Wednesday 18 April 2018

So guys, I can officially say Poland has made it on to the top 5 places to visit in Europe because it is beautiful. When booking this trip we weren't sure whether to go for Krakow or Warsaw, and opted for the former just because of its proximity to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Other than that we didn't really know what to expect from it. In a nutshell, Krakow is colourful, cheap, full of history and probably counted for the 1kg weight gain whilst on my mini eurotrip. So if you're looking for somewhere to plan a short break away with your partner, friends or family, Krakow is the place to be. Here are my tips for visiting; where to stay, what to do and the best places to eat in Krakow, Poland.


Where to stay in Krakow

In terms of location there are two areas that are ideal to be based in - either Old Town Krakow or in the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz). They are both within a 15 minute walk of each other with the Old Town being located to your left when entering the city and Kazimierz to the right. We changed apartments a week before travelling as we found an abundance of Easter deals, even though accommodation here is relatively cheap. We stayed in Erasmus Student Apartments - Jewish District and paid £25 EACH for 3 nights. These are designed for well, students so have all the basic amenities (and free wifi) and is located right in front of the river and a 5 minute walk from Wawel Castle.

wawel cathedral

What to eat in Krakow

So I may have given the Goulash soup a miss here just because there was so many other soup options! The first night I had some traditional Zurek soup, which is a fermented sourdough/rye soup filled with sausage, egg and in some places comes served in a bread bowl with a little bread lid #socute. If like me soup is your comfort food, then Borscht (beetroot based) and Berdytchov (honey and meat) are great choices also. 

For something a bit more filling, I recommend trying some Pierogi - stuffed ravioli/dumplings. Mine were filled with potato, cheese and onion and were delicious. I wish I would have had time for another meal so I could have tried the meat ones, but maybe you can and let me know the verdict! Golabki is another popular choice, which is essentially minced pork with some rice, onion, mushrooms, wrapped in white cabbage leaves (although it comes with other fillings). Placki Ziemniaczane are potato pancakes that are also very tasty, and I love anything with the word pancake in it.


Now on to the best part, dessert and cakes!! When walking from Wawel Castle to Rynek Glowny (Old Town Square) you'll pass by a lot of bakeries and cafes. 'Obwarzanek krakowski' is a round braided shape 'bagel' that is covered in either cheese, poppy seeds etc before being baked. They're sold on almost every corner and only cost you the equivalent of 20p , so if you're coming to the end of your budget you can always fill your suitcase with these. Now, my biggest regret is not indulging in a Pączki - a rose jam filled doughnut topped with orange zest that has been around since the 1700's, they even have their own celebration day! We passed by a little kiosk selling these just after lunch and I had no room left for one, but at least this gives me a reason to go back right?

Where to eat and drink in Krakow 

So whilst on this trip we had to cater for my coeliac friend, which meant we couldn't eat in 60% of places because EVERYTHING HAS GLUTEN. We did find quite a few restaurants in the Jewish Quarter street of Szeroka had some GF options and traditional Polish/Jewish food for me to try. For my lovely bread bowl soup, we went to AWIW which had a nice setting and great prices. When deciding on where we were going to go for dinner on the last night, the host from Ariel let us know that parts of Steven Spielberg's movie Schindler's List was filmed in their restaurant. We went on to hear this a further 10 times whilst having our meal because he told everyone, but still the food was nice. I had my Bedrytchov soup and Pierogi for less than 10 euros. You'll also find a lot of restaurants in this place have live music in the early evening. Hamsa also seemed to be a popular choice with a great selection of hummus. The Old Town Square is also filled with great restaurants and has a lot of standard international cuisines if you're travelling with fussy eaters - mexican, american, italian etc. 

If you want to get drunk on the cheap, then Krakow is the place to do it. Aside from that, there are a lot of quirky bars you can visit here. Singer bar is actually where the original Singer sewing factory used to reside, and has a lot of character. Alchemia is a charming bar with live music and also serves mezze plates food if you fancy something to wash down your beer with.

What to do in Krakow

On your first day, I would recommend a walking tour of the city, if your legs fancy a rest then you'll also see people in carts scattered around who will drive you around the Jewish Quarter, Ghetto and/or the Old Town and let you stop for those ever important Instagram photos. If you're graced with a sunny day, then the Wawel castle complex is interesting to explore. If you'd like to find out more about the history of the city, then I suggest taking a free walking tour in Krakow


A trip to Krakow would not be complete without a visit to both the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps and the Wieliczka Salt Mines. Both will probably take up most of your day so this is why I'd probably recommend visiting for 4 days so you're not rushed for time. The drive to the concentration camps takes around 1 hour, and if you book through GetYourGuide or Escape2Poland transfer from the centre to this is also included in your ticket. As expected, this isn't the easiest tour to experience but one that is needed to get a deeper and real understanding of what happened here less than 100 years ago, and where 1.1 million jews, gypsies and minorities were sent to. For me it was one of those things that when you're actually there it's not really sinking in, it wasn't until I was back on the bus and had an hour to reflect on everything I'd just seen that it really hit me. From the thousands of shoes, luggage and hair we saw to the state of the living conditions and gas chambers, everything hits you.


The Wieliczka Salt Mines (god that never gets easier to spell) starts off with about 500 steps, so not the best place to where your chunky heels to guys. Once you're 140 metres below the surface your guide will take you through a number of chambers were you can see sculptures, equipment and even chapels made out of salt. There are also spa retreats that take place here as the air is so pure, so smokers, try and breath deeply during your 2.5 hours here! Admittedly, it wasn't the most interesting of tours, but I did get to lick salt from a wall (we were assured that there were no health risks because imagine all the people that do this), the chapel was also quite breathtaking and a lot of people actually have their wedding receptions here. For 7 euros, you can also visit Oskar Schindler's Factory and House and learn the story about the industrialist man who saved the lives of more than 1000 people. If you haven't yet I also recommend you watch the film starring Liam Neeson.

In the main square you'll see lots of horse and carriages offering rides through the town, which depending on your views you can also add to your itinerary if you'd like. Even spending an afternoon getting lost in the town is worth doing as the scenery and architecture of the buildings look like you've stepped out of a fairy-tale. 

Alternative things to do in Krakow

After our tragic 'ghosts' tour in Prague we were a bit skeptical about doing this, but it turns out it was probably one of the highlights of the trip. The 7 Deadly Sins of Krakow is a nighttime tour that lasts about an hour and a half and taps into the darker side of the city and our tour guide Bartek had some very amusing stories to tell (he even treated us to some polish salami). There was only five of us in total so the tour was more interactive and personal. I definitely recommend this if you like gory stories or want to find out about things you won't read about in travel books.

If you're a foodie like myself, then I'd also recommend doing the Taste of Poland tour. For 30 euros you get to eat a lot of food and drink and is a good way to socialise and mingle in a less hectic manner. Or if you do want to get smashed and dance the night away, then you might want to consider a Pub Crawl in Krakow. If one night of partying isn't enough, then why not try a boat party in Krakow too? 

If you want to continue the night and fancy heading to a nightclub that is inclusive for both locals and tourists, then I recommend FOUR - they host parties 5 times a week so they'll have something to suit you whenever you are visiting!

wawel castle

Practical tips for visiting Krakow

  • The official currency in Poland is polish Zloty - to get the best rate when withdrawing money opt for 'no conversion'. I always recommend getting yourself a Revolut card if you travel often! 
  • We visited the first week of April and had 15'C weather, so the temp can be unpredictable, check the forecast!
  • I recommend you buy tickets for Schindler's House etc online, as they're usually sold out on the date. 
  • Even though we visited for 3 days, with the amount of time the tours take up I'd recommend a good 4 days here.
  • Krakow is easy to get around in by foot, so there won't really be a need for public transport. 

Have you guys visited Poland? What was your experience like? I'd definately like to return (maybe Warsaw this time) so I am always up for recommendations! 



for more ideas on what to do in Krakow head to my Poland Pinterest board.

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