Kraków is the perfect city for a long weekend break. This Polish city has so much to offer that i’m certain there is something for everyone, regardless of whether you like to take your time and relax or pack in as much as you possibly can.
I feel as though I have always had a connection to Poland, stemming from the fact that my Grandma and her family are Polish. So much so that at university, I chose to focus my dissertation on Polish women during the Holocaust. As a result, I already had high expectations for my time in Krakow, but it really exceeded them. So much so, that I went back a month later!
I loved Krakow for a number of reasons. Firstly, the people were really friendly which always helps when you visit a new place. The city was really clean despite the number of tourists that clearly visit. Everything is in walking distance so there’s no need to confuse yourself with public transport and means you can appreciate the city just by walking around. I always find that just taking a stroll gives you a great feel for a new place and allows you to get your bearings.
Something to keep in mind if you are thinking of visiting Krakow is that a lot of attractions seem to be free to visit on a Monday, so it’s definitely worth thinking about to save a few pennies!
Where to stay?
Regardless of your price range and what you want out of your stay in Krakow, there is a wide range of accommodation to suit everybody’s needs.
The first time I visited Poland was with a friend, so we chose to stay in a hostel. We stayed in Ametyst Hostel which was in a really good location and only cost £50 for 3 nights for the both of us. The hostel was really clean and we shared with 2 other people but there were plenty of bathrooms. We also had a shower in the room which may be fine if you’re sharing with your friends but we never used it as it could have been a bit awkward…
The second time I visited was for my dad’s 70th birthday, who had never visited Poland before despite his family originating from Łódź. This time, we decided to rent out an apartment. It was really close to the centre and so perfect for visiting everything. We stayed at Apartment Zegadłowicza and paid £230 for 4 nights so was a little bit more pricey but we got what we paid for and more.
What to do?
Main Square and Old Town
The centre of activity in Krakow is in the old town, which is ringed by a park. In the middle is the main square which is a beautiful square, perfect for just sitting down, grabbing a cold one and watching the world go by. There’s also plenty to do in the square, whether you want to take a look in St. Marys Basilica or do a bit of shopping in the cloth hall.
Although they are one of the top things to visit on TripAdvisor, the Salt Mines aren’t for everybody. I did enjoy walking around them but for me the tour was just a little bit too long and thus a little boring…
That being said, i’ve included it as it is quite cool to look at and i’m glad I did it, I just wouldn’t be bothered about doing it again. But my dad really enjoyed it so it really just depends on your personal preference. If you do decide to give it a visit, don’t forget to give the walls a lick!
No matter where I visit, my favourite thing to do in a new place is literally just to walk around the streets and get a feel for the place. I think the Jewish quarter, also known as Kazimierz, has a different feel to the main square which definitely makes it worth a visit. There is also a little square with different food outlets which makes for a great lunch on the go.
It’s also worth travelling just over the river to Ghetto Heroes Square, which is a memorial to the murdered Jews during the holocaust and is very thought provoking.
Schindler’s Factory Museum
The first time I visited Krakow the museum was shut and so I made sure that I was definitely going to visit the next time I went! Make sure you book in advance as I nearly missed out a second time by not booking online. The museum was really well laid out and really educational, so if you want to learn something whilst you’re on holiday make sure i’s on your list. A little tip would be to watch the film ‘Schindler’s List’ before you visit and it’ll make the museum come alive in a different way for you.
I visited Auschwitz when I was 18 as part of a trip organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust. Since that trip, my interest in the holocaust grew and I ended up writing my dissertation on it during my time at university. That being said, you don’t need to be an expert on the holocaust to visit and I wholeheartedly believe that everybody should go and visit as knowledge is power.
Yes, it won’t exactly be a ‘nice’ trip as it is as heartbreaking as you’ve probably heard about. But, I do believe that it’s incredibly important to be aware of and remember what has happened in the past so I would urge anybody to go, probably more so if you don’t know much about it previously.
Wawel Royal Castle
The Royal Castle is a lovely little courtyard sat on top of a small hill. Even if you don’t want to go inside any of the attractions it’s nice just to have a walk around. The cathedral is free to enter but there are several museums that you have to pay entry for, and if you are wanting to see more i’d suggest getting there early to get your tickets as some of them do tend to sell out.
Where/what to eat and drink?
For a cheap and (very) filling lunch Zapiekanka is your best bet! It’s basically a giant pizza baguette and is delicious! But be warned, they are absolutely huge.
Pierogi is Poland’s version of a dumpling and they are delicious! They come with a variety of different fillings so there’s something to suit everyone’s palate. I personally enjoyed the potato and cheese ones, also known as ‘Ruskie’.
Poland is known for its Vodka, so quite frankly I think it would be rude not to try some of the nations delicacy. And by some, I mean a lot! Now, i’m not ordinarily a massive fan of the strong stuff, but because there were so many different flavours I guarantee you there will be at least one that you will try and enjoy, whether you prefer fruity or sweet.
On my first visit, my friend and I found Wodka, a very cute little vodka bar where you can get 6 little taster shots of flavoured vodkas, all for a reasonable 39 złoty. I liked it so much that I took my parents back when I visited the second time around!
I did find eating vegetarian in Poland a little tricky at times, so finding this vegan kebab shop, aptly named ‘Vegab‘, seemed like a great find. However, I didn’t really enjoy the kebab that much, but maybe my expectations were too high. But if you’re a struggling vegetarian/vegan I’d say give it a go for a well priced lunch.
Good Buddy Pub
Underground bars are all the range in Krakow and The Good Buddy Pub was a great little find for my parents and I. It’s located a 5 minute walk from the main square and is pretty cheap. The night we chose to go there was also live music and a really nice atmosphere so I’d definitely recommend!
A perfect breakfast stop, Milkbar Tomasza offers a wide range of breakfast options at very reasonable prices. I opted for a pancake which was absolutely delicious and a great way to fill up before a day of exploring.
Another breakfast or lunch option is Bagel Mama. Located in the Jewish Quarter it sells, you guest it, bagels. There are a wide range of bagels and fillings to choose from and is a very cosy place to enjoy your meal. B
Whilst on my trip I soon learnt that Polish people love ice cream! Or Lody as it’s called over there. It’s a great way to treat yourself for a long day of walking around!
Overall, I absolutely loved both times I went to Krakow. My dad even said that it’s the best holiday that he’s ever been on so that’s got to count for something right? I would 100% recommend giving it a visit for a cheap and interesting city break!