One of the charms of being a part of HostelSkills community is that each time you get the opportunity to discover a new city and meet new cultures. This time we are traveling to Krakow, and we are recommending you places that you can’t afford to miss while you are here.
The Rynek Glowny
The central meeting place in Krakow since the 13th century, the Main Square is always hustling and bustling with both tourists and locals. As the beating heart of the city, many important events take place here, as well as festivals and political events. It is the largest medieval market square in Europe and is lined with some of the most important buildings in Krakow. Admire the architecture and street performers or stop by one of the many cafes for a drink or a bite.
Ride like a royalty!
Something you can’t miss while in this breathtaking city, for about 20€ you can take a horse and cart ride through the city streets and it can take you up to the Wawel Royal Castle. Your guide will take you through all of the important buildings along the way and you can learn so much about this city while you’ll feel like Royalty!
Up to the Royal Wawel Castle
Krakow’s castle sits at the top of Wawel hill and is visible from almost everywhere in the city. It is to Krakow as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris: an impressive and truly worthy icon. It’s an easy walk up to the castle, where the dramatic spires and elegant fairytale windows encourage your mind to disconnect from modern day life. But make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the dragon, which is said to live in a cave at the foot of the hill.
A trip to the Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory
The travel website describes it as, “a bustling, bohemian neighborhood packed with historical sites, atmospheric cafes and art galleries.” Of course, this region is also home to a most tragic and abhorrent moment in history. One of the locations you will want to visit is Oskar Schindler’s factory. There you get a close look at this man’s life and the Jewish workers he helped save, but also Krakow and greater Poland during the time of Nazi occupation. It’s a trip through World War II when this city changed forever. The ticket is around 6€.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
This UNESCO site has been around since the 13th century when salt was discovered in the area. Since then, it has welcomed quite the eclectic group of tourists. Wikipedia claims the following are among those who have walked these mines: Nicolaus Copernicus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Fryderyk Chopin, Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) and President Bill Clinton.
Small Tip: Skip the line Ticket and City Audioguide, and get a cheaper ticket around 20€, with a duration time of 2.5 hours.
Gain Some Perspective on a Trip to Auschwitz Concentration Camp
One of the most sobering sights you can ever see looms nearby at Auschwitz—one of Nazi Germany’s most heinous concentration camps that actually included three major complexes and 45 satellite camps. It remains an iconic location from one of history’s most deplorable events and a must-visit, serving as a reminder of what depths humanity can sink to when hatred proliferates unchecked. It’s a significant and life-affirming experience.
Small tip: Save a small fortune by taking the bus and skipping the “Auschwitz guided tour” – there are tons of really informative signs around so you don’t really need a tour guide. Return tickets cost about €6.
Unavoidable part of the Poland-Polish Cuisine
Cabbage stuffed with meat and rice. According to Polish myth, the King of Poland Casimir IV Jagiello fed his army with gołąbki before a key battle of the Thirteen Years’ War. Victory stemmed from the strength of the hearty meal.
Grilled oscypek (sheep’s cheese) with bacon, grilled apple and cranberry sauce
Oscypek is a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk that’s found exclusively in the Tatra Mountains region of Poland. Yum!
Placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes)
A thin pancake made with grated onion, carrot, parsnips or other vegetables. Delicious served hot either sprinkled with sugar or dolloped with sour cream.
One of the most traditional Polish desserts, it’s a poppy seed pastry cake served at Christmas and Easter.
Barszcz (Polish red borscht)
The basic Polish borscht recipe includes red beetroot, onions, garlic, and other vegetables, such as carrots and celery or root parsley. Some versions are made with meat or bacon and served as a thicker stew. A vegetarian version of barszcz is presented as the first course during the Christmas Eve feast, served with ravioli-type dumplings called uszka with mushroom filling.
A decadent Polish wedding sweet treat, here made with blueberry preserves filling that’s spiked with blueberry vodka, pressed between layers of crumbly pastry made with brown sugar, walnuts, oats, flour, and butter.
Few more places you can check out:
The green belt Planty Park rings the whole area of Krakow’s historic Old Town. Pathways weave this way and that past sculptures and babbling fountains, while locals walk their dogs and cafes spill onto the sidewalks. It’s filled with life in the summer and a veritable winter wonderland during the colder months.
The Barbikan is the only remaining gatehouse of the medieval fortifications that once encircled the whole city. It’s redbrick bulwarks and formidable turrets helped to fend off the Mongol hordes during the 13th century. Today there are occasional theatre productions and other art shows hosted inside.
Built in the image of the primeval Pagan mounds that surround the city at various points, the soaring hill of Kościuszko was raised in 1823 to honor its namesake national hero Tadeusz Kościuszko. From the top, travelers enjoy sweeping panoramas of the city, while clear days even reveal the Tatra peaks to the south.
Hailed as the world’s oldest shopping center, the Sukiennice has stood in the middle of the Krakow Market Square for centuries. Delve in to flit between the bustling souvenir stalls and their mounds of interesting folk trinkets, or stay outside to wonder at the handsome Renaissance architecture.
Packed to bursting with the graves and grand sepulchers of Polish artists, politicians, poets, film actors, generals and more, the sprawling grounds of the Rakowicki Cemetery are like Krakow’s answer to Paris’ Père Lachaise.
Can’t wait to meet you in Krakow on April 18-19! Let’s get skilled together!