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Wrocław is one of the most charming cities in Poland. You will see numerous attractions and monuments, eat in great restaurants and you will not have time to be bored! The capital of Lower Silesia is appreciated both by Poles and international tourists. Let’s review the best things to do in Wrocław and perhaps after visiting, you will follow the growing trend and call this city “Wroclove” :) I recommend you to visit for a weekend or three days. And don’t forget to check out these fantastic tours in Wroclaw that will tell you more about the history of the city and show you some of the top places in and around Wroclaw.
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Things to do in Wrocław, Poland
1. Hunt the Dwarfs
When you walk around Wrocław you will come across multiple figures of dwarfs/gnomes. What are they doing there? Their history goes back to the times after World War II when Poland was under communism. Anti-communist activists were writing anti-socialist slogans on the walls. Then, obviously, the authorities covered them with paint. The activists reacted to that by putting a drawing of a gnome on every stain of paint. The first two dwarfs were painted in Wrocław in August 1982, and in the following year, over 1000 were created, also in other cities in Poland.
Later dwarfs also appeared on posters announcing anti-communist happenings – and the culmination of their popularity was the Dwarf Revolution happening in 1988 when over 10,000 participants in dwarf hats passed through the streets of Wrocław. The first five dwarfs as we know them today appeared on the streets of the city in 2005. Currently, you can find over 350 of them all around the city! Pay close attention – some of them even ride trams :)
2. Visit the Market Square
Wrocław Market Square is one of the largest Old Town markets in Europe. On the square, you will see buildings from different historical eras. In the middle, there is a central block consisting of the Old Town Hall and New Town Hall. The Old Town Hall is one of the main architectural monuments in the city, its construction started in the 13th century and lasted 250 years! In the basement of the Town Hall, there was a restaurant called Piwnica Świdnicka. It operated in this place with no break since 1273 (!) until its unexpected closure in 2017 due to an unregulated legal situation. Luckily, the situation is improving and re-opening is scheduled for April 2022!
Another part to pay attention to on the Market Square is two tiny medieval buildings connected by an arcade called Hansel and Gretel. They used to be houses of altarists from the nearby church of St. Elizabeth. In the past, there was a gate between them that led to a cemetery. Hence the inscription still preserved on the arcade: Mors Ianua Vitae – Death is the gate to life.
3. Climb up the viewing point of St. Elizabeth
The above-mentioned church of St. Elizabeth is a Gothic church with a tower over 90 meters high. Visit the church inside to see the decorations but most importantly – climb over 300 stairs to the top and see the panorama of Wrocław from up high!
4. Take a boat ride
Wrocław is sometimes called the “Venice of Poland”. It is located on 12 islands on the river Oder and has 112 bridges. A great way to see the city is by boat! Boat rides last around 50 minutes and it will allow you to see beautiful places from a different perspective.
5. Visit Ostrów Tumski
Ostrów Tumski is the second place (after the Market Square) you absolutely cannot miss! It is the oldest part of the city, originally it was located on a separate island. Later, however, the river changed and the only sign that it used to be an island remained in the name (“ostrów” meant “island” in old Polish language).
Make sure to pass Tumski bridge. Couples used to add padlocks as signs of eternal love. I’m not sure how the couples are doing but the city was forced to remove the padlocks from the old bridge. They weighed 17 tons (!) and were too much for the bridge to handle. Currently, it’s forbidden to put new padlocks – which does not stop some couples from trying. But the bridge still looks pretty romantic so perhaps you can find another way to express your love there! :) The key part of Ostrów Tumski is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a gothic church with neo-gothic additions. You can climb up its tower too.
6. See a fascinating painting in Panorama Racławicka
Panorama Racławicka is an art museum where you will see a monumental painting – the Battle of Racławice. The painting is cycloramic, which means it covers the entire space around you. When you enter the museum, you immerse yourself in the world presented by the team of painters. In the painting, you will see the story of the battle won by Tadeusz Kościuszko during the uprising in 1794.
However, do not expect full historical consistency. In the painting, there are scenes that were actually taking place at different times or events that did not actually happen. The artists matched the details of the battle to their artistic vision. In the museum, you will not only see the painting but also hear the story of the battle and description of different parts of the picture (audioguides in many languages are available). I must say it is one of the most interesting art museums in Poland I have visited and I highly recommend it.
7. Visit the Centennial Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Centennial Hall opened in 1913, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig and the triumph of the anti-French coalition over Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. It is a multifunctional building which was hosting exhibitions, concerts, theatrical and opera performances, and sporting events. Currently, sporting events, business summits, and concerts take place in this hall. You can also see an exhibition about its history inside. The dome of the building is 65 meters wide, and the Centennial Hall itself is 42 meters high. There is room for up to 10,000 people. In 2006, UNESCO added the Centennial Hall to the UNESCO World Heritage List because it’s a “pioneering work of modern engineering and architecture”.
8. See the Japanese Garden
If you are a nature lover, you also need to visit the Japanese Garden. It was built over 100 years ago at the same time as Centennial Hall. There are about 30 species of plants from the Far East and Japan. Except for the plants, pay attention to the system of streams, cascades, and ponds.
9. Visit the best Zoo in Poland
While I personally have never been a fan of caging wild animals and displaying them to the public for entertainment – I have to admit that zoos have changed a lot over the last few years. From places full of unhappy, lonely animals living in tight cages, many zoos have turned into places that create conditions as close to natural as possible, while also engaging in the protection of endangered species.
Wrocław Zoo made a good impression on me. The animals look well-groomed, everything is clean. In the zoo, you can visit the unique Afrykarium – the first and the biggest aquarium in Poland and the only in the world which is dedicated to the fauna and flora of the African continent.
10. See a show of the multimedia fountain
Wrocław is home to the largest multimedia fountain in Poland and one of the largest in Europe. It takes almost a hectare of space! It has 800 light points, 300 water jets, and 3 fire nozzles. The fountain shows in Wrocław include lights, sounds, and music. You can see the shows in the summertime (from May to October). They happen every hour from 10 a.m. and last anywhere between 4 to 17 minutes.
11. Visit museums In Wrocław
You can visit numerous interesting museums. One of the most famous is Hydropolis – a water knowledge center that covers the topic of water on Earth from all perspectives. You can learn about oceans and their depths, water in the city, the water system on Earth, and much more. It’s a great place for adults and kids alike. If you download a special Hydropolis app, you will be able to use a special audioguide which helps to understand all the information.
A place all kids love is also Kolejkowo. It’s the largest railway model in Poland. It has over 700 square meters. You can see numerous miniatures of the most recognizable places from Wrocław and Lower Silesia on a scale of 1:25. Kolejkowo is a toy town that is full of life. Miniature inhabitants lead their miniature lives here. They work, commute, meet in restaurants, play, and grill, walk around the city, go shopping and it’s fun to observe them. Scenes from the little lives will amuse adults too! :) If you are into art I recommend you to visit the National Museum where you will see famous paintings by Polish and international artists.
My name is Dorota, I come from Poland. I traveled and volunteered on three continents and I am fascinated by the world’s beauty. I love exploring Poland too, I think it’s one of the best and most diverse countries in Europe! My blog is Weekendowka (in Polish) and I focus on sharing my favorite weekend trips in Poland. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for more info about Poland