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Cracow - A travel report by Adam
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Cracow,  Poland - flag Poland -  Malopolskie
6054 readers

adampl's travel reports

Cracow (Kraków) - the royal city

  22 votes
I was in Cracow many times but never had time to visit its sights. The history of this beautiful city dates back to the Middle Ages, but in the city you can see traces of many more epochs often overlapping each other. report of the month contest
Jul 2007

Courtyard of the Wawel Castle
Courtyard of the Wawel Castle
Cracow used to be the capital of Poland till 1596 when king Sigismund III Vasa decided that Warsaw should be the central city (then it was a relatively small settlement). As Cracow used to be a royal city, you can see many places that remind of the times when Poland was ruled by kings. Royal tombs are located in the Wawel Cathedral on the Wawel Hill. The whole complex is the most famous place in Cracow and is a must-see for everyone visiting the city. Cracow is a city of churches. Some people say that if you live in Cracow your windows must look out over some church. We took a train from Warsaw to Krakow. There are daily and overnight trains varying in standard and the time of journey. The fastest are Intercity and Express trains. If abroad you can easily get to Cracow using low-cost carriers who operate in Poland. These include Ryanair, Wizzair, Sky Europe and Norwegian. You may fly to Cracow or to nearby Katowice airport (which actually is located in Pyrzowice, ca. 30 km from Katowice) and take a direct bus to Cracow or first go to Katowice and then to Cracow. If you fly to Warsaw it's still no problem getting to the former Polish capital - take an Express or Intercity train. The journey takes less than 3 hours. When in Cracow you may use a taxi, but a cheaper option is public transport, which is quite well developed (but still inferior to the Warsaw's one). The best option is to buy a ticket valid for one or three days.

Favourite spots:
Main Market Square (Cloth Hall on the left, St Mary's Church on the Right)
Main Market Square (Cloth Hall on the left, St Mary's Church on the Right)
There are many, many sights in Cracow and three days is enough only if you want to see the most famous ones. In Cracow there are two main districts in which sights are concentrated, these are Stare Miasto (the Old Town, including Wawel) and Kazimierz (Jewish district). On the first day we took a stroll around the Old Town, i.e. the Main Market Square and Grodzka Str. (and other lanes around the Market Sq.). We started with Planty (a circular garden encompassing the Old Town to get a grasp of the topography of the city. In the northern part of Planty you can easily see the Barbican, a medieval fortification. It’s about 10-min walk from the railway station Krakow Glowny. From there we could easily reach Rynek Glowny strolling along Florianska Str. (one of the most picturesque streets in Cracow) at the northern end of the street there is Brama Florianska (Florianska Gate) – another element of fortification. Try ice cream on the right just after passing the gate – one of the best in Cracow

What's really great:
Romanesque St Andrew's Church
Romanesque St Andrew's Church
Going along Florianska Str. we reached Rynek Glowny. Its central part is domineered by Sukiennice (cloth hall) housing now souvenir shops and a great Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art. We had a walk around the Rynek Glowny and admired the architecture of the tenements and palaces there. In one of them there is the famous Wierzynek restaurant in which a summit of European leaders was held in the 14th century. The large church in the Rynek Glowny is Kosciol Mariacki (St. Mary's Church) with famous altar carved by Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoss). Polychromes were designed and painted by Jan Matejko, one of the most famous Polish painters. We also visited other churches including Romanesque St Andrew's Church built in the 11th century. One of the most beautiful is tiny Church of St Giles located at the end of Grodzka Str.

A street in Kazimierz
A street in Kazimierz
The second day we devoted to visiting Kazimierz, the Jewish district. Although there are very few Jews in Poland (as a result of WW2 and actions taken against Jewish minority in late 1960's) this place retained it's atmosphere. Streets have their original names and many restaurants, shops and other venues maintained their Jewish names too. The most central part of Kazimierz is Szeroka Str. with many nightlife opportunities. We visited Synagoga Stara (the Old Synagogue) in which the Museum of Jewish History was established. This museum has many exhibits showing the everyday life of Jews in Poland and is a must-have for everyone interested in the history of European Jews. Visit also Boznica Wysoka (the High Synagogue).
On the last day we wanted to get a grasp of royal life of Polish kings and decided to visit Wawel Hill and have a look at Royal Private Apartments as well as State Rooms in the Royal Castle. Wawel Cathedral with royal tombs is worth a visit too.

The Barbican
The Barbican
We stayed at our frend's but Cracow caters for all tastes as far as accommodation is concerned. Hostel prices start at ca. 25 zloties per person and hotel rooms may go as high as 1000 per room. A good and relatively cheap accommodation is a special offer (Vitastudent) by Ibis Hotel Centrum (Orbis Group). On weekends they offer 1- and 2-bed rooms for 120 zloties per night. The hotel is as far as I know three star and centrally located, which makes this offer a good bargain. Breakfast is not included but may be bought for 15 zloties. This offer is for students only.

Nightlife in Cracow is much more intensive than in Warsaw, that's why people from Warsaw go to Cracow on weekends. The best clubs are in Rynek Glowny and its vicinity including students' club Pod Jaszczurami. Check also the spots located in Jewish district Kazimierz.

Panorama of the Old Town
Panorama of the Old Town
Wierzynek, mentioned above, is the oldest restaurant in Cracow. Centrally located, serves traditional Polish cuisine, but is expensive (mains up to 150 zloties). If you look for something cheaper don't expect to find it in the Main Market Square. The only place with reasonable prices in the very centre is cocktail bar Arlekin with great cakes and ice cream. I really recommend it. A big piece of cake is about 7-8 zloties and ice-cream cost from ten to twenty-something zloties. The only drawback is the trashy interior, but the taste of what they serve there makes up for the inconvenience.
If you feel hungry but don't feel like going to a restaurant you can always get a pretzel (1 zloty) from street vendors standing virtually on every corner.

Other recommendations:
St Mary's church
St Mary's church
Polish currency is Polish zloty (PLN). 1 euro = 3.6 zloty, $1 = 2.5 zl and it's the only legal tender in Poland but in very few places US dollars or euro will still be accepted. In majority of hotels, hostels and taxis you can pay by a credit card, but I recommend to have some cash on you.
Always take only official taxis and insist the meter is running. Flag fall is 5-6 zloties and ca. 2 zloties per kilometer (3-4 at night).
There are many churches in Poland, especially in Cracow so it's unlikely you don't go to any. Men are requested to enter them bareheaded. If it's free of charge but donations will be appreciated as many of these places require renovations.

Published on Wednesday August 8th, 2007

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Sun, Aug 26 2007 - 07:17 AM rating by marianne

Excellent info and up to date. good photos

Mon, Aug 20 2007 - 09:57 PM rating by downundergal

Fabulous report with loads of useful travel tips and backed up by some beautiful photos. Well done!

Tue, Aug 14 2007 - 04:35 AM rating by maehof

thanx for great report , i've been in Cracow many times but i couldn't write any better about it. thank You for mentioning THE best PRECELS in the world. greetings, martin

Mon, Aug 13 2007 - 09:19 AM rating by eirekay

Adam, I had no idea that Cracow had so much to offer! This is a terrific report! Thanks for sharing!

Sun, Aug 12 2007 - 05:05 AM rating by shalini_md

Very nice report full of useful tips for a visitor.

Sat, Aug 11 2007 - 03:40 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice to read your report ,very well written ,keep writing such interesting and informative reports.

Fri, Aug 10 2007 - 08:10 AM rating by sajjanka

Good Job

Thu, Aug 09 2007 - 12:17 PM rating by davidx

This is somewhere very high on my wishlist. Even if it had not been, it would be now after reading this excellent and informative report. Thanks.

Thu, Aug 09 2007 - 06:22 AM rating by frenchfrog

Thank you for reminding me the great time I had here, great report!

Thu, Aug 09 2007 - 05:01 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Very useful!!! Thanks.

Thu, Aug 09 2007 - 04:18 AM rating by rangutan

A very well written report full of interesting facts and useful information. [4.75] My reports are way too short, this length is ideal. You might want to mention the cities other name or upload the same report to "Kraków" too?

Thu, Aug 09 2007 - 03:14 AM rating by akhila

Interesting and well presented account of your visit. *****
Thanks for sharing!

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