Krakow in Lesser Poland is fast becoming one of Europe's top city break destinations.
With its cruel history, beautiful churches and some of the coolest bars in Europe, Krakow has something for everyone.
From the biggest medieval square in Europe Rynek G?ówny (Main Square), to the little compact streets of the old Jewish quarter (Kazimierz), you are never too far away from the past. I had the pleasure of calling Krakow my home and has since become one of my favourite cities in the world.
If you're planning a weekend break or coming here for a holiday, don't go without reading this article on the...
Top 5 things to do in Krakow:
5. Stroll around the old town
No visit to Krakow would be complete without walking around the streets of the old town. Rynek G?ówny (Main Square) is in the centre of the old town and during the summer the cafe's that line the square spill out into the streets. In the centre of the square lyes Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) selling all kinds of souvenirs from hand made crafts to statues of Jan Pawel (Pope John Paul II). Above the Cloth Hall is a great cafe with magnificent views of the Mariacki (St Mary's Church) and the rest of the square. You have to pay a small fee to sit down but it is worth it just for the photo opportunities.
On Bracka St, you will find one of the hidden gems of Krakow known simply as Nalewki (Liquor Shop). It's true that not even most locals know about this place but the ones that do are regular visitors! Stacks of home made liquor in round jars greet you as you walk through the doors, each one a different flavour. A shot costs between 4-6 PLN so is dangerously inexpensive! Try the Krupnik and Amaretto.
4. Eat Like a King in Pod Wawelem
Situated near Wawel Castle, Pod Wawelem restaurant is an experience of its own! Serving extreme portions of traditional Polish dishes, you arrive in Pod Wawelem hungry, you leave not needing to eat for days! Watching the waitresses carry these huge dishes of food on oversized trays is all part of the experience. The actual quality of the food is pretty good too! It's not fine dinning but if you want a big meal after walking around the city all day, this is the place to go.
3. Search for the dragon in Wawel
Krakow's gothic castle Wawel is situated south of the old town on the Wisla River. The castle complex consists of a museum, a cathedral, the Royal Castle itself and a mausoleum where past kings and presidents are buried including ex President Lech Kaczy?ski, who died in a plane crash in 2010 along with his wife and many of Poland's political figures. Wawel is also famous for the Dragon of Wawel Hill! Climb down through the dragon's layer and you might see it!
2. See Kazimierz by day!
Kazimierz is the old jewish quarter of Krakow and a place full of history everywhere you go. Just off Starowislna Street on Miodowa is Cmentarz ?ydowski (Jewish Cemetery). There are memorials to the victims of the war on the right hand side of the cemetery. Following Starowislna Street leads to 'The Square of Ghetto Heroes' which was the centre of the ghetto and the main departure point for thousands of Jews. Walking back up the street, you will probably see queues of people (Especially during the summer).
Starowislna Ice Creams are definitely worth the wait! For 2.50PLN you can get a scoop of the best ice cream in town! Finally, Beera Meiselsa Street was where the 'evacuation' scenes were filmed for Schindler's List.
1. See Kazimierz by night!
Kazimierz is also home to some of the coolest, unique cafe/ bars in Europe. Eszeweria on Jozefa Street was our favourite spot in Krakow. Like many of the cafes in Kazimierz, it looks like an old Jewish family's house along with family portraits on the wall and even a bed!
Absynt Cafe on Miodowa is very similar as well. A friend described it to me as "drinking beer in your grandma's house!" He wasn't wrong! They also have an Absinth menu and for around 20PLN, you can well 'enjoy' a shot!
Finally stagger back to Plac Nowy and to Alchemia, the daddy of cafe's in Kazimierz! Things can get a little wild here and dancing on tables is a common occurrence. The great thing about Alchemia is that it's just across the road from where you can enjoy Krakow's finest street food. Zapiekanki is a halved baguette with mushrooms and other toppings and is sold at many of the stalls in Plac Nowy and finishes any night rather splendidly!
Travel tip shared by Travel Shutter