Wroclaw is situated on the River Odra at the foot of the Sudety Mountains in the Silesian Lowlands, and is the largest city in western Poland.
With Austrian and Prussian influences, the city has a diverse history and is a center for industry, education and the arts.
Whether you visit Wroclaw for its cultural or economic draw cards, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the impressive Gothic architecture, photogenic canals and fantastic theaters and music scene.
What to see
Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island) is the oldest part of the city and a main highlight in Wroclaw. You will quickly realise it is decidedly quieter than Market Squary (Rynek) with pristine gardens and places of worship. Walk along the paved Idziego Street and admire the oldest church in Wrocraw, St Idzi. Take the lift to the top of the north spire at the Gothic Cathedral (St John the Baptist) for city views, and stay for dusk when a lamp-lighter manually lights the gas lamps in this district each evening casting an old-worldly glow over the cobblestoned streets.
Szczytnicki Park is a popular park of 100 hectares that is home to over 500 species of flowers, shrubs and trees. Notable attractions include a wooden church, a Japanese Garden with traditional bridges and ponds, and Centennial Hall with Wroclaw Fountain that has daily water shows between May and October.
Art enthusiasts can’t go past viewing the Panorama Raclawicka, a huge cycloramic oil on canvas painting depicting the 18th century Battle of Raclawice. This 15 meter by 114 meter painting brought to life by three-dimensional effects such as props and lighting, is one of Wroclaw’s major tourist attractions so arrive early to secure a ticket for allocated half-hourly slots.
What to do
Stroll through Market Square, an important place to locals for events and celebrations. The square is rimmed by patrician townhouses with beautiful façades and there are numerous pavement restaurants and bars to while away the hours listening to Polish street musicians. Don’t miss the City Hall with an astronomical clock that is illuminated in the evenings.
Wroclaw is set on canals and has over 100 bridges bestowing it the moniker ‘the Venice of Poland’. Take advantage of the view from the waterways by hiring a kayak or joining a scenic boat tour from the Marina on Wyspa Piaskowa (Sand Island).
Wroclaw Zoo is the oldest zoo in Poland and home to over 6000 animals including endangered species. Arrive early to avoid queues (especially in summer) and immerse yourself in the themed animal areas including the Afrykarium zone with water tanks containing exotic fish and hippos.
Nearby things to see and do
Książ Castle is the third largest castle in Poland located 70 kilometers from Wroclaw in the city of Wałbrzych. After centuries of invasions, conquests and turbulent ownership, the castle remains a major tourist attraction in Poland where tourists can view murals and exquisite furnishings in the staterooms before exploring the terraced gardens.
Around 90 kilometers from Wroclaw bordering the Czech Republic, is the town of Zloty Stok proud of its long mining history. Stop by the Museum of Gold Mining and Metallurgy where you can learn the process of gold mining and see Poland’s only underground waterfall. Afterwards, burn off some energy at the nearby Forest Adventure Park with ropes courses, abseiling and a giant zip-line.