Insider’s Tips To Krakow, Poland
Nowadays, Krakow has become the new trendy hot spot for travelers to visit in Central Europe and for good reasons. Even though Krakow is a big city, being there will make you feel like you are in a warm, closely-knitted neighborhood. The charming little district of the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz), the stunning Wawel Cathedral surrounded by the Vistula river, and the colorful St. Mary’s Basilica, there is no shortage of things to see in Krakow.
Within this guide, other than all the usual things you can do, we will take it a little further and recommend you some insider’s tips.
Kazimierz (the Jewish Quarter) is probably one of my favorite places in Krakow. With its chill vibe, laid-back culture and liveliness of the neighborhood, it is like a little Berlin where everyone can find something they enjoy.
You can go shopping at the vintage flea market on Plac Nowy, sip a nice cup of latte and read your personal “quote of the day” scroll at the Cytat Cafè, or you can learn about the history of the Jewish Quarter by exploring the old part of town like visiting the oldest synagogue in Krakow.
You can spend an entire day, just by exploring Kazimierz, so take your time, and give yourself a day to enjoy this wonderful neighborhood.
EAT YOUR WAY THROUGH KAZIMIERZ
No, we are not done with Kazimierz yet! One of the most interesting parts of traveling abroad is the food and Kazimierz have everything you crave for. Are you craving for street food? Do not worry, Kazimierz has plenty for you to choose from.
You can try the best zapiekanka (baguette sandwich) in the country at the New Square on Plac Nowy street where you can choose your own toppings and it is served to you fresh and hot from the oven.
Andrus Food Truck is another great option when it comes to street food in Krakow. They open in the evening and there are several food trucks serving all kinds of food and snacks for you to choose from.
You have to try the Maczanka, a Krakowian burger that serves with juicy pork in onion gravy. You can also try the famous Hungarian sweet bread here and many other delicious snacks!
Sick Polish food? There’s also a nice Georgian restaurant called Chinkalnia where you can find delicious Khinkali, a Georgian dumpling, and then you can compare it with the Polish one (Pierogies).
Or you can have an incredible craft beer at T.E.A. Time. Most importantly the beer served here is made in the basement, so it falls into the category of both brewery and pub. Time is pretty cozy with a good atmosphere. They brew traditional English ales here in Poland, and have a large offering of all different types of beer, mostly on draft, this place is close to the main parts of Kazimierz, but tucked a bit away, making it go unnoticed to many tourists.
Seriously, you can eat your way through Kazimierz for days!
EXPLORE THE OLD TOWN (ST MARY BASILICA AND MORE)
Step into the Fairy-tale-like Old Town Square of Krakow and admire all the old architecture like the St Mary Basilica, the Town Hall Tower, and the Kraków Barbican. Go down the Florianska tourist street and experience the liveliness of the city in full swing.
If you are there in the summer months, you might be able to participate in many activities organized in the Old Town Square like a flea market or street food market as well.
You can climb up one of the towers of St Mary Basilica for a grand view of Krakow and the Old Town Square. If you climb up there at the right time, you will be able to witness the old tradition of St. Mary’s Trumpet Call where a trumpeter on the tower will come out and play the five-note Polish anthem on the hour every hour, 4 times on each side of the tower.
WALK AROUND THE WAWEL CATHEDRAL
Wawel castle is one of the most important landmarks in Krakow, and a must visit when you are in the city. The architecture of Wawel castle is a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Early Baroque due to it being occupied and captured by different rulers over its existence. I recommend you spending at least a few hours there to learn more about its importance among the Polish people.
The best place for the best view of the Wawel castle is from the Grunwald Bridge across the Vistula river, south of the castle. During the day, you will see plenty of people walking around the river, and you will be able to get a clear view of the castle in its entirety while at night, the reflection of artificial lights on the river added to the mystical and magical feel of the castle.
CLIMB THE KOŚCIUSZKO MOUND
There are several ancient prehistoric mounds in Krakow that are believed to either be monumental tombs or fortifications or pagan temples. Nowadays, the mounds serve as a great place to climb up at get a nice view of the city.
Krakus mound is another great one with a closer view of the old town than from Kościuszko Mound so if you don’t have much time, you can climb up Krakus mound instead.
Kościuszko Mound is the largest one and it is located far enough from the city that you will be able to see both the Wawel Cathedral and the St Mary Basilica in one go. You will also have a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding landscape that you can’t see from any other place.
Be sure to go there when the weather is clear, otherwise, you will be disappointed to see nothing but fog and clouds. Pollution is a big problem in Krakow and you will be able to see how bad it really is from here on cloudy days.
When To Go To Krakow
Krakow is the most fun in the summer months of May – October where it is warm outside and all the outdoor festivities are in full swing. You will see that the locals become more lively during this time, picnicking, enjoying the sun with their friends, and best of all, most of the high viewpoints are open for you to climb and absorb the view of Krakow from above.
Let’s be honest, it is no longer possible to escape the crowds in Europe. Places like Krakow is no longer a hidden gem and even though, you can try to avoid the peak months, you will likely see many tourists still. The question to ask is, is it worth trading that with nice clear days, warm temperature and having places be opened when you are there? We’d say no because winter Poland is really really cold and there are still tons of tourists everywhere anyway.