Wrocław is still relatively undiscovered, but a true gem. It can compete with Krakow in terms of beauty, but the hordes of tourists and accompanying tourist prices have not arrived (yet).

It is the fourth largest city of Poland, but feels smaller and quieter than a city of its size. The heart of Wrocław is the Rynek, the central market square, which arguably counts as one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It lies in the middle of the city’s historic centre, which was largely rebuilt after the war, but is great to walk around in.

The Rynek will also be the dedicated Fan Zone during the tournament.

Another important orientation point is the avenue Kazimierza Wielkiego, which runs a few blocks south and west from Rynek Square.

The city is located on the leafy banks of the Oder river (northern side of the city centre), and, as many Polish cities, has some splendid parks. But also the typical large sprawling suburbs of communist-style apartment buildings where people do little more than sleep. Which means there is little reason to venture out of the city centre and Oder area.

The stadium

Stadion Miejski w Wrocławiu – 44,901 seats

Stadion Miejski w Wrocławiu is the second largest of the Polish Euro 2012 stadiums. It has been newly built for the championships, opened in September 2011, and will be the home of local club Śląsk Wrocław. It is a single-tier stadium with steep stands which could make for an intimidating atmosphere.

Unfortunately the stadium lies far away from the centre, about 8 kilometres west, so walking to the stadium will be out of bounds. Apart from a small park there is not much in the area, so no need to leave early for the stadium.

Who’s coming

The Czechs will be pleased to have ended up in Group A as it means the shortest possible travel. They will play all their three group matches at the stadium. Poland will move away from Warsaw to Wrocław for their last group match, and the city will also welcome visitors from Russia and Greece.

The Czechs have also made the city their base camp, staying right in the city centre at the Hotel Monopol for the duration of the tournament.

How to get in and around

From all Polish cities Wrocław is located closest to Germany and the Czech Republic, though it lacks quick transport connections. Both Berlin and Prague lie a 6-hour train ride away, as does the capital Warsaw. The trip from Krakow takes only one hour less. Other host city Poznań lies closest, a 2.5-hour train journey away.

The good things is that Ryanair has made Wrocław one of its hubs, which means there are many connections to Western-European destinations. Other low-cost airline Wizzair also has a reasonable selection of destinations.

Before booking a train ticket to other Polish destinations, first check the flight prices of LOT as their prices for domestic flights tend to be competitive with those of the railways.

The airport is located east outside the city. Bus 406 brings you in half an hour to the centre.

The train station, on the other hand, lies just south of the historic centre. With 5 minutes walking you are in the centre, and with 15 minutes on the Rynek. Everything else in Wrocław lies at walking distance, though if you choose to use public transport, journey planner jakdojade.pl will be indispensable. It does everything you need and comes in English.

Wrocław has a network of buses as well as trams. You can buy the tickets in kiosks or at the vending machines that you can find at some of the stops. Make sure to stamp them when you get on a bus or a tram.

You can reach the stadium with either tram 10 or 20. Catch the tram at just a few blocks west of the Rynek (on Kazimierza Wielkiego). The ride goes in one straight line and only takes 20 minutes.

Where to eat and drink

Your stay will probably be most enjoyable if you stay at a hotel in the city centre instead of close to the stadium. For one, you’ll be able to better enjoy Wrocław’s very enjoyable nightlife.

The city has a significant student population and is therefore packed with lots of small bars and restaurants. Having a beer at one of the many terraces on Rynek Square is probably worth paying a bit more for just for the view and watching people, but you should also not forget to check out the smaller streets and alleys for hidden (and cheaper) bars.

The same goes for food, as most restaurants on the Rynek cater for the tourists with thick wallets. For some traditional and cheap Polish food you may want to try out one of the few remaining “milk bars”. At these simple restaurants you generally order at a cash desk and then present you ticket at the kitchen where they serve your meal. You may have to guess a bit as it’s Polish only, but you can always go for the typical Pierogi.

Most eating establishments will lie in the blocks surrounding the Rynek, not further than Kazimierza Wielkiego. A lot of bars and clubs, on the other hand, also lie on the other side of Kazimierza Wielkiego, in particular south and west of Rynek Square.

Wrocław has an excellent selection of clubs if you like the better partying, ranging from metal and rock to trendy electronica and house.

For something different you may want to check out Bogusławskiego street just outside the historic centre and a few hundred metres west of the train station. Underneath the railroad tracks you will find a great deal of bars which are less touristic and often cheaper than the ones in the centre.

What else to see and do

Walk around the city centre, and don’t forget to check out the northern side along the river Oder. The area, including a few river islands, has some of Wrocław’s most beautiful churches, a lot of green, and is great to sit down or go for a stroll.

Quite a few students will hang around in the grassy areas, and though drinking alcohol on the streets is prohibited in Poland, there will be quite some having a semi-hidden drink.

For a nice view over the city climb St Elizabeth’s church on the northern side of the Rynek. For those interested in Eastern-European history (or nice paintings) visiting the massive 360 degree Panorama Racławicka painting is a must.

If “different” architecture is your thing, don’t forget to check out the Hala Stulecia (Centennial Hall), a century old events hall. It’s UNESCO World Heritage and definitely striking. It is surrounded by a nice park with water fountains and even a decent water show.

Hala Stulecia lies east of the centre, a bit more than half an hour walking, or a short tram ride away.

For shopping that’s not in the city centre you could take the same tram as to the stadium, and get off halfway at Magnolia Park shopping centre, though you buy the same clothes for the same prices as in Western Europe. But you can always catch a film at the local cinema.

If you’re into cute towns (and have a car), you may want to drive west or south of the city to such beauties as Jelenia Góra, Swidnica and Boleslawiec. Or check out the fans at other host city Poznań, which can be easily visited by train on a day trip.