Although Warsaw is the capital of Poland, Krakow is a bigger attraction for tourists due to its incredible beauty. It has many things to do and areas to explore, however, a weekend can be enough if you plan your visit right. The best way to enjoy your trip is to book an accommodation close enough to Stare Miasto, the Old Town, and explore the city on foot. Be sure to include the following suggested places in your trip.
Walk around the Rynek
Located in the heart of Old Town, Market Square (the Rynek) is the main area to explore. There you will find the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), Rynek Underground Museum, the Town Hall, beautiful Catholic churches, cafes and restaurants. The Cloth Hall is an old gallery that dates back to the 14th century and now hosts an amazing craft market with a great variety of Polish jewels, souvenirs and art creations. Under this gallery, you will find the Rynek Underground Museum where one can explore the history of the Cloth Hall and admire a great collection of Polish art at the Art Gallery. Entrance costs 19 PLN (5 USD) except on Tuesdays, when admission is free. On the other side you can see the emblematic Town Hall Tower, built at the end of 13th century. For the small fee of 8 PLN (1.98 USD) visitors can ascend the Tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
The Market Square is surrounded by palaces and other landmarks like the St. Mary’s Basilica, the Church of St. Adalbert, and the Adam Mickiewicz Monument. In this popular tourist area, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes. The most famous and oldest building in the Square is Wierzynek Restaurant that has been there since 1364. Do not hesitate to go inside and order a hot meal! There you can enjoy traditional Polish food; the soup is so delicious! But it is recommended to make a reservation in advance, as Wierzynek is quite popular and always full of people.
Go out in the Jewish Quarter
The Kazimierz Neighborhood, located in the southern part of Old Town is Krakow’s Jewish Quarter that was destroyed during World War II after the Nazi invasion. Today, after its restoration, it is a beautiful area with a labyrinthine of narrow roads, churches, and synagogues and has become a nightlife hotspot. It is a very interesting place to get lost, admire street art, see the trendsetting cafes, art galleries, restaurants and try Jewish food. This is a great place to discover Jewish culture and customs.
I suggest strolling around the area and dining at Israeli restaurant called “Hamsa”. There, you will find a the tastiest hummus and slow cooked kosher meat, hot wine with spices and delicious hot beer. The place is very modern, the staff are young and friendly and the food is amazing!
Shopping at Galeria Krakowska
The most impressive shopping mall connected with an underground passage to Krakow Glowy – the main bus and train station – is a heaven for shopaholics. It covers 60,000 sq meters and offers 3 floors full of shops, cafeterias, and restaurants, a supermarket and a post office. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 10 PM and from 10 AM to 9 PM on Sundays. Galeria Krakowska frequently hosts exhibitions and events and becomes a place of intellect, culture and is a local gathering place. Even if you do not want to spend money on clothes, have a look at the impressive building and check their website for interesting art exhibitions.
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Auschwitz is located 1 hr and 40 mins away from Krakow, but can be reached by private buses offered by organised tour offices. Plan your excursion early as you will need about 6 hours for the whole trip including a guided tour. The cost of the excursion is approximately 145 PLN (35.24 USD) for adults, 115 PLN (27.96 USD) for students, and 80 PLN (19.45 USD) for children.
It’s really worth visiting Auschwitz to see Europe’s recent history and the terror that the Nazis caused first-hand. You will see the remnants of the concentration camp and the belongings of the people who went there and were kept by the Nazis. You will be guided to the different areas where people slept, ate, and were tortured. It is a very sad and strong experience. Guides are very well informed and respectful. You should book the guided tour at least a week in advance from the official Auschwitz website. Alternatively, there are various companies that organise pick ups from your hotel and they offer transportation and a full guided excursion to Auschwitz that can be booked just a day in advance. For more information see below.
Join a free walking tour
Did you know that you can discover Krakow on foot with a local guide that explains everything and it’s free? There are various walking tours and there is no better way to discover the city’s history, its secret gems, and the areas that are not easily found. Tour guides are usually quite well informed, very friendly and can give extra information if you want to learn something in particular (ex. good restaurants, bars etc.). You can join a tour easily by registering on the tour’s website and meeting them at the scheduled time and date. Do not miss the opportunity to join such tours (more information can be found in below links)!
How to spend a weekend in Krakow
Krakow offers a great variety of things to do and you can easily fill your weekend in this great city. Krakow’s Main Square is a great meeting point for locals and there is always a buzz going on there. Spend an afternoon admiring the beautiful historic buildings that surround it and taste some polish beer in the local pubs. Definitely the place to enjoy Krakow’s nightlife is the Jewish Quarter. There you can get in touch with Jewish culture by visiting a synagogue and eating jewish food. There you will taste hummus at its best!
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