What do you need to know before your first trip to Wroclaw, Poland?
When I told a friend from Krakow I was going to Wroclaw for the first time, she said: There’s a lot to see there, don’t just stay for 2-3 days!
Why would I? I love slow travel 🙂
So I stayed for 3 weeks and it gave me a chance to get to know the city quite well.
I also got to take an unimaginable number of photos of the cute colourful houses in the old town.
This quick guide will give you the tips you need to know when you go to Wroclaw for the first time.
Where to stay in Wroclaw
It’s best to stay close to the centre, as most of the interesting things in the city are quite close to each other and you can reach most places on foot.
Here are some excellent Wroclaw hotels and aparthotels in good locations:
Joyinn Aparthotel – Located in the super cool Four Denominations District in the city centre, close to bars and restaurants and about 10 minutes from the old town.
Aparthotel New Lux – A top rated aparthotel located right in the centre of the old town gorgeous market square.
PURO Wrocław Stare Miasto – A chic hotel close to the market square and to many nightlife options. Part of a highly rated Polish hotel chain.
Note that Hotels.com gives you a free night for every 10 nights you book.
Free tours to take in Wroclaw
Free tours are “pay as much as you want” tours, meaning you tip the guide at the end of the tour the amount you think it was worth.
Wroclaw has a nice selection of free tours:
Wroclaw free walking tour – This is the essential tour that I recommend you take on the first or second day.
It covers the history and highlights, plus all sorts of anecdotes that the guide cares to share with the group.
It’s also a good opportunity to ask your guide for local recommendations.
Wroclaw Islands Free Tour – Wroclaw has a surprising number of islands, rivers and bridges. This tour takes place in the evening, so you can enjoy the illuminated Oder river.
Free Walking Tour of Jewish Wroclaw – Though I didn’t take this tour (I just wasn’t in the mood…), I think many people would find it very interesting. Wroclaw had one of the oldest Jewish communities in Poland.
Dwarfs & Communist Wrocław – You’re going to spot little gnomes everywhere you go in Wroclaw. This tour will tell you why, but not before the guide would share stories about what life in the city was like under communism. It’s an educational tour that will make you think.
Paid tours to take in Wroclaw
Wroclaw Private Guided Tour by Electric Car – This is probably the best option if you’re short on time and want an affordable tour. These tours are very popular in Wroclaw and you’ll see these electric cars every day around the city. They take you to see the main attractions with commentary in different languages.
Wroclaw Segway Tour – A fun way to see the city while covering more that you could on foot. The tour departs from the centre, but takes you to some landmarks quite far from the centre, like the Centennial Hall and the multimedia fountain.
Short City Walk and Cruise – Suitable for a small group. This tour starts with a walk in the Old Town and continues with a 1 hour cruise on the charming Oder river.
Top things to do in Wroclaw
Here’s a selection of my top 5 things to do in Wroclaw:
The Market Square (Rynek) and Solny Square in the old town
These are most likely the first places you’ll visit in Wroclaw. The two squares are adjacent and both have some spectacular buildings, cafes and restaurants.
The tourist information centre is in the market square, with friendly English-speaking staff.
In Solny Square you can buy flowers at any time of the day and night.
The massive collection of colourful houses is one of the most magnificent I’ve ever seen. Some of these are the original houses but others were reconstructed after the WWII bombings. It’s hard to tell the difference though.
The Centennial Hall & Four Domes Pavilion
Some of Wroclaw’s most famous landmarks are right next to each other.
The Centennial Hall is a conference/cultural centre in a historic modernist building. You can visit the exhibition inside to learn more about it, see the dome from inside the buildings (it’s impressive!) and enjoy a really excellent VR experience.
Next to the hall, the Four Domes Pavilion houses the modern and contemporary art museum which is well worth a visit.
A few steps away, the Wrocław Multimedia Fountain is a cool attraction to visit after dark, when it lights up in different colours (the show starts every hour on the hour).
Next to it you’ll find the Wroclaw Japanese Garden. I could easily spend an entire afternoon there (and I did…). It’s a rather big Japanese Garden and it’s truly beautiful.
The gnomes or dwarves scattered all over the city have an interesting background story.
To help you spot more gnomes, you can get a map at the tourist information office or use the Wroclaw Dwarves Go app, but it’s fun to spot the gnomes by yourself, usually next to doors and windows of various businesses.
Neon Side Gallery
A collection of old neon signs that make a beautiful, brightly coloured exhibition.
This is an open-air gallery inside a courtyard in the city centre, where these vintage neon signs are displayed on the walls of the buildings.
I recommend you visit a little before sunset, get a drink at one of the bars there and watch the neon signs as they light up.
There’s also some cool street art to see in this lovely corner of Wroclaw and all sorts of events, like exhibitions and a second hand market.
Explore the contemporary art scene
If you like modern and contemporary art, Wroclaw has plenty of it! Use this art guide to find the museums and galleries featuring contemporary art in Wroclaw.
These were my top 5 things, but there’s lots more to do and see in Wroclaw. Check out Wroclaw Guide for a very comprehensive tourist guide to the city. I used it myself to plan my visit.
How long to stay in Wroclaw
I think it’s best to stay at least a week in Wroclaw, to see most of what it has to offer.
If you have less time, then 3-4 days could do, but plan an itinerary in advance to avoid being hit by FOMO when you see how cool the city is.
Getting around Wroclaw
Wroclaw is perfectly walkable. I think exploring it on foot is the best way to see it.
If you’re short on time, use the public transport system, which includes trams and buses. You want to use an app called Jakdojade to plan your routes (you can try Google Maps, but I found that it wasn’t always accurate).
Buy your tickets in advance from the machines at some of the stops or from a kiosk. You can also pay onboard, but only by card.
There are some taxi apps you can use in Wroclaw. If you’re using these apps for the first time, take advantage of the first time discounts:
FreeNow: Download the app here . Open the app menu, go to “Add promo code” and add this code: a0a7h488k
Bolt: Download the app here . Open the app menu, go to Promotions and enter promo code: dfc71c68
And finally: How do you pronounce Wrocław?
It’s not an easy task if you can’t speak Polish! Wrocław is pronounced vrots-waav and here’s a video to help you practice: