Krakow has been voted the best place for a city break in Europe this year (for a third year running!) and after visiting this city in August 2019, I can understand why.
It’s a city full of culture and history, with a wealth of things to see and do, as well as a multitude of eateries and bars; perfect for a weekend away. And, this is without even mentioning how cheap it is!
In this post I’ve summarised our trip to Krakow, including all the nitty gritty details of how to get there, where we stayed, and things to do. Not interested in the nitty gritty? Skip to:
- Getting to Krakow
- Where to stay in Krakow
- Sightseeing in Krakow
- Vodka tasting
- Bars and restaurants in Krakow
Aside from Krakow, there are also other amazing places in Poland to visit, including Gdańsk, Poznań & Wroclaw. Whilst I haven’t visited these cities, one of my fellow travel bloggers has! Here’s what she has to say about Poland:
If you’re looking for a cheap city break in Europe this year or a new addition for your 2020 travel bucket list, look no further! Although it’s popularity is increasing as of late, Poland is still massively underrated as a European Travel destination.Imaniescapes
If you need more convincing, Imani has written a post on 11 Reasons Why You Should Visit Poland, and you can check it out here!
Getting to Krakow
London to Krakow airport
Getting from London to Krakow is generally cheap with most budget airlines offering direct flights for around £60. We were visiting over a bank holiday weekend so we knew that our flights were going to be slightly more expensive and we paid £130 for flights that fit well for a long weekend (midday flight going out and night flight coming back).
The only downfall now with Ryanair is the baggage policy and paying for seat allocation. As we were travelling in a group we all decided to do different things with our baggage; two of us opted for no additional baggage other than the small bag under the seat, whilst the other two opted to upgrade to a small carry on case and priority boarding. We also paid for seat allocation to sit together on the way out, but did the random seat allocation on the way back (apart from I decided last minute that I wanted to allocate myself a window seat as I was extremely hungover and just wanted to put my head against the window and fall asleep).
Another downfall to the Ryanair debacle was the strikes they were going to action over the bank holiday weekend in August 2019. This would have affected our flight and little information was circulated until the day before our flight when they announced the strikes had been called off. The uncertainty of it all though was not appreciated!
Krakow airport to city centre
Getting from Krakow airport to the city centre is normally quick and very easy, as there is a train terminal inside the airport which connects you directly to the city centre. However, when we were visiting, there were some track works being done which meant there were less frequent trains and we had just missed one, and would have to wait another hour for a train… not ideal.
After working out what the Polish noticeboard was saying about the track works, it transpired that there was a bus replacement service available, and all purchased tickets could be used on this service. It took us a bit longer, but within the hour we had arrived at the central train station of Krakow.
This train/bus cost PLN9.00 (~£1.88), and tickets can be bought on the train platform using card or cash, or when you board the bus (if you have the correct change).
Where to stay in Krakow
Hotel or Airbnb?
There are plenty of accommodation options for people looking to travel to Krakow, whether you are on a tight budget or happy to splash the cash for a bit more luxury.
We were looking for a cheap getaway that could put all 4 of us in one place, so for us an Airbnb was the best option. I had never stayed in an Airbnb before so this was the first time I had experienced such a stay; and I was fairly pleased with it.
We stayed in an Airbnb hosted by Miko and Friends. It was nice and cheap, priced at £40 per person based on 5 people sharing for 3 nights, so it was definitely cheap and cheerful. Some of my friends had more experience using Airbnb and on arrival they mentioned that they had stayed in Airbnb’s that were a lot better, for cheaper.
I’ve rated the Airbnb below by 5 categories that I think should be considered when traveling to Krakow:
The place was completely spotless when we arrived so I was really happy with this; I couldn’t fault how clean the place was at all.
In terms of how the place was presented; I just wasn’t getting much interior decor vibes from it. It was a very basic apartment with minimalistic furniture, and considering the size of the rooms and the height of the ceilings, it made the furniture look even smaller. Little details could have improved this place massively and made it a more homely stay. From looking at other lovely properties listed by Miko and Friends, it looks as though this apartment could do with a refresh in terms of the decor.
Generally the facilities at this apartment were really good. The kitchen was well kitted out, and we had breakfast here each day of our stay which was excellent. The only downside for me was the quality of the showers in the apartment. The shower head was positioned very strangely on the wall, and the shower curtain didn’t sit flush to the wall so there was a massive puddle on the floor after everyone had a shower. It was also really hard to get it at the right temperature, and often would go scalding hot or freezing cold.
“Miko and Friends” were super helpful when discussing timings for our arrival and where we could leave bags if we needed to on our last day, but the overall impression we got from our host is that they are not liked by any of their neighbours. When we arrived we were asked to sign a contract that explained if we made too much noise then we would need to pay €250 each and we would be kicked out of the property there and then. This is not a good first impression at all, and was not mentioned in the booking process either. Luckily, this didn’t happen to us, but it seems ironic they are advertising this property to groups of more than 6 when they may end up being evicted and fined half way through their stay…
The location of this property was around a 10 minute walk from the main train station, and around 7 minutes from the main square. It was a good location for all the main attractions, however, there was limited shops or supermarkets around the property, and there was a big railway construction taking place at the end of the road – luckily it wasn’t being worked on when we were there!
Sightseeing in Krakow
Krakow isn’t short of things to do and things to see, and we didn’t manage to see everything in our short trip. Top of the list is to have a wander around Krakow, whether this be a self-guided tour or an organised walking tour.
We simply showed ourselves around the city, but we may have benefitted from having a local tour guide point out the main areas of interest. Some of the main things to see in Krakow include:
- Main square (for impressive architecture and people watching)
- Wawel Castle and Cathedral (for museums and great views)
- Planty park (green belt that surrounds the old town)
- Wieliczka Salt Mines (we didn’t actually get time to go here)
- The Jewish Quarter
Vodka tasting in Krakow
When we were researching what to do in Krakow, vodka tasting seemed to be coming up as one of the top activities, and I didn’t really understand why – I thought vodka came from Russia!? Apparently, there is physical evidence that vodka was actually first produced in Poland, so this was very interesting.
We decided to go vodka tasting with Taste Vodka Krakow which cost us £20 each for an hour and a half vodka tasting experience. There were a couple of different options you could choose, but we didn’t think we would be able to stand by the end of the 2 hour vodka bar crawl so this was the better option for us.
I really enjoyed our vodka tasting experience!
Our host was super friendly and had a great knowledge of the vodka’s that we tasted, and shared some interesting facts with us. She brought along nibbles for the event too to line our stomachs, but we could have done with some more after 8 shots of vodka!
The only strange thing about the experience was that it was a private tasting session where it was just us and the host, whereas I expected there to be a large group of us. The location of the event also changed a few days before we got to Krakow, and we were moved to a small bar just off the main square which was a bit odd.
However, if you get the chance to go vodka tasting in Krakow – I would 100% recommend it as you get to try all different types and flavours of vodka, as well as get to learn the history about the widely produced spirit.
Bars and restaurants in Krakow
There are a tonne of places to eat and drink in Krakow, all fitting different price ranges and cuisine types. We wasn’t sure where was best to eat and drink before we went as we had done little research, but here’s my best recommendations on where to visit in Krakow for the best food and drinks…
On our first night we were really hungry and wasn’t sure where to go so we headed to the Main Square where it is lined with bars and restaurants with inside and outside seating. Most of them were offering a similar menu for a similar price, with the average meal costing around £15 with a drink. The food was OK, but the downside to eating here was that it was more expensive and lower quality than the other places we ate at during our trip.
I’d probably recommend the main square for grabbing a light bite to eat, or having lunch alfresco in the summer whilst people watching.
On day two we visited Tytano; Krakow’s Urban Lifestyle Complex. Based around 10 minutes from the city centre, this 15,000 square metre complex is made up of 6 buildings, housing loads of quirky bars and restaurants. By night, the abandoned cigarette factory looked like an open air market you’d find somewhere in London, so this was right up our street.
Finding Tytano was a bit confusing at first, and we only found it because we went for a wander after dinner at Veganic to see what was in the local area. We basically stumbled across it by accident, even though we knew we wanted to go there.
The prices at Tytano were almost unbelievable. Dinner at Veganic cost £9 including an alcoholic drink, and when we went for drinks afterwards at one of the bars, I only paid £2.09 for a glass of prosecco!
This place is one of my main highlights of this trip and is a must-see if you are going to Krakow any time soon. I had noticed on their website that the contracts for the food and drinks outlets have not been renewed past 2019 so there may only be a limited time left for you to see this place!
When we visited the Castle we paid a visit to Forum Przestrzenie, which is a bar/cafe located on the river bank. This culture centre is open all year round and has a pebble beach style theme going on during the summer months, were you can sit outside in the sun and take in the views of the castle with a drink.
In the cafe they were serving up lovely cocktails and bites to eat, and from the afternoon they had live music outside too. The only downside is that this place is around 25 minutes walk from the main square.
If you’re visiting in the summer and paying a visit to the Castle, I’d recommend coming along to here to chill and grab some lunch and a drink, especially as the cocktails are just £5!
Pubs and bars
There are plenty of pubs in Krakow, but I can’t help thinking some of them have been set up to appeal to the classic British stag do… we went in one called The Bull, and my god, it was just full of groups of British tourists on the Karaoke… but, if that’s what floats ya boat then so be it!
I much preferred seeking out the best vodka bars in town…
On our first night we visited Wodka, a vodka bar just off the main square. This bar is so quaint and has around 10 tables inside, so it’s more a place where people fall out into the street whilst visiting. They have a ridiculous amount of flavoured vodka on offer here, and at such a good price depending on the flavours you choose. For our flight of 6 vodka shots we paid £8, which is just unheard of in London.
We also visited some other bars after we went Vodka Tasting, as recommended by our host. But I honestly couldn’t even tell you where we went because I was so drunk…
Visiting Auschwitz from Krakow is one of the most popular things to do when visiting Poland, and after going there myself, I find it extremely hard to come up with the words to describe what it’s like to go there. You need to go yourself to fully understand.
Getting from Krakow to Auschwitz
When travelling from Krakow to Auschwitz you have a few options, as you can book onto an official tour company, take the bus, or take the train. All of those options are available directly from Krakow city centre, but the train station is set around a 20 minute walk away from the main visitor centre.
As we had pre-booked our entrance tickets we wanted to book a train in advance to ensure we got there in time, however, we didn’t book a return ticket as we heard it was easy to get either a bus or a train back , and we didn’t know how long we would be there for.
The trains to Auschwitz from Krakow usually run fairly regularly, however, similarly to the airport incident, there were ongoing track works on this route which meant trains were delayed and less frequent. This also caused problems for when we were leaving Auschwitz in the evening.
The bus is the cheapest option, but it was hard to find any timetables online and we didn’t want to risk being late. On the way back it was near enough impossible to find a local bus that was going back to Krakow.
I would recommend booking a private coach transfer/tour company to and from Auschwitz in advance, as when we got stranded on the way back we were able to board a coach companies bus and they allowed us to pay there and then to board the bus back to Krakow. If you had pre-booked your tickets then you had priority over those who didn’t, and the coaches were running every half an hour or so which was much more regular than the trains.
Guided tours of Auschwitz are available in different languages, with varying tour durations. We opted for the 2.5 hour guided tour, and we were allocated Kamil as our tour guide, who educated us thoroughly on the happenings of Auschwitz.
I would highly recommend booking your tickets in advance to avoid the long queues, and would also recommend a mid-morning visit. Although our tour was meant to be 2.5 hours, we set aside a whole day for this trip from Krakow. The tour lasted around 4 hours in total with allocated breaks in between, and travel between Auschwitz and Auschwitz Birkenau.
The tours are not for the faint hearted and go into much detail of the shocking events of the holocaust. But, I think it’s very important for people to understand what happened there. I never studied history at school so had a very limited understanding of what happened here in Poland, and after visiting Auschwitz I have been fully educated on the matter.
Putting into words the visit we had is truly indescribable. To be able to find the words is extremely hard. If you get the chance to visit Auschwitz during your trip to Krakow, you really should go.
Krakow is honestly one of the best cities I’ve visited on a city break, and I actually liked it in Poland a lot more than I thought I would. This was my first time visiting Eastern Europe, and it’s influenced me to go back again.
On my weekend away, I spent a total of £168.50 on food, drink and activities (excluding pre-booked activities), which proves it’s also a place to visit on a budget.
If you get the chance to visit Krakow, I would strongly recommend going!