Fully biased, I would of course preach on the wonders of going to Krakow for a European city break.
Cheaper than most, it’s firstly a great value weekend – and the old town is listed as a World Heritage Site! (so definitely worth a visit!)
Flights to Krakow go from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton and all major UK airports – straight into Krakow Balice Airport in 2hr30mins.
I would recommend bmi/LOT for your flight, but BA is also good (minus strikes) as are the cheaper alternatives – I quite like the purple coloured Wizz Air, the benefit there is you can sleep through the 2.5 hrs without any food disturbance 😉 (if you have a 6am flight like I often have).
I’ve been to Krakow 3 or 4 times now over 15 yrs and I would definitely go back again. Apart from being great for a beautiful city break in its own right, I have teamed it up with Warsaw in the past (4hrs by train) and that’s a good way of doing it if you want to get the most of your Poland trip.
The old town is magical – with Sukiennice as your focal point in the square. This is the picturesque ‘cloth ‘hall’ which houses stalls with traditional crafts and souvenir items (remember to always haggle – especially if buying more than 1 item!).
The main church in the square is called Mariacki (St Mary’s) – and houses the famous wooden alter piece by Veit Stoss – try and see the opening of it and catch it during mass. Every hour, the Hejnal tune is played by a trumpeter in the tower window of the church, listen to it break off mid stream to commemorate the trumpeter in 13th century who was shot with an arrow to the throat when sounding an alarm of invasion.
The tune is also played on the radio across Poland every day at noon, always brings back childhood memories for me 🙂 (it did often mean dinner time at home 🙂 ) . Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVQbxXvyG7A .
In the summer the main square is great for sitting around, eating good hearty Polish food with beer such as Zywiec, Okocim, Tyskie or Lech and watching the world go by. The main square often holds shows, festivals and a massive party on New Year’s Eve (every city in Poland tries to win on account of best band-stand street party on the 31st :)).
Wawel is the royal castle on the hill (Krakow was the capital city of Poland between 11th and 16th centuries) on the banks of Vistula River, housing the Wawel Cathedral where many Polish kings and generals have tombs. It’s worth going on a guided tour of the Castle and if you’re feeling fit then climbing up the narrow stairs of the Cathedral Tower is worth it to see the most famous bell in Poland – the Sigmuntus Bell. Line up to touch it and make a wish – it might come true 🙂 The views of Krakow from the tower are beautiful.
Read more about Poland and Krakow at inlovewithpoland.com