It’s been almost a year since I was there but I can still remember the city quite vividly despite my terrible memory. It’s a place that has something for everyone’s tastes whether it’s history you enjoy, vibrant cities or wonderful food.
Here’s what we covered in a week:
We took a walk around the city by foot. We went in July so the weather was fortunately perfect for a bit of walking.
There’s also free walking tour from Market Square every day which has been highly recommended. Just look out for someone holding a sign post!
We soaked in the atmosphere at Rynek Glowny (Market Square), the largest medieval square in Europe. I could have spent all day just walking around, sipping on cappuccino’s and watching the world go by.
You can take a horse-drawn carriage for a ride around the city. I was extremely impressed by the care that the owners obviously take of their horses. Maltese karozzin drivers should take note.
We succumbed to the touristy part of ourselves and took a buggy ride around the city (it was my mums idea). It’s not the cheapest but it’s pretty fun and you’ll probably get to see more than if you were walking by foot especially if you’re there for a really short stay.
We got to sneak a peek inside St Mary’s Church (Koscial Mariacki) for free but I would recommend paying the small 6 PLN fee for a ticket since that’s the only way you’ll be allowed to take photos. Honestly, I don’t say this about many religious buildings but this was really something.
We sat with our coffees at a cafe close by to the church tower and listened out for the bugle call. It’s every hour so you’re bound to hear it at some point but we wanted to play ‘Spot the bugler’ too. He’s a bit tough to see if you’re short-sighted (and don’t happen to be wearing your glasses). I’ve read quite a few different stories about the bugler call but the one that my parents told me is that a bugler was sounding the alarm and was cut short when a Tatar archer shot him in the throat, thus his alarm was cut short. Now, whenever the bugle is played it stops abruptly to commemorate that moment forever. I hope I got that right, if I didn’t then I’m sure I’ll be corrected at some point.
Eat Polish food. Namely potato pancakes and pierogi! The food is delicious and they cater really well to vegetarians too which initially surprised me. For pierogi try the popular Babci Maliny, so cheap and the place is really quirky. Click here for their website…oh yeah and be prepared for the musical introduction.
Visit the local Farmer’s Market. The fresh fruit and veg are a sight for sore eyes…and taste great too.
Take a stroll along the Vistula River before heading Wawel Castle to meet the fire-breathing dragon! Ooh.
Meet some dwarves in the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It’s the home of some pretty fantastic sculptures and an underground Cathedral (all made of salt). It’s quite enchanting and I kind of felt like I’d stepped into a Tolkien book. You’ll have to go down a lot of steps to get there, I didn’t count but our guide said there were about 400+. You’ll also have to go with a guide so I would suggest pre-booking the tour and saving yourself the big queue at the actual entrance to the mine. I didn’t take many pictures and I had left my camera…bring yours! You’ll also have to pay about 20 PLN for a photography permit although you could probably get away with not buying one if you’re discreet…I really shouldn’t be saying this sort of stuff should I? Oh yeah, and lick the salt, just because.
Head to Schindler’s Factory to scrub up on your history (and learn tons more in the process). The exhibition tells the story of Krakow under Nazi occupation from 1939 – 1945. This museum is probably one of the best I have seen; It was informative, captivating and moving. You’ll need to allow yourself about three hours to explore and the couple of short films that they show are worth watching too.
Pay your respects by visiting Auschwitz – Birkenau, the death camp which was the last place that so many jews saw…and feel thankful to leave.
We went to the salt mines and Auschwitz-Birkenau with Cracow Tours and I would totally recommend them. I was feeling sick on one of the days so was going to have to cancel and do the trip alone the next day but they rescheduled at the last minute for all four of us to go the next day together instead without any hassle at all. The guides are also brilliant too!
- Krakow – Now I Believe in Magic (simmystravels.wordpress.com)