Why the Dwarf trail?
Why are we following the Wroclaw dwarf trail (pronounced vrot·swaaf)? It all started with the Orange Alternative but more about that later. The city is covered in small (roughly 30cm tall) bronze dwarves. Five hundred and eighteen (at last count) dwarves stand guard at every shop or business entrance; for tourists with kids like us, it’s a big deal. Each one is personalized to its location. For example outside a bank the dwarf is getting money from an ATM, outside a tea shop the dwarf is pouring tea from a teapot.
How do I find the dwarf trail?
The tourist information shops sell you a map of the city centre (with dwarf stickers) featuring a guided tour of the most famous dwarves. Each time you find a dwarf you match its picture to its sticker and move on to the next. Part of the trail involves getting a custom stamp from each of the tourist shops.
Is the dwarf trail for me?
We had a couple of fantastic days walking the city searching for the dwarves. It’s normally difficult to motivate children to look around a city, especially in hot weather. Architecture and history aren’t on their list of interests so creating a dwarf hunt makes motivating the kids easy. It was especially easy as they had their brand new cameras with them and their enthusiasm for photography knows no bounds (we’ve now got several thousand dwarf photos).
Is Wroclaw good to visit?
The city centre of Wroclaw is amazing, it has some of the most stunning buildings in the old town and around the town square. It is even more amazing when you come across the posters of how the city looked post-WW2. Wroclaw had a very hard time during the war and Wroclaw is a credit to Poland and the Polish people.
The restaurants serve fantastic food and the staff are all very friendly. Everyone speaks perfect English which makes up for my shockingly bad Polish. I would heartily recommend trying Pierogi. It’s my son and daughters’ new favourite food. It’s a Polish speciality and we had it at different restaurants every night. Each restaurant has a different type and flavour which were all great. Click here for my guide to pierogo and why you need it in your life.
So why so many dwarves? In the 1980s Poland and much of Eastern Europe were aligned with the Soviet Union. The economic crisis at the time lead to a labour movement called Solidarity which in turn led to a crackdown and martial law.
The Orange Alternative was a popular anti-communist group that used the dwarf as a symbol to spread its message. It started with dwarf paintings on walls, then with protesters dressed as orange dwarves and ended with little bronze dwarves on every corner of the city. For the full story from 99pi click here.
Over the Covid lockdowns, we had been driving to the English Lake District or the Scottish Borders to stay in holiday houses. Post lockdown we planned to do the same as we had had such an amazing time. However, after a brief period of research, we realised that driving for a week in the Scottish borders was actually (substantially) more expensive than flying to Poland, staying in a high-quality hotel with bed and breakfast and seeing a brand new city with the family.
Our flights would be cheap and go directly from our local airport. Wroclaw airport is close to the city and has fantastic public transport links.
What’s not to love? We managed to do a lot of sightseeing around a beautiful friendly city. The Wroclaw dwarf trail is amazing, the kids were fully involved in finding the dwarves so they loved it.
The people and facilities of Wroclaw are fantastic, the food is great and if you like history Poland has an awful lot of it.
I would absolutely recommend a visit just for the dwarf trail.