Last December I travelled to Kraków, Poland for the first time, and though my trip was initially to visit the city’s Christmas market, I was pleasantly surprised by everything else Kraków had to offer... good food, rich history, and awesome street art to name a few.
If you’re into any of that, here are some attractions, eats, and neighborhoods that you won’t want to miss.
What To Do
explore the Old Town
A trip to Kraków isn’t a trip to Kraków without visiting the Old Town. It was on the first UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978... and for good reason. The Old Town is home to many of the city’s icons like St. Mary’s Basilica, the historic Town Hall Tower, Wawel Castle, and the largest market square in Europe.
Wander the grounds of Wawel Castle
Though it’s definitely one of Old Town’s most touristy landmarks, Wawel Castle, & the iconic fire breathing dragon at the foot of the hill, are both worth a visit.
Local tip: a friend from Kraków told us the castle is best enjoyed from the grounds, so we decided against paying the admission to get inside. Whether you decide to go in or not, you should get there early to avoid crowds.
Hunt for street art in Kazimierz
The Old Town is beautiful, but if that’s the only area you visit you’ll seriously miss out. Be sure to spend some time wandering around the Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz - this was one of my favorite spots in the city.
The area has an entirely different look and feel than the Old Town... which probably has to do with the fact that it used to be an entirely separate city.
I’m a huge sucker for hole in the wall bars, cafes, and street art... and Kazimierz has plenty of all of them.
cross the Bernatek Footbridge
After exploring Kazimierz, head towards the Vistula River to the Bernatek Footbridge. This pedestrian + bike friendly bridge opened in 2010, but the love locks & gravity defying aerialists were added a bit later.
The bridge connects Kazimierz with Podgórze, another hot spot for good eats and drinks.
What to Eat/Drink (and where)
If you visit Kraków in the winter, you’ll find lots of delicious foods to warm you up at the Christmas Market like pierogi or, the most traditional polish dish of all - soup.
You can get mulled wine served straight from the barrel, or switch it up with other hot drinks like beer and vodka. I was as skeptical at first, but, turns out, the hot ginger beer at @piwnicapodbaranami, a super cozy underground cabaret turned bar, is actually pretty delicious.
Good food is everywhere in this city, but, if you’re balling on a budget like me, I wouldn’t recommend eating at the Main Square.
As a general rule, the further away you get, the cheaper meal prices will be.
Unless you’re grubbing on street food at the Christmas market, you’ll likely find delicious meals for much less in Kazimierz.
The pierogi pictured below is from Zielony Balonik (The Green Balloon). For a cheaper (delicious) alternative head to the Old Town Restaurant and Wine Bar. It’s just a short walk away from the Old Town and is easily my favorite place we ate during our time in Poland. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos because… well, I was more focused on eating.
The best way to get around Kraków is to WALK. Kraków is pedestrian friendly and most of the landmarks around Old Town are within walking distance.
Don’t feel like walking? You can also rent a bike or use the city’s public transit which operates 24 hours a day.
If you plan on taking buses or trams frequently, you may want to get a 2 or 3 day Krakow Tourist card (US$26 and $32 respectively). This card is good for airport transfer, unlimited public transport around the city, and will get you free admission to 40+ museums & attractions.
Christmas Markets of Kraków
Have you been to Kraków? What is your favorite thing to do in the city?
Let me know in the comments below!
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