According to the legend Krakow was founded defeating a dragon, and the mystical atmosphere still lingers in the streets and squares of the city.
Krakow is not among the first destinations that come to mind when you decide to take a trip to some European city because it is still little known by the general public of tourists. This is, at least, what I thought before leaving for Krakow, which is very crowded with tourists from all over Europe (and not only); it is a university city and this makes Krakow incredibly vibrant and dynamic. It is also striking the great religiosity, a faith that clearly transpires by visiting the numerous churches of the city, always very crowded with the faithful, even during the late evening hours.
The city tour
Krakow amazes for its beauty, cleanliness, order but above all it is a city rich in history, culture, traditions, which creates excitement, especially when visiting the central square, Rynek Glowny, the Market Square, starting point of every visit and obligatory stop for any tourist (photo 1).
The square, among the most beautiful I’ve ever visited, is the focal point of Krakow, full of historic places where it is not difficult to see hundreds (if not thousands) of people sitting down for the consumption of a coffee or a dessert. On the square you can admire the Saint Mary’s Church, the most beautiful and sumptuous of the city and one of the most important in all of Poland (photo 2).
In the square it is possible to get on one of the innumerable white carriages for a romantic tour of the city, maybe during the evening hours when the carriages light up for a party. The square is literally divided into two parts by the Krakow Cloth Hall, a really beautiful Gothic building with a picturesque market where you can buy almost everything, especially the jewels with the precious Baltic ambers (photo 3).
From the Square, it is possible to reach the Florianska Tower (photo 4), one of the ancient gates of the city, where it is possible to pass under its arch with musicians and street artists who cheer the passersby.
Retracing your steps, after the square, take the Grodzka street, a shopping and dining street, after which you will reach the Wawel Castle, symbol of the city, whose visit requires at least one whole morning (photo 5).
Do not miss a quick visit to the National Museum to admire the beautiful portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, the famous “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci. And then again the Saint Barbara’s and St. Francis’ Church, for a ride that can only end at its starting point, that is at the Market Square, where in the evening you can enjoy one of the many musical performances by talented artists buskers.
And then, you can not miss a visit to the Oskar Schindler’s Factory, Nazi entrepreneur, made famous by a movie by Steven Spielberg who, taking Jews in his own factory, has actually saved thousands of people from certain death. An interactive museum where you can still admire the original office of Oskar Schindler (photo 6), Righteous Among the Nations.
If you are in Krakow, then, you can not miss the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps, about two hours drive from Krakow, and the Wielizka Salt Mines, just over twenty minutes by car. But for these visits I have to refer you to the specific articles I have dedicated to you (now in italian, coming soon in english).
Before leaving this post, take a look to the photo gallery, with more detailed descriptions about many other tourist attractions in the city.
When you arrive at the Airport
The Krakow airport, named to John Paul II, is about ten kilometers from the center. For the transfer to the city center, I suggest a private transfer, almost cheaper than public transport, with the convenience of a door-to-door transport. I suggest you Cabforce, with whom, booking with a fair advance, I managed to pay just over 20 euros for a three-person transfer. Practically 3-4 euros per person each way. It is also possible to opt for other agencies, even cheaper ones, that can be selected with a Skyscanner search.
Finally, another opportunity is Uber, which is very convenient in Krakow.
I found many difficulties for a hotel suited my needs. In Krakow there are in fact many apartments for rent or expensive hotels. Finding the classic three-star hotel, convenient and convenient, is not easy.
In the end, the choice, which I would recommend, was the Hotel Alexander, a three-star hotel five minutes walk from the Market Square, very convenient but at the same time quiet. Even with a few flaws (breakfast, for example, is not the best), it is a good solution for those looking for a comfortable accommodation as a starting point in city tours. My full review on Tripadvisor can be found here.
Where (but above all what) to eat
You have to try the delicious pierogi, a half-moon shaped pasta stuffed with meat, mushrooms, cheese or something else (photo 7).
The Marmolada Restaurant, on the Grodzka street, a few steps from Market Square, is a restaurant without too many pretensions and with a slow service but offers the best pierogi I have eaten, at really affordable prices. Difficult to spend more than 15 euros even with a lavish lunch. For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.
If you are looking for a more chic restaurant you can try the Miod Malina, a cozy and quaint place with good Polish cuisine. In addition to the pierogi you can taste, at prices more than affordable, the excellent zurek, a soup served with sausage and boiled egg in a basket of rye bread. For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.
If you want to try the Galician dish (photo 8), you have to go to Galicyjska Restaurant, near the Florianska Tower.
The Galician dish is a very rich single dish based on pork knuckle, served over a high heat, potatoes, vegetables, eggs and many other delicacies not just dietary. Prices a bit ‘higher than average but must be tried. For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.
Finally, do not miss to see my photo gallery, full of useful information and suggestions.