Difference between revisions of "Wrocław"
Revision as of 10:20, 16 August 2011
Wrocław (Polish: Wrocław , pronounced Vrots-waf; also known as Breslau, its German name, and English name until 1945) is the largest city in the Dolnośląskie (Lower Silesian) Voivodeship in Poland. Wroclaw is also a historic capital of Silesia.
Wroclaw in Polish, (also known as Breslau in German), is a large undiscovered gem of a city in southwestern Poland in the historic region of Silesia. It boasts fascinating architecture, many rivers and bridges, and a lively and metropolitan cultural scene. Like many cities in Central Europe, It is a city with a troubled past, having seen much violence and devastation. Prior to the Second World War, Breslau was the capital of the German province of Prussian Lower Silesia. It became Polish territory when, after the War, the Soviets moved the German/Polish border westward to the Oder/Neisse Line. Breslau was almost completely destroyed during the end of the War as the Red Army fought its way into Germany towards Berlin, being declared a "Fortress City" by Hitler. However, it has been wonderfully restored and can now be counted amongst the highlights of Poland and of all Central Europe. As Poland rushes headlong into further integration with the rest of Europe, now is the time to visit before the tourist hordes (and high prices) arrive. Right now, most tourists are only Polish and German. There are also many Japanese and Korean businessmen and their families living in Wroclaw now.
Wroclaw is served by an international airport . LOT  flies here from Warsaw (8 times a day except Sundays when there are only 6 flights), and together with Lufthansa to Frankfurt Main, Düsseldorf and Munich. Wizz Air  from Cork, Doncaster/Sheffield, Dortmund, Bourgas, Eindhoven, Forli, London Luton, Oslo Torp, Paris Beauvais. Ryanair  flies from London Stansted, Liverpool, Glasgow Prestwick, Bristol, East Midlands, Brussels Charleroi, Milan Orio al Serio, Rome Ciampino, Bologna, Barcelona Girona, Malaga, Alicante, Dublin, Shannon, Oslo Rygge.
From the airport, bus 406 operates from the terminal building to central Wrocław between 5am and 11pm every 20 minutes (schedule: ). There is also a night bus 249 (schedule: ). The night bus will take approximately one hour to get to the city center (it will have a short break in the Jarnołtów district). If you are not sure how to get to your final destination in Wroclaw by public transport, it might be useful to use the journey planner . Single-ride tickets from Wroclaw Airport to the city center cost 2.40 PLN (or 1.20 PLN for students or ISIC/EURO 26 Holder).
Wroclaw is a major hub in the Polish rail network, with several trains a day to all large Polish cities (route planner ). There are about 10 daily departures to Warsaw (travel time varies from 5h by a InterCity train, up to almost 7h with a pospieszny (fast) train) as well as quite a lot of trains to Poznań (from there you can go to Warsaw or Berlin). Several trains a day go to Kraków. There are also international trains to Hamburg (via Berlin), Prague, Dresden, Kiev (via Lviv) and Budapest.
Wrocław is a stop on the Eurolines  international coach network. All international and national buses stop at the PKS Centrum station which is located directly behind the main train station. The actual timetable can be found on  (click "Odjazdy autobusów z Dworca Centralnego PKS").
Every day a fast bus is running between Wrocław and Kraków . The bus is leaving at 8.50 PM and arrive in Kraków around 11.50 PM. On Thursday, Friday and Sunday there is also a fast bus service leaving at 3.30 PM and arriving in Kraków at 6.30 PM. On Monday an additional service to Kraków is leaving Wrocław at 11:00 AM (arrives around 2.15 PM in Kraków). Tickets cost 39.00 PLN and can be bought on board. Reservations can be made by sending an SMS indicating the date and time of departure and your name to +48664670191.
The centre of Wroclaw is navigable on foot, but the city has an excellent public-transport system for access to the suburbs and outlying attractions, with 60 bus lines and 25 tram lines. During the past year large areas of the surrounding area of Wroclaw have been closed for extensive road works. As such there are many diversions, and journey times in and out of the city have increased especially at peak times and a few tram lines have been diverted or removed from service temporarily.
By bus or tram
Tickets are sold in lots of places. Look for "Ruch" kiosks, post offices. You should be able to buy them in most newspaper stores also.
In the city centre you can find lots of ticket machines offering all types of tickets .
In every bus and tram there should be a ticket machine too installed . Payment only by credit/debit card(Visa/Master Card/American Express). Watch out, Maestro is not accepted!
You must validate your ticket (also a period one) on board, or face a 120zł fine if caught by an inspector (100zł if paid within 7 days).
There are 2 types of tickets (prices: normal fare/discounted fare):
One ride tickets: for normal lines 2.40zł/1.20zł, for express or night bus - 2.80zł/1.40zł. These tickets are not time-based or route-based — you must pay each time you enter a different vehicle.
Period tickets: 30-minutes - 2.40zł/1.20zł, 60-minutes - 3.60zł/1.80zł, 90-minutes - 5.00zł/2.50zł, 24-hours (normal and night lines) - 8.00zł/4.00zł, 24-hours (all lines) - 10.00zł/5.00zł, 48-hours - 18.00zł/9.00zł, 72-hours - 24.00zł/12.00zł.
If you travel with large bags (such as backpacks) you must buy a 1.20zł ticket for the bag.
If your stay will be longer check the Urbancard offer .
Interesting structures in Wroclaw
Go to the rope park on Opatowicka island, Opatowicka Wyspa Przygody.
Just off the square opposite a bar called Error, there is an alleyway leading to a cobbled street and a short way along, down a side street to the left is a restaurant called Mercado. Boasting a selection of cuisines including Egyptian, Greek and Italian, amongst others. The dimly lit, rustic interior offers a warm and comfortable atmosphere, with a selection of beverages from the bar to finish of an evening.
Pierożek, Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego 20 (next to the Casino, close to the Scandic Hotel) - according to many Wroclavians, the best pierogi in Wrocław, priced at about 10 zl for a small portion (you may need to order two if you're hungry). Try pierogi ruskie (with potatoes and cottage cheese) with kefir and barszcz (borscht) and "nalesniki" (pancakes) to experience what real Polish pierogi ought to taste like. The place is small and basic, you may need to wait for a seat, but the food is top-notch.
Cultural note: the "bars" listed below are in fact self-service canteens, known as milk bars (bar mleczny), offering inexpensive and traditional Polish meals. They are a gastronomic and cultural experience. They should be open even on national holidays. Expect short queues.
Bar Miś, 48 Kuźnicza Street, 700 ft. north of Rynek (Market Place or central square). M-F 7-18 and Sa 8-17. Offers an ample and diversified menu, including meat-based dishes. Students, staff and professors of the University of Wroclaw usually eat there, together with homeless people, elderly and pensioners. After entering go to the cash desk (at the left corner) and order your meal (Polish only). Turn right, go to the food counter and handle your receipt to the person serving the meals. Mains 1.50-4.50 zl.
Bar Bazylia, Kuźnicza Street / corner of Universytecki Square, 300 ft. after bar "Miś", inside the building of University's Law Department. Very clean and fast service. Offers a more stylish ambient. Mains 3-9 zl.
Bar Mewa, Dubois Ttreet, 7 minutes walk north from Rynek through University Main Building and Pomorski Bridge. M-F 8-18, Sa & Su 9-16. The cheapest. Offers some dishes only at specific hours: pirogi - 13:00, pancakes - 14:00, pirogi with cabbage - 15:00, potato pancakes - 16:00. You pay directly at the food delivery counter (Polish only).
Abrams' Tower - Resto Bar and Wine Shop (also formerly known as Baszta and La luz), 14 Krainskiego Street. Both the first wine bar and multi-ethnic kitchen in Wroclaw, with delicious food influenced mainly by Mexican but also a unique menu of "Global Tapas", Thai, Indian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Italian and other dishes, relying on authentic preparation and ingredients. Their Mexican selection is on the level of high caliber Tex-Mex cuisine, including fresh cilantro (coriander), imported corn tortillas, jalapenos and chipotles. Yet prices are very reasonable. They also serve a wonderful selection of quality wines. Situated inside a 13th century tower, it's a bit hidden in a courtyard behind old buildings made in the socialist times but a rare jewel worth the effort to find, an alternative to the crowded city's market square. The first floor has a decor of illuminated wine bottles and ethnic music is also played from Caribbean to gypsy to acid jazz and Latin rhythms. Lounge sofa seating with big fluffy pillows lining the walls, antique furniture and candles everywhere, lends a very comfortable homey atmosphere. Food is served until late evening and while cigarettes are not allowed, shisha is available on the bar floor, the staff friendly and English speaking.
Amalfi, Wiezienna Street. The only place in southwestern Poland serving authentic thin-slice Italian pizza from a proper, scorching-hot wood oven. Tastes just like in Rome. About 15 zl for a pizza for one person. Italian owners.
Oregano, Igielna Street. Inexpensive restaurant with pizza and a variety of other dishes.
Piramida, Wita Stwosza Street. Egyptian restaurant. Kitschy interior and big portions.
Gruzińskie Chaczapuri, Mikolaja Street (nearly adjacent to Market Square), a budding franchise originating from Krakow, serves Georgian food (khachapuri). Try "lawasz z adżapsandałem" (dough filled with a tasty mix of tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergines, garlic and goat cheese) for about 15 zl.
Mexico Bar, Rzeznicza Street. A favorite of many Wroclavians. As long as you are willing to eat a somewhat modified version of Mexican cuisine, you should enjoy the large, rich portions at Mexico Bar. You might want to order the "hot" ('na ostro') version of your dish, as the regular dishes are surprisingly mild. This is a small, popular place, so you may have to wait for your seat at the bar.
Radisson Hotel. Next to Panorama Raclawicka.
Pod papugami. At Rynek, next to Spiż Cellar (see above). Offers good meals and a good selection of salads.
There's quite a significant number of different clubs and pubs in Wroclaw. Most of them are located in the centre of the old town, many good ones however, are situated a few crossings from the Town Square, not within its very borders. The Town Square mostly contains some not very specific, quite expensive restaurants, although it is definitely needed to mention the Spiz Cellar, an interesting mini-brewery with a few tasty kinds of locally made beer and a unique interior design. There are also two discos quite popular among fans of house/techno music - Daytona and Zwiazki. However, pub-wanderers, who want to meet interesting people and/or get involved in some discussions will probably enjoy places situated in some less obvious locations than right in the Town Square. Good examples of such places are:
Pracoffnia, 6 Wiezienna st - 1 or 2 crossings north from the central square in Wiezienna street - a pub located in an old medieval prison, consisting of a basement room, aboveground room and also a small atmospheric yard during warm days. The dominant kind of music is jazz in its many forms. The interior design is very unique. It consists of many old architectural tools, books and drawings, as well as some old furniture. There seem to be quite a few foreign tourists among the visitors to the place although it is quite difficult to find.
Mleczarnia (pronounced 'Mletcharnya'), 5 Wlodkowica st - a bit further from the Town Square but still not too far, near the main courthouse in a quiet street - quite a large pub occupying the basement and ground level of an old fin-de-siecle building. It has unique dark, cozy, wooden interiors and a specific atmosphere. Music played is quite specific and varied - among the styles played are: Jewish music, jazz, progressive rock, film music and others. There are often some cultural events, like discussion clubs or film projections taking place in the basement.
Rura jazz club, 4 Lazienna st - a must for a jazz enthusiast or someone who wants to get some jazz experience. Probably the oldest jazz club in Poland. Concerts and jam sessions are held there almost every day. It has been visited by many performers famous in the jazz community. It is also a good place to have a beer and meet some people.
There are also clubs dedicated especially to rock music fans, in Wroclaw. Most popular are:
Od zmierzchu do switu music club, 15 Krupnicza st - located opposite the main courthouse in a basement. You can regularly hear live music there. On Wednesdays there are concerts of young rock bands, on Thursdays there are jam sessions featuring a bunch of resident performers. Their level varies from great to moderate. On Fridays and Saturdays there are rock parties with a DJ.
There's also plenty of other clubs and pubs in Wroclaw. It's a great adventure to explore them because most have their own specific style and atmosphere.
Wroclaw, like most of Poland, is a very safe city but you should exercise the usual caution and keep guard of your valuables especially around crowded places or places popular with tourists like the main train station or the town square (Rynek).
Because international tourism has not quite hit Wroclaw yet, English is not as universally spoken as in the tourist areas of Krakow. You'll still be able to get around and pantomime, or find someone who speaks English, but it's easiest if you know at least a few Polish phrases.