Where To Eat and Run in Wroclaw, Poland
The Eastern European city of Wroclaw, Poland may not be on everyone's list of places to visit, it wasn't even on mine, but it has exceeded all my expectations and it will yours too. From the amazing cakes, great cheap eats, crisp cool air, to the charm of old buses and trams, and the atmosphere of the old town scattered with small, iron dwarfs statues hidden and waiting to be found, this is definitely a city you shouldn't overlook when deciding your next European visit.
After researching Europe's best Christmas markets, Wroclaw popped up on my radar. Wroclaw, pronounced "vrot-swav" (yeah I know, how the hell is it pronounced like that!) was cheaper to get to than the more popular Polish destination of Krakow, and we got to experience a true Christmas market as well as the richness in culture Poland has to offer. We ran and we ate so much great food, we couldn't have asked for a better weekend away.
Here is a list of things you have to eat, restaurants and cafes you should check out and the most beautiful park you have to run in. If you are looking for an up-to-date guide of events and places to go to in Poland, check out Pitu Pitu - wish we discovered this before we went!
Places to Run
Park Szczytnicki This park was absolutely breathtaking. It was about a 15 minute run along the highway from the apartment we rented, so pretty local to us! The park itself is separated into two sections which means there is plenty to run and explore in. We originally heard about this park because of the stunning Orgod Japonski, a Japanese Garden situated right in the middle of the park, which was unfortunately closed for the winter *sad face*. Would have been amazing to run through it! The rest of the park is serene, and super quiet. Considering it was a pleasant Sunday morning, there was hardly anyone in the park. We saw a couple of friendly runners (they said Hi!) but that was it, a total contrast to what we experience in London parks. It was so quiet we even heard a woodpecker!
Not all paths are clear, so expect some trail running but go nuts in there like we did! Get lost and have fun with it, who knows what amazing sights you will encounter. The park is full of ponds, small bridges and high trees which creates amazing lighting especially on a chilly but sunny day like ours. Everything in the park looks so untouched and peaceful, a run to remember most definitely!
Centennial Hall If you run towards one end of the park you will encounter Centennial Hall and the Wroclaw Fountain just outside it. In the summer they regularly hold an all signing and dancing fountain show, something we ALSO missed out on. Anyway. The fountain, as we found out during our run, can also double up as a makeshift 500m race track! The greyness of the hall, pillars and gravel almost makes you feel like you are running in Ancient Greece or something, so cray. We even encountered a little running crew there which was pretty cool! The gravel will up the intensity of your sprint interval training, but it makes a change to the track we are used to at home. FYI we did a few laps and it killed us. You should totally try it out.
Foods you MUST try
Pierogi - the yummiest type of dumplings! You can have these baked or fried, and filled with anything from potato, cheese, meat and cabbage or sweet fruity jams.
Placki - hands down the best thing I had in Poland. Mainly because it is essentially a fried potato pancake! It's typically served with a side of goulash or meat sauce (meat is never specified...) with a side of some sort of pickled veg and sour cream.
Borscht - a light and slightly sour but super tasty beetroot soup. The version I got had a few mushroom dumplings or 'uszka' in it which was sooo good! I much prefer brothy soups over thick creamy ones.
Zurek - another soup...in an EDIBLE BREAD BOWL. Genius. A little heavier than borscht, this sour rye soup is filled with sausage, potato and egg.
Sernik - imagine a cheesecake, but 10 times heavier. One thing you have to remember is the Poles love heavy food, and the portions are generous, even dessert! The Polish version of cheesecake is baked and has a pastry crust and base, rather than the biscuit base we are accustomed to.
Polish Apple Cake - or "placek z jablka". Basically the Polish version of apple pie. There are so many versions of this: some have cream in the middle, a meringue topping or crumble topping but they are all delicious! I am a massive fan of any cake that has apple in it!
Karczek - If you see this on the menu, trust me and order it - it's a grilled piece of marinated pork neck! We were lucky enough to try this at the Christmas market where it was grilled on one of those round, suspended, wood fire grills. So good - the meat is super tender and full of flavour (probs due to the fact it's a very fatty piece of meat!)
Places to Eat and Drink
Chatka Jatkach - Odrzanska 7, Wroclaw The first restaurant we checked out in Wroclaw, giving us a real taste of Polish cuisine. The prices are cheap, it's right by the town centre and the food is GOOD! We ordered about 5 or 6 dishes for three, and it came just under £20 with drinks. Tip: Do not order as much food as we did lol! I got a bit excited reading descriptions of food, then seeing the great prices so overindulged (just a bit). Everything is potato based or has some form of potato in it, and doused with goulash so the food is pretty heavy! Highly recommend their Placki, beetroot soup and fried pierogies. Go go go!
Mleczarnia - Wlodkowica 5, 50-072 Wrocław If there is one cafe you need to go to in Wroclaw, go here! One of the cutest cafe's I've ever been in. We went here after dinner for a coffee, cake...and some vodka! It's cosy, lit by candle light and filled with vintage furnishings - everything from the pictures on the walls to the seats and table. We ate some delicious pieces of Polish chocolate cheesecake and apple cake, washed down with a mint tea and vodka which made a little fire in Jamie's chest LOL. We could have stayed there for hours, it was so perfect, just the place to kick back and chill, wish there was more places like this in London -___-.
Stalbet Cafe - Plac Jana Pawła, Wrocław We stumbled upon this little cafe after getting fed up of iPhone maps sending us in the wrong direction trying to find a restaurant! They served us the nicest (giant) mug of fresh lemon, orange, ginger and clove tea, the thickest and richest hot chocolate we've ever tasted and the best sernik we tried on our trip. Great stop off place to chill whilst exploring that part of town! It's right by the very cool Ruska Street Backyard, home to a summer market which we sadly missed out on, but do check it out anyway - a small street filled with some unique graffiti and weird art installations (one featured shards of broken mirror pieces...dangerous much?!)
Sztrass Burger - 7 Psie Budy, 50-080 Wroclaw, Poland Not very Polish, but we couldn't resist trying this trendy little burger spot recommended to us by a local - looks like the burger trend is hitting Poland too! We walked past this place a few times thinking it looked pretty cool before we tried it on our last day. This is the kind of place you wouldn't really expect to find in an old town like Wroclaw. We got a simple burger to share (we had other dinner plans an hour later LOL) with the BUFFEST fries! The meat was cooked well and the burger was juicy enough, nothing mind blowing, just a really good burger which reminds me of the one I had in Burgermeister, Berlin. The other fancier burgers sounded amazing, shame we couldn't try them. There was also a great selection of niche drinks and fresh juices to wash down all those burgers and fries! Definitely a place for the cooler kids of Wroclaw to hang out. Prices were great too: two drinks, good sized burger and fries for £5.
Spiz - Rynek-Ratusz 2, Wroclaw I don't drink but my boyfriend does so I got him to try every type of beer I would have tried if I did drink (whilst I sipped tea :D). This bar restaurant is situated right in the middle of town centre and full of locals and tourists drinking litres and litres of Wroclaw's "best beers". Spiz brew their own beer, which is why they are so popular, and the beers come in a variety of fun flavours too! I think Jamie had chocolate, caramel and a fruit one too.
Pierogarnia Stary Mlyn - Rynek 26, 50-101 Wroclaw A polish dumpling house and our last food destination! This restaurant sells every type of pierogi, whether it's baked or fried, savoury or sweet, or even super sized. The central location means it's a bit touristy, but that is expected. The prices are still good and the food is freshly made to order so there is a minimum 30 minute wait for food to come, totally worth it. To hold off the hunger pangs, they give you a free starter of bread, gherkins and smalec, a polish lard spread which I don't really like the taste of.
So we ran, we ate, and we explored! The perfect way to spend three days in a new city waiting to be discovered. Wroclaw is set to be The European Capital of Culture in 2016 which means we are going to be hearing a lot more about this Polish city in the next couple of years. It is going to be the go-to European destination soon, so if I were you, get yourself over there before everyone else does and whilst the prices are still cheap!