After coming back from this lovely city trip, we don’t even know where to start writing! At least, let’s start with sharing that we discovered a new favorite European city. We love Krakow, it’s friendly inhabitants, the clean pavements, beautiful buildings, many churches and synagogs, the mixture of hip and old fashioned restaurants, the beers, the… we can continue for a few more minutes.
So start looking for cheap flights and book your city trip: You won’t regret it. Basically you can divide Krakow in three main neighborhoods that you could visit: the Old Town (Stare Miasto), the Jewish quarter (Kazimierz) and the less known area of Podgorze. Let’s share what we think you should do in Krakow!
The Old Town
Since the city is not that immense, you can easily skip public transport and start walking. Don’t forget the small streets and tiny alleys! The Old Town shows you Krakow’s rich history; it’s one of a few cities that was not bombed during the Second World War which means a lot of buildings still are in its original state. Many buildings are renovated throughout the years, keeping their own identity and beautiful details and style. So in Stare Miasto, these are the places not to skip:
Wawel cathedral and Wawel castle
Located on Wawel hill on the Wisła river, the two most important of many buildings are the Wawel cathedral and Wawel castle (Zamek Królewski). The story tells us that in the Middle Ages a dragon lived in the caves of Wawel hill. After the dragon was killed by a shoemaker, King Krak built his castle on the hills and the shoemaker had to marry the King’s daughter. Wawel castle is over 900 years old and is Poland’s national cemetery. Before the current gothic cathedral with its golden tower was built in 1364 there were two other cathedrals, unfortunately both destroyed. In the 1930’s the Wawel museum was opened and offers a large Polish art collection.
Rynek Główny and Sukiennice
After the desolation by the Mongolian army in the 13th century, the inhabitants of Krakow decided to build a beautiful square in the city centre. This reconstruction resulted in a modern and gigantic square that was initially used for the markets and nowadays it is a place where people meet each other for drinks, where horse carriages wait for their next tourist ride in front of the Town Hall (Wieża Ratuszowa) and where in the evening street artists enter their scene. The striking building in the middle of the market square, is Sukiennice. During the 15th century The Cloth hall had a key role in the international trade where silk and spices from the Middle East and salt from the Wieliczka salt mines where traded. Nowadays people sell mainly jewelry and souvenirs. The square just on the other side of Sukiennice offers you a market with local food like cheese, meat, pancakes, pierogi (dumplings), cakes and bread. If you have kids or you would like to bring a nice gift for your cousins, we would recommend the very colorful wooden toys that are sold here.
We visited Krakow on the week-end of Palm Sunday and because the Polish are generally speaking quite religious. We were surprised to see so many colorful Easter palms.
So we can image that after your walk in the Old Town, you are up for some coffee, food or drinks! Where to go?
Food & drinks
Karma Coffee Roasters
Best-coffee-in-town we were told and indeed we did enjoy our cappuccino! At Karma Coffee Roasters they do their own coffee roasting and the baristas prepare your coffee with love and care. Don’t skip the delicious cakes 🙂
Address: Krupnicza 12, 31-123 Krakow, Poland
We had our first Krakow lunch at Chimera and were so happy that we found this hidden spot. Centrally located just off Market Square, this popular salad bar offers you a delicious lunch or diner in a with plants decorated indoor courtyard. It is a buffet type restaurant where you either pick 4 or 6 small dishes and choose from a large variety of mainly vegetarian options. Try the warm apple juice with cinnamon!
Address: św. Anny 3, Krakow, Poland
Restauracja Cafe Oranzeria
This is a restaurant where you’d go to for more than just the food. This is a restaurant with a view! Caffe Oranżeria is located on the top floor of the four star hotel Kossak. You enjoy your lunch or dinner with a view on Wawel Castle, the river and the Old Town. This is a bit of a fancy place with napery where you can easily spend the whole afternoon eating and drinking. Enjoy! Baked halloumi cheese, served on chickpeas and broad bean cake, accompanied by cucumber and chilli salad, Indian Kofta and fig sauce.
Address: plac Kossaka 1, 31-106 Krakow, Poland
Although we did not make a reservation and the availability did not look like a problem, we were told there was only a spot available for us at the back of the restaurant. So we would recommend making a reservation to make sure you get a proper table. This restaurant has a modern interior with lots of wood, brick walls and natural colors – something you come across relatively often these days and a style we like!
Address: Szczepańska 4, 33-332 Krakow, Polen
We loved the Old Town but we came back the third day to the Jewish quarter Kazimierz! The lovely district owes its name to the Jewish community that lived here since the 15th century. During the second world war this came to an end in a terrible manner. The once thriving district fell into disrepair and slowly recovered after recording the movie Schindler’s List. Creative people moved into empty houses and the neighborhood started to live again. Today, a city trip to Krakow is not complete with a visit to the atmospheric Kazimierz district. Enjoy the synagogues, the street food, the graffiti and bars. We discovered some great restaurants, shops, bars for you:
Plac Nowy & zapiekanki
This used to be a square with raw edges where alternatives and punks came together. Over the past years this has changed: Plac Nowy became modern and hip. On all sides of the Plac Nowy You can find bars and restaurants. In the middle of the square, there are several zapiekanka shops where locals and tourist enjoy the local snack. A zapiekanka is an open baguette (or another type of bread) topped with sauteed white mushrooms, cheese and other ingredients you pick and melted melts. The origin goes back to the 1970s when the Communist regime led Poland. Nowadays the zapiekanki has become popular street food with a large range of varieties.
Plac Nowy 1
Located on one of the corners of Plac Nowy, the bar and restaurant Plac Nowy 1 is a really nice place to enjoy a cocktail, beer and have some food. We particularly liked the interior with a open second floor, the use of modern materials like wood and black steel and lots of plants. We decided to try the cocktails and our absolute favorite was the pepper cocktail with Hendricks gin and tonic. Don’t leave Plac Nowy 1 without having at least one of these!
Address: Plac Nowy 1, 31-056 Krakow, Poland
Pierożki u Vincenta
Pierogi (Pierozki) are stuffed handmade dough snacks and very popular in Eastern Europe. To try these little Polish dumplings, we went to Pierożki u Vincenta in the district of Kazimierz. Don’t expect a posh restaurant with hipsters but a restaurant where locals have a quick and filling lunch or dinner. The decor is very yellow with Vincent van Gogh sunflowers all over the place and there are as many as 28 variants to choose from. They are served in sets of 6 so no excuse there to not jump by and try the pierogi!
Address: 33 332, Bożego Ciała 12, 33-332 Krakow, Poland
Hamsa is an Israeli restaurant with lovely Middle Eastern food and friendly staff in the center of the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. They offer a great selection of mezze with delicious humus, pickles and bread, meat dishes, salads en also enough options for vegetarians. The interior takes you away from Poland and brings you to the Mediterranean with white tiles, blue prints and designs and lots of plants. A great place to have dinner!
Address: Szeroka 2, 31-053 Krakow, Poland
Tea, tea, tea and more tea! That is what you can will have a Czajownia. Take your time, pick a comfortable spot to sit down and relax: only going through the menu already takes you half an hour with hundreds sorts of tea to choose from. And it’s worth it! The enthuasistic tea maker (we can not call him a bar tender, can we?) at the counter picks his ingredients and prepares your order with precision and love.
Address: Józefa 25, Krakow, Poland
Auschwitz and Birkenau
Our visit to Birkenau and Birkenau was unbelievably impressive but despite the sad feeling in our stomachs that day, you will have to go. You will be faced with the horrors of the Holocaust, the murder of over one million Jewish people, Sinti, Roma and prisoners of war; the atrocities of the Second World War. It is a difficult day trip that makes you also think about your own life, your loved ones and the freedom we currently live with. What happened is impossible to understand, it’s very sad and emotional what you will see during your visit, but the only thing that matters is: we can never forget what happened.
You can take a local bus that brings you to Auschwitz or book a tour with a local guide who tells you all you need to know. The last option had our preference because we really wanted to know the relevant details. Take your time and reserve one day for visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau.
We stayed in a very nice 4* hotel called Art & Garden residence where the lovely staff helped us booking our Auschwitz & Birkenau tour. The rooms are very clean with great beds, the breakfast is fresh and delicious!
How to get to & around Krakow
Depending of where your are heading from, take the car, the plane or train! With low costs airlines, you could get really good deals from € 19.
Krakow is relatively small and very pedestrian friendly, so use our feet and walk! Like to take a taxi? Download the Über app, use promo code zxw5z1ppue for a 10 euro discount on your first Über ride!
Our next visit…
Although we tend not to plan most of our city trips, we of course do a bit of research! For our next visit, we won’t skip:
- Restaurant Corner Burger
- The neighborhoods of Podgórze with the old Oskar Schindler factory