Krakow Guide

Travel tips

1 Travel tips

Here are a few things to remember during your time in Cracow: Avoid changing your money at the Bureaux de Change in the town centre unless you…

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Getting to Krakow

2 Getting to Krakow

Above: Everyone looks sexy in a pair of cycling shorts... Left: The Sky's not the limit - Easyjet, Ryanair, BA, Lot and Germanwings fly here too! …

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Getting around Krakow

3 Getting around Krakow

Above: Choose between getting in one, or constantly having to avoid the little menaces... Left: Faster driver, faster! Below: There's only…

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Money Matters

4 Money Matters

Don't assume that your Krakow Hotel will take cards, though things are steadily improving in this area. Cash is still king in Poland, so make sure…

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Language

5 Language

There's no getting away from it - Polish is a tough language, any early attempts at which will have you sounding like you're whispering, gargling and…

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Info about Krakow & Poland

6 Info about Krakow & Poland

The capital of Poland until the end of the sixteenth century, Cracow has been superseded by Warsaw, and is now the fourth largest city in the…

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About the guide

Above: Lifelike Apostles on the Royal Way Below: Shelter from the midday sun in the arcades of the Cloth Hall

Cracow, Poland's ancient royal capital, is one of the great survivors of this part of Europe. And much like the embattled old countess, who managed to come through the war and the Soviet era, she is a proud city. Conservative in some ways, and with an eye towards tradition, Cracow also has an eccentric streak that can be enchanting.

Cracow has retained much of its splendour, yet there is a tranquillity here that can be disarming. And here lies one of the keys to the city's magic. It is the kind of place where every day you might stumble across something that you have not noticed before - a little baroque church, a hidden courtyard, or perhaps just one of the myriad gargoyles and sculptures that peer down from the city's houses. Cracow is a treasure trove, and a great advantage is that it can largely be explored by foot - there is no need to plunge yourself into a world of underground trains or buses.

In the guide you will find a range of the most intriguing landmarks, the lion's share of which can be found in three areas. First the Old Town, whose heart is the large Market Square or Rynek. Second, Kazimierz, which was once a cradle of Jewish culture and a separate town in its own right. Across the river from Kazimierz, the Podgorze district is just starting to get trendy and is well worth exploring. And finally Wawel, the seat of both the Royal Castle and the cathedral - the spiritual home of the nation. Whilst traffic is not a problem in these quarters, the rambunctious pigeons will certainly give anyone a run for their money - so get ready to duck.

Further afield, there are a number of places that are also well worth exploring, amongst which the salt-mines of Wieliczka and the lush valleys that surround Ojcow are both within easy striking distance.

Many visitors also come to Cracow to make their own private pilgrimage to Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Krakow has its faults, and it can be a melancholic, and at times stubborn city. There have certainly been dark chapters in its history. Yet all things considered, it makes for a deeply rewarding place to visit.

Comments

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Peter from United Kingdom Reply Dec 11th, 2013

An awesome city!

Alicia Sacha from United Kingdom Reply Feb 11th, 2013

I love Krakow so much that I'm bringing a group of friends with me to celebrate a birthday.

dave roberts from United Kingdom Reply Sep 28th, 2012

Krakow is a fantastic place. Been there 6 times and going back next week. Prices are fairly cheap for most things and people are generally helpful and friendly. There will always be the dodgy ones in any major tourist destination, just use common sense or you could get scammed, but its really not a major problem there. Another tip, dont hand your passport over to anyone, offer to pay up front for accomodation instead and get a receipt. Just avoid obvious traps and have a great time, I know I will, again.

jan from United Kingdom Reply Sep 13th, 2012

We will be in Krakow 15th - 22nd Sept 2012. Can anyone suggest things to do other than the advertised tours...we have already been made aware of static balloon, River Rafting, zoo, water park. Soooo excited

paul from United Kingdom Reply Aug 29th, 2012

myself and three male friends will be visiting Kracow for 5 nights in september, just read a coment about old city appartments trying to rip you off upon departure, i notice this was a comment from old, anyone else had any problems??

jacqui embrey from United Kingdom Reply May 20th, 2012

I have been to Krakow 15 times and I am going again this week. I love Krakow and the people. I have found them friendly and helpful and polite. I believe you treat people as you want to be treated. I have made some nice friends there and I always stay at the same hotel and they are fantastic. There is plenty to see there and the shopping is great and the prices reasonable. There are some wonderful restaurants. Yes to Krakow amazing city.

lozzer from United Kingdom Reply Apr 18th, 2012

DONT GO TO 'HARD CANDY' BAR!! It's in a prime location just off the main square, past Mcdonalds, in a basement, but the mean-looking bouncers on the door tell you all you need to know. 4 of us (2 couples) went in for a drink at about 8pm. There was no-one else inside. Instead of letting you order at the bar they insist you order from the drinks menu at one of the very-badly-lit tables, so you can't even see the prices properly (they even swap the price list once you've ordered). We were lucky that they brought the bill to us before we had even started our drinks, so we got up and refused to pay the ridiculous prices (350 Zloty for 4 drinks!). They told us that as we had seen the menu we had to pay. At this point I knew that I had to get us all our asap, before they alerted the bouncers, but one of the bar girls had already run up the stairs to get the muscle-boys, so the only way out was to push past the bouncers, and shout 'police, police!'. We got out without any violence, but I think it was a close-run thing. If you find yourself in this situation, just shout and swear, go mad at them, threaten the police, and hopefully they will realise you're too much trouble to argue with.

from Poland Reply Nov 22nd, 2011

I 100% agree with Brian! I work in a hostel in Kraków and every time the guests want to go out I warn them not to go to the HARD CANDY club. I've many times insisted on this point but there's no respond from the police side. Let's hope that this business will not be long existed. But until then do not go there!!! Best regards from Kraków

brian from United States Reply Oct 21st, 2011

Avoid a bar right near the town center in Krakow called HARD CANDY it is a scam where they will charge you for way more drinks than you ordered or overprice the drinks you order. Also the bar is a front for russian mafia and narcotics. Local government and police seem to know but are either paid off or unconcerned about the safety of foreign tourists. I am avoiding the city of Krakow in my future travels so long as "businesses" like Hard Candy are able to openly scam tourists with little concern from the locals. It has been operating and scamming tourists for 10 years (you can research this easily by doing a google search). If you have been scammed by HARD CANDY or other 'businesses' then email complaints to Polish authorities: it@infokrakow.pl AND biuro@kit.krakow.pl, biuro@iph.krakow.pl

www.cracowcity.tk from United Kingdom Reply Jul 10th, 2011

Good info but missing some important bits.

Tina Smith from United States Reply Apr 19th, 2011

Cracow City is one of the most interesting cultural city I have ever visited.This post is really informative,so thank you.

free stuff from United States Reply Apr 16th, 2011

Good job.Really informative.Thanks a lot

şevval from Turkey Reply Jan 23rd, 2011

I have a homework about Krakow.I agree with Joanne.This website is really useful!!

Joanne from Australia Reply Oct 30th, 2010

My husband and I will be visiting Krakow and Warsaw for a week mid December. Your website is very useful. Congratulations!

Donna from United States Reply Oct 9th, 2010

I Would love to vist parts of poland my grandparants came from different parts like krakow; Warsaw ext. My dads mother came from royalty when she was born dont know much about it . I've been looking on the internet and i came up empty handed

Violetta from Australia Reply Oct 6th, 2010

Hallo, Anything and Everything to keep you looking and feeling in TIP-TOP SHAPE. All above i have love at Magia Day Spa. Big Thank You to the staff at Magia Day Spa for a supper service .My skin is sensitive but products were "purer" and kinder to my skin. I would definitely pass your's SZLAK address My first impressions 10 Stars out of 10. I will be back for more .

lorek from Poland Reply Aug 29th, 2010

Hello, i think there is no dire ct bus betweek Auschwitz and wieliczka salt mine/but you may take bus back to bus station from Auschwitz then get on in the next bus to salt mine.

analise from Malta Reply Aug 25th, 2010

hi, can anyone pls tell me it there is direct transport from auchwitz to the salt mines? thanks

Lorek from Poland Reply Jun 3rd, 2010

Hi Ralph, that is a good choice to move around in Cracow.You can also contact me if you are looking for comfy accomodation in Cracow center.And if you have time, do take time to go and visit Zakopane, 1 h30 south of Cracow.I may advise you too on accomodation.Get in touch wit me for info.on that.Take Care.Ogrodygorskie-Zakopane

Ralph Hardwick from United Kingdom Reply May 26th, 2010

I was in Krakow in March 2010 and planned to go back in September 2010. After a lot of careful consideration my friends and I have decided we can't wait that long and are going back at the end of June. Which still seems a long time away. We stayed in Kazimierz last time and will just just west of the Rynek this time. CK Brew and Smocza Jama are both not to be missed.

Holme from Australia Reply May 5th, 2010

I was there September 09, What a wonderful place. The tourist information staff could not help me enough. To the girls at Kazimierz laundry you are fabulous. Food wise take your pick of style & cost. I will definitely return.

Mary from United Kingdom Reply Mar 31st, 2010

Thanks for this guide, can't wait to arrive in Cracow this May. I've heard its beautiful then!

lorek from Poland Reply Mar 8th, 2010

I am afraid for you but I think that was a bad day for you like everyone has sometimes.Some people are rude but very little.About the taxi, i would have advised you to ask the driver(which has to understand you when you ask destination..., in english )how much would be the ride and even to write it down.Then to even call Police if the atmosphere was electric and agressive.May be it was a not legal one.Well, for me , ghe best is to use the tramway and to walk around Cracow to enjoy architecture...Hope you will come back and have a better experience in future.

colin from Ireland Reply Mar 7th, 2010

it is awful...... avoid! u get stroked everywhere you go! I got taken in a taxi to outskirts and ordered to pay money! £50. people r rude rude rude!

ROSE from Ireland Reply Dec 4th, 2009

Pls dont stay in *ANY TIME HOSTEL* IN KARAKAW , WORS ONE , EXPENSIVE BT DIRTY AND NO KITCHEN FACILITY ETC ETC

brien from United States Reply Jun 25th, 2009

There are tons of clubs here. Click on Drink to find them.

john from United States Reply Mar 26th, 2009

what is the party night life there? is there any clubs that are enjoyable?

brien from United States Reply Mar 26th, 2009

Elaine. It's not rudeness, per se. People actually are very nice. Of course, there's always a few who aren't. It's just that sometimes people from high-level service economies (USA/UK) aren't used to the type of service here. It's much slower and different. I do appreciate it most of the time, and when I don't, I just ask for what I need. Tipping practices are not regimented here, which means service isn't necessarily tied to whether you're going to leave a tip or not. Best is to just keep in mind that people aren't trying to be rude. The society just isn't the same as you might be accustomed. Give it time, and it may make more sense. If you're only here for a few days, then do what you came for and ask when you need something. Have a great time.

Elaine from United Kingdom Reply Feb 24th, 2009

Hi, Im going to Krakow in 3 weeks and have been reading the reviews on restaurants etc. Are the people really so rude ? Im taking my 13yr old son, im just a bit concerned or is it like any other place ? good and bad ? thanks

Anka from Poland Reply Feb 24th, 2009

owena, just click on the "sleep" button, browse places, read the reviews, and find something! or ask on the forum.

owena from Ireland Reply Feb 22nd, 2009

this is not a review .. just a question i am travelling 2 krakow n a few weeks but i don't know where 2 stay.. i want 2 b n d heart oof everything... within walkin distance... any suggestions?

stepen from United Kingdom Reply Nov 16th, 2008

visited krakow ,very nice city got back 7th nov after 8days there,lots 2 c and the people r very nice and polite ,would recomend 2 family and friends 2 visit,do go and find out ur self u will b pleased with the site's 2 visit and the city,it's very nice indeed

Lizzy Elsby from Israel Reply Oct 20th, 2008

I participated in a two week seminar for educators in the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum last July. After a very intense week of lectures and guides there ,( and many wonderful friendships made with the amazing staff of the museum), it was such a pleasure to have a weekend in Krakow to relax and enjoy life a bit and to see the real Poland ... I was very taken by the sheer beauty of the city, it's vibrancy, the friendliness of the people , the wonderful architecture both ancient and new... I enjoyed observing Polish people just enjoying their city.. watching Polish newly- weds leaving the beautiful churches surrounded by family and freinds , families with children and dogs out for a weekend stroll along the river , students milling around in the university... Krakow is a great city for sitting down with a coffee and people watching . The former Jewish quarter, Kazimeriz, was especially touching for me, as both a Jew and a Holocaust educator...praying in the Rema synagogue is a very intense experience, one I recommend to all Jewish visitors. I can't recommend Krakow enough... beautiful, special place, and very close to my heart.

Anthony from United Kingdom Reply Jul 2nd, 2008

Just returned from krakow and it certainly is a beautiful city with some fantastic people. Yet if you are planning a trip and are looking to book accomodation then please beware of the company 'old city apartments'. They take your passport as an insurance policy. Then when you come to check out hold you to ransom and demand extortionate amounts of money before returning your passports.

Mark B from United Kingdom Reply Sep 27th, 2007

Hi Gerry! For simplicity we have ommitted a number of the smaller islands (eg Sicily, Ireland), but following your comments we will do our best to include the Emerald Isle when we next do a major update of the site! Apologies, Mark, www.cracow-life.com

gerry fahy from Ireland Reply Jul 9th, 2007

Your review appears fine but your graphics on top of page omits Ireland.

Eileen Steele from United Kingdom Reply Jun 17th, 2007

Sorry this is not a review more a question. Does Krakow have Mass said in English on a Sunday morning and at what church. I will be staying at the Senaki 51 Grodzka Street. many thanks for your help Eileen Steele