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Trip report: Wrocław and Świdnica

I enjoyed Krakow last year and wanted to return to Poland. Given my 24 day itinerary this year, Wroclaw was a geographically logical, and highly appealing, choice. Mid-way through my trip, it was meant to be my "vacation from my vacation" with time to relax. And get laundry done.

I loved Wrocław from the moment I arrived. (Well, after I found my bus stop and got going in the right direction.)

I will freely admit I lit up with a silly smile and snapped photos every time I happened on one of the cheeky little dwarves, some of them ambassadors for the local businesses. Favorites were the "Votes for Women" dwarf and the little pair of performers in front of the Opera House. They're clever and silly and fun – if you like that sort of thing. I do!

The Wrocław Rynek is lively in October. Lots of university students. And when I visited it was lively with German tourists. And a Pride Parade (and counter-protesters) on Saturday. My train from Dresden was packed with German workers headed to Wrocław to enjoy the 4 day weekend created by German Unity Day (Oct 3rd) falling on a Thursday. The German walking tours were packed. The English ones, not so much.

Wrocław is inexpensive, even in the tourist areas. $8 buys a 7 day transit ticket (though you probably wouldn't need it.) I paid 20zl / $5 for a medium sized load of laundry, full-service, dropped off mid-day and (because business was light) picked up that evening.

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1971 posts

My Favorite Meal: A pierogi dinner and a bottle of cherry cider on the central Rynek at Pierogarnia Stary Mlaw (a fabulous recommendation from forum member Carlos!) cost $11. I loved the little cherry cider bottle and took it home as a souvenir.

I sat at the large, but half-height, table on a long, half-height bench, in the half-height room at the top of the stairs overlooking the dining room. I felt like a dinner guest among Wroclaw dwarves. I couldn't have been happier! I ate there twice. They have an extensive menu of traditional and baked, savory and sweet. For those who can't decide (ahem!) they have 3- and 5-piece sampler options. I got 2 savory and 1 dessert for a half-sized dinner!

Walking tours: I've become a fan of guided walking tours on arrival in new towns. It helps me to get my bearings, gives a little history, and points out places I might like to return on my own. I had hoped to take the Wroclaw Dwarves and Communism tour. It is offered daily during high season, but wasn't offered during the days I was there in October. During high season, you may wish to book ahead. They say there is a limit of participants, although that didn't seem to be the case. These were tip-based "free" tours:
https://freewalkingtour.com/wroclaw/tours

I took the Wrocław Old Town tour. And, when I happened to get back from Swidnica in time, I took the Islands and Bridges tour. Both gave me just what I hoped for – a taste of areas to explore further on my own.

On one tour, we walked past Wrocław University. I went back later for a....

Great city view: for 12 PLN / $3.06 you get 360 views of the city by climbing the steps of the Mathematical Tower atop the lovely Baroque part of the building. Its statues of the 4 original schools of study overlook the city in each direction. The beautiful Aula Leopodina is undergoing restoration, but you can still go in and see not only the art, but also the interesting restoration work.

Racławice Panorama: I debated going. (Remember, I'm on vacation from my vacation.) On a rainy day whim I walked over there. Tickets were sold out. Book ahead, even in October, at least on weekends.

Walking back, I wandered through Hala Targowa, the market hall. I had a lunch destination in mind, but seeing a line of locals at a cafeteria style window just around a corner to the right, once inside the market, I zigged.

The small lunch counter offers a point and choose selection of meats, potatoes and salads that attracts an older, but local crowd. I had a hearty plate for 7zl - less than $2. This is food your Polish grandmother would have made. There are nicer options for cafeteria style Polish food, but I got a kick out of my meal with locals at the market!

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1971 posts

Europeum Hotel is in a terrific location, a 5 minute walk (350m) from the stop for Bus K that goes to/from the Glowny. And a 5 minute walk to the Rynek - across the street and tram tracks, and through the 24/7/365 flower market. The reception and breakfast staff were friendly. The breakfast was an extensive spread. I loved looking out the breakfast room window on the awakening bustle of the ring road.

Steps from my hotel is the Wrocław Historical Museum with its "1000 years of Wroclaw" exhibit. I generally like visiting the local city history museums; this one kept my attention for over 2 hours on a rainy morning. Admission is free. The 15zl / $3.87 audio guide gives meaning to the exhibits.

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1971 posts

PRACTICALITIES
Getting Polish currency: there are multiple bank-owned ATMs at the Wrocław train station. (My bank doesn't pass ATM fees on to me, so I don't know if any were charged.)

Bus/tram from the train station: there are numerous bus and tram stops just outside the station, going in both directions, toward the center and away. I wanted Bus K, but had a hard time finding the right stop. The electronic signs are clear; it was just a matter of wandering (and watching the little blue dot on Google Maps) until I found the right one. Then, as I am prone to doing, I jumped on it going the wrong way without really checking my map. Off I went – oops, blue dot moving away from the center – jump off, get back on going the other way. Boom, in business!

Pralnia Duarte Laundry is a full-service wash and fold about 500m from Europeum Hotel. Some of the staff speak English. 40zl / $10.38 for max 4kg. They charged me just 20zl for a smaller load. I think the girls thought I was nuts, getting so excited about clean laundry. And my laundry smelled so good! You know how a smell can take you back to a time and a place? If I ever smell that laundry soap, I'll immediately be transported back to Wrocław!

Scams and tourist traps: nope, not a one! I felt completely safe in Wrocław, even wandering to the Rynek and back to my hotel after dark.

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1971 posts

Day Trip to Świdnica
I took a day trip to Świdnica to see the famed Church of Peace. Entry is 12 zl / $3.10. It's a lovely place, remarkable in its construction. The audio story, which runs on overhead speakers, is only available in English for groups. There is an English writeup, which is dry, but packed with history.

An elegant lunch for a moderate price (60zl / $15.50 with tip) at Rynek 43 in the center of Świdnica was a treat. I had a small table looking out into their still-flowery courtyard. Soup, a drink and the best schnitzel I've ever had (sorry Austria!) crusted in a pumpkin seed coating.

Thanks to the forum members who gave me the tip to take the minibus. It was clearly the most frequent and efficient option. I took special note of the stops to aid future travelers:

Wrocław minibus stop – to go to Świdnica
Stop is behind the train station and through and out the back of the bus station
Closest intersection: Joannitów and Dyrekcyjn
Google place name: Przystanek Dawida Busy i autobusy Wroclaw

Świdnica stop to get off the bus for the Church of Peace
I got off near St Margaret's Square (Plac Świętej Małgorzaty) which is 650m from the Church. The Old Town center is in the opposite direction. The town center is nearer the train station, where you can catch the return bus, so if you get off the minibus where I did, it's logical to see the church first, then visit the old town, then find the station and minibus stop.

Świdnica minibus stop – to return to Wrocław
Stop is on Kolejowa street @ Spacerowa street
Google place name: Centrum Przesiadkowe, Kolejowa 2A, 58-100 Świdnica, Poland

Edit: here is the timetable for the minibus between Wrocław and Świdnica:
http://www.pwhd.pl/?strona=swidnica_wroclaw

A one-way ticket (Class G on the price table) was 8.50zl (about $2.20) paid in cash to the driver when you board each way.

Posted by
2267 posts

So happy you had an excellent time in Wroclaw! It's my favourite Polish city, it just feels so livable. I'm also glad Pierogarnia Stary Młyn was as fantastic for you as it was for me, I'll admit my mouth began to water when you started to describe it lol! Thank you for the detailed report :)

Posted by
928 posts

Thanks so much for your detailed report on Wroclaw. I’m headed there in March for four free days before I begin a volunteer assignment at an English language immersion program in the countryside outside Wroclaw. I’m really looking forward to the trip, and your tips about food, transportation and tours will make my stay much easier.

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1971 posts

Carlos, I was worried that Wrocław could not live up to my expectations from having enjoyed Krakow. It surpassed my hopes. Wrocław is just lovely. The Rynek has been so beautifully restored. As you say, it feels so livable. I felt very much at home there, right away - having coffee and a paczki (Polish donut, 4zl / ~$1) just off the main square.

I'm dreaming of a return trip to Poland and hope that I can arrange another stay in Wrocław!

Patricia, your volunteer assignment sounds intriguing. What a fabulous opportunity. You are in for a treat with your initial stay in Wrocław!

Posted by
1205 posts

OK, you've convinced me. Trying to decide where to go in September 2020 - it was between Czech Republic and Poland. Both worthy, of course, but it looks like Poland will be it! Great report!

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1971 posts

Carol, I really wasn't sure about writing a trip report, so that makes me so happy to hear! We can talk all about it at our travel group meeting. I love Poland and kept a "travel starter set" of złoty, with optimism that I will go back.

Posted by
2163 posts

Such a lovely report--we got side-tracked at the last group meeting so didn't hear as much about your trip as I expected--and the momentum is building for me to plan a return trip to Poland, Wroclaw will certainly be on the itinerary.

Posted by
6688 posts

Poland is a wonderful, wonderful place with so much to offer. Fantastic trip report CWSocial, and you will nOT regret your decision, Carol!

Posted by
2101 posts

We spent 3 days in Wroclaw in August 2018 and loved it. Definitely get tickets for the Panoramic. We went that morning and were able to get tickets for 5 pm on a weekday. Get the donuts at Stara Paczkarnia, a small chain store. The donuts were better then any of the other places we ate them. We were 4 people and we all agreed. Haven’t had a good donut since. We would go back to Poland in a heartbeat. Trying to figure it into future plans.

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1971 posts

Christa, your London trip report inspired me to write mine! You would not regret a visit to Wrocław. Definitely lots to talk about this weekend!

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1971 posts

Barbara - I also had my Polish donut at Stara Paczkarnia, just a few blocks from the Rynek. Judging from the staff in their baking gear, they were made right there. They had so many flavors, it was hard to choose. I got a cranberry filled one, for the fall season. Locals were buying them by the dozen!

I guess I'll have to go back to see the Racławice Panorama! As if I needed a reason to go back to Wrocław.

Posted by
644 posts

Fantastic trip report, Catherine! I smiled when I read your wash and fold laundry experience!

Posted by
1971 posts

Thank you, Kim, that's so nice of you to say!

Christine, it is with many thanks to your comment that you research a wash-n-fold place in advance, that I had clean, and oh-so-lovely-smelling laundry!

Posted by
12400 posts

Thanks for an enlightening and interesting report.

It has been years since I was in Wroclaw, since 2001 to be exact on the way back to Berlin from Krakow.

When the train stopped in Wroclaw, what I saw from the train was interesting enough for me to want to get off but the Mrs and I hadn't planned on such an impromptu stay....so next time.

Posted by
1971 posts

That's an interesting timeframe, Fred, as it's before a group of EU infrastructure projects from 2004-2014 in Wrocław. You can see a few before and after photos that include the station before its $78 million renovation. In addition to improvements to the tracks and facilities, the driveway and car parks in front of the station were replaced with an expansive new square, and the building was given a "fresh blaze of bright orange-yellow paint."

If it appealed to you before the renovations, have a look now!

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12400 posts

@ CW ...The Mrs went back to do a solo trip to Poland a couple of years ago, in 2017 (?). Included in the itinerary was Krakow which she and I had visited for 4 days for the first time in 2001. Obviously, the area around the central station, Krakow Glowny, had gone through a dramatic modernization, she stayed at the same hotel right there where we had stayed in 2001.

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1971 posts

Thanks, Barbara N!

Fred, becoming a member of the EU (May 1, 2004) has served Poland well with regards to infrastructure upgrades!

Posted by
12400 posts

@ CW....I am glad too that Poland applied for and was accepted into the EU. The Mrs did a solo day trip to Poznan from Berlin in 1999 while I spent that day in Potsdam. She went back to Poznan Glowny in July 2005 with me since we had to transfer trains coming from Berlin to continue on to Torun. Obviously, between 1999 and 2005 she saw improvements and infrastructure changes made in that period.