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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.
Church of St. Mary

The city of Kraków is the capital city of the Malopolskie (Lesser Poland or Little Poland) province in the southern region of Poland. It covers both banks of the Wisla river (or Vistula) river. Uplands region at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. It is Poland's third largest city, with a population of 756,000 in 2007 (1.4 million after including surrounding communities).

Districts

These are the most popular tourist destinations, and if your time is limited, you would be best sticking to these:

  • Stare Miasto - "Old Town", this area lies inside the old town walls, that are now the "Planty" gardens
  • The Wawel Hill - the Castle and Cathedral
  • Kazimierz - The former Jewish town

Other major districts within the city are

Suburbs

Some of the communities around the edge of Kraków can show you real Polish life away from the tourist-focused economy of the centre. These are mostly day trips, though, as they require transport to get there.

  • Nowa Huta - "New Steelworks" area built by the Communists (can be reached by streetcar)
  • Zwierzyniec – the greenest area of Krakow, located to the West; includes the Las Wolski forest, the Koscuszkio Mound
  • Debniki – green area to the South West of Krakow, which includes the Krak Mound, and the Tyniec Monastery
  • Bronowice – the area to the north west of Krakow
  • Podgórze - the area of the Jewish ghetto

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Understand

History

Kraków is one of the oldest cities in Poland, with evidence showing settlements there since 20,000 BC. 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 seventeenth 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 being 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 Pilsudski 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 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 intellegentsia 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 Wojtyla, was made Pope John Paul II.

The Communist Government collapsed in 1989, and Krakow is now undergoing another period of regeneration, with historic buildings being restored.

Economy

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

The service and technology industry is strong, with many banks and internet companies such as Google are 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 (5%) than average for the rest of the country (12.2%), 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 most deprived district of Krakow.

Climate

There are four definite seasons to Krakow - Summer being hot (around 30-35 degrees Celsius is normal) and humid, while Winter always sees Krakow under a blanket of snow, and bitingly cold days (-5 to -20degrees C). September can be very wet.

Get in

By plane

Balice Airport (KRK) is the main airport, located about 12km to the west of the centre. It is the second biggest airport in Poland, with frequent domestic and international charter and scheduled flights. There are several direct arrivals every day from all over Europe, including London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Belfast, Milan, Cologne, Berlin, Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Rome, Vienna and Zurich. Services also fly from Chicago and New York in the USA, and there are summer flights to more destinations, including Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. The main flight companies operating in the airport include British Airways, LOT (the Polish national airline), Air France, Alitalia, Aerlingus, Austrian Airlinese, and Lufthansa. There are also lots of budget airlines operating here, including Central Wings, easyJet, German Wings, Jet 2, Ryanair, Sterling and SkyEurope. Alternatively, you can fly to Warsaw for a connecting flight.

Trains run from the airport to 'Dworzec Glowny PKP' (the central station) approximately every 30 minutes, starting from 4.24AM, until 00.15. (for more details see airport's webpage. Ticket costs 6PLN (ISIC Holders 3.8 PLN), and the journey takes about 20 minutes. You can walk to the station, as it is only 250m, or take a free shuttle-bus service runs from the front of the airport. Given the price and speed of the train, this is the best choice.

Warning!!! Those trains, also when they go from main railway station to the airport, are sometimes cancelled without any reason and without prior announcement. So, NEVER calculate your trip to the airport with the last possible train as you may end up missing your flight!

There is also a bus number 292 that runs from the airport to the city centre, going approx. once in an hour Timetable here and a 208 bus that goes to the suburbs (Bronowice Male) from which you can take ANY tram to get to the centre (buy next ticket). Single-ride ticket cost 2.60PLN (or 1.45 for ISIC/EURO 26 Holder) - it's a so-called agglomeration ticket - and ride takes approximately 40 minutes. Buy the ticket inside the airport from one of the newsagents or from a ticket machine at the bus stop (3.10 PLN when bought onboard). Since 6th of June 07 you no longer have to buy an extra 'big luggage ticket'.

During the night you can use night line 902, goes from Airport to the city centre at 23:40, 0:30, 1:30, ticket costs 6 PLN

You can get a taxi at any time from the front of the airport. Radio Taxi 9191 accept credit cards. The journey to the centre should cost no more than 50PLN 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.

You can try hitchhiking, but it 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.Have a nice drive and as always, be careful!

By train

Dworzec Glowny PKP (see schedules in English)[1] is the central station in Krakow, and is located just outside of the Old Town. It is connected to other cities in Poland and the rest of Europe. Every hour between 6 AM and 8 PM there is either Express (EX) or Intercity (IC) train between Cracow and Warsaw that do not stop on the way and journey takes less than 3 hours. It is by far the most convenient way of traveling between Warsaw and Cracow. Prices as following:

IC trains cost 89-95 PLN per adult, 65-72 for person under 26 years (age is enough to get a discount). First class tickets are about 25% extra to this, and offer greater leg room.

EX trains cost 81 PLN per adult, 55 PLN for ISIC holders

If you are desperate budget traveller you can also take a regular 'pospieszny' train that goes over 5 hours and costs 44PLN (ISIC holders - 27PLN).

International trains arrive daily from 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.

Be warned, 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 awful long time queueing only to be told to join another large queue. If you get confused try asking someone young to help you as most young Polish people speak communicative English and are very helpful.

For more advice about travelling by train in Poland, see the main article on Poland.

By car

Getting to Krakow is fairly easy, mainly from the East on the A4; driving from Warsaw (300 km) is more difficult as there is no highway connection between these cities yet. For more tips about driving in Poland, see the main article on Poland.

By bus

There are Europe-wide coach services operating into Krakow. However, it is cheaper and much quicker to fly, providing you book at least six weeks in advance (and do not object to the environmental effects of flying). 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 enviornmentally conscious.

Within Poland, coach travel is not that much cheaper than going by train. However, it is much more awkward, and not recommended for traveling between cities. During the Summer, there are often services without air conditioning. Take plenty of water.

Rail connections from the Baltic countries into Poland are non-existent, making bus travel a more serious alternative for travelers arriving from the north.

Get around

The first thing to do is get a map showing the roads and bus/tram routes. The staff at your accommodation may give you maps for free and mark on any places of interest you might want to get to. Alternatively, buy one from any bookshops, kiosks, or newsagents, which will cost 6-10PLN.

By foot

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, especially through the Planty. For walking, try the Royal Way or the garden that surrounds the city all the way to Florian's Gate. It is very relaxing. There is also a well cared for garden around the castle just to stroll around.

Public transportation

During the day, there is an excellent (but remember, you can spend a lot of time in traffic jams) system of public transport in Krakow, covered by trams and buses. The rush hours are mostly between 7AM-8AM and 3PM-5PM.

Buy tickets before you get on board. ticket inspectors are fairly common, and though the fines are not steep, they are not worth the hassle. Single, one-hour, daily, weekly and monthly tickets are available, and can be bought from news agents and kiosks. For single tickets, as soon as you get on, punch the ticket in the machine. A ticket must be punched, or it is not valid. Daily tickets and one-hour tickets need to be punched the first time you get on, but do not do it again after that. Do not punch weekly and monthly tickets.

Ticket prices: single 2.50PLN, one-hour 3.10PLN, 24-hour 10.40 PLN, 48-hour 18.80PLN, 72-hour 25PLN, 7-day 39 PLN, family ticket (sat-sun only, unlimited daytime travelling) 10.40, monthly pass 94PLN.

ISIC and Euro26 Student holders that study outside Poland can use discount tickets since Jun 2007, but not the full, student, 50% discount tickets. They can use "gminny" fare, which means: single 1.35, one-hour 1.65, 24-hour 5.70 PLN, 48-hour 11.50 PLN, 72-hour 15.60 PLN, 7-day 23.60 PLN, monthly pass 41.70PLN.

When travelling to neigbouring villages and to the airport you need an agglomeration ticket, that is just 0.10 PLN more expensive. Just keep in mind that you need it even if you have any sort valid time pass mentioned above (as they cover just the city area).

Single ticket prices are doubled during the night. Since 6th Jun 2007 you DON'T have to buy extra ticket for big luggage you carry (fake controllers are rare but happen on popular tourist routes so be warned). Tram and bus stops show routes, and most kiosks will be able to advise you on route numbers.

By car

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 are always plentiful, and a journey in the middle of the night from one end of the city to the other should cost no more than 50PLN. During the day most fares will be around 10PLN. 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 5PLN, plus 2PLN per kilometre.

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

Another option is to hire a bicycle. It is easy to get around the centre on two wheels, as there are special bike lanes everywhere - including through the 'Planty' that surrounds the Old Town. One cheap place to rent from is in Kazimierz by the Old Synagogue. It costs around 20PLN per day, with a small deposit - much cheaper than those in the centre. For those who are prepared to spend more, you can do a downtown Krakow tour using a rented Segway.

See

Landmarks

Wawel Castle
  • The Old City (Stare Miasto)
  • The Rynek Glowny (Main Marketplace) - one of the biggest mediaeval squares in the world is at the heart of the Old City, currently being repaved and beautified, full of churches, restaurants and bars
  • Wawel Castle, [2] - ancient seat of the Polish kings and now a major museum. They have a very odd pricing structure, requiring you to pay to get in to different bits of the castle at particular times of day, but during other times these appear to be free.
  • Kazimierz - the former Jewish district south of Wawel. More than 40,000 Jewish residents of Krakow and surrounding areas died in the Holocaust. Now there are very few Jewish residents of Krakow, but synagogues and other signs of Jewish culture remain in Kazimierz which was the scene of many of the events in Schindler's List

Museums and Galleries

Many of Krakow's state museums have free admission on Sunday and are closed on Monday.

  • Czartoryski Museum, [3] a former town house of one of Poland's great families, and proud owner of the famous da Vinci portrait, Lady with an Ermine
  • Bunker of Modern Art (Bunkier Sztuki Wspolczesnej), [4] gallery of contemporary art very near city center. There is also book shop and nice cafe in the "bunker".
  • Centre of Japanese Art & Technology (Manggha-Centrum Sztuki I Techniki Japonskiej), [5]. Houses the National Museum's Japanese artifacts, consisting mostly of the fabulous 6,500-item collection of local legend Feliks Jasienski (1861-1929) who adored Japan. It is located across the river from Wawel castle.
  • Krakow has many other museums and galleries spread around Old City like Archaeological Museum or Armia Krajowa Museum, just to name a few. All over Old Town one can find campus parts of third oldest university in the world - Jagiellonian University - you are free to enter (and leave) all buildings at your choice (mind the students milling around every day of the week).
  • Theater The main building housed the Teatr Wielki from 1833-1834, the Rozmaitości Theatre from 1836 to 1924 and then the National Theatre, the Reduta Theatre from 1919 to 1924, and from 1928 to 1939 - the Nowy Theatre, which staged productions of contemporary poetical drama, including those directed by Leon Schiller.
  • Galicja Jewish Museum [6] The Galicja Museum in Kazimierz opened in 2005 (or 2004?). It houses an exhibition of photographs with explanations in Polish and English. These are recent photos of locations around Poland associated with the Holocaust. Some are places where massacres occurred; most show old synagogues and Jewish cemeteries with comments about how respectfully (or not) these places are now preserved. The museum also has a bookstore and coffee shop, and arranges coach trips to Auschwitz.
  • Gallery of 19th Century Art (one of several national museums/Muzeum Narodowe in Krakow) [7] is one of the best collections of 19th century paintings in Poland. The collection's usual home upstairs in the Sukiennice is undergoing refurbishment until 2009. Until then, the collection is on display in the castle in the town of Niepolomice about 20km away. Minibuses go from the stop on ul. Starowislna opposite the main post office.

Do

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 Florianska, across the Rynek Glowny, down Grodzka to the Wawel castle.
  • Listen to the Hejnal Mariacki (Trumpet Signal) while sipping on coffee in the Rynek Glowny. The signal is played live every full hour, and is cut suddenly in memory of a trumpeter shot and killed by a Tatar arrow in 1241.
  • Walk around the Planty, a large park that surrounds the entire Old Town. See the dragon breathe fire and the Dragon's Lair near the Wawel castle.
  • Spend an afternoon lounging and taking in the sun on the banks of the Vistula river, then take a cruise down the river.
  • Wake up early on a Sunday and go shopping at Plac Nowy's open air market.
  • Alternatively, go to the flea market, corner of Al. Daszynskiego and Siedleckiego in Kazimierz, the former Jewish quarter of the city. Items on sale include swords, sewing machines, gramophone, communist hats and pins and even Nazi medals.
  • Rent a bicycle, or better yet, join a bike tour, and cycle round the old town and the banks of the Vistula.
  • Foreign visitors can find locals eager to practice speaking English and other languages at the English Language Club on the second floor at ul. Sienna 5 (i.e. two floors above the ground floor at 5 Sienna Street, less than 100 metres from the main market square) on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m.

Learn

Older Polish people are strongly religious while younger thirtysomethings tend to be medium religious (attending church on major catholic holidays) or not at all religious. The so called 'Generation JP2' (JP2 is short for John Paul II) - people between the age of 16 and roughly 25, tend to establish a neoconservative look on religion in Poland, just like Americans did in the '80. Some of the youngest are extremely religious if not fundamentalistic. Others try to split from the Vatican in some intellectual reformatory way like the neo-catholics or neochristians, but they still are very religious. Tha vast majority of youngsters remain officially catholic and occassionaly go to church, but in fact do not give much attention to religion. During Easter the churches have a lot of cermonies and are very well visited by the locals. Saturday evening is for candlelight ceremonies outside the churches. On Rynek Glowny there were outdoor theater and music in the evening. Regular stores are closed during main religious holidays (25th & 26th of December, Easter Sunday and Monday), other holidays may mean shorter working hours.

If you have time to visit a cemetery on Sunday you will see a fantastic scene of candles and flowers on the graves.(Cm. Na. Salwatorze in the Zwierzyniec hill. The trams 1, 2 and 6 have Salwator as end station!)

  • Jagellonian University (Polish: Uniwersytet Jagielloński), [8].
  • University of Economics in Kraków, [9].
  • AGH University of Science and Technology, aka The Academy of Mining and Metallurgy, Polish: Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza [10]
  • Cracow University of Technology, Polish: Politechnika Krakowska, [11]

Buy

City Shopping

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 Glowny (the word Rynek also means 'market'), where you will find some of the city's top stores.

In the middle of the Rynek Glowny stands the 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 (Florianska - Rynek Glowny - Grodzka) and the streets surrounding Plac Nowy in the Kazimierz district.

Shopping Malls

Until recently, Krakow had avoided the invasion of shopping centers/malls. That time has passed, and most national supermarkets and chain stores have opened up shop in Krakow. There are a few malls on Wadowicka and Zakopiańska, anchored by large supermarkets.

Summer 2006 saw the opening of a gigantic new 270-store shopping mall, Galeria Krakowska, immediately next to the main train station, and a 5-minute walk from the main town square, bringing with it even more international products not previously available in Krakow. There is a reasonable-sized branch of the supermarket chain Carrefour in the mall.

The next largest shopping mall in Krakow is probably Galeria Kazimierz (Podgorska 34). Located at the southern tip of Kazimierz, on the Vistula River, it offers 36,000m2 of stores, boutiques and eateries, as well as a movie theater. Galeria Kazimierz also offers an Alma supermarket.

Other large malls include M1 (Al.Pokoju 67), anchored by electronics superstore Media Markt, and Krakow Plaza (Al.Pokoju 44), which includes a vast array of clothes shopping.

Local brands of note:

  • Reserved is a Polish clothing brand with several stores in the city center. It is exporting its casual wear only to Europe, so if you want some original stuff, be sure to visit it.
  • W. Kruk is Poland's best known jeweler.
  • Dagny on 17 Starowislna Street is a shop with famous Ewa Dunikowska designer dresses.

Shopping Tours

Shopping tours are available in Krakow krakow tours These tours take you on a shopping bonanza around the city, Krakow is renowned as a fantastic shopping city and with the latest Galeria Krakowska, it will amaze you. Lots of energy, money, shopping friends, and some soft shoes recommended for this Tour.

Eat

Kraków is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.


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

For some genuine Polish food that might be served by your Babcia (grandmother in Polish) which is cheap and delicious, go to Babci Maliny and enjoy the atmosphere, where you sit at benches with complete strangers and wait for your number to be called to enjoy some delicious food. I would advise bringing a Polish speaker with you on your first visit because the menu is in Polish, or take a dictionary.

If you want to try Polish cuisine for outstandingly good-value prices (a big lunch for one person for ca 8 zloty) then find a 'Bar Mleczny' (a milk bar - a kind of cafeteria very prevalent in Communist times so called because it serves no alcohol). They are fast disappearing from the city but 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.

Zurek 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 savoury. Pierogi are dumplings which come with numerous fillings, most often "ruskie' ("Russian" - with curd cheese and potato), meat, cabbage and/or mushroom, bilberries, apples and strawberries. The fruit ones are usually served with cream and sugar.

You won't see this in most guides, but one of the true joys of a trip to Krakow is a visit to the kielbasa van. Basically, it's these two gruff Polish men who, every night from 9PM-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 a few zloty, get your sausage and a squirt of mustard and stand at the perch nearby and chow down with the locals in-the-know. It is delicious, especially after a night of exploring Krakows bars. A fun experience free of the usual tourist crush and off the main path (ul. Grzegorzecka, opposite ul. Blich)

There's a place in Kazimierz called "Pierozki U Vincenta" that supposedly specializes in pierogies. Some reports have said it isn't very good.

A genuine vegetarian restaurant is the 'Vega' Vegetarian Bar at 7 Sw. Gertrudy Str, near Hotel Monopol. Good food, reasonable prices, no beer. Another location of 'Vega' is on the other side of the Old Town (Stare Miasto) on ul. Krupnicza. Inside the Old Town is the vegetarian restaurant Greenway on ul. Mikołajska, just east of the little market square (Mały Rynek) just east of the northeast corner of the main market square (Rynek Główny).

In Krakow, like other Polish cities, there are a fair amount of "Chinese-Vietnamese" restaurants. Many have Polish employees who have never heard of Pho, none SERVE Pho, and ALMOST none serve even remotely decent Polified Chinese and/or Vietnamese food. I know it's tempting, but you'd do far better to look for decent Polish food.


  • Wentzl [12], Rynek Główny 19, 31-008 Kraków, tel.(+ 48 12) 431-92-20
  • Restauracja Monarchia [13], Krakow-Kazimierz, Jozefa 6, tel. +48 12 430-60-13
  • Sheraton If you are looking for a high quality Sunday lunch at a fair price - check Hotel Sheraton on Powsle street in front of the river. Sometimes they offer a lunch 13 EUR for a full buffet table including wine! This is a good choice for the gourmet! (Spring 2007)
  • KoKo (Golebia 8). Nothing but traditional Polish dishes prepared by charming polish housekkepers - including hand made dumplings (6,50 PLN). See hilarious comic art on the walls.

Drink

Kraków is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.


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

  • A tatanka is a unique (and delicious) Polish beverage made with apple juice and a special kind of vodka called zubrowka, 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: a 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 absynth. Take a small spoon with sugar, put some Sliwowica on it and fire it. Let the sugar melt down for a while (10-30 sec). Then mix the flaming sugar with the rest of the drink. Let it burn for 5-10 sec, 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 pipe to drink it to avoid burning your fingers or lips (Tested! :D).
  • Polish Vodka Tasting Party - If you would like to taste the most popular vodkas in Poland and learn a bit about history of vodka you should join in polish vodka tasting party. Regular event organised by local comapny - KrakowAdventure. Vodka Tasting
  • Don't miss out on the grzaniec, a sort of heated wine with cloves and other spices, very popular around Christmas.

Bars

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. Most bars fall in the Old Town and Kazimierz districts.

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.

Many tourists, both from Poland and abroad, never leave the Old Town Square at night. If you want to party with tourists, that's a great spot. Meanwhile, many of the locals have moved the party to Kazimierz and new bars are popping up there every month. Walk down Szeroka or head over to Plac Nowy, it's wall-to-wall bars.

  • A few recommendations in Kazimierz:
  • Propaganda (ul. Miodowa 20), a tongue-in-cheek preservation of Warsaw Pact-era ambience, posters and drinks
  • Singer, a former sewing factory featuring actual sewing machine tables.
  • Le Scandale (Plac Nowy), an huge selection of drinks with a great atmosphere
  • Alchemia (Plac Nowy), very popular, and the original Plac Nowy spot.
  • Eszeweria (Jozefa), great music, decor and Pilsner in a bottle for just 5zl!

A couple of recommendations near the Old Town:

  • Cafe Art (Rynek Główny 23) Decorated with bits of old church organ; specializes in cocktails. Try the Kamikaze or a shooter containing vodka, raspberry liquer and tabasco sauce.
  • Nowy Kuzyn (Maly Rynek), typical underground Polish bar with good darts machine and nice people.
  • Pauza, (Florianska 18/3 - pauza.pl), a long-time trendy bar in the centre of Krakow, popular with cool students!
  • Paparazzi A cozy place with a lot of pictures of known people. Fridays and saturdays you will meet many Norwegian students there!!
  • Harris Piano Jazz Bar A packed underground jazz bar with great music - PLN6,50 for Zywiec, get there early to get seats.
  • Razzy Dazzy Jazz Club (Tomasza 11A) Club with live jazz music.
  • Still (Golebia 8)Club with lots of locals always willing to chat and drink. Wide selection of Polish vodkas.

Cafes

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

  • Café Malaga is a cosy, small café in one of the alleys off the main square where you can enjoy a Krakowian iced coffee, huge Polish cheescake and a variation of hot and cold drinks. It specialises on wines from the Spanic Malaga district, but offers a large variation of Polish beverages and cakes. Even though it might be tricky to find, it's worth checking out for the atmoshpere alone!
  • Cafe Lody u Jacka i Moniki in the Slawkowska street is one of the first café's in Krakow. Enjoy their best ice cream in Cracov in the summer, have the best coffe in the city in the autumn and winter time! They offer very good cakes, especially the traditional 'kremowka' - a vanilla flavoured cream cake or a warm apple pie with whipped cream. Try out their hot chocolate and fruit cocktails, all this for very good prices.
  • Dym
  • Loch Camelot with naive art pictures and good szarlotka
  • Lokator is a cafe, gallery and pub - all in one. Cafe and pub are separated, the cafe part hosts cultural events (concerts, etc.)
  • Jama Michalika is a cafe frequented and decorated by artists of the Young Poland movement. Plenty of art nouveau style and original paintings.

If you're looking for a more American coffee experience, check out Coffeeheaven (Karmelicka 5 and Galeria Kazimierz) or Tribeca Coffee (Rynek Glowny 27).

Sleep

Kraków is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.


Kraków is experiencing a tourist boom at the moment, with 60% more visitors in 2005 than in 2003, the hotel industry is playing catchup so be prepared to pay more than someone who visited in previous years.

Don't try too hard to save money on accommodation when you're in Krakow. If you don't want Kraków to become your worst experience, 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. Be sure to check the accommodation before agreeing to pay for it-- some backpackers have ended up with filthy rooms complete with biting bedbugs!

There are plenty of decent clean backpacker hostels within a stone's throw of the old city. Expect to pay 40-60zl for a dorm bed, including breakfast (bread, jam and cheese), laundry, sheets, lockers and internet.

A good way to stay in Krakow is to rent private accommodation. There are several websites that assist in this. You can usually get a centrally located 1BR apartment for about 60-90 euro a night, so it may not be worth hassling with a hotel. Usually the same price as an overcrowded hostel but nicer. There are two agencies opposite the main railway station offering rooms. If you hang around the street outside the agencies for a while, some landlords will approach you and make an offer. Saves you the commission, but may be a bit unsafe.

Budget

  • The Stranger Hostel, +48 12 634 25 16, krakow@strangerhostel.com, [14]. Beds include free wi-fi, internet, laundry, breakfast, sheets, lockers, towels, and more. Enjoy movies on their giant theater screen!
  • Mundo Hostel, tel. (+48)124226113 Email: [16], [17]. Located just between Old Town and the Jewish City. Spacious, themed rooms (mainly double ones). Clean and modern.
  • Blue Hostel, [18] +48 12 429 59 34biuro@bluehostel.pl. Just 4 minute walk from the Main Market Square and 6 minute walk from the railway station. Cosy and homely atmosphere. :)
  • Dizzy Daisy, [19]. the best Polish hostel network. Few locations in Krakow (some summer only). 2-10 person per room. 40-80 zł/person.
  • Hostel Premium, tel: 0048 12 292 22 11, email: premium@premiumhostel.pl, [20] hotel quality for hostel price. Rooms for 2-4 people. All with ensuite facilities, all with TV SAT and Internet connection (cable or wi-fi).
  • Hostel Rynek7, tel. (+48) 501-700-758 email: hostel@hostelrynek7.pl, [21]. The best location in Krakow - the Main Square. View on the market square from every window!
  • Dodo Hostel Krakow, tel. (+48)12 6337523 email: book@dodohostel.com, [22]. Dodo Hostel - Krakow hostel made by Krakow students.
  • Flamingo Hostel, tel. (+48)124220000 Email: office@flamingo-hostel.com, [23]. Flamingo Hostel in Kraków with the best location in town, only 20 m away from the famous Main Square, the largest open square in Europe.
  • Cybulskiego Guest Rooms, ul. Cybulskiego 6 Tel: +48 (12) 423 0532 Mob: +48 501 391 841 Email: psamolot@hotmail.com, [25]. Near downtown, nice place.
  • Mama's Hostel, [26], room 6, 8, 10 person/room.
  • Sky Hostel, [27], excellent location - only 2 minute walk from the Old Town
  • Nathan's Villa [28]. - brilliant hostel - great location, bar, internet, laundry, pool, films, BBQ. This is the best accommodation you'll find in Krakow!
  • Family Hostel [29], perfect location, each room has a bathroom and mini-kitchen include, rooms for 1,2,3,4 people
  • Travellers Inn Hostel and Private Rooms in Krakow, tel. +48 12 4294723 info@travellelrsinn.pl, [30]. Offers an affordable accommodation for backpackers in the center of Krakow.
  • DJ Hostel, [32] ul. Rakowicka 12, tel. +48 12 430 34 79. Rooms with 2-8 beds, very good price, near the main train station (dworzec głowny). Very nice and helpful owner.
  • Backpackers Hostel Bursa Jagiellonska, [33] tel +48 12 6561266 info@bursa.krakow.pl Budget accommodation for individual tourists, school and pilgrim groups. Check our group offer!.
  • International Youth Hostel
  • Hostel.pl - an Internet portal that hosts a collection of offers from Polish hostels. Offer for Cracow includes 4 hostels and an apartment - from places for demanding tourists to those offering accommodation for every budget. The offers range from hostels ideal for youth groups to buildings of hotel standards with washrooms, Internet and TV's in the private rooms."

Mid-range

Krakow provides a wide range of accommodation. However, it is highly recommended to stay in self-catering tourist apartments run by hospitable owners. The easiest and quickest way to find and book such a flat is the internet site of the inTurs.net company: www.noce.pl. Do not miss it when planning a trip to Krakow!

Krakow offers a large number of two and three star hotels, priced at 25-40euro per night. Be sure to look out for hotels that are located in centrum (city center) or przy centrum (near the city center). The most expensive of these hotels are actually in the Old Town proper.

  • Hotel Batory [36]. 3 Star Hotel located downtown Krakow, just minutes from the Old Town, train and railways stations, as well as, main shopping centers. Batory is known for its ambiance and family atmosphere.
  • Hotel Florian [37]. 3 Star Hotel located downtown Krakow. Hotel is famous for its services, atmosphere and hospitality. Ul Czerwonego Prądnika 19 tel. +48 12 413 62 62 tel +48 12 413 37 37.
  • Hotel Logos [38]. Is a cosy and elegant hotel of three-star category, location in the center of the Cracow - Old Town recommended by the Polish Hotel Association. Logos is known for its excellent food and wide range of extra services.
  • Tango House Bed & Breakfast [39]. Mid-range priced but elegant bed and breakfast with tango theme located just around from the Main Market Square on Szpitalna Street. Very friendly staff and modern bathrooms, free wifi.

Another great solution is to rent an apartment. Many companies offer high quality apartments in various locations around Kraków. These are great for families, as a four person apartment will run you 150-250zl (35-55 euro) - it may be cheaper than a hostel, and is a lot cosier. Be sure to check the map when reserving an apartment, some of them are not in the city center.

  • Apartments u Zeweckiego, street Szlak, Radziwillowska, Arianska. tel +48 12 429 55 96, +48 602 819 644, [40]. Apartments in the near the centre of Krakow, about 5-14 min walk from the Main Market Square. Price for 2 person 30-45euro.
  • Accession Bed&Breakfast, Ul Garncarska 8. tel +4812 37 93 557 [41]. Located on the first floor of a turn-of-the-century Krakow townhouse within between 10 minutes walking distance of Krakow's main tourist attractions.
  • AAA Krakow Apartments, Ul Cybulskiego 2. tel +48 12 426 5121, +48 (0) 506 595 990, +44 (0) 207 5588 984[42]. Quality city centre apartments for short term rental and holiday lets.

Splurge

  • Krakow apartment renting system, Stoczniowcow 3, [43] Ph. +48.12.2629.748 Mobile +48.788.461.419 ask@yourplace.pl . Fully furnished and equipped luxury apartments to rent for vacations.
  • Hotel Copernicus, Kanonicza 16, [44]. Tucked away on one of Krakow's most beautiful streets, Kanonicza. If you're looking for an authentic european feel, while maintaining a five-star experience, this is the place.
  • Ostoya Palace Hotel, Pilsudskiego 24, [45]. A newly opened four-star in a 19th century mansion about 5-10 minutes walk from Rynek Główny. The rooms are beautifully furnished in pastel colours with custom-made furniture. If possible get a ground or first floor room; the second floor rooms (while still very nicely apportioned) have skylights rather than windows. Staff are very friendly and helpful; the buffet breakfast is also good, with tasty pastries, cheese and ham, and proper coffee.
  • Radisson SAS, Straszewskiego 17, [46]. has an excellent location, literally 3 minutes away from Rynek Główny.
  • The Sheraton Krakow, owiśle 7, [47]. A 5-star hotel located right on the Vistula river with a great view of the Wawel castle.
  • Hotel Wentzl, Rynek Główny 19, [48]. is one of the best known high class hotels in Krakow, and the only one located right on Rynek Główny. Set in a 15th century house, John Wentzl opened the Wentzl restaurant in this building in 1792.
  • Cracow apartments,Starowiślna 41, [49] Ph. +48 12 413 37 37 recepcja@hotel-florian.pl . Antique apartaments in Old Town of Cracow. 5 minutes to Market Square.

Cope

Consulates

  • Austria, ul. Cebulskiego 9, 012/4249940
  • Denmark, ul. sw. Anny 5, 012/4217120
  • France, ul. Stolarska 15, 012/4245300
  • Germany, ul. Stolarska 7, 012/4243000
  • Hungary, ul. sw. Marka 7/9, 012/4225657
  • Italy, ul. Wenecja 3, 012/4292921
  • Lithuania, ul. Chlopieckiego 10, 012/4136518
  • Norway, ul. Mazowiecka 2, 012/6330376
  • Russia, ul. Biskupia 7, 012/4222647
  • Slovakia, ul. sw. Tomasza 34, 012/4254970
  • Ukraine, ul. Krakowska 41, 012/4296066
  • USA, ul. Stolarska 9, 012/4245100
  • UK, ul. sw. Anny 9, 012/4217030

Maps

Getting around Krakow is much easier if you have a map. Maps can be purchased at most bookstores and gas stations. Smaller, free maps of the Old Town and Kazimierz can be found in any tourist information point and at some hotels.

Get out

Entrance to Auschwitz
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau Former German nazi camp 2km outside city of Oświęcim, 65 km from Krakow. 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 from the main bus station, or trains approx every two hours from the adjacent railway station (10.50zl each way). Many hotels and travel agents in Krakow, as well as the Galicja Museum in Kazimierz, can direct you to hassle-free coach tours to the former camp for about 100 zl per head. Entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum is free of charge, but groups must take a guide.
  • Wieliczka [50] is a town known for its ancient salt mines, now a museum. 10 km from Kraków. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a definite must see. LUX-BUS minibuses from Krakow Main Railway Station (Dworzec Główny), or the top of ul. Starowiślna, (2.50zl each way) take approx 30 mins and will drop you 100m from the mine entrance. Entrance to the mines (60zl) is rather expensive compared to other tourist attractions in Poland.
  • Krakow/Nowa Huta - model Stalinist city with neo-Renaissance / Socialist Realist architecture, by streetcar from central Krakow or with a tour
  • 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 (way: Tarnów, or Nowy Sącz/Krynica).
  • Tarnow - the second largest city in region with a beautiful main market.
  • Nowy Sacz - beautiful old city with a fine main market square.
  • Zakopane - 70 km south in the Tatra Mountains is considered to be the Polish winter sport capital. Other winter sport centers near Krakow in the Beskids are Szczyrk, Zywiec, Zawoja, Korbielow, Bukowina Tatrzanska, Bialka Tatrzanska, Rabka, Szczawnica, Wisla, Koniakow and Ustron.
  • Czestochowa - 80 km north is the most important pilgrim's place in Central Europe.
  • Wadowice - 40 km south-west is the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla, 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.
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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