A medieval city brimming with history and home of the Wawel Dragon and Princess Wanda, Krakow is the perfect undiscovered weekend city break destination.
Set in the south of Poland, Krakow is close enough to the mountains (if you’re after an active way to burn off the gorgeous food and plentiful vodka) and only 4 hours to Warsaw by train, 4 hours to Zakopane by coach and 3 hours by train to Katowice.
Sukiennice, Medieval Castle Hill, Mariacki Church, Jewish Quarter, Vistula River
History’s all around so as soon as you get off the train, you’ll see what a city break in Krakow has to offer. 5 mins from the train station, you reach the borders of the old town and one of the main gates. From there, you can wander the cobbled streets til your hearts content, stopping off for a (traditional polish) tea with lemon or a fantastically fresh apple pie.
In the middle of the square you’ll find Sukiennice (or the old Cloth Hall) where all the souvenir shopping action happens. Walking through the middle will show you exactly what trinkets you can buy on your visit (leather, wooden goods, nice glass, crystal, lots and lots of silver) . The stalls in Sukiennice are bound to be more expensive, so either go to one of the smaller shops in the side roads or haggle like you’ve never haggled before…. it will work!! If you really like some of the wooden and leather goods, a day trip to Zakopane will save you money and get you the real thing straight from the mountain people!
Trams and buses are great to use around Krakow, if you’ve never been on a tram, this is the time to try it! Buy a ticket in one of the ‘kiosk’s (small huts normally by the side of the roads) for 1-2 zl (always divide price by 5 to get GBP) and jump on.
How to get there:
You can fly directly into Krakow airport (named John Paul II airport) from London – Ryanair, Easyjet, BA and LOT all fly there from the UK.
If you’re after a two-centre break (and it’s worth it) then I’d fly into Warsaw and fly out of Krakow as they are only 4 hours by train from each other(and experience in itself) . In peak times (Christmas, Easter, Sunday!) I’d recommend getting a first class ticket on the train as you might end up standing in the hallway (or sitting on the floor), but the journey is very scenic so enjoy.
Good times to go?
Winter’s great if you fancy seeing some snow. Try spending New Year’s Eve in Krakow as the main square in the old town fills with 1000’s of locals and tourists surrounding the main stage. You can dance and sing away to local polish acts and normally some international surprises. Expect minus temperatures, sometimes down as far as minus 15 (pack warm clothes) . February is by far the coldest so wrap up warm.
Summer’s best with the long hot sunny days and you can sit outside in Krakow’s cafes, go on a boat ride on the Vistula (Wisla) or walk in the beautiful mountains.
3 Day trip ideas:
For the nature lovers – a one day trip by coach to Zakopane. Coach costs peanuts, views on the way are amazing and once you get to Zakopane you’ll want to buy all the wooden and leather goodies you can carry (at 20p per wooden spoon, can you really resist??) and climb the mountains.
For the history buffs – a visit to the old concentration camp of Aushwitz (Oswiecim) is a natural choice for most visitors to Krakow.
For the adventurers – climb down into the Wieliczka salt mine and witness the spectacular salt ballroom and caves. … and resist the temptation to lick the walls! There is also a spa to get your dose of goodness on your Poland break.
See more info on inlovewithpoland.com