Discover polish atmosphere: enjoy a stay in Krakow

by Agnes de Ligny from France

krakow-zakrzowek
Krakow, Zakrzowek by Agnes de Ligny

Krakow is not the capital of Poland (Warsaw) but it is Poland’s cultural and historical city because it was preserved from the bombings during the Second World War (it was the capital of Germany’s general Government at this time). Krakow is the 3rd biggest city in Poland, with 700 000 inhabitants then the city is easily accessed (planes, buses, trains…) and because this city is getting more and more touristic, most people speak English.

The climate is quite cold (and smoggy unfortunately) in winter (although the Krakow Christmas market is really famous) but (but used x2) then it becomes very pleasant during the mid-seasons, very hot and touristy during summer.

Living there is not very expensive, the currency is the zloty (1zl is around 0, 25€). Museums are alternately free one day a week.

krakow-morsie-oko
Krakow, Morsie Oko by Agnes de Ligny

I can’t advise you about accommodation, but there are quite a lot of cheap hostels in the historical center.

If you plan your trip well, you can discover all the polish culture the city has to offer 🙂

What you really need to see: I highly recommend you to join the free English or Spanish guided tours of the city (for timetables, check on their website) to discover  the historical center or the Jewish part (there are also food tours and photo tours).

Anyway, if not attending guided tours, you must:

krakow-saint-joseph-church
Krakow, Saint Joseph Church by Agnes de Ligny

Wander in the historical center: it dates back to the middle ages/ medieval period, and is registered as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1978. It is surrounded by a green area called the Planty. The center isn’t that big, so try to wander around all streets (it is a pedestrian area), and take a look at facades and other architectural details.

What you can’t miss in the historical center:

* The main square (Rynek Glowny in polish) –  was awarded as the most beautiful square of the word by Lonely planet. The town hall tower, sukinience (inside: a polish market, on the 1st floor, the polish painter’s gallery, the basilica (once inside you can also go to the top of the tower).

* Jaggiellonian University (collegium maius and collegium novum) it’s the second oldest university of Eastern Europe (dates 1364) and the most reputed in Poland. The Pope John Paul II used to study there.

* The Theater inspired from Opera Garnier next to the Krakow Barbican.

* Wawel castle (from outside and inside). You can see the Lady with an hermine (Leonard de Vinci).

* Poland is a very devout country: don’t miss to enter one of the numerous catholic churches, all are very well decorated.

* If you want to have a coffee, I recommend Botanica, Bunkier coffee or Loch camelot

krakow-uschwitz
Krakow, Auschwitz by Agnes de Ligny

Spend a festive night in Krakow

Krakow is a very festive place and is full of students, several clubs are 7/7. There are a lot of bars in the city center. For cheap drinks, Pijalnia looks a communist bar (try a mad dog shot there) and Bania luka is open 24/7 (try various flavoured vodkas there) and in Pasaz Bielaka. For a Spanish atmosphere, you can go either in Teatro Cubano or in Huki muki. My favourites places are Cafe Philo (open 24/7 as well), Free Pub (inside a cave), and Tap house for good beers 🙂 During the summer, you can chill at Forum pszestrzenie, located near the Vistula River. Klub Re and Black gallery pub are located in the historic center and have nice summer gardens.

krakow-jaggiellonian-university
Krakow, Jaggiellonian University by Agnes de Ligny

Have a Polish meal: Polish people are very proud of their food and lots of restaurants are not expensive. They eat a lot of pork and cabbage. But you must try an obzawarnek (sold on the street for less than 2 zlotys). You definitely have to try/ For sure, you have to try pierogis (dumplings) and bigos. For polish music while you eat, you can go in Morskie Oko restaurant or in pod wawelem (in this restaurant you can get 1L beer and 1KG meat). Also try a milk bar (former socialist era workers’ canteen) but be warned as it closes early. Vidok is smarter (rooftop restaurant). For cosy and cheap places, you can go to U babcy maliny, Chimera or Smakolyki.

krakow-wawel-castle-and-vistula-river
Krakow, Wawel Castle and Vistula River by Agnes de Ligny

Have a Polish meal: Polish people are very proud of their food and lots of restaurants are not expensive. They eat a lot of pork and cabbage. But you must try an obzawarnek (sold on the street for less than 2 zlotys). You definitely have to try/ For sure, you have to try pierogis (dumplings) and bigos. For polish music while you eat, you can go in Morskie Oko restaurant or in pod wawelem (in this restaurant you can get 1L beer and 1KG meat). Also try a milk bar (former socialist era workers’ canteen) but be warned as it closes early. Vidok is smarter (rooftop restaurant). For cosy and cheap places, you can go to U babcy maliny, Chimera or Smakolyki.

krakow-wawel
Krakow, Wawel by Agnes de Ligny

Don’t miss a visit to a Second world war memorial : Poland used to be made up of 1/3 of Jewish inhabitants : watch The Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg 1993), it was filmed in Krakow, and relates to a true story. After this, you can reach the Shindler’s factory (museum), or visit the Galicja jewish museum, or the former Gestapo cells. If you have enough time, go to Auschwitz for a guided tour (1h from Krakow by bus).

Go to the Jewish quarter (called Kazimierz), full of antiquaries, cosy coffees, second hand shops, street art, passages, synagogues… Have a zapiekanka (typical street food of Kazimierz) on Plac Nowy. Get a Jewish meal in Hamsa restaurant, and enter a synagogue (the Temple synagogue is the most beautiful and the old one is a museum). Do a pubcrawl there (lots of bars on plac nowy, but aswell Eszeweria and Opium have nice gardens for summer. Propaganda is a nice bar as well.

If you cross the Vistula : you are in the former Jewish Ghetto (now a district called Podgorze) – On Podgorze rynek, you will see St Joseph Church. The Ghetto Heroes Square is now a memorial.

krakow-barbican
Krakow, Barbican by Agnes de Ligny

If you are staying longer:

In Krakow:

You can visit the ethnographic museum, to see traditional costumes and traditions in Poland.

Go to Zakrzowek: it is one of the best spots in Krakow, a lake (former quarry now flooded), a perfect place for a picnic or BBQ, and to swim during warm days.

Go to Nowa Huta (the former communist district), now a residential part of the city. The communist architecture and organisation of the district remains to be very influenced by communism. There is a museum.

krakow-main-square
Krakow, Barbican by Agnes de Ligny

→ Around Krakow :

Visit Wieliczka Salt mines (Unesco site)

Go to Auschwitz Birkenau camp

Spend a day in Tatra mountains (100km from Krakow, buses are going there every hour, around 4euros for the way) and join Zakopane (typical polish wooden village) and go hiking in the mountains (Morskie oko is a famous lake, according to the Huffington post, one of the 5 best lakes in the world) – beautiful during both winter and summer. PICTURE 9 Some other lakes are beautiful as well and less visited if you walk further. If you’re going during winter: it’s an opportunity to ski or to watch ski jumping competition

Spend a day in Czestochowa (actually I haven’t been there, but it is a catholic place with 5 million pilgrims each year, known for the black Madonna painting)

No Comments

Post A Comment

Using the site, you accept the use of cookies on our part. more information

This site uses cookies to provide the best browsing experience possible. By continuing to use this website without changing your cookie settings or clicking "Accept" allow their use.

Close