The full name of Krakow sounds like this: Capital Royal City of Krakow. And he really justifies such a solemn name. Despite the fact that this large city in the south of Poland has long ceased to be the capital, it retains the dignity and beauty of the country’s main settlement. And royal chic is found here at every turn. Check clothingexpress for information about visa to Poland.
Many tourists consider Krakow the most interesting place in Poland. People come here to see the sights, visit the impressive and terrifying monuments of the Second World War and enjoy the amazingly harmonious architecture. In addition, music and film festivals, street theater days and other world-class cultural events are held here.
How to get to Krakow
The easiest and fastest way to get there is by plane, Krakow-Balice International Airport is located 11 km from the historical center. There are no direct flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg, it is convenient to fly with a connection in Warsaw by LOT and Aeroflot airlines from Sheremetyevo. Travel time with a short stop is about 4 hours.
The cheapest way to get from the airport to the city is by bus for 4 PLN. A taxi ride will cost from 69 PLN.
You can also take a train with a change in Warsaw. In this case, the road from Moscow will take about 20 hours, from St. Petersburg – 31 hours. In the capital, trains depart from the Belorussky railway station, in St. Petersburg – from Vitebsky. By bus from Moscow, the fastest way is to go through Minsk, three times a week flights start from the Belorussky railway station, and from St. Petersburg – through Kaunas, twice a week you can leave from bus station No. 2 on Obvodny Canal. Prices on the page are for July 2022.
Districts of Krakow
Krakow is divided into 18 parts, which are officially marked with Roman numerals, but in practice they are most often called historical names. Almost all sights are concentrated in the area I Stare Miasto or the Old Town. Tourists usually stop here so that you can walk to anywhere in the center.
Right there, in the very center of Krakow, there are round-the-clock iluggage lockers: look for them near the central square, on Szczepanska street, 3.
The surrounding areas are mostly new buildings with occasional interspersing of religious monuments and parks. From the point of view of the abundance of green areas, district VII Zwierzyniec is interesting. In Podgórze, you can find very unusual architecture, such as Villa Julius, Podskale or the Church of St. Benedict, as well as the infamous Plaszow concentration camp. The ancient forts are visited in Wzgórza-Krzesławickie.
Several palaces, including the Kihmajer or Wodzicki, the Popiel manor and examples of Stalinist architecture, are located in Nowa Hut. True, these places are considered the most restless in terms of street thefts, so it is better to come here during the day.
There are several thousand accommodation options in Krakow. These are modest hostels, and guest houses, and apartments, and hotels: from simple and budget to luxurious and expensive. When choosing, many travelers come from the area, almost everyone wants to stay in the center. A three-star hotel in the Old Town costs from 340 PLN for two, and a 5 * hotel – from 630 PLN per day. A place in a hostel will cost from 65 PLN. Many hotels offer free parking, breakfast and WI-Fi.
The Old Town of Krakow is almost entirely pedestrian, and within the rest of the historical center it is easy to get around on foot: it is small and the streets are very beautiful. So many tourists do not need public transport at all.
However, it is well developed. There is no metro in the city, but there is an extensive bus network, 20 tram routes and suburban trains. Transport operates strictly according to the schedule and runs every 15 minutes from 5:00 to 23:00. There are night routes, they travel less often, but also regularly. It is convenient to use taxi services – prices, especially during the day, are very low (from 6:00 to 22:00 a trip around the city will cost 25-35 PLN. At night, the price doubles).
Calling a taxi by phone is more profitable – in this case they give a 10% discount.
Krakow has a great bike rental system, public bike sharing and several commercial services. To rent a bike, you will need to pay a deposit and pay 20 PLN per hour. It is this type of transport that often becomes the most convenient for city guests.
Rent a Car
You probably won’t need a car in Krakow itself. But if you want to go to the suburbs or other regions of the country, then you should rent a car: there are international offices both at the airport and in the city.
The entire center is either completely closed to cars, or drivers face difficulties with parking. It is either prohibited or paid (from 10:00 to 20:00 on weekdays). Payment is made at parking meters, 6-7 PLN for the first two hours, then it is much more expensive. It is difficult to drive in the city center – the streets are narrow, sometimes of non-standard width (a little less than two lanes), many are closed to traffic, so there are congestion in these areas. In addition, you need to be careful about the trams that move along the roadway. But on the outskirts, the expensive ones are wide, straight and good, at intersections they often make a ring, which makes traffic a little easier, traffic jams are rare.
The center is divided into three zones. Zone A is completely pedestrian, zone B can only be entered by residents of the area with passes, taxis and special vehicles, zone C is open to everyone, but there are limited parking rules: you can stand for a short time, and it is difficult to find a place.
The traffic police are loyal to tourists, but they still issue fines, so it’s better to follow the rules. In addition, in Krakow, in most difficult situations on the roads, the pedestrian is right.
Shopping and souvenirs
Almost the entire Old Town is a place where Krakow souvenirs are sold. There are regular shops, temporary tents and fairs in the Market Square.
Jewelry with amber and corals, glassware, handmade wooden angels and little men, figures of Wawel dragons and much more are brought from Krakow. Local delicacies are stocked on the Central Square: chocolate and sweets from the Krakow confectionery factory, sausages, Polish beer, liquor with gold particles and the famous Zubrovka vodka.
Despite the fact that Wroclaw is considered the most famous city of gnomes, they are also popular in Krakow, so one of the fun souvenirs is a gnome search kit. It includes soft slippers, a magnifying glass and an ointment for the back: it will certainly hurt, because the gnomes are small and you need to look for them by bending over.
But in Krakow you can not only buy souvenirs, but also do real shopping – there are many shopping centers and boutiques here, and the prices are very reasonable. Right in the Old Town on Florianskaya, Shevskaya and Slavskovskaya streets there are several interesting shops, although large shopping centers are located on the outskirts. The sales season usually starts right after the Catholic Christmas. And in the north-west of the city there is a very large outlet where you can buy things with discounts all year round. Read more: shopping in Krakow.
Cuisine and restaurants in Krakow
There are many authentic restaurants in Krakow, where they prepare both traditional dishes and cuisines of the peoples of the world. Worth a look at one of the oldest establishments in the city – Wentzl (near the market square), which dates back to 1792. The Singer Cafe is no less popular, with its charming interior filled with antiques and wonderful aroma of cappuccino. In the evenings, this place turns into a trendy club where quality music is played.
In general, cafes and restaurants are at every step. Cafes and eateries offer inexpensive and hearty meals, bars are more suitable for light snacks and drinks, but keep in mind: almost anywhere that sells alcohol, they may ask for an ID card to verify age. Many establishments do not have shop windows or even an entrance from the street, it is worth looking into the arches and corridors: you can find something very unusual. Dinner in a restaurant with moderate alcohol will cost about 130 PLN.
The geographical location and history of Krakow have influenced its cuisine: today it is a very unusual mixture of Slavic and Western European traditions.
You can have a snack on the go with local casseroles, which are more like pizza. They are sold from stalls on the streets for 10-15 PLN. Another specialty is “boobies”, bagels with poppy seeds or salt, you should definitely try them – they are very tasty! It is worth tasting white borscht, which is not at all like Ukrainian, soup “zhurekh”, which is often served in a loaf of black bread, “feathers” – something like fried dumplings with different fillings. Krakow is called the meat capital, so the choice of meat dishes here is really impressive: these are Krakow sausages, golonka pork leg, and much more. Of the local sweets, the Mazurek cake, shortbread rolls with nut filling and “favorkas” that are very similar to our brushwood stand out.
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Sights of Krakow
The entire center of Krakow is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Any tourist sooner or later finds himself on the Market Square – this large space is built up with examples of medieval architecture. It is worth visiting the Palace of the Bishops and following the route “Royal Road”, which leads along the main attractions of the city.
Another famous place is the Royal or Wawel Castle, this architectural ensemble includes several outbuildings, the Cathedral of Stanislav and Wenceslas, as well as chapels. Sigismund’s bell hangs in the castle, which, according to legend, fulfills one of two wishes: it brings money or love. You just need to choose one thing.
Art lovers tend to get to the Czartoryski Museum, which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine.
The tragic events of the Second World War are connected with the city. It was here that the Jewish settlement of Kazimierz was located, which later became part of Krakow. During the war, most of the inhabitants were herded into the Krakow ghetto, many were sent to Auschwitz, and it was in Krakow that Oscar Schindler was active, who managed to save almost 1,200 people. The factory, opened by the industrialist, has now become a museum, and filming of the film “Schindler’s List” took place in Kazimierz. Those who want to take a break from historical monuments should go to Planty, a park ring that surrounds the Old Town and was created on the site of the demolished fortress walls.
Travelers with children enjoy visiting one of the largest water parks in Eastern Europe and Krakow Zoo (off site).
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5 things to do in Krakow
- Walk around the Old Town, looking into courtyards and admiring the facades.
- Walk along the Royal Road so as not to miss any important sights.
- Grab a local bagel with salt at the Market Square.
- Plunge into the tragic history of Polish Jews and visit Oskar Schindler’s factory to believe in people again.
- Climb the tower of the town hall and look at the city from a height.
The climate in Krakow is temperate, with frequent rainfall, fog and high humidity. Often there is smog over the city. It is best to come here in the summer, when many sunny days await guests, or in the middle of winter, when it can snow. There are no strong temperature drops, in the warm season it is usually not too hot, and in the cold, real frosts are extremely rare. In the off-season it can be quite damp and dank.