Wroclaw, Poland: What a Gem!

Pleasant surprises are always welcome on an international trip, particularly in new countries, and Wroclaw, Poland is a lovely surprise indeed. This fascinating town in southwest Poland is stop #2 on our trip, and what an undiscovered gem it is. Neither of us had heard of Wroclaw (pronounced VROTS – wahf) prior to our trip research, but we’re so happy to have found it.

It has a delightful, compact old town which is a mix of Gothic and Baroque architecture, painted in a color palette made for Autumn. The village is absolutely perfect for walking. The heart of town, for tourists and locals alike, is the market square, also known as the Rynek. Its colorful, photogenic buildings ooze old European charm, and the local university ensures loads of restaurants, and a lively city vibe.


Medieval buildings scattered around Old Town also provide a plentiful source for one of our fancies – architectural details. Sunbursts, golden animals, ancient clocks, coats-of-arms, gargoyles, and the list goes on and on.

And what a surprise to discover that Wroclaw is overrun with gnomes – at least 150 of them. Needless to say, we’ve been searching and snapping away, and you’ll hear much more about these humorous little people. With names like The Snorer, The Traveler, The Dumpling Eater, The Pigeon Fancier, and The Reluctant Flyer, we felt it only proper that our readers get a full report.image

One of the primary reasons we travel is to learn. History, culture, and architecture are always high on our list. But this is all just the normal stuff unless we have a little fun to go with it. And Wroclaw is going to be fun.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

65 thoughts

    1. Thanks Cathy. Wroclaw is exactly that – charming. And one thing we’ve noticed in Poland is that frequently, buildings and homes are painted with bright and unusual color combinations, which are very attractive. ~James

    1. We loved the gnomes as well. We must have taken 150 photos. It seems that lots of folks are getting in on the act. For instance, a bank has a gnome at a tiny ATM outside their door. There will definitely be a post to follow. ~ James

      1. Ha! I didn’t see that one, I wonder if it’s new? I thought it was hilarious too that they each have GPS tracking chips in them to discourage thievery. These are not traveling gnomes.

      2. There really are a number of clever ones. We like the motorcycle rider, two heavy drinkers (in front of a pub, of course), and the one running for the train in the train station. ~ James

    1. Mick, this would be the perfect spot for a long weekend. The historic area is small and very walkable, and there’s enough to see to be interesting. You’ll enjoy it. Have a good trip. ~James

  1. Totally agree with you on Wroclaw! I ended up staying longer than I’d originally planned I liked it so much! And it’s always funny hearing people pronounce it ‘Rock-law’ 🙂

    1. We love it, and I’m surprised that it isn’t on more “best of” travel lists. Also, the spelling/pronunciation is funny. When we started our research and had no clue how to pronounce it, we called it “War-claw”, knowing we were incorrect, but looking for convenience. This was a mistake because now, I have to think about the correct pronounciation every time I say it. ~ James

  2. What a gem of a town! Certainly why we travel!!! I absolutely love your posts! You write about the interesting things you won’t find in a travel book. Love the gnomes story.

    1. Thanks Dixie. Some places are more than expected, some less. Then there are the total surprises, and Wroclaw fits squarely in this category. Put it on you list for sure. BTW, the gnomes are too much fun, so watch this space for a post. ~ James

    1. A lounger on the sand sounds nice Jo, but not today. I haven’t checked the weather in the UK, but it’s 1 degree C here this AM. Didn’t you just love Wroclaw? I’m sure that with your family in Poland, you saw lots of great stuff that most tourists miss. We also loved wandering around Cathedral Island. ~ James

      1. Are the locks still on Most Tumski? I think they were being removed for repairs to the bridge (shame 😦 )
        Aye, temperatures can be extreme. That makes England sound warm, James. Enjoy 🙂

      2. As of a few days ago, there were hundreds of locks on that bridge. We’ve seen Locks of Love Bridges all over this part of the world, and this bridge has more locks than all the others combined. In fact, a vendor has set up a table where you can buy a lock, stick on a label, add your love note, and add it to the bridge. Capitalism prevails. ~ James

    1. Thanks Ruth. Definitely add Wroclaw to your list. It’s cool and relatively hassle-free for tourists. Also, there’s a large university here and many of the younger folks speak a bit of English (not something we’ve run into elsewhere. ~ James

  3. Ah, gargoyles… looking forward to seeing them. As you know, I thrive on strange. As for gnomes, one is making it into my next blog. Great photos as always James and Terri. –Curt

    1. We’ll watch for your gnome Curt. Also, on this trip we’ve seen some dandy downspouts, and there may be a post. The light contrast makes shooting gargoyles and downspouts tough. It seems I keep 1 picture in 5. I’d love to get a gargoyle downspout spewing water in a heavy rain, but haven’t worked thwt one out yet. ~ James

      1. Good luck on the gargoyle spouting water. I’ve caught a few when they are connected to fountains, James. I have quite a collection from over the years, but never enough. –Curt

      2. It’s been Murphy’s Law on this so far Curt. It rained for the first 5 days of the trip, and not a gargoyle in sight. Since then, I can’t throw a rock without hitting a cool gargoyle, and not a drop of rain. Where’s a garden hose when you need one. ~James

    1. Thanks Melanie. This is a very photogenic place. With all the tourists snapping away in the square, you can literally back into each other. The architectual details are marvelous. ~ James

    1. Thanks Nicole. It is a beautiful town, and it helps that our apartment is 2 blocks from the market square. It seems that we always see more if we can walk instead of hassling with trams, trains, etc. ~ James

      1. Ah lucky! I haven’t seen much of Eastern Europe. Hope to someday! Enjoy and looking forward to more of your beautiful pictures and posts! 🙂

  4. Looking forward to the upcoming “Gnomenclature” treatise on this lovely little city. Ironic that you would end up in the one Slavic town with an English Garden fixture as a mascot. “Full disclosure” I Must admit that everything I know about garden gnomes comes from repeat viewings of “The Full Monty”…

    1. Really funny El, we can always count on you for a laugh. You’re going to love the gnomes. The original purpose was serious, but they’ve evolved into a fun, clever public art project. Hope all is well there. BTW, it is 34 degrees here this AM. Love, J&T

  5. Just catching up, and I am so glad I did. What a delightful looking town. Poland is definitely on our list. You do a great service bringing us news of little-known places. I hope the weather is treating you well. – Mike

    1. Thanks Mike. If you haven’t been to Wroclaw, you should check it out. Ryan Air may have a cheapo flight from the UK. The scale and feel of the place is really nice. It was 34 F this AM, but it warms up to lower 50’s, and thankfully it’s sunny. We’ve been enjoying your posts on Croatia’s National Parks. RANT ON: BTW, it’s a good thing you aren’t doing National Park posts on US parks. Thanks to that bunch of whiney, indecisive, bozos in Congress, they’re closed. I just wonder much how much more ineffectual they can get. RANT OFF. ~ James

      1. It feels good to be somewhere else other than the U.S. right now, doesn’t it? We are back in Perth and adjusting to Autumn weather. I still have a few more stories about Croatia. We look forward to returning there because it is so pretty and hospitable. – Mike

  6. Absolutely charming! I love the picture of the clock face and adore gnomes. That last photo reminds me of a stunning building we saw during our travels through Mexico.

    1. Thanks LuAnn. I hadn’t noticed, but with the terra cotta color, and roof tiles, it does look Spanish Colonial. Also, I’m a sucker for these old mechanical clocks. Notice: have a look at tomorrow’s post. ~James

  7. i grigi cieli del nord hanno bisogno di colore per fare caldi i giorni, e di storie fantastiche di gnomi per rallegrare le notti
    grazie del piacevole viaggio

    the greys skies of the North need to do everyday, hot and fantastic stories of gnomes to cheer the nights
    Thanks for the nice trip

  8. I am glad you enjoyed Wrocław and finally made the pronunciation available for the English speakers:) Don’t freeze out, I heard Poland now is quite chilly…enjoy the rest of the trip and I hope you will discover some other great places in Poland that not that many non-Polish people know about. all the best.

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. We had done some research and knew that Wroclaw would be fun, but it was even better than we expected. (Watch for more posts) This is our first trip to Poland, and we will definitely return. BTW, when we were living in Amsterdam, we spotted a great deal for a Malta Package. We spent a month there and loved it. ~ James

  9. Wroclaw looks to be the city I never knew I really wanted to visit! (And never knew I REALLY couldn’t pronounce… this gringo was waaay off.)

    1. James mispronounced Wroclaw the entire time we were doing our research – he kept saying WAR- claw. Talk about a hard habit to break! Every time someone would ask where we were, we would both have to stop and think about how to pronounce it. 🙂 ~Terri

  10. James & Terri, isn’t Wroclaw a beauty? My parents and I journeyed there serendipitously several years ago (a long weekend trip from Germany). The main square was especially spectacular. Like James, we just couldn’t seem to get the pronunciation right. The Polish accents can be tricky. 🙂

    1. Tricia, that sounds like the perfect weekend trip – and what a treat to be able to do it with your parents (BTW, I love their window fresco in Oberammergau). And as for pronunciation slips, I love how the Polish people were so gracious when we mangled their language. 🙂 ~Terri

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