Poznan & Wrocław City Break – Poland

According to Lonely Planet, most travellers on a city break to Poland will visit the ‘big three’ Polish cities – Kraków, Warsaw and Gdańsk. One of the first messages I received upon sharing my flight confirmation was ‘Where is Poznan?!’ Poznan is the nation’s first capital and combined with Wrocław, the twin-centre trip offers the perfect 4-night urban escape. Poznan and Wrocław offer a checkered history, plentiful museums and interesting architecture.

Below are my top 5 tips in each city and how to combine the two cities together in one trip.

Poznan

1). Getting there

For as little as £5 one way, I find Ryanair a convenient and extremely competitive airline to get from A to B. The mention of the airline often attracts comments such as ‘I’m never travelling with them again’ but my honest take on Ryanair is that it is cheap & cheerful and was recently ranked 3rd in the UK’s most punctual airlines. Sure, you have to navigate a tacky interfaces and luggage restrictions, but for the sake of paying £5 to fly to another country, the value is unbeatable.

An 80% empty flight travelling during the Omicron variant in December 2021

2). Christmas Markets in Poznan

We wanted to align our trip date with the European Christmas market scene. Poznan has a charming & traditional Christmas market lined with beautifully decorated wooden chalets, the lingering scent of mulled wine and the gleam of handmade Christmas decorations. We enjoyed a warm glass of spiced mulled wine and freshly made chimney cake (a cake with a crisp exterior covered in walnut sugar, and pillowy soft inside).

3). Undercover City Games

For navigating around the city whilst taking in the key sights, we booked ‘Mission X’ with Undercover City Games in Poznan. Starting from 70 PLN (£13pp), we took in the sights of the Main Square, communist-era modernist buildings and cathedrals in 2-3 hours, whilst solving clues along the way. I highly recommend it as an interactive and fun way to explore a new city!

4). Dark Restaurant

We rounded up our 2 night stay in Poznan with a quirky and delicious meal at the Dark Restaurant in Poznan. The restaurant offers a international fine dining tasting menu served in a pitch black, high-concept destination. The ‘Mood Food’ menu starts from as little as £22 per person for a 3 course dining experience.

5). Dumplings

No visit to Poland is complete without a delicious plate of warming, tasty and home-made dumplings. We witnessed Pierożak Pierogarnia making the dumplings by hand on the main high street. You’re able to mix-and-match flavours with sweet and savoury varieties made in front of you. I can recommend the duck dumplings, they were delicious!

Wrocław

1.) Poznan – Wrocław by train

Poznan – Wrocław is a direct train journey (just under 2 hours). We booked our train tickets online for £14 per person. Our hotel, Hotel Europejski, was just across the road from the station.

2.) Wrocław Free Walking Tour

Poznan felt like a gentle introduction to Polish cities in general: clean, excellent trams and great prices. Wrocław is a majestic and larger city with more to explore but we loved the contrasting themes of both. We booked the Free Wroclaw Walking Tour which was an excellent introduction to the city.

3.) The 400+ gnomes of Wrocław

There are over 100 bridges and 400+ gnomes in Wroclaw. In protest of censorship and human-rights violations, the gnomes started randomly appearing and acted as a symbol of solidarity to others who rose up against the communist regime in the 1980s.

4.) Milk Bars

We saw queues outside of small, unassuming cafes and learnt that a bar ‘mleczny’ (literally translated as “milk bar”) is a Polish cafeteria which provided government-subsidized traditional Polish cuisine at low prices. Today, milk bars are privately owned, but partly subsidized by the state, which allows the venues to serve classic dishes at low prices. The experience was a crash course in traditional Polish food, made by the people who know it best.

The meal above cost £3 (the experience is similar to an IKEA Canteen: cheap and cheerful)

5.) A Viewpoint

With quite a few towers in Wroclaw, I can highly recommend the Bridge of Penitents as an excellent viewpoint to see the main square and beyond. The 45-metre-high viewpoint can be reached by scaling 247 winding stairs inside one of the church towers.

Trip Tips

  • We travelled from Poznan Airport to the city centre by tram. Timed tickets allow you to board different modes of transport to reach your hotel. It cost us £1 per person for a 90 minute ticket.
  • In Poznan, we stayed at the Poznan Novotel Malta which was a tram ride out of town and opposite a lovely hot springs leisure centre. The hotel was situated right by the tram stop and provided an excellent breakfast.
  • We purchased our Poznan – Wrocław train ticket a day before travel as our Polish friend informed us that there are no cost savings for booking tickets in advance of travel.
  • I hadn’t felt so cold in my life before on a city break, temperatures hovered around 2ºC and I recommend wrapping up warm!
  • The mulled wine is served in a beautiful glass goblet. You are charged more for the mulled wine, then you are refunded the deposit for the glass once you return the goblet back (we didn’t realise this and was initially surprised when we were overcharged for a glass of mulled wine)
  • I was originally exploring the option of a night bus back for our 08:30am flight home from Wrocław. However I recommend booking an Uber in advance, the cost of an Uber from the Railway Station to Wrocław Airport was only £7 (approx 30 PLN).
  • If you have any questions, please feel free to comment here and I will be happy to help!

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