Bewitching & bustling! Europe never ceases to amaze its admirers year-round. The popular European cities can be straightforwardly identified by their signature ‘European’ appearance. The terracotta roofs glimmering in the summer sun while remaining coated in powdery white during winter, sturdy-looking cobblestone street resembling finely polished copper, busy bylane leading to the Old Town (main square)with hundreds of curious tourists strolling it! That’s an exemplary picture of a European town envisioned by hundreds of thousands of tourists. City centre, being the city’s busiest place is where you unmistakably discover top cafes, restaurants, pubs, and bars.
Just in case you have had enough of the top tourist destinations in Western Europe, then it’s time you looked beyond Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Take a Flixbus or Ryanair (because they offer remarkably cheap prices, sometimes) and travel to eastern Europe. There are plenty of quaint corners in Europe where cities are greener, pavements are quieter, facades are fancier, and folks are chirpier.
Adorned with different periodic art and architecture, every city is unique in their way and way too affordable to explore when compared to the west. When you travel to the Eastern and Central Europe (this does not include Germany ;)), I bet you will confirm every word that I wrote above. On that note, allow me to recommend one of the hidden gems of Central Europe – Wroclaw! The city that I can proudly call as my home after spending 2 years here.
General description of Wroclaw
Poland – the lesser frequented European land garlanded by the Baltic Sea in the north; upheld by Sudetes, Tatry, and the Carpathians in the South, painted by magnificent national parks all over, especially the border region adjoining Czechia & Germany, and dotted with thousands of glacial lakes in the central and north. Also, did I tell you that there are some exciting wildlife parks, crooked forests, hundreds of magnificent churches & castles, and dunes in the east and northeast and some high mountains and forest in the far east?
But, I know that I have already talked so much about Poland in my previous blogs, therefore, I will stick to Wroclaw tourist attractions in this write-up.
Towards the Southwestern Poland in Lower Silesian Voivodeship lies Wroclaw – a city endowed with terrific architectural & natural heritage, lush greenery, exceptional trails, and pulsating nightlife. Odra river prettifies the city carving out the stunning fragments into the shape of numerous islands; the same islands that do not sleep in summer and are abuzz with night birdies.
The Sudetes Mountains outline Wroclaw while numerous castles, memorials from the World War times, some of Hitler’s famous hideouts, and an abundance of natural areas around, everything that a tourist seeks. If you are considering a trip to Europe, Wroclaw in Poland has to be on your itinerary.
There are plenty of things to do in Wroclaw, and I have attempted to narrow down the list selecting the best of Wroclaw attractions you can explore while spending 48 hours in the city!
How to reach Wroclaw
Approximate 4 hours of bus/train ride from Berlin will take you to this Lower Silesian paradise, a place you must not miss when you are on a trip to Central or Eastern Europe. Wroclaw is quite close and easily accessible from other prominent European cities like –
Krakow – 3 hours
Prague – 3 hours 45 min
Berlin – 3 hours 43 min
Dresden – 2 hours 43 min
I recommend you to start your day 1 from the southeastern corner of the city!
Since I have lived in the southeastern part of the city, which is a 20-minute tram (No – 9, 17, 33) ride from the centre, I will start from here. The area close to Pasaz Grunwaldzki is where you’ll come across, Kredka & Olowek, the two most fascinating structures towering above the entire region! They are the dormitories of the University of Wroclaw. About 500 meters behind these structures, thick foliage of perfect nature awaits you with pretty walkways, verdant trees, quiet streams with some birdies giving it the look of a picture-postcard setting. That is Szczytnicki Park for you.
1. A lazy stroll in the Japanese Garden
A pretty nature escape in the heart of Wroclaw, Japanese Garden is a must-visit place in Wroclaw for all the admirers of nature & its vibrant colors. The garden is a continuation of Szczytnicki Park and an old-kept secret of the city dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. The garden adjoins the Centennial Hall region, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and epitomises the beauty of the place.
The park region is mostly open from Spring to Autumn season and is closed during winter as there’s not much to explore in winter.
Protip: Ogród Japoński as it is called in Polish is the place studded with stunning autumn colors. Make sure that you plan a visit here somewhere in October-November to experience the golden Polish autumn.
2. Go picnicking in the Szczytnicki Park
Szczytnicki Park, located in the eastern part of the city some 4 km from Rynek, is a fascinating place to see in Wroclaw, especially with all the Autumn and spring colours around. The park, a haven of tranquillity, is a massive tourist attraction stretching 16 hectares. Over 350 species of trees flourish in the park premises. Cherry blossoms will remain my favourite memory from the park.
Szczytnicki Park has the charm and appeal of those typical English parks. People mostly come here to relax, exercise, or just enjoy a picnic.
Protip: This park could be your option if you’re thinking of some outdoor place to sit under the sun, grab a beer or enjoy a picnic with friends.
3. Fancy kayaking? Do it in Stara Odra!
After soaking all the awesomeness at the Szczytnicki Park you have more of nature awesomeness coming your way, and this one is located next to the park.
Kayaking in Stara Odra is another fun activity that you must not miss when on a trip to Wroclaw in spring, summer, and maybe autumn (subject to weather conditions). Stara Odra is the tributary of Odra which is equally as enticing as the main river itself. Embellished with lush greenery all along its banks, and home to some large fish population in the region, this place has plenty to offer.
For 20 zloty per hour, you can rent a Kayak and go back and forth in the river. Bedazzling greenery accompanied by unparalleled views around is worth your time and money. Don’t miss kayaking in Wroclaw when you are around. You can plan on fishing followed by a barbecue session by the river if you have more hours to spare.
There are plenty of kayak rental services in the city centre region. So finding them shouldn’t be a problem. This is where I rented a kayak –
Protip: There’s another interesting kayaking option near Katedra Island! I’d highly recommend going for it because there are some terrific city views adorned with greenery that you’d come across while kayaking. And it’s not possible to see those corners otherwise.
4. Most Grunwaldzki Bridge, the ‘Wro’ Structure & ferry ride in Odra
Some outdoor activity can leave you hungry and you might want to grab a bite. Therefore, consider stopping by the Grunwaldzki shopping centre. Or it could be one of those nice cafes/pizzerias along the way (my pick – Bravo Pizzeria). Pasaz Grunwaldzki’s top floor has some great options. I like Oriental Express for its cheap (even better if you are a student), delicious and diverse food menu. Once you are done eating, cross the Most Grunwaldzki bridge.
To your right is the notable ‘WRO’ structure by the river. It is an excellent spot to get yourself click in a frame with this touristic landmark of the city. Certainly, it is a top-notch place to visit in Wroclaw.
This is a beautiful boulevard lined with trees on one side and the charming sight of the legendary Tumski Cathedral by the Odra banks on the other!
Protip: Take a ferry ride in Odra at the sunset hour and you won’t thank me enough!
5. Take a walk into the history at Wroclaw National Museum
On the same alley, you’ll come across the national museum. Let me tell you that with its vibrant exteriors ornamented with red, brown, and green creepers, especially in the late autumn and spring season, it makes for a mystic sight to see. The National Museum is a must-visit attraction in Wroclaw for all the art, craft, and history lovers.
Entrance to the National Museum is free on Saturdays. Moreover, with the ticket of this museum, you can also enter the museum of Panorama Raclawiska located barely 100 meters away. The national museum is the perfect depot of classical artwork from centuries back. It is here that you get to marvel at the interesting art pieces from renaissance and times beyond.
The National museum courtyard view from the first floor.
At dusk hours, the museum wears the aura of a mystical place, resembling some wizard house.
6. And then get stunned by the sheer awesomeness of Panorama Racławicka
The colossal panorama painting located on the museum top floor is an amazement in itself. What you see here is a 360-degree lively painting on the wall which is a perfect depiction of the great battle of Racławicka.
There are only a few panorama museums around the world, and this one was built in the memory of the memorable battle fought in the history of Poland. Read more about the Panorama Raclawicka Museum here!
7. Walk the boulevard & check out Hala Targowa
You never know what the massive gates in this city are hiding from you! Therefore, don’t hesitate to push open those fancy-looking pieces in the city centre region. As you enter through the giant Targowa door overlooking the tram station of Hala Targowa, your gaze will fall upon a huge market space with systematically aligned shops. With plenty of grocery shops here, you can buy everyday essentials that are not typical supermarket type.
The vegetables, fruits, meat, and other things (mostly edibles) are locally grown. Hala Targowa shopping centre is a decent marketplace to explore if you are looking to experience traditional marketplaces.
Unlike supermarkets like Zabka, Biedronka, and Carrefour, this place has more local commodities from the farms. Be it fruits, veggies, flowers, meat, honey, chocolate, candies or some local pickles, you can find everything here. To the right of the Targowa shopping centre, there is a pretty riverfront with some well-laid benches along the river where you can spend the entire day sipping on a beer or a coffee. Of Course, it should be a sunny day!
Protip: Herbaciarnia is a cafe selling hundreds of tea and coffee varieties. And the interiors here are worth a mention too! I have spent hours working, reading, or just chatting with friends
8. Relive history & spellbinding charm of the University of Wroclaw
One of the city’s oldest structures, the University of Wroclaw building is a fine piece of architecture from the 16th century. The building has stood the test of time over centuries showing resilience to all possible invasions that changed the landscape of Poland. This includes the deadly world wars and other invasions that befell Poland in the 18th and 19th century.
Today, the University of Wroclaw, a decorated educational institution in Europe enjoys a great deal of public attention and accounts for a majority of student crowd in the city. It won’t be wrong to mention that the University is a popular attraction in Wroclaw. The top of the University museum has a lookout point that offers a 360-degree view of the city centre region.
Protip: Kot Cafe is an amazing place to sit and chill with furry friends. There are two cafes in the vicinity of the main building and the one I’m talking about here is 500-600 meters from the main building close to Pomorska.
Some stunning burst of Cherry Blossom by the street adjoining the main university building!
A glimpse of the university main library located in Rynek! As fascinating as it looks, the university main library is definitely worth a visit on your trip to Wroclaw.
9. Spend afternoon savouring history & terracotta hues of Ostrow Tumski
Don’t miss the stunning sight of Ostrow Tumski bathed in the moonlight! Tumski Island with the sight of the magnificent Tumski Cathedral is a picturesque a visual treat for all the beholders. And why wouldn’t it be? After all, it’s the oldest part of the city dating back to the 10th century!
Besides Tumski Cathedral, there are some other prominent structures of interest around like Archbishop’s Palace, St. Giles Church, and Seminary. Nothing like this place in the quietude of the night, especially for art and aesthetics lovers!
If you’re lucky enough, you can witness and experience the centuries-old ritual of Lamp lighting which is one of the last surviving European traditions and is a visual treat for an onlooker.
Take a stroll in the rustic bylanes which also happens to be the oldest part of the city. To experience the flourishing nightlife and then head to Wyspa to spend an hour or so before calling it a day!
Protip: Ostrow Tumski is one of the favourite places to catch the sunset in the city!
10. Hop-on the outdoor party turf of Wyspa Słodowa – Student Island
When the city sleeps, Wyspa stays awake! Słodowa Island (Wyspa Słodowa) or Student Island overlooking the magnificent building of the University of Wroclaw is the perfect place to be. As the night grows dark during the summer and the initial autumn months, this is the place where the young crowd flocks to.
The islet has some floating bars and plenty of seating places to hangout with friends. On a good sunny day, you can come here with your barbecue set up and get some beers along.
1. Overwhelm yourself with stunning colours at Botanical Garden
A calm haven in the heart of the city, Botanical Garden oozes with terrific seasonal colours round the year. The multitude of flora species and creative set up across the park premises make it such a pretty place to be. A couple of fountains, with spouting water jets and some water flowers around make Botanical Garden such a calm place to explore in Wroclaw.
There are a few tour operators and commercial websites that recommend you to book a tour that includes a visit to places such a Botanical Garden. Well, I suggest don’t! Roughly 10-15 minutes far from the Wroclaw City Center, Botanical Garden is the place you shouldn’t miss. Moreover, autumn is the time if you want to catch the fervent charm of this place flourishing at its best!
2. Adore the grandeur of the underwater world at Hydropolis
Hydropolis Museum, a premier tourist attraction and a centre for environmental education located in Wroclaw is a facility dedicated to the vast water world and its remarkable beauty. The museum also happens to be a one-stop location for the knowledge dedicated to water, water life, and machines that thrive in water. It is here that you find educational values combined with a modern exhibition form.
The unique exhibition is located in a historic, nineteenth-century neo-gothic underground tank of clean water covering 4,600 m². The reservoir functioned until 2011. A monument since 2002, Hydropolis Museum is a stunning attraction in Wroclaw and a must-visit place!
3. Go on a pub-crawling & cafe hunting spree in Świdnicka & Rynek Square
Rynek Square is everything right with this city. It’s massive, it’s pretty and oozes old-world charm. The city centre and streets leading to it have plenty of things to offer. Be it the old world charm of oozing from the Rynek Square or the numerous restaurants around.
Impressive Christmas Tree in Rynek perfectly seasoned with snow flakes!
Restaurants recommendation – Pizza Si, Akropolis, Whisky in the jar, Charlotte, and Kawalerka
On a pleasant summer evening, this lane adjoining Arkady Capitol is abuzz with tourists and life! Some pizza and beer can make for the perfect company here!
And then you can treat yourself to a lip-smacking salted caramel lody (ice-cream) while watching something like this!
4. Go up the top of Sky Tower
Wroclaw’s tallest structure is the envy of most of all the towering structures adorning the Wroclaw Old Town because from the top of this gigantic structure the city looks completely different – tiny and neatly aligned mazes of fancy structures, modern and medieval. The sunset views from the top with that fascinating skyline and myriad of colours splashing the horizon is such a sight to behold.
Timings: 9am – 9pm (all days)
Protip: Consider going there at least an hour earlier than your planned hour. There are usually long queues at the entrance around the sunset hour, especially when the sky is clear. Also, ask for a student discount if you have a valid student ID.
5. Go exploring Dworzec Główny & Wroclavia
The massive shopping mall in Wroclaw, Wroclavia is definitely worth exploring if you’re in the city. The massive Wroclavia Mall overlooking the main railway station is a sight worth beholding. From massive showrooms to upscale dining options, Wroclavia has everything. Also, Arkady Capitol and Sky Tower are pretty close from here and are just 5-10 min walk away.
On the opposite side of the main railway station in Wroclaw, the Wroclavia is a shopper’s perfect stop. The main bus station of Wroclaw (Dworzec Autobusowy) is well placed in the same building. So within a 100-meter distance, you have the main railway station, bus station, and an upscale shopping centre with a massive food court on the top floor, and almost everything you are looking for.
That said, there’s still plenty to do in and around the city. For example, if you’re not much into parks or museums, there are plenty of rustic cafes, and some great theme restaurant serving authentic Polish food. Let me know what you think of it! I would be happy to read your thoughts, suggestions or recommendations in the comment below.