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Kraków

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Kraków is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Statue of Adam Mickiewicz and Sukiennice in the Old Town Square

Kraków is not only an historic and visual gem, it's Poland's second largest city and covers both banks of the Wisla (or Vistula) river. At the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, the metropolitan area has more than 1.4 million inhabitants if you include the surrounding communities.

Contents

Districts[edit]

Although Kraków is officially divided into eighteen dzielnica or boroughs, each with a considerable degree of autonomy within the municipal government, this dvision is relatively recent and prior to March 1991, the city had been divided into just the four quarters of Podgórze, Nowa Huta, Krowodrza and the ancient town centre of Kraków itself.

(The historic Old City is now officially situated in District (I), Stare Miasto. Even though the words Stare Miasto mean 'old town', it should not be confused with the historic old town of Krakow itself, as the medieval old town is only a small central part of District I Stare Miasto).

Some of the communities around the edge of Kraków can show you real Polish life away from the tourist-focused economy of the centre.

Parts of Krakow

Our guide divides Kraków into these distinct areas:

Centre[edit]

  • Old Town — Consists of the historic Kraków Old Town, as well as the Wawel castle hill, Nowe Miasto ("New Town"), Nowy Świat ("New World"), Kleparz, Okół, which previously was situated between the Wawel hill and the Old Town but soon became part of the latter, Piasek, Stradom and Warszawskie (partly in Prądnik Czerwony). Kraków's historic centre, covering the Old Town and Wawel was entered on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1978. These are the most popular tourist destinations, and if your time is limited, you would be best sticking to these.
  • Kazimierz - Area located really close to the Old Town, independent city in medieval times with a Christian quarter in the West and a former largely Jewish quarter in the East.

Western part[edit]

  • Zwierzyniec — The greenest area in Krakow; includes Błonia, Las Wolski forest and the Kosciuszko Mound.
  • Krowodrza
  • Grzegórzki
  • Prądnik Czerwony
  • Prądnik Biały
  • Bronowice

Southern part[edit]

  • Podgórze — The area on the southern bank of the river Vistula, where the Jewish ghetto was located during the Nazi occupation.
  • Dębniki — Green area to the South West of Old Town, which includes the Tyniec Monastery.
  • Łagiewniki-Borek Fałęcki
  • Swoszowice
  • Podgórze Duchackie
  • Bieżanów-Prokocim

Eastern part[edit]

  • Nowa Huta — "The New Steel Mill" area built in the communist era.
  • Czyżyny
  • Mistrzejowice
  • Bieńczyce
  • Wzgórza Krzesławickie

Understand[edit]

Kraków is the capital city of Lesser Poland Voivodeship (Polish: Małopolskie) in the southern region of Poland and had a population of 756,000 in 2007 (1.4 million after including surrounding communities).

Kraków is also known as Cracow, or Krakow (without the diacritic) and dates back to at least six hundred years after the birth of Christ. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1569 and then of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1596 (1609 by some accounts) and this long history has made it one of the leading hubs of Polish academic, cultural, and economic life.

History[edit]

Church of Saint Mary
Saint Mary's seen from the Market Place

Kraków is one of the oldest cities in Poland, with evidence showing settlements there since 20,000BC. Legend has it that it was built on the cave of a dragon whom the mythical King Krak had slain. However, the first official mention of the name was in 966 by a Jewish merchant from Spain, who described it as an important centre of trade in Slavonic Europe.

Through trade with the various rulers of Europe, it grew from a small settlement in 1000AD to a large wealthy city, belonging to the Vistulans. However, through the 9th and 10th centuries, it fell under the influence of the Great Moravians, then the Bohemians, before being captured by the Piast Dynasty of Poland. In 1038, Kazimierz the Restorer made Krakow the capital of Poland.

In 1241, the city was almost entirely destroyed by Tatars. It was rebuilt to a design that remains largely unchanged to the present day. However, after more successful attacks by the Mongols in the late 13th century, Kazimierz the Great set about defending the city. Walls, fortifications, and the original Wawel Castle were added. The University was also established. King Kazimierz established the district of Kazimierz for Jews to live in free from persecution. This area remained mainly Jewish for centuries until the Nazi occupation.

The 16th century was Krakow's golden age. Under the influence of the joint Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellonian dynasty, Krakow became a centre of science and the arts. In 1569, Poland was officially united with Lithuania and as a result government activity started to move to Warsaw. King Zygmunt III officially moved the capital in 1609.

However, the 17th century was a return to troubled times for Krakow and Poland. After being invaded by Russians, Prussians, Austrians, Transylvanians, Swedes, and the French, it went through a phase of various forms of political control. These included being part of the Duchy of Warsaw, established by Napoleon, and becoming an "independent city". However, it mostly fell under the sphere of influence of the Austrian Habsburg Empire, in the province of Galicia.

In the First World War, Józef Piłsudski set out to liberate Poland and the Treaty of Versailles (1919) established an independent sovereign Polish state for the first time in more than 100 years. This lasted until the Second World War, when Germany and the USSR partitioned the country, with German forces entering Krakow in September 1939. Many academics were killed and historic relics and monuments were destroyed or looted. Concentration camps were established near Krakow, including Plaszow and Auschwitz. After German withdrawal, the city escaped complete destruction and many buildings were saved.

In the Communist period, a large steel works was established in the suburb of Nowa Huta. This was seen as an attempt to lessen the influence of the anti-Communist intelligentsia and religious communities in Krakow. In 1978, UNESCO placed Krakow on the World Heritage Sites list. In the same year, the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyła, was made Pope John Paul II.

The Communist Government collapsed in 1989 and Krakow has undergone another period of regeneration, with historic buildings being restored.

Economy[edit]

Krakow is the most popular tourist destination in Poland and this supports a lot of the local economy. However, the University and numerous local colleges mean education is an important employer as well.

The service and technology industry is strong and growing, with many off-shore divisions of banks, financial and technology companies like Google, IBM, Motorola, State Street, Shell, UBS, HSBC being located here. There is a large manufacturing sector as well, especially in steel (owned by Mittal), pharmaceuticals and tobacco, mainly as a legacy of the Communist era.

Unemployment is lower than average (5%) for the rest of the country (9%) and it is considered an attractive investment opportunity, especially for those buying real estate. A new financial and business district is planned along with a new sporting complex in the Nowa Huta borough on the Vistula river. This is for the regeneration of the Nowa Huta area, the poorest district of Krakow.

Climate[edit]

There are four definite seasons to Krakow - summer being hot and humid (around 30-35°C), winter always sees Krakow under a blanket of snow with bitingly cold days (-5°C to -20°C). Recently, Krakow is suffering from extremely high levels of air pollution, that affect especially children and people with respiratory problems.

Read[edit]

There is an English language monthly paper called Krakow Post available for free in clubs and culture venues throughout the city, where you can check the news, events taking place and new bars that opened in Krakow any given month.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Kraków Airport (also known as John Paul II International Airport Kraków - Balice) (IATA: KRK) is the main airport, located in Balice, about 12km to the west of the centre. It is the second biggest airport in Poland.

See Exchange rate scam below, this is also operating at the airport. The airport's official website mentions two ATMs on level 0 near the carpark but some travellers have been unable to find any. There are exchange shops and an exchange machine, both offering terrible rates. You should only change enough money to get a bus to the city then use the ATM's in the city to get money.

The following airlines operate service to/from Krakow:

Domestic:

International:

The airport in Krakow is known for its foggy days, which make the flights diverted (to Katowice, Warsaw, Rzeszow or even Brno!) or cancelled. The most foggy months are November, December, February and March, and during those times many of the early morning and evening flights are rescheduled somewhere else, heavily delayed or even cancelled!!

To travel between the airport and the city:

  • There is NO TRAIN CONNECTION BETWEEN THE AIRPORT AND THE CITY UNTIL AUG 2015
  • Buses #292 and #208 run from the airport to the city centre about once per hour. If you need to get to the Central Train Station, get off at the stop Dworzec Główny Wschód. This bus stop is located next to shopping centre Galeria Krakowska, approximately 100m from the entrance of the central train station (Dworzec Główny PKP). The ride takes over 40 minutes.

Single-ride tickets from Balice Airport to the city centre cost PLN4.00 (or PLN2.00 for ISIC/EURO 26 holders). Make sure you buy the "agglomeration ticket", this type of ticket is valid in two zones, so also in the area where the airport is located. Tickets can be bought from one of the newsagents or from a ticket machine at the bus stop or on the bus. Make sure you validate your ticket immediately after boarding the vehicle. At night, you can catch Night Bus #902 which leaves from the airport to the city centre late in the evening. For a journey from the city to the airport, the bus departs from the Central Train Station. There is no difference between night and day tickets.

Taxis accept payments by credit card. Taxi ranks are located in front of the T1 and T2 terminal exits. Taxis from the airport charge a fixed fare determined by the Zone of the destination. Most of central Krakow is in Zone 3 so the fare is PLN69. Ask the driver to be sure. [1] If you take a taxi to the airport, the journey should cost under PLN70 during the day. Check that the meter is on with the appropriate tariff. Note that the airport is outside the city, so you will be subject to the 'outside' tariff until you pass a certain point, at which it changes.

  • Hitchhiking is difficult from the airport. If you want to give it a go, walk to the main road, and remember to hold out your whole hand.
  • Katowice Airport (IATA: KTW) Alternatively, you can fly to Katowice - Pyrzowice(KTW), which is located about 100km from the city of Krakow and has direct connections with over 30 destinations across Europe and Asia. The airport is a base of [Wizzair] and has strong network of Wizzair flights. It's also the only one in southern Poland having a direct connection with Barcelona, Kiev, Georgia or Israel which makes it a good airport for passengers who cannot buy direct flights to Krakow or are afraid of fogs and cancellations at KRK.

Domestic:

  • LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw)

International:

Seasonal: Bourgas, Grenoble

Connection with Pyrzowice/Katowice Airport: Matuszek Airport Transfer , costs PLN44-88 round trip, Pyrzowice Ekspres costs from PLN45 one way. Both of these companies are synchronised with airport air traffic, and once you take your luggage at the terminal and leave the airport, the bus will be waiting for you right in front of the building.

By train[edit]

Dworzec Główny PKP is the Central Train Station in Krakow, and is located just outside of the Old Town. It's well connected to other cities in Poland and the rest of Europe.

International trains arrive daily from Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Bratislava, Kosice, Lviv, Kiev, and Odessa with connections to the rest of Europe.

The station has a left-luggage service, waiting room, small cafes and shops. However, the food is not the best, and you would be better advised going out of the station to buy from the shops nearby. There's a shopping centre (Galeria Krakowska) located next to the station with some fast-food restaurants.

The station staff are not always the most helpful to foreigners who don't speak Polish as they often speak no English and you can spend an awfully long time waiting in line only to be told to join another long line. If you get confused, try asking someone young to help you as most young Polish people speak communicative English and are very helpful. Staff at the international ticket counter speak English.

Between 06:00 and 20:00 there is a train between Kraków and Warsaw every hour or so. Some of them are Express InterCity (EIC) with a journey time of c. 2h40. It is by far the most convenient way of travelling between Kraków and Warsaw. The ticket costs PLN120 per adult. First class tickets are about 25% more expensive, and offer greater leg room. Other trains throughout a day are classified as Express (PLN116) TLK (PLN55) or Interregio (PLN47). They vary in comfort but travel durations are similar, perhaps Interregios take slightly longer. Some of them have discounts for younger people <26 years old, ask at the counter. Some TLKs or Interregios take a different route and then the travel time takes 5h.

By bus[edit]

There are Europe-wide coach services operating into Kraków, like Eurolines [2](from France, Italy, United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Central Europe), Ecolines [3](from Russia, Baltic states, Central Europe and Balkans). The journey time by coach from London, for example, is around 24 hours. It's pretty uncomfortable, and not recommended for anybody other than the desperate or environmentally conscious.

From Budapest you can get Kraków with Orange Ways [4] or Eurobusways [5] , they are an on demand bus company, going at your request

Bus connections to other cities in Poland can be found on the website of the Regional Bus Station in Kraków [6]. Additionally:

From Warsaw you can get to Kraków with Polski Bus [7].

From Wrocław you can get to Kraków with:

  • Link Bus. Reservations can be made easily by sending an SMS indicating the date and time of departure with your name to +48 664 670 191. Tickets can be purchased on board and cost PLN39 one-way.
  • Lajkonik. Another company that rides to Wrocław and back (with a stop in Katowice). Three runs everyday each direction. One way ticket is PLN43 (and there are some small discounts for students).

When travelling between Kraków and Zakopane it's recommended to take a bus [8] [9] [10] (2h journey) instead of train (3.5 hour journey). Buses are leaving every 30 minutes from the Regional Bus Station.

From Czech Republic you can get to Krakow, on cheapest way as commonly used by Students is to cross international border between Poland and Czech Republic on Foot. [11]

By car[edit]

The A4 motorway has been completed [12] from the German border (where it meets the Autobahn A4) to Kraków. This makes travel from the west fairly easy. The speed limit is generally 140km/h, and there is a PLN18 toll each way between Kraków and Katowice. Beginning in Jun 2012 a PLN16 toll is also levied on the A4 between Wroclaw and Katowice. Driving to or from Warsaw (300km) is more difficult as the A1 has not yet been completed. The easiest route is the Route 7/E77 road, which should take less than five hours (it is being upgraded to expressway with speed limit of 120km/h, yet whole process is estimated to finish around 2020).

Get around[edit]

On foot[edit]

Depending on your level of fitness, you can see the whole of the city centre without needing any transport. There are some beautiful walking routes, try the Royal Way or the Planty park that surrounds the old city all the way from Florian's Gate to Wawel castle. It is very relaxing. There is also a well cared for river bank next to the castle to stroll around.

However, be aware that in winter snow is sometimes not removed from the sidewalks, resulting in a mixture of snow and mud. Be sure to bring waterproof shoes if you plan to travel by foot in the winter.

Public transportation[edit]

Krakow is covered by an extensive network of public transportation consisting of tram and bus lines, managed mainly by MPK (Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne) [13]. You can check timetables on the their official site [14]. However, most locals use jakdojade [15] (this is MPK's official partner) to find connections as the site also displays routes and stop locations on a map. Rush hours are mostly 07:00-09:00 and 15:00-17:00 and you can spend a lot of time in traffic jams.

It's best to buy tickets before you get on board in a kiosk or ticket machine on the tram/bus stop (these are present mostly in the city centre and provide help in few languages). Some trams and buses are equipped with ticket machines as well, they are marked with large "A" sign above the entrance. As the last option, if there is no ticket machine on board you can buy the PLN5 ticket from the driver but you have to pay him with exact change (driver will not accept a higher amount than the ticket price). If buying a ticket after mounting the vehicle try to be fast. Ticket controllers are fairly common and fines are quite high (PLN150) and a hassle.

As soon as you get on, punch the ticket in the validation machine. Tickets need to be punched only the first time you get on, don't do it again after changing a tram/bus. You can use a single ticket for multiple rides as long as its time period hasn't expired.

Ticket prices: 20-minutes PLN2.80, single-fare/40-minute PLN3.80, one-hour PLN5.00, 90-minute PLN6.00, 24-hour PLN15, 48-hour PLN24, 72-hour 36 zł, 7-day 48 zł, family ticket (Sat-Sun only, unlimited daytime travelling) 16.00 zł.

ISIC and Euro26 student holders that study outside Poland can use 50% discount tickets which means: 20-minute 1.40 zł, single-fare/40-minute 1.90 zł, one-hour 2.50 zł, 90-minute 3.00 zł, 24-hour 7.50 zł, 48-hour 12 zł, 72-hour 18 zł, 7-day 24 zł.[16]

When travelling outside city border (for example to the airport or Wieliczka) you need an agglomeration (zone) ticket. All buses that go outside the city limits have 2 at the beginning of their line number. Keep in mind you need zone ticket even if you have any sort of valid time pass mentioned above (as they cover just the city area). Zone tickets are slightly more expensive than city ones and follow similar time system.

Night tram and bus lines start with 6 (or 9 when zone) at the beginning of their line number. Night lines have a "hub" at the stops close to the main railway station, where they meet and allow for changes at every full hour from 00:00 (every half hour on weekend nights). Night time tickets costs the same. 24 / 48 / 72-hour tickets are valid on night buses also.

Tram and bus stops show routes and most kiosks will be able to advise you on route numbers. Modern trams and some of the modern buses also display the route inside on the screens and announce each stop.

By car[edit]

Don't bother driving in the city centre. There's often a lot of traffic, parking spaces are scarce and can be expensive, and Polish driving takes a lot of getting used to. There are also rules around local 'driving zones' that confuse even long time residents. The taxis are cheap and it makes more sense to use them.

Taxis, reliable and fair play taxi drivers from the airport or for a longer transfer should be booked in advance by the internet. For instance Krakow airport transfer to Krakow costs around 70PLN. During the day, most fares will be around PLN20. All taxis should have a 'Taxi' sign on the roof and a sticker on the rear passenger window with prices. There is an initial charge of about PLN5-7, plus PLN2-3 per kilometre. Price list should be shown on the passenger side door.

Car services such as iCar [17] or Car-o [18] or MaxiDriver [19] are almost always less expensive than taxis, and will quote you the prices in advance (based on the real distance between you and your destination). An 8km ride will run you about PLN22.

There are instances where drivers will overcharge tourists, especially those who don't speak Polish. Check on a map in advance how much it should be and if it goes much above that, debate the price.

By bicycle[edit]

In 2008, Kraków introduced a reasonably priced system of public municipal bikes. There are 15 stations (mostly around Kraków's centre) but the network is designed to grow. Nice thing about the system is that you don't need to return the bike to the same station you took it from - you just grab a bike for a few minutes to transfer from one point to another and drop it at any other station. Before using the bikes you need to register in the system and pay some small initial fee, for more information see [20] (unfortunately, only in Polish).

Another option is to hire a bicycle. It is easy to get around the centre on two wheels, as there are some bike lanes, including through the 'Planty' that surround the Old Town. Some bike rentals also provide city and country tours.

  • Bike Rental, ul. św. Anny 4, +48 501 745 986 (), [21]. In summer from 9:00AM till dusk. 7 zł for 1h, 40 zł for 24h.  edit
  • Two Wheels, ul. Józefa 5 (Kazimierz), +48 12 421 57 85, [24]. 10:00AM - 6:00PM. 50 zł for 24h.  edit

For those who are prepared to spend more, you can do a downtown Krakow tour using a rented Segway.

See[edit][add listing]

Barbican

Most of the popular tourist attractions are located in the Old Town. See the separate article for complete listings.

Kraków's historic centre, which includes the Old Town, Kazimierz and the Wawel Castle, was included as the first of its kind on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1978.

The district of Kazimierz whcih its Jewish heritage is very interesting. The synagogue of Remuh, for example, was built in 1557. Although it's not so well-conserved and the entrance costs PLN5 (maybe too much), it has a great atmosphere with its old walls and its ancient vestments. Adjacent is its cemetery created in 1511 and recently restored. The atmosphere is very melancholic there and deserves a visit.

The district of Nowa Huta was built during the Communist Era, and was made for the people working in the huge steelworks (5 times larger than the Old Town of Krakow) there. The architecture of the district is typical socialist; huge buildings surround green parks. The district now is poor, and you can touch the real uneasiness of those times there. Main station is Plac Centralny which can be reached by trams 4, 10, 16, 21, 22 and 64.

Travellers who come to Krakow often visit Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. Not many know that in Krakow there was also a Nazi concentration camp located in Podgórze district. You can visit Schindler's Factory there.

Do[edit][add listing]

Krakow, the old royal capital, is acclaimed for its many precious architectural monuments and a unique friendly atmosphere. There are many things to do:

  • Walk the entire Royal Way, from St. Florian's Gate, down Floriańska, across the Rynek Główny, down Grodzka to the Wawel castle.
  • Listen to the Hejnał Mariacki (Trumpet Signal) while sipping a coffee in the Rynek Główny. The signal is played live every full hour from the tower of St Mary Church. Legend has it that the tune is cut suddenly in memory of a trumpeter shot and killed by a Tatar arrow in 1241, but local tour guides say that this is a false story started as a joke to someone who found the tune strange.
  • Walk around the Planty, a large park that surrounds the entire Old Town.
  • Lounge and take in the sun on the banks of the Vistula river. See the Dragon's Lair and see the dragon breathe fire.
  • Take a cruise down the river, it's perfect way to admire the Tyniec Abbey and Bielany Priory. In summer there are several ships harbored next to Wawel Castle.
  • Early on Sunday, go shopping at the open air flea markets at Plac Nowy and Hala Targowa. 7:00-13:00
  • Participate in a Mass in St.Mary's Church. The church is impressive and the devotion of the believers will bring you inside of the real religious spirit.
  • Take a ride around in dorożka horse carriage. There are always several parking on Rynek Główny.
  • Visit Nowa Huta and lose yourself between the apartment blocks, doing your shopping in the very poor markets of the district.
  • Visit the district of Kazimierz, losing yourself in the tight streets and searching the tracks of the Jewish past of Krakow.
  • Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow "MOCAK" http://mocak.pl/ , one of Krakow's most recent additions. Tucked behind the Oscar Schindler's Factory museum offers contemporary art of the last two decades. Private tour is recommended.
  • Take part in a city game which combines sightseeing of the city with adventure, integration and fun. You'll find them advertised in hostels.
  • Foreign visitors can find locals eager to practice speaking English and other languages at the English Language Club every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 pm in Budda Bar at Rynek Glowny 6 (the main market square) near ul. Sienna.
  • Schindler's Factory Museum, ul. Lipowa, 4. 10 am to 6 pm. Very well put together permanent exhibition "Krakow under Nazi Occupation 1939-1945": evolution of living in Krakow through the World Wars 'till Communism times, with special focus to WWII period; give generous amount of time (2 - 3 hours) to absorb everything! (N50 02.840,E19 57.711) edit
  • Take a Free Walking Tour. The meeting place for the walking tours is right by St Mary's Cathedral.

Events[edit]

  • Jewish Culture Festival (Festiwal Kultury Żydowskiej) [25] A classic, one the biggest Jewish culture festivals in the world. A week of tours, concerts, workshops on cuisine, dance, music and calligraphy topped with a huge final show on Saturday evening. June/July
  • Bajit Chadasz (New Home in Hebrew) Another Jewish culture festival, ogranised by Jewish Cultural Centre in Kazimierz [26] with concerts, exhibitions and lectures. November
  • Krakow Film Festival [27] One of the oldest film events dedicated to documentary, animated and short fiction films in Europe. In a week over 200 films are shown in around six cinemas (10 screens) around the city and in an open air one next to Wawel castle. May
  • Off Camera [28] International Festival of Independent Cinema. April
  • Etiuda&Anima [29] International film festival built around animations and short films. November
  • ArtBoom Festival [30] Street art. In 2012 participants include Ai Weiwei and Russian collective Voina. June
  • Photomonth [31] One month long festival with around forty different photography exhibitions around the city. May
  • Coke Live Festival [32] Typical summer opeair music fest. Stars that appeared past years include: Kanye West, Muse, The Chemical Brothers, 50 Cent... second half of August
  • Selector [33] Contemporary music and multimedia festival. In 2011 in line-up were La Roux, Klaxons, Ladytron. June
  • Unsound [34] World renowned experimental music and art event. October
  • Sacrum Profanum [35] Music fest with concerts of such stars as Steve Reich, Aphex Twin or Kraftwerk taking place in unusual places like churches, museums and factories. September
  • Wianki [36] St. John's Night (Midsummer) celebration. An evening of concerts finished with a fireworks show taking place on Vistula river banks next to Wawel castle. A booze-up. June
  • Christmas Market Oldest christmas market in Poland. Held every year from the end of November to the end of December on Main Market Square.
  • Krakowskie Noce (Krakow Nights) [37] Five nights (one in each month from May to September): Night of Museums (free museums), Night of Theaters (free theaters), Night of Jazz (free jazz concerts), Cracovia Sacra Night (free concerts of church music) and Night of Poetry (free poetic evenings).

Sports[edit]

See a football game. There are two first league teams in Krakow (and obviously their fans hate each other) - Cracovia Kraków [38] and Wisła Kraków [39], both have recently finished new stadiums located on two sides of Błonia park. To buy a ticket you need to present a document with a photo (passport, driving license etc.) There are discounts for women, school kids and students aged under 26. Do not display any team colors, jerseys, or the like. Rival gangs associate themselves with the Wisła and Cracovia teams. Of course, this is a minority of football fans, but it's best to be safe, especially as an out-of-towner.

You can also play on one of the golf courses located near the city:

  • Krakow Valley Golf & Country Club [40], Paczółtowice 328, Krzeszowice. Also a hotel, shooting range and horse rides.
  • Royal Krakow Golf & Country Club [41], Ochmanów 124, Podłęże. Between Wieliczka and Niepołomice. Also a hotel.

Learn[edit]

Most of language schools now provide Polish for foreigners courses. Just a bunch [42] [43] [44] [45]... there's more.

One that is more prestigious is the School of Polish Language and Culture of the Jagiellonian University [46] because, well, it's Jagiellonian University.

Buy[edit][add listing]

City shopping[edit]

The Old Town district offers excellent shopping, especially for clothes, jewelry, and art. You can wander all around the Old Town and Kazimierz, where antique stores abound. The center of this all is the Rynek Główny ("Rynek" also means "market"), where you will find some of the city's top stores.

In the middle of the Rynek Główny stands Sukiennice (Cloth Hall), a center of trade in Krakow for hundreds of years. The entire ground floor is a market, where local artists sell their wares. Look for amber jewelry and sheep skin rugs. A great place to check out if you want to bring an authentic piece of Krakow back home.

If you're addicted to shopping, be sure to check out the Royal Way (Floriańska - Rynek Główny - Grodzka) and the streets surrounding Plac Nowy in the Kazimierz district.

Luckily you can still get basic food supplies in the centre in independent and chain grocery stores but they start to give way to luxury hotels and bank agencies. Alcohol can be easily found in groceries and common 24/7 shops.

Shopping malls[edit]

There are two shopping malls in the central area, which include vast array of clothes shopping and eateries, sprought up:

Galeria Krakowska [47], immediately next to the Main Train Station and a 5-minute walk from the Main Square.

Galeria Kazimierz [48] (ul. Podgórska 34) located at the southern tip of Kazimierz, on the Vistula River bank offers 36,000m2 of stores and an Alma gourmet supermarket.

Plenty of other international chains (Carrefour, Real, Tesco, Lidl) are located in the outskirts/suburbs Krakow, i.e: Bonarka [49] (ul. Kamienskiego 11) the biggest but quite far from centre.

Krakow Plaza [50] (al. Pokoju 44).

Eat[edit][add listing]

In Poland one typically eats pretty large breakfast, large dinner (at around 3-4 pm) and a light supper (at around 7-8 pm). Many people do eat "lunches" etc but these are not native.

Kraków's cuisine has been influenced by the cultures that have inhabited central Europe, as well as the Austro-Hungarian empire.

The most important dish from Kraków is obwarzanek (bagel). You can buy it in many stall on the streets. Another local specialité is oscypek - cheese from Tatra Mountains.

If you want to try Polish cuisine for outstandingly good-value prices (a big lunch for one person for about 8PLN) then find a 'Bar Mleczny' (a milk bar - a kind of cafeteria very prevalent in Communist times so called because it serves no alcohol). You can find one on the right side of Ul. Grodzka (if you are going from Rynek Glowny). They offer classic Polish food such as 'kroketka'. An English-Polish dictionary is recommended when ordering. Quality of service is very basic, though sufficient. The low price is the goal, so the interior may be old, and very busy with all sorts of people including university and high-school students, unemployed, homeless.

Slightly more expensive are restauratns such as "U babci maliny", there for PLN12-20 one can try various options for a big lunches.

For people with fat wallets there is a restaurant "Wierzynek" on the Main Square. They also serve Polish dishes.

There are many restaurants which serve French meals - mainly in large hotels such as Restaurant Percheron or Restaurant Anromeda. They are freely accessible also to non-guests (of course only the access is free, the dinner is not). Dinner in this option costs as much as in Wierzynek Restaurant.

Dishes:

  • Żurek is a soup based on fermented rye - it's sour and creamy and often has slices of kielbasa sausage or a hard-boiled egg added.
  • Barszcz is a soup made with beetroot -- very savory.
  • Chłodnik is another beetroot soup, served cold as a refreshing summer dish. It makes use of the beetroot greens as well as the roots, and is flavoured with gherkins, dill and sour cream.
  • Pierogi are polish dumplings (a bit like ravioli)that come with a variety of fillings. Most popular are "ruskie" (Russian), filled with curd cheese and potato, others are filled with meat, cabbage and mushroom, and the sweet pierogi come with blueberries, apples, strawberries, cherries. The fruit pierogi are usually served with sour cream and sugar. Every year, in September, Krakow hosts the "Pierogi Festival", where you can try many more varieties of this dish.

You won't see this in most guides, but one of the true joys of a trip to Krakow is a visit to the kiełbasa van. Basically, it's these two gruff Polish men who, every night from 8PM-3AM, set up a fire grill outside of their van (parked in front of the market east of the Old Town near the train bridge) and grill kielbasa. For 8 PLN, you get your sausage, roll and a squirt of mustard, stand at the perch nearby and chow down with the locals in-the-know. It is delicious, especially after a night of exploring Krakow's bars. A fun experience free of the usual tourist crush and off the main path (ul. Grzegórzecka, opposite ul. Blich)

By far one of the most popular street foods in Krakow is the zapiekanka which is a large open-faced baguette with baked toppings (traditionally cheese, mushrooms, and a lot of condiments like ketchup or garlic sauce). The best, and most popular, location for zapiekanki is on the Plac Nowy market in Kazimierz. It is busiest at night on the weekends where you can purchase them until the early hours of the morning.

In Krakow, like other Polish cities, there is a fair number of "Chinese-Vietnamese" restaurants. Many have Polish employees who have never heard of Pho, none SERVE Pho, and ALMOST none serve even remotely decent Chinese and/or Vietnamese food. I know it's tempting, but you'd do far better to look for decent Polish food. It is true, these so-called "Chinski" or Orientalny Bars have often awful food.

If you are not into Polish food, Krakow has a number of really good Italian restaurants, with pizzas, pastas, and the usual Italian cuisine. There are many other restaurants which serve Indian, French, Greek, Argentinian, Mexican, even Georgian cuisine, so you definitely won't be stuck for something to eat while sightseeing.

If everything else fails, McDonalds and KFC are aplenty.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Bars, pubs, and cafes in Krakow are one of its biggest attractions. Not just their number or quality, but close proximity. It has been said that there are more than 300 eating and drinking establishments in the Old Town alone.

Local drinks[edit]

  • A tatanka is a unique (and delicious) Polish beverage made with apple juice and a special kind of vodka called żubrówka, which is flavored with bison grass. It is also often referred to as a Szarlotka, or apple cake. Tatanka is a Native American term for bison.
  • Wódka miodowa is a honey vodka, often served chilled in shots. Some of the better Polish-themed restaurants will have house brands.
  • Śliwowica, a plum brandy, is worth watching out for. There are two main variants: an 80-proof (40%) yellow tinged one and a 140-proof (70%) clear variety. While the 80-proof variety is often smooth and flavorful, some have compared the 140-proof to drinking gasoline. A good way to drink it is to deal with it like with an absinth. Take a small spoon with sugar, put some Sliwowica on it and fire it. Let the sugar melt down for a while (10-30 seconds). Then, mix the flaming sugar with the rest of the drink. Let it burn for 5-10 seconds, then blow it and drink it. Watch out and don't burn your lips! You can also let it burn longer, but then use a straw to drink it to avoid burning your fingers or lips.
  • Grzaniec, a sort of heated wine with cloves and other spices, very popular around Christmas when sold on Market Square.

Bars[edit]

Thanks to their proximity to each other, Krakow's watering holes are ideal for bar hopping. Many locals and tourists have spent nights partying from the Old Town all the way to Vistula River at the end of Kazimierz. Walk down ul. Szeroka or head over to plac Nowy for streets full of bars.

As most bars are hidden underground visitors often opt to join a pub crawl, travelling in groups between a number of bars with a guide ensuring they don't fall victim to a scam bar. The longest running pub crawl is Krawl Through Krakow, which has been leaving from Adam Mickiewicz Monument every night at 9 pm for over 5 years.

In the warmer months, Kraków's nightlife moves outdoors into hundreds of sidewalk cafes and beer gardens. When winter comes around, it moves underground into cellars all around the city.

Cafes[edit]

Krakow is not only full of cozy cafes, but is also said to be the place of the first cafe founded in Europe. Most cafes offer good espresso and something to nibble at a very reasonable price. As a rule, international-looking places are much more expensive.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

As the number of tourists to Krakow increases rapidly, accommodation prices are rising. Try to avoid hotels and hostels located in the Nowa Huta district; most of them are former shelters for part-time industry workers and the district is quite distant from the city center.

It's also good to know that the parking places are VERY difficult to be found in the center of Krakow (because of the old high-density housing) even some of the luxury hotels don't provide parking places for the clients. Therefore it may be a good idea to look for a hotel outside of the Center if you arrive to Krakow by car (public transportation is very good in Krakow)

Campsites[edit]

There are few campsites in Kraków, most of them closed in colder months. All provide place for tents and caravans as well.

  • Camping Korona is a good choice- especially if you plan to go to Zakopane (it's located near A4 road). Prices are affordable but it's far from the centre of Krakow (15km). Very nice atmosphere for the picnic, plenty of space [51]

Hostels[edit]

There are plenty of decent clean backpacker hostels in the Old Town and Kazimierz. Expect to pay 40-60 PLN for a dorm bed, including breakfast (bread, jam, and cheese), laundry, sheets, lockers, and internet.

  • Hostel Yellow seems to be one of the best options - for around PLN50 you will get a bed in 6-8 bed dorm. The staff is friendly.
  • Tourists generally also enjoy Hostel Tutti Frutti on Florianska street. Very central location- 2 minutes to the Market Square. Prices: 50 zloty in 10 bed dorm up to 65 in 5 bed dorm. [52]

Hotels[edit]

Kraków has lots of hotels located all over the city. Big corporate ones (Sheraton, Qubus etc.) are near centre, most often on Vistula banks. In the Old Town there are some reasonably priced and some pretty luxurious and expensive.

  • Hotel Prokocim is one of the best cheap places to stay in Kraków if you want to have a private room. For PLN65 you get a place in a comfortable double room with a bathroom. Good option for car users as there is a big parking for free- unlike many more expensive places in the centre of town- which is generally a problematic part of the town for car users. [53]
  • Elektor Hotel Don't be fooled by the older appearance of this hotel. The rooms have been renovated and come with a kettle for tea or coffee. Centrally located, just a few blocks from the main square and St. Mary's cathedral. [54]

Stay safe[edit]

Like the rest of Poland, Krakow is generally a very safe city with a strong police presence.

Violent behavior is very rare and if it occurs it is most likely alcohol-related. While pubs and clubs are safe, the nearby streets may be scenes of brawls, especially late at night. Try to avoid confrontations. Women and girls are generally less likely to be confronted or harassed since the Polish code of conduct strictly prohibits any type of violence (physical or verbal) against women.

Follow standard city travel rules: don't leave valuables in the car in plain sight; don't display money or expensive things needlessly; know where you're going; be suspicious of strangers asking for money or trying to sell you something. Pickpockets operate, pay attention to your belongings in crowds, at stations, in crowded trains/buses (especially to/from the airport), and clubs. In any case, do not be afraid to seek help or advice from the Police (Policja) or the Municipal Guards (Straz Miejska). They are generally helpful, polite and in most cases speak at least basic English.

Scams[edit]

As in any major tourist city there are people trying to take advantage of travellers. Generally, use common sense and follow simple precautions. Below is a list of the most common scams:

Bar scam[edit]

A recent scam is for two or three women (can be Polish or foreign, not always attractive) to walk up to men in Rynek Główny, Market Square or surrounding streets and ask for directions to a particular street or square. If you respond "I don't know" they will ask you if you have a map, introduce themselves and say "will you join us for a drink?". They might also ask you questions like 'are you here alone?', 'do you know anyone in Krakow?', 'do you speak Polish?', all to try and determine if you are a tourist and if you have any connections to Krakow. They will then lead you to a nearby nightclub where you will be presented with a huge bar bill for ordering just a handful of drinks. Several bars/clubs on ul. św. Tomasza, Sławkowska, Floriańska and św. Marka have been linked to this scam, eg Club Saxon and Hard Candy.

Similar scams occur regularly with various approaches, even through starting to talk at a table in McDonald's. The clubs you are taken to do not always look like a public building, looking very residential from the outside. Note that it is legal to charge outrageous amounts for drinks. The best thing to do is to always be on your guard when in such a situation, and to make sure you check the prices before you order anything (including the prices of the drinks the girls are having). If you are in the unfortunate instance you are presented with an extremely large bill, call the police by phoning 997 or 112, and make sure the bartender hears that you are doing that.

Hard Candy and Club Saxon both do these scams openly. If you try to leave they have large Russian Mafia-looking men rough you up. The city has not done anything about this and Hard Candy has been in operation for 10 years.

In general, bear in mind that, just like anywhere else in Europe, it is unusual for girls or women to approach strange man/men and even less so to invite him/them for drinks. If the situation looks too good and fortunate to be true, then probably it is.

Hotel scam[edit]

A few Krakow visitors have been victim to the hotel scam. After a long day of travel, the victim is awakened when their hotel room phone rings. It's the receptionist apologizing for the late hour but asking to verify credit-card details. The victim reads them out and drifts back to sleep. As Krakow guides know, there is a growing black market for stolen credit card numbers, and the chances are that even before the victim remembers this late night conversation there will be high charges to contest, possibly even ending their vacation early.

Taxi scam[edit]

When using a taxi always ask for a price for your journey before you leave. Scam taxis have been found to operate near to the main railway station. They are legally registered as "transportation services" and charge €20/km. With regular taxis prices are limited by law, and the pricelist is easily visible. It should be around PLN2.30/km, with an initial fee of PLN7 (first kilometre included in price). Reliable licensed taxi companies include: Taxi Barbakan, Taxi Dwójki and Lajkonik. While it is legal for "transport services" to charge people as much as they like, their prices must be clearly displayed and must be clearly stated when you ask the driver. If you do not agree with the price, do not use the service.

Currency exchange scam[edit]

Another recent, but already quite common scam involves private currency exchange booths at and around the railway station, on the way from the railway station to the Old Town and on the Royal Way, which are the areas most commonly visited by tourists right after they arrive to Krakow. Look very closely what the BUY rate is when you exchange your currency into PLN, ask for the exact rate IN WRITING. Do not let the clerk point on the chart with rates, insist on quoting the rate for you beforehand on a piece of paper. Very often the rate is displayed not on an electronic board, but with digits on small tiles; it may happen that a small tile with a zero is partially slid right under the comma in the BUY rate, so instead of PLN3.45 the actual rate is 3.045. Many times also the SELL rate is displayed more intensively so the Victim might think that the rate is good. This is difficult to notice and the clerks do not accept any complaints after you receive your money. Victim may lose up to 20% of the exchanged amount. Remember the rule of thumb - spread between the BUY and SELL rates should not exceed 2-3% of the BUY rate on the main currencies (EUR, USD, GBP) and 5% on secondary currencies (CHF, JPY, SEK, NOK). But this might be also tricky since many time the rogue currency exchange offices lower they SELL rate in order to make a spread looking more realistic. Watch out for the banks also, since their rates might me not fair as well. Ask at your hotel. The practice is definitely unfair and on the verge of legality. It has been described and condemned in local press. However, if the tile with 0 is visible at least in half, the booth owner may escape responsibility, as your acceptance of the rates is assumed. The currency exchange point at the railway station usually operates at rip-off spreads. AVOID at all costs, unless you are in a big hurry or selling PLN. Actually the best rates (with less that 1% margin) can usually be found in several exchange offices that are located outside of tourist areas, even close to the Main Market but out of main tourist drags.

Tours to Auschwitz-Birkenau scam[edit]

Given that these tours are heavily advertised all over the city by every tour agency around, they might be somewhat of a scam. The fee paid goes entirely to the cost of transport as the price of the actual museum is practically free. When you get to the camp, the driver waits for you outside and you join whatever group in the language you want. These guides are provided by the museum. See the section below for information on how to get to the camp on your own and save yourself the 80-130PLN that Tour agencies will charge.

Cope[edit]

Consulates[edit]

Some of these are only honorary consulates. If you come from a country which has only an honorary consulate in Kraków, note down a telephone number for the embassy in Warsaw, as honorary consulates do not provide many services for travellers.

  • Au-flag.png Austria, ul. Cybulskiego 9 ☎ +48 12 424-9940 (full consulate)
  • Br-flag.png Brazil, ul. Wrocławska 53 ☎ +48 12 633-4088 (honorary consulate)
  • Ci-flag.png Chile, ul. Floriańska 3 ☎ +48 12 428-9250 (honorary consulate)
  • Hr-flag.png Croatia, ul. ks. Jerzego Popiełuszki 36 ☎ +48 12 290-6510 (honorary consulate)
  • Da-flag.png Denmark, ul. św. Anny 5 ☎ +48 12 421-7120 (honorary consulate)
  • En-flag.png Estonia, ul. Floriańska 15/4 ☎ (mobile) +48 501 014 230 (honorary consulate)
  • Fr-flag.png France, ul. Stolarska 15 ☎ +48 12 424-5300 (full consulate)
  • De-flag.png Germany, ul. Stolarska 7 ☎ +48 12 424-3000 (full consulate)
  • Hu-flag.png Hungary, ul. św. Marka 7/9, (12) 422 56 57. (full consulate)
  • It-flag.png Italy, ul. Wenecja 3, (12) 429 29 21. (honorary consulate)
  • Ja-flag.png Japan, ul. Grabowskiego 5/3, (12) 633 43 59. (honorary consulate)
  • Lh-flag.png Lithuania, ul. Chłopickiego 10, (12) 413 65 18. (honorary consulate)
  • Lg-flag.png Latvia, ul. Malborska 130, (12) 350 55 50. (honorary consulate)
  • Mx-flag.png Mexico, ul. Wiedeńska 72, (12) 636 52 59. (honorary consulate)
  • No-flag.png Norway, ul. Mazowiecka 25, (12) 633 03 76. (honorary consulate)
  • Pe-flag.png Peru, ul. Straszewskiego 28, (12) 422 80 18 ext. 28. (honorary consulate)
  • Ru-flag.png Russia, ul. Biskupia 7, (12) 422 26 47. (full consulate)
  • Lo-flag.png Slovakia, ul. św. Tomasza 34, (12) 425 49 70. (full consulate)
  • Sw-flag.png Sweden, ul. św. Anny 5, (12) 421 73 80. (full consulate)
  • Tr-flag.png Turkey, ul. Jaracza 10, (12) 416 30 05. (full consulate)
  • Uk-flag.png UK, ul. św. Anny 9, (12) 421 70 30. (honorary consulate)
  • Up-flag.png Ukraine, ul. Beliny-Prażmowskiego 4, (12) 429 60 66. (full consulate) [55]
  • Us-flag.png United States, ul. Stolarska 9, (12) 424 51 00. (full consulate) [56]

Get out[edit]

Entrance to Auschwitz
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau Former German Nazi camp 2km outside city of Oświęcim, 65km from Krakow.
    • Getting there: Leave a whole day for this if you want to go. The Auschwitz camp and the much bigger Birkenau camp are a few kilometres apart. Frequent and inexpensive buses leave from the main bus station in Krakow, and trains leave approximately every two hours from the adjacent railway station. Most will let you out at the main Oświęcim station, a short walk from the camp (follow the signs to "Muzeum"). Alternately, a frequent PKS bus drops off and picks up directly in front of the visitor center -- just check for destination "Oświęcim Muzeum." (You can buy a ticket from the bus driver.) You can find bus schedules here and trains here. From Auschwitz, there is a free shuttle to Birkenau.
    • Tours and guides: There is no need to pay for overpriced organised tours from Krakow, which are heavily advertised even by the official Tourist agency for Krakow. Travel to Auschwitz using local trains or buses is easy and inexpensive, and entrance is free of charge. The only thing you need to pay for when you get there is a guide (which is optional - **Update** From 1 Apr-31 Oct access is only allowed to Auschwitz I with a guided tour during the peak hours 10:00-15:00, but you can visit without a guide outside of these hours. English language tours cost PLN40 and run every hour between 10:30-15:30. Tours may be joined at the site without prior reservation. Auschwitz II-Birkenau is open to unguided visitors all day) -- they have official tours available in many languages for a modest fee. Check the schedule here. If you do want an organized tour from Krakow (which generally includes a bus there and a guide once there), they cost c. PLN130 per person. Many hotels and travel agents in Krakow, as well as the Galicja Museum in Kazimierz can direct you to reputable companies. Note: Depending on which agency you go with, prices can be around PLN80 per person with a cheaper price for students.
  • Wieliczka is a town known for its ancient salt mines, now a museum. 17km from Kraków. One of the original 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a definite must-see. Entrance to the mines (73PLN) is rather expensive compared to other tourist attractions in Poland. Bus 304 (PLN4) makes frequent trips to and from the mines. There are 4 Wieliczka stops; get off at Wieliczka Soli (look for a giant "SALT MINES" sign). 40 minutes. There is also a train to Wieliczka that lets off a short (and well-marked) walk from the mine.
  • Bochnia — Historic salt mine, older than Wieliczka's one. 40 km from Kraków. Must see. SK-BUS minibuses from Krakow Main Railway Station (Dworzec Główny), or train (direction: Tarnów, Rzeszów, Stróże, Nowy Sącz/Krynica).
  • Tarnów — The second largest city in region with a beautiful main market.
  • Nowy Sącz — A beautiful old city with a fine main market square.
  • Bielsko-Biała — 80km southwest city with cosy old town and many beautiful buildings from Austro-Hunagrian times. Many buses from Krakow Bus Station (RDA).
  • Zakopane — 100km south in the Tatra Mountains is considered to be the Polish winter sport capital. Other winter sport centres near Krakow in the Beskids are Szczyrk, Żywiec, Zawoja, Korbielow, Bukowina Tatrzanska, Bialka Tatrzanska, Rabka, Szczawnica, Wisla, Koniakow and Ustron.
  • Częstochowa - 120km northeast is the most important pilgrim's place in Central Europe.
  • Wadowice - 40km southwest is the birthplace of Karol Wojtyła, John Paul II.
  • Beautiful Renaissance castles in Pieskowa Skala, Nowy Wisnicz, Niepolomice, Sucha Beskidzka and Niedzica.
  • The "Eagle Nest Castle Ruins" in the Jura in Ogrodzeniec, Olsztyn, Rudno, Mirow and Ojcow.
  • Monasteries near Krakow are in Tyniec and Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.
  • Spas near Krakow are in Krynica, Muszyna, Busko Zdroj, and Piwniczna.
  • Marvelous castle and a romantic park in Pszczyna
  • Spend a romantic night in a nineteenth hunting castle in Promnice surrounded by a dense forest and situated just by the Paprocany Lake.





This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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