If you haven’t heard of Wrocław, Poland, I’m not surprised. But keep reading, because, it’s a gem that you should know about, in my opinion.
Before I get to why you should visit Wrocław, let’s first talk about how to pronounce it. Polish consonants don’t sound like they look in English.
W – pronounce like a v
c – pronounce like ts
ł – pronounce like a w
So, if you pronounce it vroats-wov, you’ll be pretty close. They roll their r’s too.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about why you should visit Wrocław. Do you just love the charm of many European cities, but dislike the crowds? Then Wrocław is for you. It is located in southwest Poland, in the region historically known as Silesia.
In 2022, I had the opportunity to visit Wrocław as part of a tour of the countries of Central Europe (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary). The tourism departments of these countries wanted to show a select group of travel advisors the tourism potential of these countries. You may have already read my articles about the Czech Republic’s Crystal Valley, Slovakia’s High Tatra Mountains, and Budapest, Hungary.
In this article, I’ve summarized 13 things to do in and near Wrocław.
1. Learn about Wrocław’s 1000-year history on a guided tour
Known by various names throughout its existence, Wrocław has been influenced by different cultures and undergone significant transformations. With its strategic location on the Odra River, the city has served as an important trading hub since medieval times.
Over the centuries, it has been under the rule of diverse kingdoms and empires, including the Polish, Czech, and Austrian. Wrocław has witnessed the impact of war, destruction, and subsequent reconstruction, particularly after the devastating events of World War II.
I highly recommend a guided tour for some additional insight into the history and culture of this vibrant metropolis.
2. Search for some of Wrocław’s 500 dwarves
The dwarves of Wrocław are an enchanting and whimsical aspect of the city’s culture and history. These delightful statues, created by local artists, can be found scattered throughout the streets, squares, and hidden corners of Wrocław.
The tradition of the Wrocław dwarves started in the 1980s as a symbol of resistance against the communist regime, and today they have become beloved mascots of the city. Each dwarf tells a unique story, depicting a variety of professions, hobbies, and even political statements. For example, a dwarf making croissants is located outside a bakery.
Searching for the over 500 dwarves has become a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike, turning the city into a treasure hunt filled with delight and wonder. My colleagues and I fell in love with these dwarves.
3. Cross some of Wrocław’s 130 bridges
Wrocław is often referred to as the “Venice of Poland” because of its remarkable network of bridges. With a staggering count of 130 bridges, the city is a paradise for architecture enthusiasts and photographers alike. Spanning the various canals, rivers, and picturesque islands that intersect the city, these bridges serve as vital connections and stunning vantage points. Each bridge has its own unique design and story, ranging from modern architectural marvels to historic structures that have withstood the test of time. Whether it’s the iconic Tumski Bridge or the charming footbridges in Ostrow Tumski, Wrocław’s bridges add to the city’s undeniable charm.
4. Get out on the water on a boat
Wrocław has an extensive network of canals and rivers. Getting out on the water is a delightful way to experience the city. Whether you choose to rent a rowboat, pedal boat, or go on a guided tour boat, you can navigate the serene waters and explore the city from a different perspective.
The Odra River and its tributaries wind their way through the heart of Wrocław, passing by historic buildings, quaint bridges, and picturesque parks. As you leisurely cruise along the waterways, you’ll have the chance to spot the iconic Wrocław dwarves, admire the stunning architecture, and soak in the lively ambiance.
5. Hang out at Wrocław’s Market Square
Wrocław’s Market Square, or Rynek, is the bustling heart of the city and one of the most beautiful market squares in Europe. Surrounded by stunning architecture, this historic square is a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike. And it isn’t overcrowded like many other European cities.
At the center of the square stands the Old Town Hall, a magnificent Gothic building. The square itself is a lively hub of activity, filled with charming cafes, restaurants, and shops offering a variety of goods and local delicacies. Street performers, musicians, and horse-drawn carriages add to the atmosphere. I was absolutely in love with Wrocław after visiting Market Square.
6. Explore Wrocław in miniature
Kolejkowo Wrocław is a unique attraction that brings a touch of magic to the city; it’s a museum that takes you on an extraordinary journey through a miniature city. This captivating attraction showcases a meticulously crafted model of Wrocław and the region of Lower Silesia.
The creators of Kolejkowo have poured their hearts into imitating the reality and daily lives of the miniature inhabitants. The craftsmanship is amazing. You’ll have the opportunity to observe people at work and at play. Trains and other vehicles move around the city. The lights periodically dim to simulate nighttime.
The scenes include exquisite models of buildings and landmarks from Wrocław and the entire Lower Silesia region. From the Swiebodzki Station to the townhouses of Wrocław Market Square, each detail has been faithfully recreated, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich history and culture. My colleagues and I were as mesmerized as the young children we saw there.
7. Visit a church
Wrocław has several remarkable churches that showcase its rich religious and architectural heritage. Each church in the city has its unique story and architectural style. The awe-inspiring Wrocław Cathedral, also known as St. John the Baptist Cathedral, stands tall as an iconic symbol of the city with its Gothic spires and intricate details.
The Church of St. Elizabeth, with its stunning brick exterior and soaring towers, is another architectural gem. The Church of the Holy Cross, with its stunning Baroque facade, and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, known for its ornate decorations, add to the spiritual and cultural tapestry of Wrocław. Whether you admire their grandeur from the outside or step inside to marvel at the beautifully adorned interiors, the churches of Wrocław are definitely worth a visit.
8. Learn about water at Hydropolis
Hydropolis in Wrocław is a one-of-a-kind attraction that takes visitors on a fascinating journey into the world of water. Located in a former underground water reservoir, this unique museum offers an immersive and interactive experience.
As you explore the exhibition, you’ll discover the wonders of water through captivating displays, multimedia presentations, and innovative installations. Hydropolis showcases the importance of water in various aspects of life, from its role in shaping landscapes and ecosystems to its significance in human history and culture.
With its state-of-the-art technology and engaging exhibits, the museum educates visitors about the challenges and importance of water conservation and sustainability. The “water printer” was unlike anything I had seen before.
9. Go see Centennial Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Centennial Hall, located in Wrocław, is a true architectural masterpiece that was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Designed by the renowned architect Max Berg, this iconic structure was constructed to commemorate the centenary of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. With its innovative reinforced concrete construction and a soaring dome, Centennial Hall is a pioneering example of early 20th-century structural engineering.
The hall’s grand interior hosts a variety of events, including concerts, exhibitions, and conferences, making it a cultural hub for the city. Surrounding the hall is a picturesque park, which provides a tranquil space for leisurely walks and outdoor recreation.
10. Watch a multimedia fountain show
The Wrocław Multimedia Fountain, located near Centennial Hall, combines water, light, sound, and visuals to create a mesmerizing show. This state-of-the-art fountain offers a dynamic and immersive experience for visitors of all ages. The fountain’s water jets dance and sway in sync with an array of colorful lights, accompanied by music.
As the sun sets, the fountain comes alive, mesmerizing spectators with its impressive water formations and vibrant light show. The Wrocław Multimedia Fountain is a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists. It serves as a perfect backdrop for a leisurely stroll, a romantic evening, or a delightful family outing. We had dinner at a restaurant adjacent to the fountain, making a memorable night out.
11. Eat pierogies
OK, so my Polish background is definitely coming out now. It is in my DNA to love pierogies, the ultimate Polish comfort food. In case you aren’t familiar with pierogies, they are filled dough pockets that are boiled and sometimes fried. My family makes homemade pierogies for Christmas Eve. Our favorite filling is mashed potatoes, but there are lots of other possibilities. You can’t go to Poland and not eat pierogies! You will find pierogies on lots of restaurant menus. I even saw an entire restaurant that was dedicated to pierogies, with a huge selection of savory and sweet fillings. Yum!!
12. Go on a day trip to the Churches of Peace
The Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica are a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site located a little over an hour’s drive from Wrocław. Built in the 17th century as a symbol of religious tolerance, they stand as a testament to the unique history and architectural heritage of the region. I had the opportunity to visit the Church of Peace in Jawor. This magnificent wooden Protestant church was constructed using only wood, clay, and straw due to the restrictions imposed during the Thirty Years’ War.
Despite its humble materials, the Church of Peace in Jawor is a true masterpiece of Baroque architecture, featuring stunning painted decorations, intricate woodcarvings, and elaborate altars. It is an architectural gem that attracts visitors, like me, who appreciate its historical and cultural importance.
13. Visit the Valley of Palaces and Gardens
The Valley of Palaces and Gardens is a scenic and enchanting region that showcases the grandeur of aristocratic residences and meticulously manicured gardens. Located primarily in Lower Silesia, this area is home to over 150 castles, palaces, and estates surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes. The architectural styles vary from Renaissance and Baroque to Neo-Gothic and Rococo, each offering a glimpse into the opulent lifestyles of the past.
The carefully designed gardens, adorned with fountains, statues, and vibrant floral displays, provide peaceful havens for leisurely strolls and moments of reflection. One of the palaces we visited had stunning roses.
You’ll also find cute shops and bakeries. I learned that Silesia has a rich tradition of linen production and bought a linen dress as a souvenir. This region can be explored as a day trip from Wrocław, as we did. However, since some of the palaces are now hotels, I’d recommend adding a few days to your trip and staying in one or two of the palace hotels, so you can explore this scenic area at a more leisurely pace.
Plan a trip to Wrocław
Writing this article has made me want to go back to Wrocław. If you think Wrocław would be a great destination for you too, then let’s talk about how I can help. Read about how my services work and then get in touch.