII by the Germans (surprise, surprise) it was rebuilt and out back in its original shape and is now called “the Mother of Churches of Lower Silesia).
With a riverside boulevard and beautifully lit architecture, Ostrów Tumski is a great place for lunch or a meeting with friends. When you’re there do not forget to visit the Tumski Bridge connecting Wyspa Piaskowa (Sand Island) with Ostrów, where lovers hang their locks as a symbol of their love.
Ostrów Tumski is a perfect place for the lovers of romantic spaces (photo: Pxhere)
I Feel Green - the Japanese Garden of Wrocław and other Green Spaces
In general, people have different expectations towards botanical gardens. Some find it relaxing, some find it boring, some have it on their bucket travel list and some are highly indifferent about it. As a person severely obsessed with nature and flowers in particular, I pay great attention to parks.
Wrocław offers a number of parks located around the whole city of which I highly recommend the below: the Botanical Garden at 23 Sienkiewicza street started in 1811, the Ossolineum Garden (37 Szewska street), Wyspa Słodowa (Malt Island) also called the Student Island, the Old Town Garden by Kopernika Square and Park Południowy (South Park).
Let me not forget about the Japanese Garden, a real treat as the whole place is well-crafted and designed to imitate its real cousins. With a few thousand types of plants, blooming cherry trees, ponds filled with carps, little bridges and a Tea Pavilion the place really gives off the original vibe. Initiated by count Fritz von Hochberg in 1913 for the World Exhibit in collaboration with a Japanese artist Mankichi Arai. Reconstructed in the 90’s it was destroyed by the Great Drought in 1997. Luckily, it was reopened in 1999. If you get a chance do not wait, go and feed your eyes!
The gate to the Japanese Garden (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The garden could take your breath away in any season of the year (photo Pxhere)
With Modern Art We Stand - Pawilon 4 Kopuł
Fans of Modern Art will also have their treat as 4 Domes Pavilion is up and open for viewing with year-round exquisite exhibits. The museum owns the biggest collection of Polish modern art since the 60’s. The building itself is worth seeing too since it’s considered the second most important modernist building after Berg’s Hala Stulecia. Depending on the season the opening times differ, so before going make sure to visit their website to find out more!
For the lovers of modern art and architecture (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Not a fan of walking? Do not worry! There is a number of companies, who offer bike tours around the city. Go green and travel Wrocław using a network of public bikes or organised tours! For more details visit the tour site.
Still looking for a place in Wrocław? Take a look at Spotahome!