Krakow travel guide for first-time visitors will prove beneficial in a lot of ways.
Most European cities bustling with life, have beautiful architecture and interesting stories to tell. However, very few cities can so palpably transcend through time as Krakow does. A city that has been the nucleus of myths from time immemorial, Krakow holds close to its beautiful traditions and tales.
While Warsaw is the capital of Poland, Krakow has always been the capital of kingdoms and their dynasties over the centuries, making it the cultural capital of the country. Since commercialization has not swapped the city from its tradition, Krakow has a lot to offer that distinguishes it from other European cities. Krakow also happens to be one of the only cities not decimated by Germany, unlike Warsaw, allowing it to retain most of its cultural edifices.
Historically known as the mythical city, its mystical power (hidden in stone at the heart of Wawel Hill) is said to have kept many invaders away. The myths don’t stop here. They resonate from every nook and corner like the air is full of mystery dating back centuries.
Krakow’s tourist spots are quite safe for women as they are constantly patrolled by police. There’s a lot you can explore in the city on your own or with a guide. However, racism (not more than that of any other European city) is present in pockets. It’s safe to tour the city quite late at the night, as long you’re on the main roads.
Krakow Travel Guide: Budget Stay & Food Options
|Airfare: Rs. 50,000 (roundtrip)|
|Budget stays Approx Rs. 1500, Ibis Budget, Hotel Faust, Secret Garden hostel, High Life Hostel|
|Places to eat: Starka restaurant (Polish vodka, pork roast, beef cheek) Pod Aniolami (fine dining- hazelnut vodka, mushroom soup, duck roast) Alchemia (American breakfast), Pizzatopia (vegan friendly-make your own pizza), Cheder (Israeli coffee/ Moroccan tea, baklava)|
|Overall expenses for a 3-day stay including food, transport, accommodation & misc: Rs 13,000|
Top Travel Places to Visit as per Krakow Travel Guide
Krakow Travel Guide Destination #1: Wawel Castle
This thousand-year-old medieval castle stands on top of the Wawel Hill in Krakow, on the banks of the Vistula river. This UNESCO World Heritage site was the home for over 3 dynasties of Polish kings. Standing the test of time, the castle has a mix of medieval, Baroque and Renaissance architecture, a combination of one of the largest European architectural movements. Close to the castle, you’d find the crown treasury, with a collection of some of the most exquisite royal gems of the centuries. The bottom of the Wawel Hill also has the historical Dragon’s Den, whereas guessed, legend has it that a dragon once lived till it was destroyed by a shoemaker.
Krakow Travel Guide Destination #2: Rynek Glowny (Market Square)
One of the largest plazas in Europe, Krakow’s market square was the hub of city life since medieval times, and it is even now. Climb the hall tower to get a panoramic view of the beautiful square. With sunny outdoor cafes, street artists and shopping centres, the square is a must-visit during the day. You will also find quite a few amber products ranging from incense to jewellery, in the stores here, something Poland is quite known for. Krakow Cloth Hall is sprawling with wooden toys, clothes, amber pieces and handicrafts. It’s an authentic Krakow shopping experience. The square is also your ideal location to taste some reasonably priced Polish cuisine while enjoying some live music. Krakow’s music culture is definitely worth a mention with the city’s innumerable jazz bars (Harris Piano Jazz bar being one of the popular ones), Chopin concerts and performance venues. Head over to Stary Port, a one of a kind sailor bar, for some drunken sing-alongs.
Krakow Travel Guide Destination #3: Old Synagogue
Constructed in the 15th century, the Old Synagogue now hosts a series of exhibitions on Jewish culture and Judaism in Poland. You’ll get to witness a lot of traditional Jewish culture, including clothing, paintings and craft items along with Jewish artefacts like Torah adornments. While these are just permanent exhibitions, there are a host of temporary exhibitions every week as well.
Krakow Travel Guide Destination #4: Schindler’s Factory
Poland’s journey through World War II deeply affects the contemporary culture of Poland. Schindler’s factory has a series of exhibits regarding the occupation. The historical significance of the factory is actually quite a positive one. Oskar Schindler, the factory owner had saved the lives of his Jewish workers. The museum, unlike a regular display of artefacts, also has a lot of artistic interpretation and creative representation in its exhibits. The factory turned museum, gives a theatrical experience as you amble through cobblestoned streets, through trams and inside ghettos. Be sure to try out their memory machines which give the visitors a stamp commemorating a historical event for you to take home. For someone who is really looking to experience the culture of a place quite genuinely, this place is a must-visit. It is one of the most intelligently constructed museums, making history and memories tangible. The entry fee is 400 rupees.
Krakow Travel Guide Destination #5: Wieliczka Salt Mine
You would never think mine can look this breathtaking. With faint orange lighting and stunning chandeliers, it’s like a magical underground town. The mine has many chapels, salt lakes and alleys with some beautiful sculptures and interiors. A guided group tour costs around 2000 rupees.
Krakow Travel Guide Destination #6: Auschwitz and Birkenau Camps
The impact of the world war can not be ignored when visiting Poland. Just an hour’s drive from Krakow is the concentration camp that killed thousands of Jews in genocide. The place is actually within a wooded area, seemingly beautiful for someone who doesn’t know its history. The railway’s tracks that led to the camps are still intact, making it all the eerier. The quarters in this area have now been converted to World War II museums and are definitely worth the visit. A guided tour including transport costs around 2500 rupees.
Happy wayfaring 🙂
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