Krakow is a bustling city in Poland despite its harsh history enduring war. It’s easy to see why people flock to Krakow both as tourists and expats and fall instantly in love with this magnificent medieval city.
No it’s no way dull, grey and boring as some people might perceive before visiting. A city that claims to have the highest density of bars in the world- doesn’t that say it all?
From ridiculously beautiful architecture, to fairy-tale worthy castles to dangerously cheap and high percentage vodka (75% to be precise). Krakow is the ideal destination for those looking for a meaningful break away that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Ready to explore?
Dine at Max 18–
Upon arriving in Krakow and settling your bags at your accommodation, waste no time sitting indoors. Head straight to the main square to see it come alive once dusk falls. Relax at Max 18, an outdoor shaded restaurant, sample their local polish cuisine and sip on a signature cocktail or a flavored vodka (honey, plum, strawberry- you are spoiled for choice).
Max 18 has a bird’s eye view of all the action on the square and of the horses and carriages pacing by. Try their traditional platter of filled dumplings and their Cosmopolitans. Spend the rest of the night meandering like a local round the hub of the square
Be a crazy cat lady at Krakowska Kocia Kawiarnia-
Are you a self-confessed cat lover? Then I am sure you have heard of the latest frenzy taking over the café scene. Cat cafés (and doggie cafes too) seem to be taking the world by storm and Krakow is not one to fall behind on a trend.
The Cat café in Krakow is called krakowska Kocia Kawiarnia is located at Krowoderska 48, Krakow. Upon entry to the café you choose your drinks and cake before proceeding through wardrobe doors to kitty Kat heaven.
Here you will see cats of all shapes and sizes roaming round the café like they own the place, some sleeping and some being playful with customers. Let’s get real though- cats aren’t the most affectionate of animals so Krakow if you would get yourself a doggie café that would be much appreciated! Drinks at the cat cafe are pricey however this is definitely a unique coffee experience
The Piano rouge-
Straight up- Piano Rouge is one of the nicest interior decorated bar/restaurant I have seen in Krakow. I’d also go as far as saying they have the best cocktails in the city (I sampled enough to know). There is live music here and scrumptious traditional polish food.
If you are here during the day time sit under an umbrella and watch the local street performers. At night follow the red carpet into a red ambiance room with dangling chandeliers. This place isn’t the cheapest place to wine and dine in Krakow but the atmosphere here makes it a really special treat. A very romantic place indeed.
Lick walls at the Wieliczka Salt Mine
The salt mine in Krakow is one of the city’s major tourist attractions and is also a certified UNESCO heritage site. It truly is a fascinating journey that takes you 327m below ground level.
Absolutely everything you set your eyes on in this Mine is carved from salt and the most delighting bit….you can go round and lick everything (free salt woop woop). Weirdly enough i enjoyed licking salty walls and maybe over indulged way too much in this (to the point I think the tour guide was starting to worry about me).
Entry to the Mine with an English speaking guide (French, Italian and Spanish also catered for) is 85 zl and 10 extra if you want to take pictures and videos. The tour lasts around 3.5 hours and there is lots of time to explore the 5D underground cinema and have lunch at the mine too
How to get to the Salt Mine?
You have the option of going via an organized tour which costs extra than if you go by yourself however you do get picked up from you accommodation and transferred back at the end of the day. Ticket prices for this are 150zl and can be purchased from any tour operator in Krakow.
I took the train as this is the cheapest and quickest option. Total journey time is 21 mins. The ticket cost only 3zl one way and they run every 30 mins. Trains leave from main station called Dworzec Glowny and you need to alight at Wielicxka Rynek- Koplnia Station.
The Mine is a further 5min walk from there and is well signed. Visiting hours are from 7.30am- 7.30pm daily.
Step high into fairytale land at Wawel Royal Castle-
The Wawel castle is perched high on a hill offering the most stunning views of Krakow and the Vistula river. It holds a historic beauty combined of Gothic, Renaissance and roman architecture and set on the most mesmerizing courtyards and gardens. Even if you don’t venture inside there’s a whole world to see just from the outside. The castle dates back to the 14th century and also holds a firm place on the UNESCO world heritage list.
The Wawel castle is considered a cultural mecca to polish people. Spend time here visiting the rooms of state and the impressive Senator’s hall.
You can come visit the castle by yourself or go on a guided walking tour which again can be booked through any of the tour operators. Don’t forget your camera!!
Wawel castle is open to visitors daily from 6.00am and depending on time of year up to 8.00pm. To explore the grounds is free but entrance to the different sections inside are priced separately.
Located on Wawel hill, a short walk from the Jewish Quarter and Krakow main square. Trams no 6, 8,10,13,18 will also get you there
See panoramic views of Krakow from Krakus mound-
There are four mounds in Krakow where you can climb and catch break taking views of the whole city. It is believed some of these mounds have kings buried within them- Polish people love a good legend!
I went to check out the views from the Krakus Mound and I took tram no3 to reach it. You get off at the stop that reads Powstancow Wielkopolsich and walk towards the mound.
Don’t be an idiot like me who just started running up the mound and barely made it to the top, take the swirling path from the bottom the leads you to the top. Want to know another interesting legend? It is said that after the passing of king krak, the local people built the mound from carrying dirt in their sleeves to build it.
Drink a mad dog shot and sample hardcore vodka –
Raspberry syrup, tobacco and vodka…sounds like any recipe for a great night our right? Yes it’s a killer combination and you can really feel the burn but hey it’s Poland, be rude not to join them as this place is the king of Vodka.
Also if you are game why not make a mess of yourself at a tasting of traditional polish vodka session. This is where I sampled their famous and deathly 75% shot straight. They let you taste 5 shots and by the end (combined with a mad dog) well you will essentially be leaping round like a mad dog-at least it had the effect on me. You will see lots of bars dotted along the streets in Krakow offering tasting. To be honest I can’t rightly remember if I paid the lady that was serving the vodkas but I’m sure it costs next to nothing to get this drunk here.
Where to stay in Krakow-
I stayed at Apartment Krakowski which was about a 20min walk from the main square. The apartment is located in a quiet area and is very budget friendly at €94.00 for two people sharing for three nights. The apartment is shared as there is three other rooms but it is spacious enough to accommodate everyone. The bedroom was large with a door opening out a balcony and I loved the massive bathroom with ceiling to floor length mirror.
This is an ideal accommodation choice for those on a budget who maybe don’t want the hassle of sharing a hostel room. Book this accommodation via booking.com
How to get from Krakow airport to the main square-
There is a train at the airport that takes you directly to the center in Krakow. The airport train runs approximately every 30 mins from 4.05am up to 11.35pm. A one way ticket costs 8zl. There are ticket machines on the platform however if you have polish zloty on you, you can purchase your ticket on board the train.
Once you arrive into Krakow airport go up the escalators to level two where there is an adjoining walkway to the train station.
Other things to know about Krakow
–Money in Poland is called zloty(zl). 100.00zl is around €22.97.
-Poland has beaches, mountains and sand dunes (yes true story).
-Everybody speaks English and they are super friendly and welcoming.
– It gets bloody hot there, it was around 28 degrees when I was there. However it stoops into minus degrees during their winter.
– Polish people are very religious which is understandable when you see the variety of cathedrals in Krakow.
– Visiting Auschwitz if you have the time (it takes a whole day) is a tour that will take you back in times of the concentration camps. A tour here can also be booked from any tour operator.
– They loved potatoes (not as much as us Irish of course). Try their potato filled dumpling or their traditional soup inside a bread roll.
-Vodka here is drank straight, no need to fork out extra money for a mixer.
Hope you love Krakow as much as I did, I will be back to doubt to visit its neighbours Warsaw and Zakopane.
Have you been to Krakow??
How was it for you, comment below to let me know…