In the south-west of Poland and the very heart of Europe, Wrocław is an under-the-radar gem that is worth every moment you spend wandering in its streets. While walking through the cobbled alleys of Poland’s fourth-largest city, you might mistake it for the architecture of Rome or Florence. There are plenty of sights to see, here’s the list of the most important things to do in Wroclaw.
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With an optimum combination of affordability, accessibility, attractions, and delicious food traditional to Poland, you cannot go far wrong when visiting the former European capital of culture. This prestigious award rubber-stamps its quality as a destination for your next trip.
Vibrantly colorful buildings surround you in a city that boasts Romanesque, Renaissance, and Medieval architecture and attracts a fifth of the country’s student population. Moreover, it is easy to get to by cheap train or bus if you wish to travel to Berlin, Prague, or one of Poland’s great cities, Krakow.
This is a guest post by Charlie, an enthusiast for food, people, and places. Charlie helps you have more relaxed, stress-free, and accessible travels on his blog, as well as creating a free travel journal and trip planner for you to download so that you never forget your treasured travel memories!
Here are 7 Unmissable Things to do in Wroclaw
Discover the 600+ decorative dwarves across the city
With the exact number unknown, you cannot wander through the majestic streets of Wrocław without spotting a fair few of these little guys. You can see the gnomes doing anything from pushing boulders, promoting disability campaigns in wheelchairs, and being a prisoner behind bars.
Spotting all or as much as you can, is one of the fun and free things to do in Wroclaw. The dwarves acted as a comical distraction while simultaneously representing defiance against the oppressive communist regime that Wroclaw was subject to in the 1980s. One of the most influential groups in dismantling and rising up against the Soviet regime was the Orange Alternative, founded in Wrocław.
Each dwarf is a part of their work and commemoration, a reminder of the Polish spirit in times of hardship that proudly mark the nation.
Awe-inspiring panoramic views from St. Elizabeth’s Basilica
On a clear and sunny day, this view is simply spectacular. Surrounded by the old town, you can gaze upon the massive market, Wrocław’s river, and pretty much the entire city from the skies.
What more could you ask from a view? You can see why the city can remind you of Italy’s beauty. Stunning architecture and vibrant buildings are present wherever you look. While the tower of 200+ steps takes a little while to climb, it suffices to say that the view is most definitely worth it.
And as you’re at the Garrison Church, why not have a look around? Free to enter whether you pay for entrance to the viewing tower or not, the church’s interior is awe-inspiring in itself.
Have a moment of silence away from the famous old town and market to enjoy the columns and artistry for free.
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat 8 am – 6 pm; Sun 1 pm – 6 pm
- Entrance fee: 6 PLN
Sky Tower observation deck
Visiting the Sky Tower observation deck is one of the things to do in Wroclaw if you are keen on a fancier sky-view of the city. The 212 meter-high with an elevator to boot is a more convenient option than St Elizabeth’s Basilica, though it is a short walk outside the city center.
Costing almost $400 million to build, the Sky Tower simultaneously offers plenty of entertainment options such as bowling and shopping if you are in Wrocław for a little longer!
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat 8:45 am – 8:30 pm; Sun 9:45 am – 7:30 pm
- Entrance fee: 18 PLN
A grand and historical old market square (Rynek)
Wrocław Rynek is something every city needs. It’s a great open space for entertainment, social gatherings, and just about anything a city’s centerpiece could ever need.
To showcase the market’s diversity, you can witness everything you might expect, from tasty and traditional Polish cuisine to fire-breathing entertainers as the sun begins to set on this epic place. For example, you can even join around 20+ people playing volleyball right at the square. Just an ordinary evening, right?
Surrounded by the city’s ever-present colorful buildings, the market square is the perfect place to grab an affordable bite of local cuisine.
If you’re in the need of souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones to bring back home, there’s also plenty of places here to fulfill all those touristy needs to remember your Wroclaw trip for many years to come.
Wrocław’s old town and market square are often regarded as some of the prettiest in all of Europe. It was almost entirely rebuilt in 1945 following the devastation of World War II. Still, together with its horse and carriages on cobblestone streets, it certainly feels like a destination steeped in history and culture.
After all, there must be a reason to attract one-fifth of all of Poland’s students beyond the prestigious 300-year-old university, of course.
It is the architecture and feel of busy areas like these that garner the city’s authentic nature as a lesser-known destination that is not overflowing with tourists – enjoy it before everyone else finds out! The plethora of church spires and colored buildings are plenty of reason for you to whip out your camera for excellent Instagram shots.
Don’t forget to look back sometimes; the best shots could just be an angle away! Much like the ravaging sun rays above these historical buildings (pictured above).
A dedicated Cathedral Island, Ostrow Tumski
If you head to Cathedral Island as the sun starters to sets, you may be fortunate enough to see the lighting of the street lamps along the cobblestone paths. It is a beautiful sight to see as you peacefully wander down its lanes.
Though a walk away from the center, the Cathedral Island’s feel is of a little town as if you had left the city all together. Here you will find the famed St. John the Baptist Cathedral, a blend of Gothic with Neo-Gothic add-ons throughout the time that creates a marvelous spectacle.
Traditional food, glorious food
No trip to Poland is complete without at least sampling sumptuous cuisine. It’s traditional, it’s cheap, and it’s tasty. Therefore, one of the things to do in Wroclaw is to try the local favorite and hearty Polish staple, pierogi. These dumplings are a must-try that come with so many different fillings that one is bound to tickle your fancy.
For the meat-eaters out there, pierogies will often contain pork, chicken, or fish (like cod or salmon) as a staple meal. For instance, the chicken one has a cheesy tomato sauce within the dumpling.
However, vegetarians can also indulge in this hearty meal, with sour cream and cheeses, or even dessert-style pierogies with sweet fruity fillings such as blueberries. Some of the vegetarian ones are from sauerkraut, potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and onions. Although, if any other vegetable is available in Poland, it will likely find its way into a pierogi at one fine establishment or another.
The variety of this dumpling does not stop with just the filling – you can find baked, fried, or boiled ones too.
Furthermore, restaurants will often offer you a sauce to accompany the pierogies as well. Melted butter and sour cream are the more traditional, typical side servings.
If you can only try a few dishes in Poland, be sure to grab a bowl of meaty Bigos stew on your travels too. It includes sliced meats, usually pork, but venison and rabbit can also be on the menu. This warm dish contains a good selection of vegetables and spices with some wine sometimes thrown in.
Spicy Polish sausage is somewhat of a signature ingredient for the Bigos and grants it a flavor like no other; indeed, keep an eye out for it while in Wrocław.
Don’t forget dessert! Sernik is Poland’s famous and long-standing take on cheesecake. As with their pierogies, varieties will have you tasting sernik at every opportunity. Pictured above is a chocolate and cranberry variety that was divine.
Polish cheesecake is a little less sweet and drier than cheesecakes found in the UK, US, or Europe, with a slightly different kind of cream cheese and biscuit base. A refined taste of its own topped with delicious toppings of your choice.
Wrocław Zoo, Poland’s oldest sanctuary for animals
One for all you animal lovers out there. At over 150-years-old, the oldest zoo in Poland has often featured on TV and has the highest number of different animal species in the country to boot (1100+)!
The zoo created Poland’s first oceanarium that contains sharks and several hundred varieties of fish to see being looked after. Certainly a zoo for the record books.
Wrocław Zoo actively participates in the protection of endangered species in their natural homes as well as many other efforts in furtherance of animal welfare.
By visiting, you’ll not only get to see all these fantastic creatures but support Wrocław’s effort in their conservation efforts, as mentioned above.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Poland travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
- Book affordable flights on Skyscanner, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
- Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Poland, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
- Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda
- Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
- Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here