24 Hours in WrocławFor those planning a brief stop on their Central-European travels, exploring the Old Town and Ostrów Tumski (the Cathedral Island) will be a priority; should weather be good (and hopefully in the spring and summer it will be), some relaxation on one of the inner-city islands or a drink on the Oder River might be in order, and visiting the UNESCO-listed Centennial Hall should make it to your list as well.
Start in the very heart of the city, on the splendidly elaborate Market Square, one of the country’s absolute best. After admiring the facade and astronomical clock of the Town Hall, and meandering through its narrow alleys, make your way to the impossibly cute “Jaś & Małgosia” houses in the square’s northwestern corner, and from there to St. Elizabeth's Church, where for a small fee you can climb the 91m tower for absolutely splendid views of the city.
If you arrived the previous night or early in the morning, breakfast will probably be the very first thing you think about; for a solid start to your day, we recommend Dinette, Charlotte Chleb i Wino, and Giselle French Bakery Cafe. For coffee and map-consulting breaks, our top picks are laptopper-friendly Paloma, the well-established Central Cafe, and the slightly out-of-centre Bema Cafe (now also found on Plac Solny). That taken care of, you’ll have the energy to explore the Old Town streets, peering into the District of Four Denominations (bounded by ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego, Św. Antoniego, Pawła Włodkowica, and Św. Mikołaja) - where the White Stork Synagogue might be of interest, and passing by the Royal Palace (which probably won’t be the grand structure you’re imagining) and the Wrocław University building on the Oder River.
As you’re strolling along, keep an eye peeled for small statues of gnomes dotting doorways, alleyways and street corners - a Wrocław oddity now numbering in the hundreds. Started in 2001, this public art project commemorates the Orange Alternative, an underground protest movement that used absurdity and nonsense to stage peaceful, yet subversive protests during communism. Having made it to the Oder, your options are to lounge around on the islands between the city’s two banks (Słodowa Island) is the one with the large green space, and is a popular venue for summer concerts), or walk across to reach the Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski), the city’s birthplace and soul, where the first Silesian bishopric was built in the year 1000.