Poland was a new country to visit this year and in true Tasha fashion, a last minute booking. One that I’m so glad we made as it’s one of my favourite city breaks I’ve been on.
Wroclaw, pronounced ‘vrots wahf’ is a city in Western Poland and it’s the forth largest city in the country. It’s a university city and the student population makes up for more than a quarter of the population there.
How to get there
We flew from Newcastle to Wroclaw with Ryanair. Flights were about £60pp including that second bag add on fee – if you’re travelling in winter when you’re expecting sub zero temperatures and snow, a small bag might just not be enough. Instead we both packed a cabin bag for the 3 nights and this was more than enough space – allowing us to pack in cosy jumpers and layers rather than looking like Joey through the airport.
You can fly to Wroclaw from many UK airports and it’s a fairly short flight. Getting to the city from the airport is easy, we hopped on a bus which took about 30 minutes and stops at the main bus station and the train station (which looks like a castle, it’s amazing)
What is there to do?
Wroclaw is known for the market square and this central part of the city should definitely be on your list to visit. With the pastel painted buildings, it’s hard not to be drawn in and when we visited there were twinkling lights everywhere.
I imagine the Market Square would be a lovely spot during Spring/Summer too, when the fountain wouldn’t be frozen – though we went late January and I’m sure the temperature hovered around zero celsius at best, usually sub zero plus the wind chill!
You must visit Tumski Bridge. We happened upon it on our first evening when we went walking towards some lights. I’m a magpie in some ways, perhaps. The bridge was filled with twinkling lights and love hearts everywhere. For many years it’s been a meeting point for couples. It’s tradition to put a padlock on the bridge and throw the key into the River Oder.
This huge 360 degree painting of the battle of Racławice is really impressive. Make sure you get a headset to talk you through the painting as you move around the unique room. I didn’t expect this to be one of the highlights of the trip but I really like to learn about the history of a place and this was a visual way to do just that.
Go looking for Wroclaw Dwarves
Hundreds of dwarves, or goblins are spread across Wroclaw. These bronze sculptures reflect different fairytales and legends first originating from the anti communist movement. Now they are quite the tourist attraction and you can find them all across the city.
University of Wroclaw
You may think it a little strange to recommend visiting the University. But this building is more of a museum, with some really interesting artefacts and very impressive rooms – the music hall, for one! Buy a ticket to see all the rooms (it’s worth it) and make sure you go up to the roof for a view across the city.
We spent 3 nights in Wroclaw and felt like we’d had a good balance of the sights and museums, trying the food, checking out different bars and restaurants, an escape room (my first attempt at one!) and getting to grips with the city. The metro system is easy to follow and cheap to use, though my preferred method is always to explore somewhere new on foot. With my Timberland boots on, a chunky scarf and big bobble hat, I was good to go!
Fun fact: aside from of course my fun trivia about the student population and the general size of Wroclaw; it’s been part of Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, Prussia and Germany at various times through history. It became part of Poland again in 1945 following border changes after WWII.
What should you eat?
Pierogi! The traditional Polish dumplings can either be boiled or fried and you must try them both ways. They’re really filling though and we made the mistake of ordering them both ways and struggled our way through our plates. Delicious though. Just thinking about them now, mmmm.
You should also try the stews. Expect wholesome, hearty meals with lots of root vegetables. They’re fond of pickles too.
Iggy Pizza was great, some of the best pizza I’ve had.
Panczo served up some delicious Mexican street food and cocktails with all the tequila. Really affordable too and big portions.
If you’re wanting a really pink “instagram” experience that actually serves up great cakes (and coffee) as well as a cracking photo, head to Nanan Patisserie. This little cafe is just down a side street, but once you walk in you will feel like you’re in a marshmallow. Soft pink furnishings, pink everywhere and an array of glossy cakes. Order one, order two, get a box to take away – entirely up to you. But it is well worth a visit and should I go back to Wroclaw I will definitely be popping in…
What should you drink?
We found a few craft beer places which served us well, Targowa was one (we ate there too one evening) and Spiz in the Market Square felt like an authetic Polish pub. You’ll also find bars aplenty around Wroclaw, I did mention it was a student city didn’t I? So expect shots and cheap drinks. If you’re wanting something less studenty, there are plenty other places to try. We popped into a cocktail bar without a menu – you just tell the staff what flavours you like and they’ll put something together. Nice idea and a really impressive bar!
So there you go, a few tips for visiting Wroclaw in the winter. I would imagine it’s a totally different visit in spring/summer but there was something really nice about being away in the snow.
Have you been to Wroclaw? If there are any recommendations you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments.