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Photo: Adam Witek

Places

10 tips for charismatic Krakow

Krakow is Poland’s biggest tourist attraction – and with good reason. The former capital on the Vistula River is known for its nostalgic charm and is full of historic sights, Jewish heritage, bars, art, markets, and relics from the Communist era.

Although Krakow has a history stretching back a thousand years and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, it’s far from being a living museum. The city’s bar life is legendary, but its restaurant scene has also moved up a gear, offering everything from vegan food, French cuisine, Jewish specialties, sushi, and street food to the kind of food your Polish granny would make with meat, cabbage, and potatoes and the old Communist-style civic restaurants to get you through the winter, the milk bars.

The Poles love their shopping malls, and if you do too, you’ll find you’re never far from a huge shopping center, small trendy boutiques, markets, and lots of second-hand bargains. The city has over 40 museums to feed your brain and beautiful churches for quiet reflection. The fact that it’s green, pedestrian-friendly, and always rewarding, just makes Krakow an even greater pleasure.

You can visit Krakow for a long weekend, a week, or every single day – no matter how many times you’ve been here, you’ll always want to come back again.

Here’s our choice of things to do in Krakow:

Foto: Adam Witek

Don’t miss the Old Town

No visitor to Krakow should miss the heart of the Old Town, the Market Square, with its hustle and bustle, beautiful Renaissance and medieval buildings, old cloth halls, Viennese cafés, and St Mary’s Church. Enjoy the view from Wawel Castle, which looks down on the Old Town from its imposing position on top of a hill, and visit the castle’s golden chapel where the Polish kings are buried.

Rynek Glowny

Stare Miasto

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Kopiec Krakusa in Podgorze. Photo: Lise Hannibal

Green walks

Krakow is very pedestrian friendly, and the whole of the old town area is surrounded by Planty, a park belt that's perfect for walks. See the city from a different perspective on a walk, cycle or jog along the River Wisla, that flows below Wawel Castle. Cross the river and turn left to the up and coming Podgórze District, where you can enjoy sand under your feet on the city's artificial beach, or climb the heights of Kopiec Krakusa, for fantastic views over the city and landscape.

Kopiec Krakusa

Ul. Maryewskiego, Podgórze.

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Photo: Adam Witek

Discover the Communist town of Nowa Huta

When the Communist regime came to power, it meant a new era for Krakow. In 1949, construction began on the Communist model town of Nowa Huta, where the workers were given new homes, recreational areas, and permanent jobs at the new steel plant. Nowa Huta was created, and it retains its authentic, socialist realism, with its boulevards and steelworks, which could react quickly in the event of a nuclear war.

Nowa Huta

Nowa Huta is 20 minutes outside the city center by tram. Take #4 from the main train station and get off at Pl. Centralny.

Affordable eating at milk bars

Milk bars came into being during the days of Communism as an alternative to bars and were a place where you could meet over milk and a cheap meal. The milk bars were state-owned and mostly disappeared after the fall of Communism, but some are still alive and well and are popular with all sections of society. The interior’s rickety tables, plastic cutlery, and fluorescent lights are all part of the charm. Try one of the most iconic, Spolem Bar Mleczny Centralny, in the center of Nowa Huta.

Spolem Bar Mleczny Centralny

Photo: Shutterstock

Jewish heritage in Kazimierz

For centuries, Kazimierz was home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. With the Nazi extermination of the Jews, all the life vanished from Kazimierz, which fell into decay and had its reputation tarnished. But today Kazimierz is one of Krakow’s hippest neighborhoods and its Jewish heritage has been re-discovered in museums, synagogues, and Jewish restaurants. Visit the beautiful Tempel Synagogue on Miodowa and don’t miss the photo exhibition at Zydowskie Muzeum Galicja.

Zydowskie Muzeum Galicja

ul. Dajwór 18,

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Singer - strong drinks and dekadent feeling. Photo: Adam Witek

Drinks at Plac Nowy

IKazimierz also has the city’s best bar scene, and its epicenter is Plac Nowy. Here you can get all the latest fashionable drinks, as well as hard-hitting Polish classics such as Wsciekly Pies (the mad dog) made with vodka, raspberry juice, and tabasco. Drink one (or maybe two) at legendary Bohemian bars Singer and Alchemia.

Plac Nowy

Hotel Puro. Photo: Lise Hannibal

Upmarket accommodation

Live in style in Kraków. Many apartments are furnished with all modern conveniences and trendily styled, such as Wielopole 17 Apartments, just 1km from the main square. If you’re more of a castle lover, choose a majestic apartment at Kanonicza 22 with heavenly beds, upholstered furniture and a fabulous roof terrace close to Wawel Castle. If you’d prefer to stay at a hotel, the Instagram friendly Hotel Puro in Kazimierz is the best new choice in the city.

Hotel Puro

Halicka 14A, Krakow

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Halicka Eatery & Bar. Photo: Lise Hannibal

Sample the new Polish cuisine

Krakow is undergoing something of a food revolution and has been touted as the European Region and Gastronomy to look out for in 2019. The new Polish cuisine is big on animal welfare and organic farming, and uses the best regional produce to create a modern, internationally inspired Polish cuisine. Taste new Polish cuisine (and wickedly good cocktails) at Halicka Eatery &Bar in Hotel Puro, at Biala Roza or the Michelin aspiring Art.

Halicka Eatery & Bar

Halicka 14 A

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Halicka is part of Hotel Puro.

Second-hand bargains

Krakow is a paradise for enthusiasts of second-hand and vintage goods. Second-hand chains such as Roban and Biga are home to retro-chic used goods at low prices, and signs all over the city advertise Odziez na Wage or Odziez Uzywana for dirt cheap second-hand shopping. Make room in your suitcase and prepare to grab a bargain.

Biga

Do Wilgi 10

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Roban, at Starowislna 54 and elsewhere

Take in the market at Plac Targowy

Krakow has many great outdoor markets, but Plac Targowy next to the market hall of Hala Targowa is one of the most fun. Here you can buy fruit, vegetables, flowers, underwear, bags, suits, and pirate DVDs, grilled sausages, Soviet souvenirs, old instruments, heirlooms, and all kinds of other treasures from the vaults. And on Sundays there is an antiques market.

Plac Targowy Unitarg

ul. Grzegorzecka, Kazimierz

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