For some reason I haven’t quite figured out, I often read travel guides to cities I’ve lived in. Maybe it’s the feeling of superiority I get when I know the recommendations are shit, or maybe I’m a masochist. Now, it’s not that all travel writers do a terrible job of recommending places to drink, but there’s no way to spend ~1 week in a city and know the best bars and pubs. It’s the sort of thing that can only be research over months of drunk nights out, sometimes so wasted you don’t remember where you went until you are walking around that street again sober a few weeks later and you realize, Oh shit, I’ve been here before!
You know, journalism.
So while a travel blogger can make a few recommendations (which may or may not be accurate), here are my two years of accumulated research on which bars you should visit in Wrocław depending on your desired vibe for the evening.
You read somewhere that this was a highly-recommended Polish dive bar: Pijalnia
The truth is that Pijalnia is a chain. They have them in every major city in Poland. The menu outside is always in Polish and English. They are super cheap though, so enjoy yourself, I guess? There are also a bunch of locations in Wrocław, so go nuts.
You want a local dive bar: Przedwojenna
Shots of vodka and 0,3L of beer are 4 zł, plus they have cheap bar food like gzik (potatoes with cottage cheese), tartar (raw beef and eggs, because that’s a thing some people are into), and this weird dish that’s chicken soup in a gelatin mold. Don’t get that last thing. It’s gross. Przedwojenna has plenty of indoor seating (there’s also a basement), but if the weather is even remotely tolerable, you should sit outside, right next to St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral.
You just can’t help yourself, you want to enjoy a beer outside on Rynek: Spiż
Everyone knows that bars in the main market square are going to be the most touristy and overpriced. We know. That’s life. But if you’re still itching for a place to sit on Rynek, next to the beautiful city hall, go to Spiż. You can get the piwo mocne (strong beer, 15% ABV) for 10 zloty, and trust me, you will be pretty buzzed after only two. Outdoor patio only open during good weather. Otherwise, skip this place.
You’re a fashion blogger and want a photogenic drink to put on your Instagram: Bułka z Masłem, DELI
There are actually two Bułka z Masłem locations, both with different menus. The one on Pawła Włodkowica is better, and DELI is right above it. Their drinks are so pretty, with great colors and lots of fruit so you can rack up them likes on the ‘gram. They are also pretty lavishly decorated with flowers and reclaimed wood and fairy lights so you can turn it into like a week of Instagram posts. They also have pretty good food.
You really want to get fucked up/ you want to have options: Pasaż Niepolda
Pasaż Niepolda is not actually a bar, but an alleyway full of bars! There is a huge variety here. Well, not so much ‘variety’ as just sheer numbers. They are some super cheap bars like Cafe Niebo and Afera, then more nightclub/dancing bars like Mundo (DISCLAIMER: enter at your own risk), Bezsenność, and some other underground place I don’t even remember having a name. Good places for dancing and just generally getting crazy, possibly not remembering anything the next morning.
The cute hipster bartenders are distracting you from the fact that you are paying way too much for a drink: Szklarnia
This is a really hip bar. It’s in an old greenhouse! (Szklarnia means ‘greenhouse’.) Or it looks like it’s in a greenhouse. They charge so much for drinks that I started drinking whiskey neat with a twist of lemon. Thanks, Szklarnia, for making me look like a badass. While this place might break the bank on a Polish salary, it’s actually quite affordable for anyone coming from a strong currency.
You’re already hella drunk: Czarny Kot, Mañana
I’ve never had a good time going to these bars unless I was already drunk. But already drunk: they’re fucking fantastic. Enjoy the salsa and reggaeton at Czarny Kot, or the 90s Polish rock music at Mañana.
You just want to have a nice drink with some local beers, geez Arielle, why you always gotta be so extra: Mleczarnia
They have a big beer selection, which isn’t so unusual for Silesia, but I’m rather fond of their house brew, Mle. Also, they make good mojitos. And there is a hostel above the bar? That might be useful.
Mid-priced bars that are just pretty cool: Nietota, Salvador
Both of these bars are pretty reasonable (not cheap, but not overpriced) with cool decor and a relaxed vibe. Both usually have good DJs playing relatively recent, danceable pop and hip hop music. Salvador has plenty of space for dancing, and Nietota often has live music. Also, Salvador makes my favorite version of the Barman (vodka, lemon, and sugar; basically a whiskey sour but with vodka).
You’re a uni student, or you just want to feel young again: Kalambur
My friend kept calling this the “vampire bar” and I was like, “The hell is she talking about? Where the fuck is this bar?” When I found out she was talking about Kalambur, it finally made sense: it has a very dark, art deco, Parisian fin-de-secle vibe, plus you can smoke inside.* It’s fun and cheap, but be warned: if it’s reggae night, the DJ literally only brings his reggae records and will not play anything else. Also he only has one turntable so it literally goes silent when he switches records, how quaint.
You have a death wish: Czupito
So for my ‘going away’ party, one of my co-workers convinced us we need to make a stop at Czupito, one of those really cheesy shot bars with all sorts of crazy flavors that always seems like a good idea once you’ve already had three piwa mocne at Spiż (see above). But it immediately becomes apparent the next morning that it was, in fact, not a good idea to do so many shots full of sugar and anise-flavored alcohol and whatnot. Ugh, I can still feel this hangover three months later.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. As I was thinking about all the bars I’ve been to over two years, I wanted to add more and more, but I think this will suffice for now. I’ll save volume II for another day. Download the map below if you’re in Wrocław and need a place to drink!
*Most bars in Poland do not let you smoke inside, but I don’t think there is any official law against it so it varies.