Wrocław is a little city which has the feel of a large town and isn’t as overcrowded as some of the bigger and more populous Polish cities. At various times in history, Wrocław has been engulfed in Bohemia, Hungary, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, and Germany. So this place has a very mixed and cosmopolitan feel.
In 2015, the Mercer survey of the Best City to live, ranked Wrocław within its top 230, the only city in Poland to be included in that ranking. In 2016, Wrocław was named as the European Capital of Culture and the World Book Capital.
South-west Poland is mostly flat and the infrastructure for cyclists is pretty good here. There are safe pathways snaking through the city and along the Odra and its tributaries. You can also cycle past farmland and pretty poppy fields leading into the city. You can easily and quite safely commute around here on bike.
I found the bike paths on the side of the Odra particularly appealing, because there were bars and cafes along the route and cathedrals, old Renaissance-era buildings with a climbing vines and everywhere verdant green foliage. It was the most romantic cycling trip I think I’ve ever done.
Looking over the Odra river
Bridges of Wrocław
The Grunwald Bridge is probably the most beautiful in Wrocław and was designed in 1908-1910. Before World War II, Wrocław had 303 bridges. Nowadays there are 100 bridges and 33 gangways remaining.
This unique number of bridges is because of the idiosyncratic geography. The city is the meeting point of the rivers of Oder, Ślęza, Widawa, Bystrzyca, Dobra and a dozen or so streams. Along with this, there are 25 islands in the city.
Almost all of these bridges are cyclable, although they vary in the amount of car and pedestrian traffic they have, and so some are more difficult to navigate than others. Also, as it’s a medieval city – expect that your bike will shudder over cobble-stones and uneven brick roads on these little wee bridges. Although this is more of an enjoyable quirk of the place. The view from these old bridges and islands onto the Odra and cathedrals is incredibly breathtaking and I recommend doing this as the sun goes down. If you go on a week night during summer there will be less tourists and you may even have the back alleys to yourself.
Here are some more bridges that you should put on your list for a cycling or walking trip through the city.
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)
- University Bridge (Most Uniwersytecki)
I’ve read a lot of moaning online about how the cycling paths in Wrocław aren’t that good if you compare them to Denmark or Germany – however I’m comparing them to the ones we have here in New Zealand, and the bike paths were still far better there. You can find out more about cycling in Wrocław and bike hire here and here.