The largest city in Western Poland, 2016’s European Capital of Culture Wrocław (VRAHTS-wahv) is a struggle to pronounce without sounding like a Polski toddler slurring their first syllables and has recently been labelled the”heartland of Poland’s hipster revolution“.
Whilst this may sound like a dubious accolade, immediately conjuring images of middle-class suburbanites trying to recreate the American dream out of an ex-council flat in Hounslow … in the context of provincial Poland you get a city center flowing with a fresh and eclectic range of independent businesses.
Wrocław’s diverse cultural history is reflected in the Old Town’s architectural composition, with the visible legacies of the communist-era towering alongside the restored pre-war gabled Germanic buildings. In this iconic district it’s a struggle to walk down the street without being drawn in like a degenerate, salivating moth by the allure of some seriously peng fusion food or locally brewed beer.
Provincial Poland in January isn’t exactly a trip to the Bahamas and the cold really clamps down as soon as the sun sets, here’s my selection of where to keep warm after dark on a winter weekend.
Spread over three nostalgia strewn floors, less than 100m from the main square and open 24/7, Przedwojenna’s vibe sways somewhere between an inter-war continental bistro and a BYOB student restaurant. Beer and Soplica shots a morally corrupting 4zl and it’s an extravagant 8zl for dense plates of local food, visual depictions of the menu and prices painted on the walls framing the bar. With such humblingly hospitable prices, by early evening it’s crammed with a crowd mainly composed of local Polski’s, alongside a handful of deviant Erasmus students and gringo tourists
Focusing on craft beer and mexican fusion food, it was a good day when I realised this place was a couple of minutes walk from where I was staying. There’s always a range of at least 16 craft beers available on tap, both local brews and international. Despite the spacious interior, any chance of finding a seat after dark on the weekend is laughable, as it appears the good citizens of Wrocław like nothing more than to drown themselves in craft beer, with a chicken and pomegranate taco thrust into each hand.
A thoroughly agreeable city.
Over the river from the Old Town, this seriously sexy little basement club has some innovative lighting that’ll happily hold you hostage long past the dawn chorus breaks in the disconnect street outside. You get the feel the place was formed for Techno, but there’s the odd DnB night as well. With opaque event names like K-Hole Trax’s there’s no suppression of intentions, though most people are kicking it on the 8 zl pints than anything synthesised.
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It’s got a good vibe and there’s an interestingly eclectic mob fracturing and weaving round the different spaces. Das Lokal’s homegrown resident’s have a solid reputation and can regularly be found in Berlin, the club is also frequently host to international names, night’s to look out for include SLAP and the aforementioned K-Hole Trax’s.
Chilled and steady music keeping apace to the bars aesthetic means Karavan is a great spot to enjoy some slow drinks, before exploring some of the city’s late night offerings. There’s further visual stimulation projected onto a far wall for those settling in and a healthily ranged menu to fill any gaps in your appetite. With its slower vibe Karavan is favoured by an older crowd, you don’t expect trays of shots to fly round or spontaneous table top dancing.
Next door to Karavan, Alebrowar is a Polish craft beer chain pub and you can find one in major cities. I rate their Wrocław branch, you can’t go wrong with a decent selection of beer and the presentation of their taps is what ties the place together, forming the focal point behind the bar. There’s plenty of spots to cotch, with sofas and armchairs throughout the place. Again like Karavan the punters are a bit older, with the atmosphere imbued with their sensibilities.
Big shout for the complimentary drink Doctor’s Bar ! I’d just slogged it up the church tower of St Elizabeth’s next door and was in dire need of refreshment, when after settling in here I was offered the opportunity to sample their drinks menu as they had opened the bar for its first day 10 minutes before. Just off the main square in the Old Town, it’s got a fresh, spacious aesthetic and when I headed back later on the Friday night it was rammed … though that’s to be expected on an opening night. Best of luck to Wrocław‘s newest bar !
Here’s a sample of some of the sounds you’ll find in Wrocław over a winter weekend