In November I took what has become an annual winter city break this time to Krakow, this was also my first visit to Poland. For my visit I spent three nights in the city of Krakow and found this to be the perfect amount of time. Old Town Krakow is easy to walk around which is something that we did on the day we arrived in Krakow as we had an early flight to Krakow.
Around the city you will find people offering to take you on a tour of the city in a small electrical car for however long you choose depending on what areas you choose to go to. This was something that we chose to do so that we could get to see Krakow, there were three of us and this cost 350 Polish Zloty for 90 minutes. On this tour we got taken to Old Town, Ghetto District, Schindler Factory, Wawel and the Jewish Quarter. As you are taken around in the car there is commentary given about the city and some of the attractions over the speaker but our driver also gave some extra information of his own.
As a city Krakow is beautiful especially Main Square where you will find Saint Mary’s Basilica, Cloth Hall, Church of St Adalbert, Town Hall Tower and Adam Mickiewicz Monument. Main Square is known as Rynek Glowny in Polish and is in the Old Town of Krakow. This square is one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe. Around the square you can find historic townhouses which include restaurants and shops. The Church of St Adalbert is one of the oldest stone churches in Poland with a history of almost 1000 years. Saint Mary’s Basilica is brick gothic church which was built in the 14th century and it also became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. There are two towers where you will be able to notice that one is taller than the other. From the top of the taller one of the two towers each hour a trumpet signal known as Hejnal mariacki is played. The Town Hall tower which stands alone is the only part of the old Krakow Town Hall that still remains after it was demolished in 1820. The Cloth Hall has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978 and is a central feature of main square.
From Main Square you are able to walk up one of the streets near Saint Mary’s Basilica which will lead to Krakow Barbican which is a fortified outpost that was once connected to the city walls and is a historic gateway leading into Old Town.
In the Kazimierz district of Krakow you will find the Old Synagogue which in Yiddish was referred to as the Alta Shul. This is the oldest synagogue building that is still standing in Poland and one of the most precious landmarks of Jewish architecture in Europe.
Wawel Castle is a castle residency located in central Krakow and is only a short walk from Main Square. This castle is made up of a number of structures which are located around the Italian style main courtyard. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The castle is now one of Poland’s premier art museums which was established in 1930. Located on Wawel Hill you are also able to find Wawel Cathedral which is also known as The Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus on the Wawel Hill. It is a Roman Catholic Church as well as a Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Krakow which is more than 900 years old.
When visiting Krakow I think one place that you must visit is Auschwitz which you can either do alone or as part of an organised trip. We did this independently which is something that I would recommend anyone else to do as it allows you to take your time walking around. Krakow is an hour away from Auschwitz,
you are able to get a bus direct from Krakow to Auschwitz but we chose to get a taxi which cost 400 Polish Zloty return. Entrance is free to both Auschwitz and Birkenau but you need a ticket for entrance to Auschwitz which you are able to book online. There is also the option to have a guided tour around Auschwitz as you are taken around as a group and given headset so that you are able to hear what the guide is saying.
To get to Birkenau from Auschwitz you get one of the free shuttle buses which run regularly between Auschwitz and Birkenau which are approximately 5 minutes apart.
Walking around Auschwitz and Birkenau you find constantly asking yourself why? You also find yourself walking around in sadness, disbelief, shock and anger. Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau you are able to see the train tracks as well as a train carriage which were used to take people to Auschwitz. You are also able to see the barracks where they were housed as well as the gas chambers.
In Krakow there is a lot of places to choose from for food and drinks. Around the city of Krakow you will find street vendors selling Polish pretzels also known as Obwarzanek Krakowski for 2 Polish Zloty, these are worth trying. If you visit a restaurant selling traditional Polish food I would recommend trying pierogi which comes in various flavours and are steamed dumplings, I had potato and cheese flavour pierogi at a restaurant located in Main Square.
On our first night in Krakow we went to a steakhouse called Pimiento located in Main Square for a meal where I had sirloin steak with parmesan fries. For dessert I had the strawberry cheesecake for two which I shared with my Dad. This meal at Pimiento was one of the best I’ve had and would recommend for anyone to go.
On the second day we decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for a meal where I had chicken fajitas. This was also the only day where we had breakfast as we chose to go to Urban Garden where I had the American breakfast which was pancakes with fruit, maple syrup and jam. Coffee/tea and juice was also included within the price for breakfast.
On our final evening we went to an Italian restaurant located in the square called La Terrazza where I had spaghetti bolognese which was perfect for me as I don’t like food that includes too much tomato and this bolognese didn’t.
During our time in Krakow we stayed at aparthotel Venetian House which is located in Main Square. This hotel is in a perfect location as you are near all the main attractions. This is apartments but you have a check in desk like you would at a hotel. Our apartment was very spacious as well as bright and clean. Included in the apartment we had a small kitchen with a dining table and chairs as well as a bathroom. Also in the apartment was the main room which featured a king sized bed as well as a corner sofa which also converted to a bed and a TV. Within the apartment there was plenty of storage and a large wardrobe.
Krakow is a city which is easily accessible from the UK via airlines such as EasyJet and RyanAir. We flew from Liverpool using EasyJet but there was also flights from London, Birmingham and Edinburgh that we noticed when at the airport waiting for our flight back home.
Something else to whilst Krakow is to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine which was something that we chose not to do.
Is Krakow a city you have visited before or would like to visit?