Krakow… the home of Gothic & medieval architecture, authentic Polish cuisine and cheap beer – need we go on? As the former capital of Poland, the city of Krakow isn’t just rich in culture – it’s the place where some of the biggest historical events ever took place!
As well as the educational aspect of Krakow, the city has a vibe we just can’t get enough of, making it the perfect place to sit and just watch the world go by. Recently, I was lucky enough to pay a visit to Krakow and experience the city in all its glory…
Points of Interest
Back in 1978, Krakow’s Old Town was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its authenticity and integrity of retaining its original medieval form… So as you can imagine, you’re never too short of seeing something amazing around this city!
If you want to head into the hustle and bustle of it all, you can make your way to the Main Market Square where you’ll be met with stunning buildings that stand tall around the square, quirky bars and quaint restaurants. Make sure you buy yourself an authentic Polish souvenir from the Cloth Hall which sits right in the middle of the square too… Horse drawn carriages make their way around the square which just adds to the amazing atmosphere.
If you’d like to enjoy somewhere a little quieter, take a walk down to the Barbican of Krakow and see the walls that once protected the city, visit the Jewish Quarter and have a bite to eat or take in the stunning views of Wawel Castle.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
As well as the incredible architecture within the city itself, Krakow is home to some of the most interesting visitor attractions in Poland. Located just 20 minutes out of the city is the Wieliczka Salt Mine which is a huge part of Krakow’s history.
When you arrive at the Salt Mines, you’ll be met with a network of tunnels that are said to stretch the length of around 300km – that’s the same distance from Krakow, all the way to Warsaw! You’ll have to go on a supervised tour in the mines, but you’ll have one of their knowledgeable tour guides – they have some interesting stories and anecdotes which make this tour funny as well as exciting.
Depending how fast you walk, each tour lasts about 2 hours, with plenty of them happening throughout the day. When you enter the mine, you’ll have to make your way down what feels like an endless staircase… it has roughly 350 stairs! Throughout the whole tour, there’s around 800 stairs, so make sure you’re well rested and take a coat as it can get quite chilly…
Once you’re in the mine, you’ll see that it’s still in use today and as you go deeper and deeper (up to 130ft deep), you’ll pass through some unbelievable chambers… From concert halls, churches, a restaurant and even a cinema! Yes, really… The Salt Mines were definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Krakow – every corner you turned, you literally couldn’t believe your eyes… You can even lick the walls and taste the salt which definitely sounds worse than it is!
A little further out of the city, about an hour’s drive, is one of the biggest Nazi concentration camps of WWII. Responsible for taking the lives over 1.1 million men, women and children, visiting Auschwitz Birkenau is a very moving experience that I still can’t seem to get my head around.
Auschwitz Birkenau is made up of two camps and you can visit the camp on a guided tour, where you will be picked up directly from your hotel. Our Discover Krakow attraction package is the perfect way to do this which also includes a trip to the Salts Mine (and much more!).
When arriving at Auschwitz, you’ll be taken round the camp and shown some of the most chilling parts of the concentration camp, from the central jail in Block No. 11 to where the SS offices were located, as well as where experiments and executions took place.
Walking around the Birkenau camp is no less chilling; the sheer scale of the camp is hard to take in… Your guide will walk you through the most important parts of the camp, including the gas chambers which are now just rubble in an attempt to cover up any evidence before liberation.
The walk around Auschwitz certainly is an experience, but if you’re in Krakow, it’s an important place to visit. As a symbol of the Holocaust, it’s a way of showing your respect, attempting to understand what went on back then and a reminder for us to never repeat it.
Starka Restaurant & Vodkas
With so much to do and see within Krakow, it’s important that you have some good food too, but you’re on holiday so it’s not like you need an excuse…
Just a couple of minutes from Wawel Castle you can find a welcoming, snug little restaurant called Starka. As an authentic Polish restaurant, Starka serve dishes that taste just as good as they look… and they literally look incredible!
This main dish was Beef Cheek on the menu, it was served in an aromatic, smoked bacon, hunter sauce & was accompanied by homemade herb dumplings & caramelised carrots. All for 42 zloty which converts to around £9!
Krakow has a range of different restaurants suiting everyone’s taste and if you fancy something a little different, head to Samui just off the Main Market Square.
The setting and the food quickly transports you to Thailand, with everything from Tempura prawns & spring rolls to Tom Yum & traditional Pad Thai’s. The service is great and if you want something with a little bit of a kick, this is the perfect place to visit!
Located close to the Jewish Quarter, which is a must-visit in itself, is Hevre which is currently one of the coolest bars in the centre. Hevre used to be an old Jewish prayer house back in the 19th century and it was badly damaged during WWII. You can still see the murals that were painted on the walls all those years ago making this a really cool and current drinking hole, full of history.
Surrounded by luscious green plants throughout Hevre, you can enjoy quirky cocktails and delicious food throughout the day and when night time comes, can you dance the night away…
Europejska, like a handful of other bars and restaurants located in the Main Market Square is the perfect place to watch the world go by. You can quite easily lose track of time here, especially with their national beer, Zywiec. It tastes great and it tastes even better where in some places, you can get it for as cheap as a pound!
Wanting to go on a Krakow break yourself? Take a look at our breaks where you book your flights, hotels & excursions.