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Wroclaw is one of the prettiest and liveliest cities in Poland, a multicultural city that is home to an important university, a vast array of restaurants and bars, designer shops, theatre and musical events. The Odra River and dozens of little canals that meander through its tree-lined streets with their tall, multi-coloured buildings set the scene. In fact, Wroclaw is made up of no less than 12 islands, joined by over 100 bridges, and simply begs to be explored. To visit Wroclaw is akin to stepping back in time, and yet the atmosphere is purely cosmopolitan. The city is one of the oldest in Poland, and can trace its history right back to the 7th century when dwellers made Otrów Tumski (Cathedral island) their home. That area is still the centre of activity today. Residents and visitors alike eat in bistro style restaurants, shop for designer clothes and visit theatre or philharmonic venues. Music is important to Wroclaw, as it is home to more than 50 internationally acclaimed orchestras, choirs and musical societies.
Wroclaw has lots to see, including its town hall, widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in central Europe, and the Hall of Lepoldin, in the University of Wroclaw, which has the largest Baroque interior in Poland. Art lovers can visit the numerous galleries, while visitors who want to enjoy leisurely walks can do so in the mighty Szczytnicki Park – one of a dozen or so parks in the city.
Eating out in Wroclaw tends to begin early, with many restaurants opening as early as 7am for breakfast. Restaurants tend to be waiter serviced and efficient, while other eateries expect guests to order at the bar. Traditional dishes of meat, fish and vegetables cooked to age-old recipes are served alongside international cuisine.
Wroclaw is home to some interesting and unique cafes, often leaning towards the artsy and bohemian side. Many double as record shops, bookstores, literary venues or wine bars, and there is no shortage of great chocolateries and patisseries throughout the city.
There are numerous bars in Wroclaw, some serving the young and trendy while others cater to a more mature clientele. Almost all of them have traditional décor and atmosphere, with the odd exception being contemporary wine bars and lively Irish theme pubs. Wroclaw’s nightlife is as varied as its people – from theatre, opera and philharmonic venues to nightclubs offering the latest rock and reggae sounds, it caters to all tastes.
Shopping is serious business in Wroclaw, and there are many specialist shops as well as major department stores that sell everything from the latest designer fashion and jewellery to home furnishings and souvenirs. The city's compact size makes for great pedestrian shopping around the market square, and the covered market of Hala Targowa is a quintessentially Wroclaw shopping experience.
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