Since spring 2009 there are direct regional trains from Dresden to Wroclaw again. They run three times a day and take 3:30 hours. Quite a long time for the relatively short distance but better than before ... The trains stop several times inbetween, e.g. in Bautzen, Görlitz, Zgorzelec, Boleslawiece, Legnica.
Deutsche Bahn has specials for this trip. (At least at the moment I am writing this.) See the 'other' contact/link! For a single traveller the fare is 39 Euro round trip, for two persons travelling together it is 59 Euro, for a group up to five people it is 79 Euro. These tickets are valid three days. Regular tickets are much more expensive.
Be prepared the train slows down on the Polish leg of the trip due to construction sites. This might (hopefully!) change soon. Also, be aware that the route is not electrified and you have to put up with a diesel trainset - noisy and unnerving, especially when travelling all the way Dresden - Wroclaw. At least they are air-conditioned.
UPDATE: Still the same regional express trains from Dresden to Wroclaw, the fare has not changed in those five years, which is good news. The trains stop even more often now on the German side, which costs time, but are faster now on the Polish side as the construction works there are finished. On a Saturday the train was quite crowded from Dresden to Görlitz - then every traveler found a seat. Caution when boarding the train back to Dresden - it had two cars, one only going as far as Görlitz, the other all the way to Dresden.
UPDATE to the Update: The trains between Dresden and Wroclaw do not run anymore, effective of 1 March 2015. For once Deutsche Bahn is not to blame; the authorities in Poland stopped paying subsidies for this train connection. I learned that the direct EC trains between Berlin and Wroclaw were also cancelled, even earlier - in 2014. Probably for the same reason, I guess. From Dresden this means taking the regional train to Görlitz, hopping on the local bus #P in front of the train station which takes you to Zgorzelec train station, and taking the regional train to Wroclaw from there. It also means buying separate tickets. Quite annoying!
The Tram Network
Wroclaw's centre is walkable but if you stay and/or want to visit places outside the centre, the trams are the most convenient means of transport. The city has a combined tram and bus network but I have to admit that I entirely relied on the trams and never needed to use any bus. Anyway, both use the same tickets. For the night network other fares apply.
Each tram line runs every 20 minutes during the day, every 15 minutes during rush hours. At most stops there is more than one line. The trams reach more or less everything that's of interest to a visitor.
Ticket inspectors are said to be merciless and have zero understanding for ignorant tourists travelling with invalid tickets. I was controlled only once and did not notice any particular problems, but better have a correct ticket.
There are a couple of particularities that tram and bus travellers should know.
# A single ticket is 3 PLN. This is for one single ride and does not allow changing tram/bus. Then there are timed tickets - 30, 60, 90 minutes etc., 24 hours, the longest is 168 hours (= 1 week). All these can be bought from ticket machines at the stops, from ticket machines on board, or from (some) kiosks.
# The 24-hour-ticket is of most interest to short-term visitors, it costs less than 3 single rides.
# For longer periods, i.e. monthly passes etc., you need to obtain an electronic Urban Card which is then uploaded at ticket machines.
# The language of the ticket machines can be changed to English, German, and Russian.
# In the streets, the ticket machine is often not directly at the tram or bus stop but located on a nearby street corner. Look for a 'box' with a blue top.
# Ticket machines outside take cash and cards, while those on board accept only 'plastic', no cash!!!
# The ticket must be stamped immediately when you board the tram or bus in one of the yellow boxes as in photo 5.
# For large luggage (rule of thumb: items that are too big to place on your lap) you need to buy an additional ticket.
# School and university students can buy reduced tickets at 50% of the normal fare, but only if they hold and carry either a Polish Student ID, ISIC, Euro26, or a foreign university card together with a certified translation into Polish.
Ticket machines are often blocked or broken or won't accept a foreign credit card or are in a bad mood or suffer from hiccups... It is wise to carry a spare unused ticket, just in case you can't buy one when you need it.
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City Tours by Electric Car
In case you can't or don't want to walk everywhere, want a private tour with comment for a small group or family, want to have a quick overview with comment, these tours by electric cars are an option to consider. I have not done it, hence can't tell you about price and duration, but I saw them all the time and it looks like a good idea! The cars have an audio comment in your selected language. They will stop in all interesting spots. People were hopping off and back on to take photos, the drivers can adjust the tour to the passengers' wishes. Each car seats up to five passengers, so you have it to yourselves.
I saw them around Rynek, in the side streets all over the old town, around the university, on Sand Island and Ostrów Tumski, so this is their usual route. There are different operators but I do not think there is much difference.
Due to the elctric drive the cars are silent (pedestrians: if you hear an audio comment behind you, jump aside) and don't pollute the air. Most are "just plain". One operator had the funky idea to put some plush on his cars and dress them up as Cat and Dog (photos 2 and 3) - well, a business needs to have a USP;-)
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Port Lotniczy: Wroclaw Airport
Wroclaw has a small international airport - I flew in from Frankfurt and thought, oh, how cute... Anyway, it is a very modern airport with everything an airport needs. The terminal building has only been completed in 2012. Google Maps still shows the construction site! The atmosphere is quite relaxed - rush hour means two planes per hour landing respective departing.
The airport is used by "real" airlines like LOT, SAS and Lufthansa as well as low cost carriers like Ryanair and Wizzair. They have surprisingly convenient connections over half of Europe, and lots of charter flights to the holiday regions around the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Egypt. Daily there are two flights to the big hub at Frankfurt where you can connect to everywhere in the world.
Some historical trams from the pre-war era, carefully restored and maintained, can be spotted on Wroclaw's tram rails every now and then. On weekends they do round trips for everyone, you can ride them from the city centre to Hala Stulecia and back. Special tickets are needed, though, normal tram tickets aren't valid. I imagine they can also be rented for groups.
The tram cars have names. I have seen three different ones. The red "Baba Jaga" was the one I encountered most often. Then there is a yellowish-white tram named "Juliusz", and a double streettcar with hanger which are known as "Jas i Malgosia" like the two houses in Rynek.
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Wroclaw has an extensive public transportation network of trams and buses. You buy the tickets at kiosks or from vending machines. Be prepared that vending machines are not working properly (happened to me) and your money is lost. So, my recommendation is to buy at kiosks.
The single fare is 2.40 PLN. Validate the ticket right upon entering the tram. If you change the tram you need another ticket - can become quite expensive and is rather inconvenient. If you plan to see the outskirts a day ticket might be the better choice for you - 8 or 10 PLN depending on how far outside the city centre you plan to go.
UPDATE: The system has not changed much until 2014. There are still single trip tickets from 30 min. validity and no changes to much longer validity and changes included. My friend Kathrin_E had already bought a day ticket for me, the price has slightly increased since 2009 - it's 11 PLN in 2014. Still a good deal. Make sure you validate (stamp) the ticket upon entering the tram/bus for the first time.
I saw a few new, modern trams, but the old ones are still around, too. All in all a well working public transportation system IMO. What I am not used to is that the platform level is hardly ever even with the tram floor, not even at recently reconstructed, otherwise very modern looking stations - I am wondering how handicapped people use the tram system.
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Railway Station Wroclaw Glowny
If travelling by train you'll arrive at Wroclaw-Glowny, the central railway station. It's an impressive building, erected 1856 as the first of the large stations in Germany. (Yup, remember the city was part of Germany back then!) Breslau (the name at that time) was linked by train with other major German cities like Berlin and Leipzig in 1848. This called for a large train station - and it was built in Neo-Gothic Tudor style, looking more like a castle than a train station.
There are quite some shops, snack bars, restrooms and of course the ticket desks to find in the station, most in the 200 m long hall at right angle to the entrance direction. I found the station to be rather dirty, a bit of cleaning would do wonders IMO.
UPDATE: In 2014 the central railway station looked spotlessly clean, it obviously underwent a major renovation. Fresh paint, new elevators, money exchange etc. The square in front of the building also got a very nice design - with lawns, benches, free WiFi spots and so on.
The Main Train Station
There are changes for the better in buying train tickets in Wrocław. Some ticket machines have been installed (instructions in many languages) and the staff speak different languages (for sure in the IC train service office.
There is no more Orbis travel agency in Rynek.
Old text:from 2004.
If you stay longer in Wroclaw and you need a train ticket you can buy it in the travel agency ORBIS in the Rynek (Market Square). In the train station you can have problems to purchase it because the main language spoken there is POLISH. First polish your Polish and then enjoy buying a ticket. ;-)
From the Airport to The city centre
Wroclaw's new airport terminal was built in time for the Euro 2012 Football Chamionship and is Ryanair's first Polish hub.
Bus 406 runs from outside the Terminal building to the city centre and costs just 3Zl. If you haven't got any small Polish currency you can buy your ticket in the Ruch newsagents inside the terminal, otherwise you can get your ticket from the bus stop.
Where you want to go when you get to the city centre will obviously determine where you get off but bear in mind that if you have luggage and need to change buses then it's not quite so comfortable as staying on the 406 Airport bus all the way into the city and railway station. If you do need to change buses then you will have to pay another 3Zl but it's still cheaper than taking a taxi.
The internet link I've given below was the most useful. It may not immediately look user friendly but just put in your departure and arrival points and it works a treat.
By train or bus
The old castle-like train station in my pic was subject to major refurbishment as at June 2011, so I look forward to seeing the new station - it's located on ul. Pilsudskiego, about 15 minutes walk from the Rynek. Train services are excellent to many destinations, including Warsaw (385km), Krakow (268km), Lodz (242km), Katowice (190km). International destinations include Berlin, Budapest and Prague.
The bus station is on ul. Sucha, just behind the train station. From England, the bus price is approximately 130 Pounds return (as at 2011). A large Polish carrier is Sinbad, I used them in 2011 and found them to be very good - below their website in Polish only :-
By train to/from Wroclaw
Wroclaw is located on two major train lines, one from Warsaw with Wroclaw and the other linking Krakow with Dresden in Germany. Beside that, several regional lines (e.g. to Klodzko or Dzierdzoniów) are available. While the Warsaw line can compete with other means of transport in terms of speed, train travel in Poland is often cheaper but slower than by coach. It is recommended to check always both alternatives in term of price and speed.
The station itself is a beautiful huge building from 1855 – you can get lost in it easily. To the north side of it, you'll find the green ring separating the station from the old town. To the south, there is the coach terminal. When travelling from the station, please note that the departure platform of your train is given in Roman numbers (I-V) while the track is given in Arabic numbers (1-10).
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By Plane to And from Wroclaw
Wroclaw has an airport with connections to some of the larger cities in Europe. Ryanair and Wizzair offer low-cost flights to well-known places such as London-Stansted or Frankfurt-Hahn. Searching flights on their webistes and booking around three months in advance will usually get you to Wroclaw for an affordable fare. Other airlines in Wroclaw include LOT Polish Airlines and Lufthansa.
The airport is connected with Wroclaw's train station by bus line 406. Fare for a single ride is 2,40 as of 2010. Tickets are not available from the driver, but from the newspaper shop in the terminal or the vending machine next to the bus stop. The button for single ride to the city centre is clearly marked on that machine. Buses run every 20 minutes during daytime, check their website below for the schedule.
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By Coach to and from Wroclaw
Wroclaw is well connected within the network of Polish buses and coaches, most of which are run by PKS. As train connections in Poland are still a little behind western European standards (Although the high speed connection to Warsaw is excellent), coaches are a good alternative. Moreover, most of the smaller Polish towns are not served by train at all and where it does, the coach service is usually far cheaper. However, coach services are slower, sometimes much slower depending on route. A typical coach trip from/to Warsaw would take you around 5 to 6 hours.
The coach station is located to the South of the train station. Tickets can be bought at the ticket counters or with the drivers. If you want to buy a return ticket, make sure that your return journey is operated by the same company. Other bus companies will not accept your ticket. On a large coach station as Wroclaw, you will receive information about the platform (peron) and bay of your bus. Be sure to know what is what as they are easy to mix up. The coach station is not specifically dangerous, but act with common sense and beware of pickpockets.
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WROCLAW - GDANSK by Eurolot
Eurolot has launched direct flieghts from Wroclaw to Gdansk. The tickets start from 195 zł,
app. 50 €, not cheap. But if you calculate and compare with train tickets and travel time you will propbably opt for flighing.
The main problem is that the Eurolot.com is only in Polish now [june 2011]. Well done Eurolot!!!!!!
Eurolot stuff have a really good idea to promote the Polish language in the world.
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WROCLAW-GDANSK by Ryanair
There are no direct flights between Wroclaw and Gdansk with Ryanair. But there good connections via Oslo Rygge. Check it. If you pay with Mastercard prepaid and you travel with hand lagugge the ticket will cost you sometimes less than the intercity ticket. This is a little bit risky travelling like that. Flying with Ryanair you book two separate tickets. If the first plane is delayed and you have less than one hour for changing the planes it can happen that you miss the next plane and you will have to buy another ticket for a lot of money or you get stuck in Rygge. Read carefully the conditions. I've traveled this way many times and I've never got stuck anywhere.
The direct flight from Wroclaw to Gdańsk offered by Eurolot costs aroud 50€.
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