Not to be outdone by cities more frequented in the country, Wroclaw was just as lovely as my other Polish trips. In fact, I believe it’s one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever visited.
It’s a city full of surprises and delights- affordable drinks, delicious and cheap eats, a beautiful town square and quirky gnomes stuck around the city. And by the way, in case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced VRAHTS-wahv.
I flew in early on a Saturday and planned to leave Sunday evening. With less than 48 hours to explore, I set my sights on tackling Old Town the first day.
At the heart of Wroclaw’s Old Town is the Market Square, a seriously charming square that dates back to the 13th century. Nearly demolished in WWII, the area was restored to the restaurants, bars and shops you’ll find today.
On a free walking tour I took Sunday (Google ‘Wroclaw free walking tour’), I learned about the history of the square, and how the city built an adjacent square a few dozen feet away to rival the size of Krakow’s city square.
If you have a nice day, take a seat in one of the square’s benches and just admire the colourful facades and people exploring around you. It’s a beautiful place.
While you’re in the square, don’t miss out on visiting Town Hall. A 13th century gothic tower, it’s one of Wroclaw’s main landmarks. Not just famous for its stunning architecture, the astronomical clock is something to see too. If the inside is closed to visitors during your visit, you can grab a beer in the beer hall that’s situated below- it’s one of the oldest ones in Europe.
Exploring more, I zig zagged through the cobblestone streets surrounding the square. On my walk, I saw St. Mary Magdalena church, which boasts a great view of the city below. I chose not to climb it, but I’ve heard the view of the square below is incredible.
While I walked, I stopped to notice and smile at the little gnomes dotting city sidewalks and sides of buildings.
Back in the 1980s, the Orange Alternative, an anti-Soviet, resistance movement used them as a way to oppress the communist regime. They’d deface communist street art with mischievous little gnomes. Now these statues are all over the city in remembrance. My favourite was the travel one, obviously. 😉 There’s even a walking tour to discover the gnomes if you’re interested in seeing as many as possible and learning even more- there’s rumoured to be over 350 of them in the city.
After a bunch of wandering, I was starving and craving my favourite thing to eat in Poland: Pierogi. Never had pierogi? They’re delicious!
Dumplings filled with everything from meat to potatoes and cheese- my favourite ones are the classic vegetarian variety, potato and cheese, known as Ruskie. My first Polish meal was at Pierogarnia Stary Mlyn, located in Market Square. Normally, I avoid places that are too central, as they tend to be overly touristy.
However, I’d heard Pierogarnia had an extensive menu of savoury, sweet, boiled, baked and fried pierogi. Food is made fresh to order, and apparently, they have a Grandma’s certificate- issued by grandmother’s who actually help prepare the dishes.
Happy to confirm the pierogi were incredible. I even returned the next day to have a few more before my flight back to London.
At this point in the day, I was pretty tired and decided to head to my Airbnb in Old Town to nap for a bit. I ended up waking up a few hours later, just in time for a late dinner. I’d heard Wroclaw had great pizza and noticed one of the best places, Vaffanapoli, was a short walk from my Airbnb. 100% recommend having pizza and beers here- so good!
Sunday morning, I woke up to snow in Wroclaw. Unfortunately, I’d only packed trainers and after only a few minutes of walking around outside, my fears were confirmed: The snow was wet, slushy and soaked my shoes.
Not one to be easily deterred, I had coffee and breakfast, then headed to Old Town for a two hour walking tour.
Free walking tours in European cities are one of my favourite ways to learn about the place I’ve visiting and quickly become acclimated with the city’s layout.
Post tour, I’d planned on wandering some of Wroclaw’s islands a bit more, but given how much it was snowing, I decided to curl up with a good book at a cafe I’d discovered prior.
For lunch, I headed to Iggy’s for a dose of hipster design, great pizza and a refreshing spritz. Then, I passed the rest of the afternoon (read: hid from the snow) in some of Wroclaw’s beer halls, and grabbed a pierogi snack before heading back to the airport.
On the way to the city, I’d taken the bus (cheap, quick), but given how cold my feet were and how hard it was snowing, I decided to spend two pounds more (£4 total) to take an Uber instead.
While I may not have explored as much as the city as I’d originally planned on, I still had an awesome weekend and felt like I got a true feel for Wroclaw. The only thing I was bummed about missing was a milk bar- I didn’t realise they were only open Saturday and had planned on visiting one Sunday.
What’s a milk bar, you ask?
Milk bars may seem like a communist throwback and in some ways, they are, government canteens serving hearty, traditional cuisine. And, for cheap. So, so cheap. Think a few zloty for an entire meal.
Jacek i Agatka came highly recommended if you’re visiting Wroclaw and interested in trying one. Go early, they tend to get busy/sell out of food.
Other recommendations for things to eat and drink in the city:
Coffee: Etno Coffee, Vinyl Cafe, FC Caffe, Central Cafe
Food: Vaffanapoli and Iggy’s (pizza), Nanan (cake in a pretty pink interior), Jacek i Agatka, Pod Fredra (traditional Polish cuisine)
Beer: Browar Zloty Pies (beer and beer inflused cocktails), Spiz, Setka, 4 Hops, Kontynuacja
Have you ever been to Poland? Wroclaw was a charming city that left a lasting impression on me, intriguing me to see even more of Poland someday.