In July I went to Krakow with a dear friend, it was rather spontanous, but it was a great idea! The city is really lovely and wonderful to explore by foot. We also had fantastic weather, though it was almost too warm. So, today I wanted to share a couple of photos and ideas what to do in Krakow. Of course we also went to Auschwitz and Birkenau, but we considered it inappropriate to take photos and instead just listened to our six hour guide, which was very informative and very well done. The only downside was that there were [understandably] a lot of people and some of them were acting (a bit/very) disrespectful.
Hołd Pruski by Jan Matejko
The main square, Rynek, is quite beautiful, but tourist-y (in general Krakow is not as full of tourists as Rome or London, but on those main attractions there are still lots of visitors), so if you want to have a quick getaway, you can visit the Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art in the Sukiennice (Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie Galeria Sztuki Polskiej XIX wieku w Sukiennicach) on top of the cloth hall. Of course, 19th century art is my favourite and this gallery was really beautiful inside and out. There is also a lovely café (Cafe Szał) on top of those halls, which has a great view over the square, delicious food and drinks and isn’t even crowded with tourists. You get there through the entrance of the museum as well, but you don’t need a ticket for the café.
Nearby is also the tower of the town hall (Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa – Wieża Ratuszowa) which you can climb and gives you a good view over the city too. I’m pretty sure there is a theatre downstairs which sounds wonderful. Another mustsee is the Bazylika Mariacka, a beautiful, extravagant church on the inside and I love those colours. If you want to take pictures, you have to buy a licence though (it’s rather cheap and I think for such a stunning church that is really okay).
Amber is really popular in Poland, so there is even an Amber Museum close too the main square (well basically everything is close to Rynek), it’s for free, features some great artwork and you can also buy some beautiful pieces there.
One of the most beautiful parts of Krakow is definetly Kazimierz/the Jewish Quarter, it is really calm and besides adorable café there are also lovely streetfood markets around almost every corner. Compared to food at home/in most cities I visited so far it’s very affordable, cheap considering what you get (e.g. freshly made chimney cake with a sort of ice cream, caramel cream and caramel bisquits for 13zl/3€). We also visited a very cute Vintage Store – though there are a lot more cute shops in that quarter, Vintage Classics. They sell both Vintage pieces and pieces made from Vintage fabric (with Vintage cuts), I found two adorable hats there and the sales assistant was too nice. It’s a bit of a long walk toward’s Oskar Schindler factory (especially if you have been walking all day long and have to walk back afterwards), but it adds to the experience.
It would have been a great place to take your bike too, but we only took them riding aroung Planty, the park area and on the day we went to Zakrzówek Lake. It is a bit difficult to get to the place where you are allowed to swim, but it is worth it and the ride is beautiful too. I won’t attempt to explain it, because I’m terrible with directions, but the way along the river and through the woods, maybe even hiking a bit is lovely.
Another highlight for me was Collegium Maius, I mean, I love old universities, but that one was especially beautiful with all the scientific instruments and the amazing ceilings. There are a lot of tours and you can book yours right when you are there. Matching the theme of education, there are lots of antiquarian bookshop all over the city and easy to spot.
Wavel Castle we only managed to look at from the outside (and walk through the fantastic church), because there were so many people waiting in line (at both cash points). Mind you, it was a Thursday and we were rather early, so that was a disappointment. Especially since it is not possible to buy the tickets beforehand, so I don’t know if you want to see the castle, get in line two hours before it opens or something like that.
I really enjoyed Krakow, especially the food (will blog about that too). Have you been there and if so what did you enjoy most?