We are getting quite a number of mails and messages recently on the subject of how Russia’s unprovoked attack against Ukraine is impacting the life, travel and tourism in Wroclaw. So we decided to share a couple of points and some information that we have with you today. Actually we wanted to do that already much earlier but unfortunately the days simply just have 24 hours 🙂
First of all, something that probably not everybody is fully aware of – even before the attacks in February 2022, Wroclaw already had a quite significant Ukrainian community which added up to around 10-20% of the total population in Wroclaw. A little reminder – Russia did not start the war in 2022 but many years earlier. For that reason, you would not see a lot of pictures from mass accommodations and camps like seen during the migration waves from Syria towards Europe. According to the Union of Polish Metropolises, the population of Wroclaw has now increased by 29% as a result of Ukrainian refugees (with almost 190.000 Ukrainians in Wroclaw now, source is linked below).
In the first waves of Ukrainians arriving to Poland in February 2022, most of them already had some contact points or relatives where they were able to stay. In the second wave, when people without these reference points in Poland arrived, plenty of volunteers were supporting at the main railway station to make sure they all get what they need. Pretty much everybody in Wroclaw we know was donating and/or helping in some way, it was good to see this level of engagement, gratitude and hospitality towards strangers – reassuring that there are still good parts of humanity.
Of course, as city blog we want to focus as much as possible on Wroclaw itself in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine now, so let us get started!
Should I travel to Wroclaw despite the war in Ukraine?
Well, it depends on what reasons you have for yourself to doubt that it would be a good idea. If it is safety concerns, we believe that Poland is as safe as any other NATO country like Germany, so from that perspective we would not see any reason to not visit Wroclaw.
Then, some people asked us if their hotel bookings potentially would take space away from Ukrainian people seeking safety. While we believe this is definitely a valid and good thought, we can say that this is not the case and as these lines are written end of April 2022, there is enough accommodation available for everybody.
What you will realise though is that if you are looking for a long term apartment to rent in Wroclaw, the prices have gone up significantly and availability is quite a struggle.
In general, we always recommend to make an early booking for a hotel – what we observed is that short term bookings very often do not get discounts anymore in the past weeks (but on other hand some hotels have special discounts for Ukrainian guests), so the earlier you book, the better for you. Here you can find our personal and hand-picked hotel recommendations for Wroclaw.
There is an interview out there with the director of the Polish travel board and a statement that there is no reason to change travels plans because of the war – Poland is a safe destination. Here you can read the full interview: Click here to read the German interview or here for an English article.
What does daily life and atmosphere in Wroclaw with the war in Ukraine look like?
If you have any doubts if you should travel because city life could be different with such an amount of additional people, we can just share a couple of impressions with you.
There is such an amazing solidarity with Ukraine in Poland and really, everybody is doing a lot. First of all, you will notice that a lot of shops will have Ukrainian flags in their windows, and many official buildings put up the Ukrainian flag as well. Obviously there are also many gatherings and peace demonstrations, in particular on the market square.
However, generally speaking, and as bad as this sounds – life goes on, despite the war. People go to work, people go out, and are living their own everyday life. Of course you see more cars with Ukrainian license plates, at the beginning unloading and unpacking a lot of things from their cars after arriving, but in the past few weeks this got less than it used to be at the beginning. You have to imagine that Poland so far (end of April 2022) is hosting almost 3 Million Ukrainian guests, coming from a population of 38 Million people counted at the end of 2020 against 41.4 Millions as of the 1st April 2022 – and of course that is visible in some ways.
You will hear more Ukrainian language on the streets, see larger groups traveling by car, bus and train mostly, and obviously mostly mothers with kids and older people as men mostly stay to fight (they are not allowed to leave Ukraine, however we also know of Ukrainians in Wroclaw who went back to Ukraine to defend their country against Russias attack). As mentioned before, Wroclaw saw an increase of 29% in terms of population.
When it comes to the parts you as tourist probably would do, visiting cafés, restaurants, museums, etc. – there is pretty much no impact visible. Many small businesses have created special products where parts of the earnings go to Ukraine for support and we try to share as many of them as possible on our social media channels (Follow us on Instagram here).
As you see in the picture, Ukrainian flag shots have evolved in bars and Pierogi Ruskie are named now Pierogi Ukrainskie in some places (being well aware that Ruskie in that context does not really refer to Russia…).
How can I support Ukraine locally in Wroclaw?
If you want to support Ukrainians in Wroclaw, we have a couple of recommendations for you. However this list is not exhaustive for sure, if you want to add anything, please feel free to submit a comment below, so we can update our post.
Support as a tourist visiting Wroclaw
Of course we can recommend to visit Ukrainian-owned businesses in Wroclaw like for example the Gniazdo or Paloma Café or if it should be more unusual the Selfie Cafe. As we wrote before, some of them have special products (like this beautiful coffee from Paloma – Russian Warship, go f*** yourself).
If you are into chocolate (who is not?), check out the Vroclinki shop here, they have a ”pay as much as you want” special chocolate edition where all earnings are used for supporting Ukraine.
And there is beer, and much much more, as mentioned, just follow us on Instagram where we share more of these offers as we see it and get tagged. For a list of Ukrainian shops, restaurants and cafés in Polish, check out this post in Polish here.
Support as a resident in Wroclaw
Well, same goes here, and the above for tourists is likewise valid if you live in Wroclaw. But apart from that, of course there are multiple options to volunteer and/or donate.
As the needs are constantly changing and we are not able to keep up on our blog with that speed, we recommend a couple of further resources below, in particular the facebook group from the train station volunteers is a very easy way to help – just check what they currently need and drop it, we did the same a couple of times.
We are also in touch with some groups driving humanitarian aid from Germany to the border, sometimes they are having an overnight break in Wroclaw and surely cheap or free accommodation in Wroclaw would support them a lot.
Further institutions and sources of information
As we only can give you a little bit of generic insights and information, of course we do not want to miss to recommend local institutions and sources for more specific information as pointed out in the blog post above. Here you find always the most recent reliable information for supporting Ukrainians in Wroclaw:
- Official Websites from Wroclaw with extensive information on support for Ukrainians
- Official Pages from the Lower Silesia Wojewodship on support for Ukraine
- Information Point for Migrants – Przejście Dialogu
- The Ukraine Foundation in Wroclaw – Center of Ukrainian Culture and Development
- Large Facebook Group for helping Ukrainians at the railway station in Wroclaw
- Article (in German) about a former tram depot which was transformed into a point for support
If you have any additional information where you believe it would be useful for others, please post it in the comment box below, that would be much appreciated.
In case you want to learn more about the numbers from the introduction above, we recommend this report from the Union of Polish Metropolises here.