Krakow is a southern city in Poland, near the border of the Czech Republic. It is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country, especially among young adults as the city is inexpensive and filled with plenty to do. It is known for its beautiful Old Town, well preserved Jewish quarter and an exciting nightlife. You can get lost in the beautiful architecture and history of the city for hours. No visit to Poland would be complete without a visit to Krakow.
1. Old Town square, 2. Wawel Castle, 3-5. Old Town square
What to do-
- Wawel Castle- This beautiful castle is made up of many different styles, built around each other.
- Main Square- Get lost walking through the beautiful Old Town streets, gazing around at the architecture of all the buildings.
- Kazimierz- This is the old Jewish Quarter. It is lined with lots of different restaurants and bars, and has become the hipster area of Krakow. We went to a delicious Israeli restaurant here!
- Krakow Barbican- This is a fortified outpost once connected to the city walls.
- Schindler’s Factory- This has become one of the most popular attractions in Krakow thanks to the movie Schindler’s List! If you want to see the factory that helped saved many Jewish lives and hear about the controversial life of Oskar Shindler make sure you get up early so you’re not waiting in line for hours.
- Ghetto Heroes Square- The chairs symbolise the tragedy of the Polish Jews who were imprisoned in the Krakow Ghetto during WWII, and the German occupation of Poland and those murdered by the Germans on the premises of the ghetto and in several German death camps. This is located in the Podgorze area. Most people walk past it as they head to Schindler’s Factory or if you partake in one of the free walks in Krakow.
- Day trip to Auschwitz- In my opinion, no visit to Krakow is complete without a visit to Auschwitz. It is a harrowing experience, but one I think is necessary for everyone to visit at least once in their lifetime. The atrocities that happened here are almost unthinkable, but they must never be forgotten.
- Free walking tour
- Jewish walking tour
6. Old Town, 7. Auschwitz, 8. Old Town, 9-10. Wawel Castle
I already mentioned all the basic travel tips for Poland in my post on Warsaw. From Krakow, most people visit Auschwitz and often opt to go on one more day trip, especially in the summer. I chose to go to Zakopane for my day trip, but the Salt Mines is another popular destination.
- Auschwitz- There are a few options when making your way to Auschwitz. We opted to go on a tour which included a shuttle bus there and back, and had organised a tour time for us. The tour we went on was organised through our friends hotel. If this is something of interest, just ask your hotel before booking if they offer shuttles to Auschwitz as many do! Or you can get the local bus to Auschwitz and purchase your tour ticket on arrival.
- Zakopane- This is a very popular day trip destination for travellers based in Krakow. It’s beautiful in summer as it is where the Tatra Mountains are. I joined a day tour- which I talk about here.
11. Birkenau, 12. Old Town, 13. Birkenau, 14-15. Wawel Castle
I stayed at the Bubble Hostel. This was definitely the weirdest hostel I stayed in, but the location was excellent. It was literally across the road to the Krakow Barbican, on the very outskirts of the old town. It did include a free breakfast as well!
16. Auschwitz, 17. Ghetto Heroes Square, 18. Synagogue in Kazimierz, 19. Barbican, 20. Kazimierz,
What to eat-
- Obwarzanek Krakowski- This is a ring-shaped bread (quite similar to bagels) served from street vendors in Krakow. They are not served with any sort of spread.
- Zapiekanka- These are purchased from Plac Nowy in Kazimierz in the Jewish Quarter. They are a long bread with melted cheese and many different toppings for only 8 zloty! So cheap and so popular.