Krakow is the most popular city to travel to in Poland. An historic destination dating back to the 7th century with beautiful buildings and a vibrant cultural scene, it makes for a lovely weekend break. During the day you can wander around the iconic Wawel Castle and try the Polish specialities in the vintage milk bars, then at night the bars come to life with music, smoke and cocktails as the hip residents enjoy their time off. Those interested in experiencing the grittier side to Poland’s history can venture out of town to Auschwitz, a chilling but significant day trip. For a family excursion visit the remarkable and magical Salt Mines deep underground. I only spent a day and a night in Krakow but it was enough to see a glimmer of this characterful city. Just two and half hours by train from Warsaw, it is easy to do both destinations in one trip.
Wentzl Hotel – one of the few hotels with a location on the old town market square, Wentzl has magnificent views overlooking Krakow. An historic hotel with modern amenities, the generous rooms have a grand feel decorated in deep reds and dark wood, with gold framed paintings hanging majestically on the walls. It is the perfect home for a weekend away.
Ancora – this restaurant was recommended to me and it didn’t disappoint. A quiet stylish eatery down a side street in central Krakow, the kitchen specialises in creative local and international dishes. We tried some of the Polish tapas and delicious meat dishes for main course.
Charlotte – Perhaps the best breakfast in Krakow… this chic café has a lovely communal dining table and serves top pastries and hot dishes, fresh juice and great coffee.
Pod Temida – you must go to a retro milk bar while in Poland and Pod Temida is one of the best still in existence. These cheap and basic canteen-like eateries are making a comeback, and are a great place to try traditional Polish food. I recommend trying the meat or cheese pierogi (dumplings) here.
Coffee Cargo – you can almost smell the roasting beans from the street. The coffee cargo crew expertly roast and brew the best coffee in Krakow all served from a warehouse on the outskirts of town. We sampled a smooth and sweet drip coffee from Ethopia.
Wesola – the coffee scene in Poland is really thriving and this little cafe has a great vibe and make a mean flat white. Located behind the main train station I got a cup to go before jumping on the train back to Warsaw.
Nowa Prowincja – allegedly the best hot chocolate in Krakow and certainly the finest we tried, this cosy little venue serves up a sweet thick drink that will warm you on even the coldest winter days.
Alchemia – this popular local hang-out has it all, great food, cheap drinks, live music and a buzzy atmosphere. Weave your way through the crowds to the downstairs gig room where we heard a great 14-piece brass band from France whilst sipping Polish beer. Apparently they do a great brunch menu too.
Le Scandale – it may look a little uninteresting inside but take a seat at the back bar and the friendly bartenders will whip up a delicious cocktail.
Wawel Castle and Cathedral – this gothic castle was originally built in the 14th century and was mostly rebuilt in the 16th century after a devastating fire. Found at the top of a hill along with the impressive cathedral, it is the main tourist attraction in the city centre today.
Rynek Underground – opened in 2010 after an excavation under the main market square, this high-tech underground museum of tunnels walks you through Krakow’s history from 2000 BC to present day.
Out of Town
Auschwitz – a still and silent place filled with the sorrow of its horrific past. Auschwitz and nearby Birkenau were the main Nazi concentration camps and are now a museum and memorial. Here you will learn the details of the barbaric mass killing and walk around the camp buildings. An informative film shows footage of the rescued prisoners and the awful conditions they were made to live in.
Wieliczka Salt Mine – just outside Krakow this UNesco World Heritage site receives thousands of visitors every day. It was mined for 900 years and was once one of the world’s most profitable establishments, when salt was very valuable. The 2km tourist route takes a trail through the passages, caverns, lakes and chapels to 135 metres below the earths surface. In summer months the salt mine lakes are used as a healing spa.