First of all, this is not one of those ‘You have to go and see the, this and this,’ it’s one of those beautiful places that you just need to take the time to just enjoy. Krakow, traditionally known as Cracow, is a southern city of Poland, near to the border of the Czech Republic. Tradition is important within the polish culture and this city has legacy’s that date back for centuries. It is one of the oldest cities in Poland so naturally, it is enriched with stunning architecture, history and quirks. Of course, there are places that I will recommend but even if you went there with nothing in mind, this is the place that you can get away with it.
Travel the city in a horse-driven Cart
When you arrive in Krakow, you will be greeted by many of these carts, taking people on tours of the city! There is a range of options dependant on budget and personal choice. We opted for a short ride when we went, around twenty minutes to half an hour. It was simply wonderful and gave you a whole new perspective to this magical place! You will be treated like royalty, wrapped up with blankets and tucked away to share the experience with your fellow travellers. I would recommend saving a few zloty’s and ending your trip this way… you will be reminiscing about it for years to come.
Educate yourself! Use your time in Krakow to learn more about the dark history of the holocaust. It is truly a harrowing experience that will completely exceed your imaginations. When hearing the horrors of the events on films and TV, it is easy to feel horrified. However, hearing the stories whilst seeing the conditions in which they suffered will allow you to truly resonate with their struggles. It is a part of history that should never be ignored! Hearing the sheer devastation that those poor families felt was something that will stay with me forever.
Try out some local delicacies
The city of Krakow knows how to do comfort food. There are speciality dishes here that they claim outright. When travelling, I would always encourage anyone to try and live like a local. There are recognisable dishes around many cafes, restaurants and stalls around the city so it’s worth having a try! One of the dishes that I would highly regard as my favourite delicacy would be the ‘Pierogi’, a.k.a dumplings. They often come with a range of different fillings which allows you to follow your senses depending on whether you are a sweet or savoury person!
Visit the Jewish quarter, Kazimierz
Krakow is brimming with history and learning is a skill that we as humans have always known. We should also always strive to learn more. Knowledge is power. Kazimierz was once independent, separated from Krakow until the late middle ages. However, as time passed, it was then later known as the ‘Jewish Quarter’. Not only does this place give a great insight into its predecessors but it has also now been transformed into a beautiful centre for bars and cafes! I recommend trying out ‘Hamsa, Hummus and Happiness’ for that purpose.
Have a drink in the central square
Once again, it isn’t always about sightseeing. The central square is beautiful and it is filled with cafes, bars and restaurants. The lovely bit about this area is that the majority of the eatery’s have covered seating with inside heaters too to keep you warm… it can get very, very cold over there! I’ll help you vision this… you’re wrapped up in a blanket, feeling toasty, you’re sat next to a tall heater, sipping on a cocktail whilst the city proceeds on the other side of that plastic sheet.
Explore the salt-mines
With over 2km of corridors and almost 800 steps to climb, this tour will take around two hours to complete but it is most definitely worth it. You will be able to step back in history and admire the most unique and beautiful crafts that this place has to offer. This part of the mine only makes up for around 1% of the entire underground so it’s important to follow your tour guide strictly and not take off on your own journey!
Take time to browse
Browsing was an essential part of the holiday for me. Browsing through the food and drink, the architecture, the independent shops… everything fascinated me! We used one of our days there to just take in the sights and explore everywhere and anywhere that we could find. We also referred to the TV programme ‘Travel man’ as he had done an insightful look into Krakow before we went… this was useful in guiding us to some gorgeous places to eat and drink.
Take a walk in the park
Due to the red squirrels nearing extinction in England, it was the first time that I had actually managed to see one! The greenery and park-space in Krakow is simply wonderful and is home to such lovely animals! Not only that but it’s quite easy to find a pretzel stand too if you start feeling peckish.
Admire Oskar Schindler’s Work
This has been largely regarded as one of the most interesting museums to visit during your time in Krakow. It showcases both individual and collective dimensions of the monstrosities that Polish citizens had to endure during the war. It tells the gripping story of the terrors during WWII and how Oskar Schindler played his part in the efforts against Nazi culture.
Spend some time in the Old Town
This is similar to other points but I think it is one that you should remember if you are going to Krakow. In the Old Town alone, there is plenty to do and see. From museums and churches to the ‘Krawl through Krakow’ which is a notorious event that begins at 9pm on most days throughout the year!