With most other major cities of Poland were destroyed during World War II Kraków, the biggest and most crucial city of southern Poland, remained almost untouched. This beautiful town, still rich in original architecture and history is a must visit – and not just because of that sweet exchange rate!
How to get there
Krakow is very well connected to neighbouring countries by train, and Flix Bus offers direct routes from Ukraine, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Croatia, Austria and Hungary.
Travelling from other cities within Poland to Krakow is also easy, with daily transfers to Warsaw or Wroclaw costing as little as 16 PLN (€4)
To get from Krakow airport to the city centre, catch the train which leaves the airport roughly every half hour and costs 9 PLN. You can find schedules here.
How to get around
All major sights in Krakow can be accessed on foot. There is also a great Tram system which runs through the city if you’re in a hurry!
Where to eat
Stalls are dotted on every street corner and sell an array of fresh breads including the renowned bagel-meets-pretzel obwarzanek. Over 150,000 are eaten each day and are a perfect snack to fill your stomach while strolling around the city.
These delicious little dumplings are found in cheap hole in the wall cafes and upmarket restaurants throughout Poland, and are an essential part of any visit. Fillings range from sweet to savoury with an array of meats, cheese, herbs and fruits on offer. There are plenty of pierogi spots around town – check out Zapieciek which is open 24 hours… perfect after a night out.
Where to stay
If you are going to Krakow, you must must stay at one of Greg & Tom’s Beer House.
There are three to choose from: the Beer Hostel, the Party Hostel or the Original Hostel. The staff are amazing, the rooms are spacious and clean, the common areas are comfortable and welcoming, and the best part of all: Free lunch AND dinner. And I’m not just talking your usual breads and spreads. I’m talking bacon, scrambled eggs, homemade crepes, grilled tomato… and for dinner; eggplant pasta, roast chicken, two kinds of salads, pizza… Not to mention the kitchen is always stocked with fresh fruit, biscuits, tea and coffee.
And if you do choose the Beer Hostel, the beers on tap are free at dinner. If Krakow wasn’t cheap enough, you can literally get away with not spending a cent on food staying here.
They also run a pub crawl every night, where you meet up with the other two hostels and enjoy free beer and sangria for a few hours before you hit the town.
Do not stay anywhere else!!
An idea of costs for one day in Krakow
PLN 70 per day (€18)
– Hostel: 20
– Free Breakfast at Hostel
– Return bus ticket & entrance to Auschwitz: 30
– Pierogi: 20
– Free dinner at hostel
How long to spend here
Krakow is rich in history and culture, but also very very affordable. While you can see all the main sights of Krakow in 2 days, if you’re looking for a place to put the breaks on and just take a few days off from ‘travelling’ (believe me, travel-exhaustion happens), this is the place. Especially if you stay at Greg and Tom’s, you will feel like you’ve stopped home.
What to see and do
Royal Castle, Jewish Quarter & Old Town
Krakow city centre is divided into two sections – the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter (or Kazimierz), with Wawel Royal Castle standing proudly between them. The Castle dates back to 16th Century and is somewhat of a hodgepodge reflecting the many eras and differing tastes of the many monarchs to call this impressive building home.
Plenty of walking tours leave The Market Square daily and these are the best way to soak up the rich and often hidden history of Krakow.
Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps, and largest of the German Nazi extermination centres. Over 1.1 million men, women and children lost their lives here, and in my opinion, it is a must to visit during your time in Krakow out of respect.
There are a few options for visiting Auschwitz:
Join a tour
There are plenty of tours which leave Krakow daily. Some include entry to the camps, others just provide organisation and transportation. Most hostels will help point you in the direction of their recommended tour, and some will also offer discounts.
Catch the Bus
If you want to save some cash (and I’m talking like €30+), you can get yourself to Auschwitz by catching the local bus. Schedules can be found here.
The trip takes around 1hr 30min and costs 12 PLN for one way ticket. There are four companies which run either standard-sized or mini-buses daily to Oswiecim (the town closest to Auschwitz) at 20 to 40 minute intervals. Buses fill quickly so make sure you get to the stop early to line up and tell the driver you wish to stop at Auschwitz Museum.
Entry to Grounds
While it is technically free to enter Auschwitz, if you enter after 10am you will need to join up with one of the guide groups, costing around 50 PLN (€11).
These guides run every half hour but sell out quickly if you plan to just turn up and book at the ticket booth. You can also book online in advance however tickets sell out weeks in advance.
While it is nice to wander through the grounds at your own leisure, I do recommend joining a guide. The extra information they provide is worth every cent.
Your best bet is to arrive early, around 9am and put your name down to join the next tour in your native language. More information can be found here: visit.auschwitz.org
Also to note: they are very strict upon entrance on the size of bags you bring in. The maximum size cannot exceed dimensions: 30x20x10 cm. There is locker storage available for a small fee.
Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, and located only 14km outside of Krakow, it makes for the perfect day trip.
You can join a tour – or to save some cash, hop on a train at the main station and head there yourself. Trains leave every half hour, taking 30 min and cost 3 PLN one way. Tickets can be bought at ticket machines and schedules can be found here.
Tickets to the Salt Mine costs 59 – 64 PLN depending on what time of year you go.