The city of Wrocław (pronounced ‘vrot-swaaf’) in Poland is a fantastic one to visit. It has a beautiful main square and some great tourist attractions, including lovely gardens and interesting museums. This Wrocław 2 day itinerary shows you it’s highlights and will help you plan a trip to this picturesque city. It packs a lot in and has great diversity, taking you around exploring the different sights and sounds!
Getting some context – A quick history of Wrocław
Wrocław has been around since the 10th century, and has seen a lot of change. The city is part of a region known as Silesia, a diverse and historically important part of central Europe. It originally joined Poland back in 990CE, but was then devastated by the Mongols in 1241 as they rampaged across Europe. After being rebuilt it proceeded to go through a serious of changes in term of it’s rulers. Often this meant being part of The Kingdom Of Bohemia, a medieval predecessor of the modern day Czech Republic. Then in 1526 the city became part of the Hapsburg Empire, named for Austrian monarchs who ruled Austria. The city became more commonly known by it’s Germanic name, Breslau.
This remained so until it was conquered by the Prussian’s in the 1740’s. Under their leadership the German Empire was formed in 1871, and the city was included as part of this. It was then, as Breslau, part of the various incarnations of the German state right up until 1945. This is of course the year when the Nazi’s were defeated, and much of city was destroyed in the fighting. The siege of Breslau is the name given to the 3 month battle waged to control the city. Eventually the Soviet forces emerged victorious on the 6th May 1945. The war in Europe ended 2 days later, with an estimated 80-90% of the city sadly in ruins. In the peace that followed Breslau once again became Polish, reverting to the name Wrocław. The country was now under authoritarian communist rule, which lasted until 1989.
Arrival and getting around Wrocław
The city of Wrocław is a regional transport hub, therefore has lots of great rail links to elsewhere in Poland. You can also look at buses to reach here, though personally I think the train is better as it’s so cheap and efficient in Poland. For train times and tickets check out this website. If you are trying the bus then check out Flixbus as it’s a popular service for travelling around Europe. The city also has an airport and you can view available flight options here.
Once you have arrived the centre of Wrocław can be traversed by foot, and much of the cites attractions are within walking distance. To get further out you can use the cities tram system. Though it is quite complicated, and can take a bit of getting used to, this is an efficient way of getting around. There are many lines going to various parts of the city, so be sure to check which you need. You can pay using your debit/credit card on the tram using the ticket machines. There is a map on Wikipedia that show the tram routes, use both the tram number and line colour to identify where each tram goes.
Throughout this Wrocław 2 day itinerary you will spot many ‘Gnomes’ as you go. Also known interchangeably as dwarfs, these characters have popped up all across the city. And for good reason! Back in the 1980’s the city was the birthplace of the Orange Alternative, a far left anti-communist movement. Their trademark was painting a ‘gnome’ as graffiti across the city, which was deemed too ludicrous for authorities to crack down hard on. In 2001 to commemorate them the first Gnome statue was erected, and since then many more have joined it across the city.
Have a look around as you and see which ones you can find! I’ve highlighted a few in this Wrocław 2 day itinerary but here are now over 600 so don’t expect to find them all!
Wrocław 2 Day Itinerary
As always this itinerary is based upon personal experience, so it doesn’t feature everything the city has to offer. And I wouldn’t claim it to do so! Rather it is based upon what I saw in 2 days in the city, which I think is a great amount of time to spend here. It covers a diversity of things, including a good look at the historic centre, as well as a couple of great things nearby. Use it as a basis to plan your own trip!
The best way to start your visit to Wrocław is of course with a visit to it’s market square. Known as ‘Rynek we Wrocławiu‘ in Polish, Wrocław’s market square is full of beautiful buildings of multiple colours. The square was damaged during World War 2 but was restored and looks spectacular. It is actually one of the largest squares in Europe too. It is pedestrianised, with loads of cafes and restaurants around, so if you are hungry or thirsty lots of options are available. I definitely recommend taking plenty of time to wander around the square and admire all of its buildings.
One of the main buildings here is the town hall, which dates from the 13th Century. When I visited they were setting up an event in front of it so unfortunately I don’t have the best photos. Especially because, as you can see, the sky was quite grey! But honestly it’s a fantastic building that deserves plenty of admiration. I didn’t visit but it now houses the Museum of Burgher Art, so if you have the time it’s somewhere you could add to your own Wrocław 2 day itinerary.
Cathedral island and around
The oldest part of the city is Cathedral island, known as ‘Ostrów Tumski‘ in Polish. Whilst the main part of it is no longer an island, you will cross an actual island to get there, so don’t get confused! In fact there are a set of small islands in the Oder river which I’ve bunched together for this part of my suggested Wrocław 2 day itinerary. I recommend taking some time to have a look around them, admiring the views along the river. One of the main bridges here is named Tumski Bridge, also known as ‘lovers bridge’. It gets it’s nickname as its famous as somewhere lovers would follow the tradition of locking a padlock to it. Though this has been clamped down on by authorities now, look out for the gnome which celebrates this.
Once across the bridge look out Wrocław Cathedral, officially ‘The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Wrocław’. There has been a Christian building here in one form or the other since the 10th Century. Though the current incarnation you see is from 1951, having been reconstructed following the Second World War. Take some time to have a look around as it’s a nice building, you can also go inside if you wish.
Another interesting to look for in the Cathedral island area is it’s lamps. It is actually one of the few remaining places in Europe where a Lamplighter goes around and lights the lamps in the evenings. You can also spot the John of Nepomuk Monument, which is a cool statue in front of the Church of the Holy Cross. He was ‘the Saint of Bohemia’ and is an important historical Catholic figure in the central European region.
Botanical Garden of the University of Wrocław
Nearby to here you find the next stop on this Wrocław 2 day itinerary. The Botanical Garden of the University of Wrocław is a beautiful green space in the city, with lots of great flora to explore. It’s been here since 1811 and has a large area to explore, with lots of variation of plant life on display. I advise taking at least an hour here, longer if you can.
There are also some greenhouses here with a great collection of plants to see. They include a section from Africa, a section from Mexico and a collection of many types of Ivy.
The gardens are also home to many different gnomes! One of my personal favourites is here, which is of course highlighting how the gardens are popular for wedding photo shoots. Look out for this guy…
Taking a photo of this couple…
The Anonymous Pedestrians
If you have time on day 1 of this Wrocław 2 day itinerary, head south of historic market area to find these statues. Find them at the intersection on Piłsudskiego Street, near to Plac Tadeusza Kościuszki. They were unveiled in December 2005 to coincide with the 24th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in Poland. This is of course when the country was struggling under authoritarian communist rule. Created by Jerzy Kalina, the statues are actually a recasting of a temporary art installation by Jerzy Kalina, which was set up in Warsaw in 1977.
And if you don’t have time to check these out of day 1, be sure to go back on day 2 as they are a really great piece of artwork! They actually go down into the concrete on one side of the road and emerge from it on the other. Therefore be sure to check out both sides of the road.
Wrocław Market Hall
Another place to fit in to either day of this Wrocław 2 day itinerary is the Market Hall. Hosted inside a grand building from 1908, this is where you can find all kinds of goods being traded. It’s great to have a wander around and see what is on offer.
This piece of artwork is quite possibly one of the greatest ever created. Certainly in my opinion it is staggeringly awesome, both in terms of scale and detail. It is a painting of the Polish victory at the Battle of Racławice. Fought in 1794 it was a famous victory by Polish insurgent forces, including peasant volunteers, over the regular Russian army. Although they lost that war for independence, it is an important part of Polish history showing their determination for freedom from Russia. It was painted by Jan Styka (with assistance from other artists) in 1893-94 to celebrate 100 years since the victory. Originally displayed in Lviv (now part of Ukraine), it moved to Wrocław after World War 2 but struggled under the Soviet controlled regime to be displayed. Finally in 1985 it became viewable to the public once again.
To see it you are given a timed entry ticket, therefore I recommend coming early to ensure you don’t have to wait long. Once inside you receive an audio guide that explains the battle and the history of the painting. You are given half an hour to admire the painting and listen to the details on the guide. It really is grand piece of work so I can’t do it justice with any kind of photo! But here is a small snippet to to give you a taster.
National Museum in Wrocław
Your entry ticket to the Racławicka Panorama will also give you entry to the nearby National Museum. It has a great collection, from medieval Silesia through to Polish and European art of the 20th century. I recommend setting aside at least 2 hours to explore the collections here. I think it’s great way to see how the art and culture of the city and wider Silesia region has developed over the years.
St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral
Next up on this Wrocław 2 day itinerary is a trip to St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral. The big thing to do here is to climb it’s tower to see some spectacular views over the city. You can see all around from various angles, though of course gazing over the market square is a real highlight. The actual walk up the tower is quite tough going, therefore take breaks if you need to.
Also remember to look out for gnomes! These guys are some of those nearby the Cathedral!
Cathedral of St Mary Magdalene
Once you’ve finished there, cross over the square to your next destination, the Cathedral of St Mary Magdalene. Whilst it also offers great views you are here for the ‘Penitent Bridge’. Again climb the tower, this time to read the story and see the witches themselves. Without giving too many spoilers, it’s an interesting folk tale of a girl who was turned into a witch as a punishment, and an apprentice witch sent to assist her.
As well as the story told there, the bridge allegedly had a darker purpose. It is said that during medieval times it was used as a test to discover witches, it’s narrowness back then therefore making it a test of balance to cross. Those who could so so without falling deemed a witch and therefore burned at the stake! And those who fell to their death exonerated. Of course this isn’t a fair test, but is in line with many other stories you hear about how supposed ‘witches’ were treated across Europe back then. Personally I prefer the story told at the cathedral, though you shouldn’t ignore what really happened here.
It’s now time on this Wrocław 2 day itinerary to head out the centre. You will need to take a tram for this, so be sure to work out which one to get. Look for the stop named ‘Hala Stulecia’, various trams go by here. Use the map link I shared above to work out which one to get. This stop is named after the Centennial Hall, a grand concert building in the park which opened way back in 1913. There is a water feature here where you can see light and music displays. It’s a nice place to stop for awhile, to watch the displays and have a rest.
After admiring this, head to the Japanese gardens (they have a small entrance fee). This another wonderful green space, and great to spend some time wandering around in. Afterwards you can also walk around some of the Szczytnicki Park area and enjoy time in nature away from the cars and people of the city.
A quick Wrocław FAQ
The city of Wrocław is in Western Poland. It is actually nearer to Germany and the Czech Republic than it is to Warsaw.
The journey between Wrocław from Kraków takes around 3 hours and 15 minutes by train.
Most of the people working in the tourist industry in Wrocław speak English so you should have no problems communicating.
Poland has low crime rates compared to the rest of Europe, so whilst you should always exercise precautions Wrocław is one of Europe’s safer cities.
The city of Wrocław has a population of over 670,000 people, which makes it the third biggest city in Poland.
Whilst Wrocław has loads to offer tourists, it actually receives a lot less visitors than other Polish cities like Warsaw, Kraków and Gdańsk.
No, during and after World War 2 the German inhabitants of Wrocław left the city, meaning it lost it’s German culture and became fully Polish.
Thanks for reading this Wrocław 2 Day Itinerary!
I think Wrocław is one of the best cities to visit in Poland, which itself is a great country to explore. So If you are planning a longer trip to Poland then please check out my Poland 2 week itinerary. For more European destinations you can check out my archives here. And if you a vegetarian I recommend looking at my experience eating Polish vegetarian food. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.