Poland, thanks to its continental climate, is one of these countries where you can really experience all four seasons. Temperatures change drastically every three or four months and the country looks completely different in winter, spring, autumn and summer. This happens due to the collision of the wet Atlantic air with the dry air coming from the Eurasian inner.
That phenomena allows you to ski in winter, (there is a lot of snow in Polish mountains), admire the colorful leaves lying around in parks on a crisp, sunny afternoon in autumn, and become mesmerized by the smell and vivid yellow color of oilseed rape blossoming in the fields in the beginning of May. In summer you can count on many sunny days, and the atmosphere in Wroclaw is simply joyful. The locals hide their winter clothes deep in their closets and hit the town. Here is what you can do if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Wroclaw on a sunny summer day.
Wroclaw has had a few beach bars on the scene for a number of years now and their popularity grows every year. Forma Plynna (on Wybrzeze Wyspianskiego 20) is a perfect little oasis on a map of Wroclaw. This beach bar offers hammocks to relax in, great intimate gigs in the evening and a selection of drinks and snacks. The menu is short but you will definitely not starve while you’re there. You can try some interesting craft beers, enjoy a glass of wine or try a refreshing lemonade which the place is famous for, all of that with a view of a river in front of you. You can also order a shisha. Another great place is Zazoo Beach Bar. It burst onto the scene last year and quickly established itself as Wrocław's premier beach bar. With its prime location nearby Hala Stulecia, the Odra and the zoo, Zazoo attracted large crowds last year. If you’re looking for a stretch of sand close to the river ( the Baltic sea beaches are unfortunately 400 kilometers away from Wroclaw) that’s the place to visit. There is a great selection of drinks on the menu which you can enjoy while listening to a live concert.
EXPLORING THE RIVER
A great way to enjoy the city and its surrounding areas in summer is by boat, kayak or canoe. Wroclaw is called “Venice of Poland”; according to data from before World War II, Wroclaw had 303 bridges; today there are 100 bridges and 33 gangways. Unique on a Polish and European scale, the number of crossings is due to the location of the city. Wroclaw is crossed by the rivers of Oder, Ślęza, Widawa, Bystrzyca, Dobra and a dozen or so streams. Depending on the water level there are up to 25 islands in the city boundaries. Booking a cruise is definitely a great way to see the bridges. One of them is the Grunwald Bridge which was constructed in years 1908-1910 according to a design by Richard Pluddemann, the then city planner in Wroclaw. It suffered a severe damage during the war and repairs took over 2 years. Besides the Grunwald and Rędzin Bridges, the following bridges are also worthwhile to see: Zoo Bridge (Most Zwierzyniecki), Tumski Bridge (Most Tumski leading to Ostrów Tumski), Sand Bridge (Most Piaskowy), Mill Bridges (Mosty Młyńskie), Freedom Bridge (Most Pokoju), Szczytniki Bridge (Most Szczytnicki), Jagiellonian Bridges (Mosty Jagiellońskie), Warsaw Bridges (Mosty Warszawskie), Pomeranian Bridge (Most Pomorski) and University Bridge (Most Uniwersytecki).
PARK AND RESTAURANTS
Wroclaw has great parks at people’s disposal and when the weather is nice there is nothing like a walk along green lush trees finished with a delicious meal in a local restaurant. One of a highly recommended places to visit is definitely Hala Stulecia surrounded by Park Szczytnicki and Japanese Gardens. Hala Stulecia (Centennial Hall) was designed in 1911 by famous architect Max Berg when the city was part of the German Empire. This beautiful building was designed to host exhibitions, concerts, theatrical performances and sporting events. Its surroundings is frequently visited by tourists. It lies close to popular tourist attractions, such as the Wroclaw Zoo, Multimedia Fountain, and the Japanese Gardens. If you head south you will reach another great park called Park Poludniowy. If you’re lucky, you might witness a live classical music concert. There is an option of dining in the park’s beautiful surroundings in a restaurant called Agawa. Head north again and you will reach the Botanical Garden. It’s popular not only among scientists but also plant enthusiasts and newlyweds, who often choose this spot as a location for post-wedding photoshoots. It was created in 1811 and it is the second (after the one in Krakow) oldest institution of this type in Poland. On almost 7.5 ha, there are approximately 11.5 thousand plants. During a year, many events are organised here, among others: May Holidays in Ostrów Tumski (Majówki Tumskie), finals of Wroclaw Magnolia (Magnolia Wrocławska) (contest for students of landscape architecture), the Pumpkin Festival (Festiwal Dyni), and there are also concerts and outdoor events for the youngest and meetings for enthusiasts of gardening.
EXPLORING WROCLAW STREET ART
Wroclaw has a very strong underground art community. It’s one of a few cities in Poland that does not treat street art as a consequence of a vandalic act. Visitors will have plenty of opportunities to admire urban space decorated with high-quality murals that could easily find their space in an Art Gallery. Urban Art has emerged as a legitimate attraction in the city and it’s definitely worth checking out while you’re in town. There are a few located in the city center, others are spread out just to the north and west of the old town, so you will have to put a little bit more effort to find them. If you don’t want to leave the city center, check the ones around Nadodrze (Pomorska street and Wyspa Słodowa)
CHASING THE GNOMES
One of Wroclaw’s biggest tourist attraction and great outdoor activity is hunting for gnomes that are spread out around the city. The first one (called Papa Krasnal) was placed on the corner of Swidnicka street and was a tribute to the “Orange Revolution Movement”, run by a group of people whose goal was to peacefully protest against the authoritarian regime. They would dress up as dwarfs and wear orange peaked hats. Wherever the police whitewashed the anti-government graffiti, the Orange Alternative would quickly paint it over with their symbol - the cheeky orange dwarf. The movement eventually became a part of the larger Solidarity Movement that led to the fall of Communism in Poland. There are over 300 of gnomes in Wroclaw now and more and more are popping up around the city. You can pick up a map with their location from the tourist center in the old market square.
Text: Jasmina Jasinska