A City Break Guide to Krakow.
Krakow completely exceeded my expectations for a four-night getaway with a friend. I had no idea what to expect from a city break in Poland. I had been told by lots of friends that it’s so cheap, but having just come back from India, I wasn’t so sure. After visiting, I have come to the conclusion that Krakow is probably one of the cleanest cities that I have visited. Its culture is enchanting, the scenery is divine and the history is beyond interesting. This is the Krakow City Guide.
A brief history of Krakow’s long heritage.
Legend dispells that Krakow was founded by a hero called Krak who killed a dragon by feeding it animal skins filled with sulfar. However, discoveries found by archaeologists have placed humans in the city of Krakow as early as 200,000 BC at least. Some 50,000 years ago a hamlet in Krakow had a factory on Wawell Hill where the Royal Castle now stands which churned out stone tools. Travelling merchants had once referred to Krakow as the bustling trade centre of the Slavonic Europe.
During World War II, although Krakow itself was not destroyed, unlike Warsaw. The population of intellects and members of the Jewish community were greatly affected. Professors at the Jagiellonian University were rounded up and sent to concentration camps in 1939, Krakow had lost many of it’s leading thinkers. The city transformed with establishments being taken over by Nazis, even the market square was renamed, Adolf Hitler Platz. Krakow is now the perfect getaway for a long weekend, it oozes a winter charm with white carriages, delicious foods and it’s infamous vodka.
Where to stay
In this Krakow City Guide, we only have one place to stay as I can’t compare any other hotels or hostels in the area. We stayed at the Mosquito Hostel. A perfect place to rest your head for the weary traveller, that’s if you don’t mind sharing a room with at least five other people. Free breakfast is included in your stay as well as the use of laundry facilities. The hostel is in a great location with a short walk from the train station and the old town. Mosquito hostel also offers daily activities to let you integrate with your fellow travellers as well as tours to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. A great hostel!
Where to eat
It has a quirky, dark and moody atmosphere with a delicious drinks menu. It’s candlelit ambiance, makes it a gem of a bar located in the Jewish Quater Kazimierz. Alchemia is also a music venue for jazz and inde rock. Through the door and you’re in Alchemia od Kuchni an international restaurant. I have my eye on the halloumi burger. – Book up! Tables fill up quickly.
2 Okna Cafe
This cafe is probably one of my favourite which is why I had to include it in The Krakow City Guide. This cafe is located in the Jewish Quater, Kazimierz. A quirky little cafe that seems to be a favourite for cafe cultured millennials. The mulled wine and mulled cider are just delicious.
This lovely little restaurant has a cosy outside area with outdoor heaters. The hot chocolate is delicious as well as the paninis and the Polish favoured Pierogi dumplings.
My friend and I sat outside in the outdoor seating area with outdoor heaters. But the inside restaurant is rich in design and colour, it has a quirky interior. The pizza here is delicious as well as the mulled wine and different flavoured shots.
Harris Piano Jazz Bar
A Jazz bar located downstairs. This quirky establishment is a great underground restaurant, bar and jazz club. Make sure you buy your tickets beforehand as the staff can be funny about patrons who haven’t bought a ticket listening in from the bar.
Where to see
Of course, this is the top of the list on my Krakow City Guide. You can’t visit Krakow and not visit the concentration camps that persecuted so many people, especially from the Jewish community. There are several ticket offices located around Krakow but I purchased mine from the hostel. The trip usually takes roughly 6 hours including transport there and back. You visit two camps whilst there, make sure you bring plenty of warm clothes as the second camp is outside. A tour guide is included in the price.
Free Walking Tour
There are many free walking tours available. I booked mine through Cracow free tours. You can do the old town walking tour as well as the Jewish Quater. What’s great about these walking tours is that it’s a pay as you feel, so you can tip at the end.
The Salt Mines
If you have enough time to visit the Salt Mines, then you should. But if you are only in Krakow for a limited amount of time, I don’t think that the Salt Mines is worth it, however it is an impressive attraction.
Visit Schindler’s Factory
Although I didn’t get to visit here on my trip, after reading the reviews I would recommend visiting. It’s an interactive museum that covers the German occupation in the former enamel factory of Oskar Schindler.
This Jewish district is definitely worth a visit, this was the centre of Jewish life in Kraków for over 500 years before it was systematically destroyed during World War II. . It hosts a whole load of quirky shops, cafes and restaurants. The bohemian region also has numerous synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. Some of the highlights of Kazimerz are:
*Walk along the Vistula,
*Church of Corpus Christi
*Local market at Plac Nowy
*Galicia Jewish Museum
Krakow is a beautiful city with a difficult past, but it has thrived into a bustling city with clean streets, an interesting history and beautiful architecture. There are many cheap flights to Krakow, so you have no excuse.