One of my favorite countries I’ve visited is Poland for many reasons. I’m half Polish, so there’s something special about being in the country and hearing the language I heard my mom and grandparents speak when I was younger. I also love the culture and beautiful architecture in all the cities I’ve visited. Here’s a guide to visiting Krakow, one of the more vibrant cities in Poland.
Getting to Krakow
Krakow is a very accessible city that’s easy to get to. There’s a central train station in the middle of town, so you can take the train in from other parts of town or nearby countries such as the Czech Republic. They also have the John Paul II International Airport which you can fly into from many countries in Europe.
From there, the easiest way is to take a train to Krakow Glowny so you’ll be in the city center. There are several different entrances and exits to this station, but what surprised me when I got off the train was that I was in the middle of a giant mall! I walked through the entire thing before getting out on the streets.
Where to Stay in Krakow
Hotel Kazimierz – For a basic hotel that’s under $30, stay at Hotel Kazimierz. It’s still close to the city center, you get free wi-fi, and breakfast is included. I always go for cheaper hotels since I don’t spend much time in them anyways.
Europejski Hotel – For a midrange hotel, Europejski Hotel is a good choice. They have their own restaurant and bar for meals you don’t feel like venturing out for, but is still close to the city center to make it walkable.
Hotel Polski Pod Bialym Orlem – If this is a special trip or you just prefer to stay in a more luxurious hotel, book a room at Hotel Polski Pod Bialym Orlem. It’s right in the city center so you’re just steps away from restaurants and shops.
Read more: A Guide to Warsaw, Poland
Where to Eat in Krakow
Since I’ve grown up with it, I love Polish food. I also love how cheap it was in Poland! Here are some places I recommend eating at.
Milk Bar Górnik – Milk bars used to be popular decades ago to feed workers for cheap. They now feed more than that, but still keep their low prices for a full meal. It’s a good place to go for an inexpensive breakfast.
Pod Norenami – Sometimes when you’ve been traveling for awhile you crave comfort food. This restaurant sells Asian vegetarian food, which was what I needed after a week of heavy carbs.
Street food – You can get really cheap street food that’s filling too. Many giant sandwiches are available for only a few dollars. The man below is selling obwarzanek, which is a giant pretzel.
Pod Aniołami – For a romantic night or just a unique experience on your own, visit this restaurant. It’s set in a cellar from the 13th century and has an eerie yet fun feel to it.
Restauracja Wierzynek – To try some traditional Polish food in a fancy setting, have dinner here. They have decor from the 14th century, which I loved looking at.
Outdoor cafes – There are many outdoor cafes to enjoy during the warmer months, especially in the Old Town area. Nothing is better than people watching!
What to Do in Krakow
Go below Krakow – There’s an underground tour I highly recommend when you’re in Krakow. Explore the museum down there and see how the city came to be.
Walk through the Planty – This beautiful park is a good place to sit down and have ice cream or cool off in the shade. Many people were reading when I walked through it.
Visit Galeria Krakowska – This mall is giant! You might walk through Galeria Krakowska when you exit the train station as I did, but you could easily spend a few hours here with over 250 different stores and restaurants. If there’s something you’ve needed to buy or stock up on during your trip, this is the place to get it.
Explore Old Town – This was my favorite part of Krakow, as there was always something going on in the plaza. A beautiful church, St. Mary’s Basilica, towers over all the outdoor cafes in the square.
Attend mass at St. Mary’s Basilica – This massive church is stunning inside. Even non-churchgoers can appreciate the decor inside.
Shop at local stores – There are plenty of local shops to visit near Old Town. I found they had more authentic and affordable souvenirs.
Get a free walking tour – One of the best ways to see a new city is to join a free walking tour in the morning. They’ll get you oriented and show you some of the main parts of the city. Just make sure you tip!
Ride in a horse-drawn carriage – Imagine my surprise when I turned the corner on a busy shopping street to be greeted by two horses pulling a carriage. It seemed out of place among all the modern stores, but it’s a different way to see the city.
Take a Day Trip From Krakow
If you’re spending at least a weekend in Krakow or longer, be sure to check out these day trips.
Wroclaw – There are many fun things to do in Wroclaw and the surrounding area, including exploring gardens, Old Town, and historical churches.
Auschwitz – One of the most well-known places around Krakow is the WWI concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. You can take a train out of Krakow and be there in about two hours, so plan on spending most of the day getting there and back. Many tour companies will also pick you up from your hotel if you reserve it in advance.
Wieliczka Salt Mines – These salt mines have been used since the 13th century to make table salt, which is pretty incredible. You can now visit the museum to learn about the history of the salt mines over the centuries. It’s about 20 minutes south of Krakow, and again you can get a tour company to pick you up.
You can also take a two-hour train ride to Warsaw in winter during the holiday season.
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