In addition to a wonderful cultural experience and lovely locals, a plethora of sites await travellers to Wrocław in Western Poland.
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Where is Wrocław?
Numerous museums, religious buildings, historical architecture, and events consume your time and before you realise this is happening, your holiday is over. You need many more days than just 5 as we did back in April 2015, to explore and experience this delightful city.
Don’t forget to keep your eye out for the iconic quirky dwarf statues scattered throughout the city, which are a testament to the Orange Alternative (peaceful protest) movement’s memory.
The movement used public art and meaningless humour as a protest to the suppression by martial law) of the rise of Solidarity in Gdańsk in the early 1980s.
The movement’s impact on Wrocław’s culture was immense.
Also, more public art from the same era awaits at the junction of Piłsudskiego and Świdnicka in the form of 14 lifelike bronze statues: The Anonymous Pedestrians.
The statues rise and sink out of the pavement and are a memorial to the hordes of people who went underground following the introduction of martial law in the 1980s.
The picturesque Old Town – Stare Miasto – offers an array of attractions and cultural events, making it easily the central focal point for any visit to Wrocław.
Church of St. Elizabeth
Dating back to the 1300s (1525 to 1946) and towering over the Market Square, this is a Protestant church rededicated as a Catholic site following Wrocław’s annexation by Poland.
Lovingly restored after a large fire gutted the church in 1976, the church is dedicated to the servicemen and women of the Polish Armed Forces.
Pay a small fee to climb the steps spiralling some ninety metres up to the bell tower, for a panorama vista of the entire city. Sadly, this was closed when I arrived.
The window represents “a dense crowd of figures, participants of a patriotic mystery” and was ordered for the September 28, 2014, the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Polish Underground State.
Taking almost two centuries to complete (1327-1504), this grand Gothic edifice was steadily expanded with work continuing on the 66 metre-high tower and decoration, for another century.
By the 1930s, this architectural icon became the Museum of Bourgeois Art. The bulding was no longer used for administrative purposes as the city government moved to the New Town Hall building next door.
This hall on Hala Targowa – ul. Piaskowa 15, dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, you can buy some of the best selections of local foods and fresh produce in the city.
As with many market places that lack computerised cashiers, this market is bustling, loud, and wonderful to experience!
John and Margaret Houses (Hansel and Gretel Houses)
Both residences date back to the 1400s and are connected by an archway.
The last remaining tenement apartments are a reminder of the city’s medieval heritage.
The characteristic appearance of the two pretty houses provoked the “Hansel and Gretel” name for these buildings just after the war.
Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski)
This is Wrocław’s oldest area (dating back to the 10th century) and a little quieter than the bustle of the main city; a lovely little break and very picturesque.
Experience many restaurants, cathedrals, and seminaries whilst wandering around on the island. If you’re here in the evening, catch the Cathedral Island’s oil lamps, which are hand-lit during the evening hours.
Royal Apartments (ul. Inowroclawska 17) is a great self-catering apartment but one of the most expensive so far in Europe, however, it is still one of the cheapest for its proximity to the Old Town.
As it is April, prices are steadily increasing due to the high season approaching. This apartment is a studio as the living and bedroom are combined, with a separate kitchen and bathroom. Still, the apartment is a comfortable size and also boasts a balcony.
Checkout is at 11:00hrs and the flight isn’t until 21:00hrs. The owner won’t allow us to stay an extra hour for free.
Even though the stay here is 5 nights, the owner still charged an extra 50PLN for the stay from 11:00-14:00 hrs. Be warned, if you accidentally break a plate – as I did – this sets you back another 10PLN.
The 2.5 hours in the comfy newish train (33.90PLN, 2nd class) leaves Główny station in Poznań at 12:34 hrs.
The train also offers a 1st class carriage if you want to indulge or are loaded with cash. A dining cart is only available in several carriages.
The taxi drivers in Wrocław do not operate on a metre and are very expensive. You will be ripped off.
Make sure you agree on a price up front and not at the end of your journey or you’ll be ripped off. The only time we catch a taxi is from/to an apartment if it’s a long way from the station as we carry 30-kilogram packs.
Although the Złoty (Polish currency) is used throughout Poland, the Russian cabbie that picking us up from the station today quotes his price in Euros. This sets the scene whilst I explain to the cabbie I only have Złoty. Interesting that he instantly knows the price in his currency…nice try.
Before you leave Poland, be sure to try some of the local delicacies such as the delicious Pierogi, whether vegetarian or meat-filled. These dumplings are a Polish staple and very addictive, especially smothered in a delicious rich sauce.
Don’t forget the wonderful Polish sausages, especially the smoked variety, and sauerkraut. Also, the many dishes containing beetroot (also in tangy salads), cucumbers (gherkins), sour cream, mushrooms, stuffed eggs, and so much more will keep you salivating until the next meal.
During the winter months, Polish meals are very hearty and warming – careful or you will put on weight here very quickly.
Piekarnia Pan Croissant
On Kuźnicza 65/66, the Piekarnia Pan Croissant is by far the best coffee and freshly baked pastries in Wrocław.
Prices are good but you must try the mouth-watering delicious pastries – to die for.
Frequented by a steady stream of locals, the onsite baker seems to bake as pastries run out so everything is super fresh and pastries melt in your mouth.
Strolling along Magnolia Park, Legnicka 58, unlike other cafés of this same chain this particular Cukiernia Sowa café is a little more expensive. You don’t receive a free chocolate with your hot drink. The pastries are still delicious.
Tesco is about a 10-minute walk from the apartment and sells everything – all I ever want to do is buy one of everything to try. As this apartment is over the daily budget already, we cook most meals in the apartment.
There is also a massive Tesco in the Magnolia Park Mall, which sells absolutely everything imaginable and at great prices. Bring a bucket of cash as this mall also hosts many flashy expensive boutique shops.
- Most shopping malls in Poland offer free Toilets. However, train/bus stations, parks, and other public places charge for toilets anywhere from 1.5-2.5 PLN and you must have change for the machines.
- Sometimes (especially in parks), there’s a little old lady with her radio, thermos flask of hot drink or hot lunch, and knitting that sits in a little cubicle between the male and female toilets. When you approach, she slides a tiny window open and collects your money. It’s quite comical.
- After 6 weeks in Poland, I can honestly vouch for the cleanliness of public toilets in this country – spotless. I don’t mind paying money if the toilets are kept clean and toilet paper is provided.
City to the Airport
After some online research, we discovered that if you don’t want to part with a lot of cash and pay a greedy Wrocłavian taxi driver, then you don’t have to – instead, take the local bus.
From the apartment, walk about 15 minutes to the bus stop to catch a #406 local bus straight to the airport.
Instead of this trip costing a taxi fare of between 50-70PLN, you only pay 4.70PLN (3.20 for the trip + 1.5 for luggage).
The bus trip takes roughly half an hour and drops you off next to the airport.
Do some research and save yourself some money – the guidebooks and Wikitravel don’t mention this option at all.
Wrocław to the UK
A stint in the UK for a few months sees us helping relatives and hopefully buying a cheap campervan/motorhome for which to start a new travel chapter through Western Europe.
I hope that travelling in a motorhome will be even more independent and keep accommodation costs down as this is quite expensive on the Aussie dollar.
I’ve stayed in enough hostels and dorms in the past to know that these days, I prefer self-catering apartments.
The no-frills RyanAir one-way ticket from Wrocław to Bristol costs around £67. Considering this is April and racing towards high season, this is not too expensive.