The wow effect in Wroclaw
Our first stop in Poland is just across the German border in the Lower Silesia region, in Wroclaw. Wroclaw is the fourth biggest city in Poland but too often overlooked. It is so easy to be charmed by the city immediately. It has different nicknames such as the sunflower city due to its microclimate. Or the city of 100 bridges while there are actually 130. But what we especially remember is that it is a city of beach bars, beers and bicycles.
And it is also a city for everybody. In the history books you find that the city belonged to all surrounding neighboring countries for just about the same amount of time. And after the war, all the inhabitants left and new inhabitants took their place. They started from scratch and are currently still building their own place in Poland.
Don’t make the same mistake as us and take at least 2 days to fully experience the city. You can go in different directions with your daily plans. If you like good food and beers, indulge yourself around the market square. They even sell flowers there 24/24. Are you more of the active type? Than you can rent bicycles everywhere to explore the city. Or see the city from on the river with an electric boat.
If you want to learn more about the river itself and how Poland deals with water sustainably, you can visit the fantastic Hydropolis. Or from November you can also visit the Odra Center, right on the river. Are you traveling with kids? Then go gnome hunting throughout the city. Hundreds of little gnomes hide in the craziest places.
Some places you can’t skip are the streets around the market square and the town hall, the Dzielnica Czterech Wyznán (district of 4 origins), the Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island) and the incredibly impressive architecture of the university.
A little further away from the crowds, in the Nadodrze quarter, you can indulge yourself in lifelike street art in the courtyards of a few apartment blocks. By the way, don’t be alarmed if the people or animals that feature on the walls suddenly walk out the door or look through the window.
We slept in the beautiful Puro hotel, between the nice little streets full of restaurants and bars of the old quarter. We also ate a delicious Asian vegan lunch in Tajfun and were surprised by pink cocktails on the Times Square of Wroclaw in the Pasaż Niepolda alley. Delicious local and traditional Polish food is at Restauracja Wroclawska, right in the center.
Out of the city and free as a bird in the untouched nature of Lower Silesia in Poland
Expand your visit to Wroclaw with the region of Lower Silesia to the north. This region is much less known than the mountains to the south and has a lot to offer if you like local crafts, cycling and nature. Just remember that often only Polish or German is spoken here and not everyone speaks English. Not many foreign tourists venture to this piece of pristine Poland.
An hour’s drive from Wroclaw you can explore nature in the Barycz valley. In addition to hundreds of kilometers of flat cycle paths along lakes, forests and meadows, you can also kayak on the Barycz River. If you like fishing, you will certainly enjoy yourself here. The area is teeming with idyllic fishing ponds that are full of carp where birds continuously fly over. If you would like to see the sunset at the ponds, we can certainly recommend the region around Grabownica.
For the best carp we went for lunch at Ruda Zmigrodzka. There is even a meters high chimney in the shape of a carp! You can sleep in a cozy, bicycle-friendly, agroturystyka or in Naturum hotel near the Milicz ponds. We rented a bicycle there for as little as 1.5 euros per hour to explore the area.
Close to Milicz you will not find Santa Claus, he is in Lapland of course, but definitely some of his lovely elves. In the village of Krośnice there is an authentic Christmas bauble factory. There, around ten ladies are busy every day with manual glass blowing and painting the most beautiful Christmas baubles. Under a subtle layer of glitter, Dorotha explains to visitors how the whole process works and gives you an impressive demonstration of the glassblowing itself.
Of course you cannot resist buying one or more Christmas decorations afterwards. There is a small shop for that. Or extend your stay with a visit to the Christmas bauble museum a little further.
Close to Boleslawiec
West of Wroclaw and not far from the German border, some beautiful castles are nestled. Use them as the start of a real castle route through Poland or combine them with your visit to the region. Our favorite is without a doubt the Kliczków Castle with fantastic gardens, horse stables and hotel rooms. Get pampered in the restaurant where they prepare delicious food or in the wellness area in the old castle cellar.
In the area around the castle you can walk, cycle or even pick mushrooms. Do you have time for another castle visit? Then visit the Grodziec castle on an extinct volcano hill. The location of this castle is truly unique and the lush climbing plants on the castle walls make it a photo winner.
As a final stop before returning home, we visited Boleslawiec, a beautiful village now famous for its artisan potteries. But don’t just visit for the fantastic Zywe Muzeum Ceramiki. You can buy handmade and painted pottery there, but also visit the factory and even paint your own pot.
At the very least, leave enough room in your planning to visit the most beautiful village square in the region with its pastel-colored houses. And have lunch or dinner at Gospoda Kruszyna afterwards. We warn you about the size of the pavlova!
How can you make a difference with this trip?
You can already make a difference by looking up everything on the website of Ecosia instead of Google. Ecosia invests 80% of its revenue in planting trees. So go ahead and look up a million things… and don’t feel bad when you click on an advertisement.
Travel like us and give the electric car a chance, also for longer journeys. Or take the train to Poland and simply bring your own bicycle. It takes about 13 hours by electric car or train from Brussels to Wroclaw.
Be inspired by the local crafts and bring out your inner potter. Or indulge yourself in the Christmas spirit and shop here for your next Christmas tree accessories. Avoid sleeping or eating at large chains and support the local merchants.
Think about what you buy and pack for your travels. Get some inspiration from our most sustainable holiday packing list.