Sunday, November 6, 2016

Short break in Krakow, Poland

We visited Krakow in Oct 2016.

Krakow Castle Grunwald statue, Krakow

Krakow is the 2nd largest city in Poland, after capital Warsaw. It has a small airport with limited flight connectivity - so you will most likely not get a direct flight and end up going via Warsaw, Vienna, Munich or Zurich. The city itself is very international, and you can easily survive with English. The taxi drivers seemed very professional and in most cases followed the meter rates - which was a very welcome change for an East-European country. Cost wise, of course it has a low cost of living; so you would not feel the pinch - neither in food nor transportation - if you are used to Western European Euro (esp. Swiss) prices.

Main Market Square

It was a coincidence that we visited Krakow soon after Prague. The two cities are quite comparable in that both provide an excellent mix of history, architecture and a vibrant culture (/ nightlife).

Like in Prague, tourist hot spots in Krakow are concentrated around the Main Market Square (Rynek Główny in Polish). The centre of the Square is dominated by the Cloth Hall.

The square looks equally stunning at night.

Krakow main market square lights

The Cloth Hall interiors have been transformed into a marketplace with small shops selling all kinds of local wares. Of course, this is a tourist hot-spot, so beware that prices in these shops are usually much higher than prices you will find in a shop 10 minutes away from the Market Square.

Let there be light ...

Apart from the central building, there is the magnificent St. Mary's Basilica adjacent to it (below). You can climb to the top of the Basilica towers to get a magnificent view of the Cloth Hall.

Krakow main market square

Apart from the impressive monuments and shopping venues, the place is filled with restaurants of all types. The glittering lights and lovely ambience make it ideal for a special evening out. The pic below also reminded us of another similarity between Prague and Krakow - the horse carriages :)

Lovely evening at Krakow Market Square


The castle is very impressive, and is within walking distance of the Main Market Square. Keep 2-3 hours in hand to explore the Castle fully. There are many impressive monuments, a park with cafes, shops, etc.; and museums to explore.

Krakow castle entrance
Somewhere in Dreamland ...

If you have time, and the weather is good; it is a beautiful walk around the Castle on the banks of river Wisla.

It is a lovely sunny day in Krakow!

The last notable attraction that we would like to mention here before closing this blog - is the Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp. There is no better reminder of the horrors of War. It can however be very depressing, so definitely take that into consideration! It is around 1.30 hours from the main city, so keep the whole day for visiting it. You can find a very detailed description of what to expect on its website (link).