If you´re looking for an underrated destination for your next excursion, I have one word for you: Krakow.
Just a week ago, my boyfriend and I visited this brilliant city. In fact, I´m still in the dreamy early days of being back home, reminiscing and not yet accepting the reality of daily life. Today, I´m reliving our experiences in this post.
So let´s get started.
1) Krakow is packed full of history
For today´s nomad, visiting Krakow is like a journey through time. Not only is this city full of colourful Polish architecture and the buzz of passersby, but every cobblestone has seen infamous events in history.
In order to soak all this up we took two of the famous Krakow Free Walking Tours; the Old Town and Jewish Walking Tour. Both were exceptional. If you´re looking for a comprehensive overview of Krakow´s history, then I can recommend nothing better. I was happily surprised with the quality of the information and that the focus was on the city as a whole, rather than simply WWII. Don´t forget to leave your fantastic tour guide a tip.
On a more solemn note, no historical journey to Krakow is complete without a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Though I can promise you this is not your typical fun vacation experience, it is one of great importance and will surely leave a lasting impact.
For those of you who want an even closer look, I highly recommend stopping by the Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory. Inside is a museum dedicated to a snapshot of war torn Poland from 1939 – 1945. We spent a good hour and a half here.
2) You´ll never feel hungry again
If you´re hungry in Poland, you´re not doing it right. This place is characterised by it´s hearty savoury stews and rich cheesecakes. From street foods to michelin star restaurants, there is something for everyone here.
Pizza-like baguettes by the name of zapiekanki are as traditional as they are popular in Krakow. For the most authentic zapiekanki experience we made our way over to Plac Nowy and stopped in at Endzior, popular with the local students. For those interested in trying new local foods, zapiekanki is one to add to the list.
If you´re hunting for a quick and tasty snack, try obwarzanki. These circular pretzels can be found on every corner and made for a great breakfast-on-the-go during our journey to Auschwitz.
Of course, no trip to Poland is complete without at least one pierogi dinner. Try Zapiecek for a huge variety of pierogi. From potato & cheese to plum, this place has every flavour of pierogi you could imagine.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, there´s nothing quite like Polish cheesecake or ´sernik´. Feasting on the homemade sernik with raspberry coulis and fresh fruits from Cafe Camelot was one of my absolute highlights, not to mention the fantastic breakfast and coffee served here.
3) You can drink to your heart´s content
Vodka. Lots and lots of Vodka. Krakow is the perfect destination for a big night out.
For an inexpensive tasting put the Wodka Cafe Bar just outside of the market square to the test. Bison Grass Vodka is one of the popular choices here, but don´t forget to try the chocolate as well (my personal favourite).
4) The Old Town is full of energy and beauty
Krakow´s market square, termed Rynek Glowny, is the largest medieval square in all of Europe. No matter which direction you look in, this square is sure to deliver a pleasant view.
Feast your eyes upon St Mary´s Basilica, with it´s unique mix of gothic and baroque architecture. We made our way inside a few times to marvel at the incredibly colourful ceiling. If you´re here on the hour you can also listen to the famous Hejnal, or trumpet call with its cheery tone and abrupt ending.
In the centre of the square lies the Cloth Hall. Take a quick stroll through and enjoy the knick-knacky souveniers.
On the other side of the square is the Town Hall Tower. Underneath you can also find the unusually large sculpture of a face by the Polish sculpture Mitoraj.
If you´re lucky enough to be in Krakow for the spring season you may also come across the market. Make your way around and be sure to hunt down the stall selling fragrant christmas wreaths perfuming the air.
5) Your wallet will thank you
For the Western traveler, Krakow is one of the most affordable destinations for a vacation.
We dined comfortably for an average of $7 (Australian dollars) at most places.
As long as you don´t get tricked into one of the over-priced tours to Auschwitz or the salt mines, you surely won´t find yourself counting pennies here.
Whether it´s for a relaxing vacation or an adventurous escapade abroad, there is something for everyone in Krakow. Don´t miss out on your chance to visit!