Krakow might just be the perfect destination for some relaxing or adventurous holidays: historic centre; a unique arts scene; lots of green space; fantastic food; and warm hearted locals. Poland’s former royal capital attracts over 2 million international visitors per year and there are plenty of good reasons for the continuous rise on visitors.
Krakow is a place of unspoiled beauty and breathtaking countryside landscapes and one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
There are so many reasons to visit Krakow that it can be hard to pinpoint just a few – but we’ve done our best to list the best alternative and some mainstream activities when you visit this one of a kind city.
The following places are some of the essential areas to visit while in town. Aside from sightseeing, the best places to visit for meals and nightlife are also included.
1) Kraków ghetto – the last chapter of city’s Jewish history
Passing Jewish Kazimierz, crossing Vistula (for instance by trams line 3, 9, 19, 24, 50, PlacBohaterów Getta station), and arriving in Podgórze district. Today’s slowly fading, quiet neighborhood, it observed one of the most horrible chapters of the World War II. Unlike Kazimierz, the place of great economic and cultural importance for Ashkenazi Jews, Podgórze was a theatre of Holocaust. In this small district, inhabited before by 3000 people, Nazi Germans herded around 17, 000 of Jews and established Kraków ghetto.
Due to methodical clearing of evidence, most of the sites, buildings and remainders didn’t survive until today. However, it’s still possible to visit PlacBohaterówGetta (Square of Ghetto’s Heroes) and the museum next to it – Apteka pod Orłem, dedicated to those horrible times. Not so far away, on the Lwowska Street, a look could be taken at one of the last remaining maceva-shaped pieces of ghetto wall. Finally, some of the ordinary buildings still remember the war. With imagination and compassion, while walking slowly through the peaceful streets full of memories, one can dedicate his thoughts to this tragedy.
2) Schindler’s factory – the proof that world is not black-and-white
A visit to Schindler’s factory, famous because of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, seems like a good enrichment and summary to trips in search of Krakow’s Jewish history. It can easily be combined with sightseeing in Podgórze – a former ghetto. Schindler’s factory is positioned close to PlacBohaterówGetta tram stop, accessible by lines 3, 9, 19, 24 and 50.
Oscar Schindler, a NSDAP member, started to manage the factory in 1939. Instead of enduring the tragic situation of Jews in Kraków ghetto and waiting for Holocaust, he decided to act. Through unnecessarily huge demands for workers, he contrived to save 1100 Jews. The museum however is not focused only on Schindler’s achievements. Through permanent and temporary exhibitions, it aims to present a complex study of Krakow’s Jewish heritage.
3) A boat cruise to Tyniec Abbey
It’s time to add a whole new perspective to your Kraków experience! Don’t hesitate to head to the riverside next to Wawel Castle, where various boats await tourists willing to enjoy a Vistula tour. To make this experience even more memorable, it’s good to set towards Tyniec Abbey. The journey, estimated at 4 hours, provides us with a spectacular view of many notable sites, some of which present their full potential only in this way. Wawel, Norbert Ines Abbey, Kraków boulevards, Stardom and Kazimierz districts, historical churches, famous mounds, Tyniec forest, these are just examples of sights awaiting us on the road. Finally, we arrive next to Tyniec Abbey, thoroughly renovated to reminisce its splendid past. Hours of peaceful crews will give us a chance to take a break from the atmosphere of the big city and restore energy lost during hours of on-foot sightseeing. There are no fixed hours for tours, early reservation may be necessary.
4) Enjoy your morning while digging through Antiquities
It is a quite surprising view to see hundreds of people crowding in HalaTargowa (Market Hall) every Sunday morning to browse through stands with old books and antiquities of all kinds. It’s definitely not a tourist Centre, therefore it retained its unique, local climate in the Centre of the metropolis. Local dialect and hermetic atmosphere additionally spice up the event, enabling us to feel the real rhythm of local life without the price tag and tourism bordering.
From the practical point of view, time is the most important issue. Sellers start to gather around 6 AM, a lot of them start to pack around 8 or 9 am. Also visitors come mostly in these hours, providing us with the special ambiance of bargaining and fighting for best findings. Officially this specific flea market closes at 2 PM, but from personal experience, morning remains a safe option. Finally, HalaTargowa isn’t only an intellectual experience. From the nearby stands we can acquire a sausage regarded to end up one of the best in Kraków. HalaTargowa could be reached by tram lines 1, 9, 11, 12, 22 and 50.
5) Night out on Kazimierz’s Plac Nowy
Kazimierz, famous for its Jewish heritage sites, changes its appearance in the night. From a noble, historical district it becomes a Centre of nightlife with its cafes, clubs and bars. If we are to pick one place as a starting point, it’s safe to point out Plac Nowy (New Square), located conveniently close to Dietla street, marking the border between Kazimierz and Old Town, from where it’s a walking distance.
In Plac Nowy itself there are enough places to visit, most of them enjoying a special atmosphere on the verge of splendid sentimentalism and a new, international face of the city. Let’s take Alchemia as a fine example and give it a try. Sitting in dark, cozy corners of this spot, we can enjoy absinthe served just the way it has got to be, with fire, sugar and fine glass or switch to a rich choice of beers. If we come on the right day, we will be able to join one of many concerts taking place in Alchemia. There is no place for random music there; we can only meet jazz or ambitious electronic gigs created to please the new audience crowding the place. More than that, the club cooperates with local artistic initiatives, such as the upcoming Jewish Culture Festival.
6) A special night out
Still a student? Well travel like one then!!!Weekends are not the only time that you party when you are a student, that’s why “Monday Students Night” at the “Kitsch Pub” lets you party wild, unlimited and what gets better is that you also have cheaper beer benefits for students. So you are welcomed to drink all you can, while you can stand still. And guess what is the best part about this bar is that, the night is not just limited to Mondays, and you also have “Ladies Nite” and “Boys Nite” to make things more interesting.
7) Mirror! Mirror! On Wall Who Is the Best Dressed Of All
INFO: All over the city, Link
The marksmen society is as old as the Kraków itself, it dates back to 1257. Every year a shooting competition is planned to choose a champion among the marksman. This contest is received with a parade dressed in traditional Turkish, Persian and Tatar costumes and carrying light rifles on them, and then the best dressed among all are selected.
If you are heading to Krakow get your Locals Travel Guide here
We selected 55 places we consider that are some of the essential areas to visit while in Krakow. Aside from sightseeing, the best places to visit for meals and nightlife are also included.
We hope you enjoy your trip to Poland and that this book will help you see this unique destination from the eyes and perspective of a local.