Krakow is Poland’s historic capital, and is considered by many to have a greater character than the new capital Warsaw. Though Krakow remains an ideal destination for stag-do’s and those in search of a great value party, the city has vast amounts of culture, history and adventure for all kinds of tourists.
Located in the south of Poland, the city is just a stone’s throw away from Prague and Bratislava, making it a great option for a stop-off as part of a European city tour.
Krakow has become famous for its party scene and is a favourite for stags, hens and other assorted party animals.
For those seeking a bit of culture, the city’s old town has some beautiful architecture and some great stories to match. The iconic Krakow landmark is St Mary’s cathedral in the ‘Rynek’ – the main city square.
Stand outside St Mary’s at midday and you will hear a tune known as the ‘Hejna? Mariacki’, played from a bugle at the top of the tallest tower. Half way through the tune suddenly cuts off. This is to commemorate the bugler who played the tune to warn the city of a Mongol invasion 1241. Legend has it that he was shot in the neck with an arrow before he could finish the tune.
The city square also plays host to the city’s picture-book Christmas markets which are a great place to buy gifts or enjoy a cheeky tipple!
Icelolly’s ‘must do’ excursion is to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Just 20 minutes by train from the city centre, tourists can take a tour deep underground into a series of caverns and rooms carved into the rock. There they will find ornate salt-sculptures carved by the men who used to work the mine. The highlight of the tour is the underground chapel, a cavernous room with huge chandeliers carved from the crystal-like salt.
For winter sports fans, Poland’s largest ski-resort, Zakopane, is just a two hour bus ride away, making it a brilliant destination for a day on the slopes or simply taking in the stunning scenery.
Krakow’s legendary beer prices have mellowed slightly in the past few years but a pint of the high-quality local brew can still be found for around £1.25. Food is also still highly affordable, particularly if you are after the traditional Polish grub. For eating on a budget we think you can’t go wrong with a ‘milk bar’.
These small, no frills, cafés were originally designed to cater for Poland’s working classes and elderly but are now popular with students and tourists seeking an authentic meal for just a couple of quid.
Krakow has a high standard of traditional dining and the ‘Rynek’ (main square) isn’t a bad place to start. Three course meals around the main square will cost the equivalent of about £10-15.
For those looking for cutting edge cuisine and street food, head over the river to the Podgórze district, a traditionally working class district, which in the past couple of years has been colonised by Krakow’s arts crowd and ‘foodies’.