Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Guide to Krakow

Galicia Jewish Museum
ul. Dajwór 18,  31-052 Kraków

Oskar Schindler's Factory
4 Lipowa Street, 30-702 Kraków
Main Square, 30-062 Kraków
Rynek Główny 1-3, Kraków, Poland
Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland

Having a sister your close to in age and life is a special thing. It's a best friend, a confidant, someone to rob clothes off and some one you can always trust. Spending time with my sister means the world to me and for the last couple of years we've carved time out in our schedule to take a trip together. Last year it was Liverpool (read about our adventures here), this year it was Krakow. It was actually my sister that suggested Poland and Krakow turned out to be a great choice, with loads of shopping at excellent prices and a truly moving history. As it was my first time visiting Poland I learnt alot of new things about the country and also travelling there so I thought I would compile both my travel memories and some trips for future visitors. The information given below was correct while I visited but obviously may change over time. 

Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and also one of it's oldest. It has suffered a heartbreaking past, during World War II the Jewish population was sent to it's ghetto and then on to extermination camps, namely Auschwitz. Auschwitz is situated nearby and can be visited by bus whilst staying in Krakow, however we chose not to do so, instead learning about the time in both Schindler's Factory and the Galicia Jewish Museum. There is so much to see in and around Krakow from Wawel Castle, to the nearby Wieliczka salt mines, and Rynek Glowny Europe's largest market square. 

Getting there: Our visit begins with actually getting to Krakow, we flew from Dublin to Krakow airport with Ryanair. As the airport is currently undergoing extensive development (for 2015) there is no train service running from the airport to the city. Not to worry though as travelling by public bus is both easy and cheap. You can get the public buses 292 (every 20 mins) or 208 (every hour). The bus stop is outside Terminal 1. You can take a shuttle bus between Terminal 2 and 1 but we just walked. There is also the night bus 902. As the airport is in Zone 11 you need to buy an 4zl ticket from the machine at the bus stop. The journey to the city bus station (Krakow Glowny) takes around 40 minutes or longer depending on traffic. 

Getting home: To get to the airport take the 208 or the 292 from the Krakow Bus Station at the stop 'Dworzec Główny Wschód' on the lower level of the bus station.  You can buy your ticket in a ticket office beside the bus stop. 

Getting around: While Krakow has a bus and tram system for getting around we choose to walk everywhere. In my experience it's a very manageable city to explore by foot and I really enjoyed seeing it that way because we chanced upon many interesting places trying to find our way around. If you are interested in using public transport read about it here. If you choose to walk bear in mind that unlike in Ireland and some other European countries in Poland it is common to avoid Jaywalking and actually wait for the correct light before crossing the road!

Money: The currency used is zloty (zl), notes come as 10-200zl and coins 1-50gr and 1, 2 and 5zl. Zloty are divided into 100 groszy (gr). Bring cash with you to Poland as it's much handier but you can of course use card and they have an unbelievable amount of currency exchanges in Krakow offering different rates. A helpful tip is to have change or small notes when buying things as they often weren't keen to take large notes. Another tip is that when paying if you say thank you it means that you are giving any change as a tip, if you don't want to do this, wait until you receive your change to say thanks. 

Where to stay: There is a huge choice of hostels and hotels in Krakow to suit everyone's budget. After searching through we choose the Ascot Hotel, €232.32 for 2 people, for 3 nights including breakfast. It was a great hotel, amazing location a short walk from the main bus station, friendly helpful staff, free wifi and the breakfast buffer had a phenomenal selection for the price. 

Where to shop: A visit to Krakow is not complete without visiting the Cloth Hall, the world's oldest shopping mall, where you can buy traditional gifts like amber jewelry. Krakow is also great for high street shopping as it boosts several large shopping malls in the city center. Two we visited were Galeria Kazimierz with over 130 stores including H&M, Zara, Sephora and Inglot, and Galeria Krakowska comprised of 3 floors and over 260 stores, which is located beside the bus and train station. There's plenty more places to shop just wander along the beautiful old streets, check out the Kazimerz district for more treasures. 

Things to see & do: This is a very long list so I'll try to keep it shorter by mainly sticking to what we did in the short time we were there. Despite the impact of World War II on this city it managed to remain a beautiful and historic place, leaving a long list of sites to take in while your there. Start with the Europe's largest medieval square, Rynek Glowny, in Old Town. The square is a flurry of activity, it is lined with cafes and restaurants, huge crowds of people, street performers and ornately decorated horses and carriages. Here you will find the famous Cloth Hall, along with St. Mary's Basilica and the Town Hall Tower. Next we strolled through the streets to visit the hilltop Wawel Castle. After your visit to Old Town why not head to the Kazimierz (the former Jewish Quarter) to immerse yourself in their history. It was once the center of the Jewish community until 90% were killed during the war. We visited the Galicia Jewish Museum here, and it's permanent exhibition 'Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland'. This exhibition is a must see, it's hugely educating and emotional to view. We then crossed the river to visit Oskar Schindler's factory. It is a little tricky to find, when you cross over the bridge go to your left past the railway line and it is in the middle of an industrial area. This interactive museum housed in the former enamel museum of Oskar Scindler, the industrialist who saved the lives of his Jewish workforce during the Holocaust. The museum is very somber viewing and there's something incredibly unnerving about walking across a floor tiled entirely in swastikas as one room is. If you don't have time to visit Auschwitz you should definitely try and visit this museum. If your in Krakow for longer then you might want to visit sites outside the city including Auschwitz and the incredible UNESCO World Heritage listed Salt Mines. 

Helpful source: We only visited Krakow for 4 days so this guide is far from exhaustive. The In Your Pocket Krakow guide is amazing for just about everything to do with Krakow, read it before you visit here.

I loved visiting Krakow, it's a beautiful city full of welcoming people. If you've already visited Krakow I'd love to know your recommendations and favorite parts of your trip. Now I'm off to plan my next adventure



  1. Wow! The buildings look amazing and the horse and carriage!!

    Pop over to my blog!


  2. what a cool place ! thanks for sharing :)

  3. Amazing photos and that Penne ~ sweet Jesus - looks unreal xx ~ Siobhan

  4. Stunning photos from a beautiful city. Looks like you had an amazing time

    ISA Professional

  5. Lovely photos! I have never been to Krakow but it looks beautiful. If there's an 'old town' then I might have to make a visit! I haven't been to an Old Town of a place that I haven't loved!

    Rachael at

  6. Lovely post! Nice pic <3

  7. This is fantastic! I'm moving to London in a month and am planning on traveling around Europe a bit while I'm there, and Krakow is at the top of my list, actually, so this is amazingly helpful!! xx

  8. So sweet that you and your sister get to do this! Great photographs and wonderful ideas for traveling. Thanks for sharing.

  9. super cool new look for your blog.Travel pics look great too!!


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