Krakow is located in southern Poland and is well known for its medieval center, well-maintained Jewish Quarter and being relatively close to Auschwitz.
We also visited the city in December, we caught snow, it was very cold and once again a fantastic decoration on the streets for Christmas as well as the Christmas markets.
We had doubts in which area to stay. The best areas are the closest or even in the historic center or in the Jewish Quarter, the new trendy area and it was here that we rented an excellent apartment on Airbnb overlooking the Vistula river. We don't regret staying here and you can easily reach the historic center on foot, but as we were almost always there, if we went today we would be as close to the historic center, because unlike many cities, the historic center of Warsaw has a incredible night life.
As we were in Zakopane (the best winter sports city in Poland) we took the bus to Krakow. The trip is very good, it takes about 2 hours to cross the mountains and fields covered with snow.
Krakow is one of those cities that easily surprises any visitor. It's cheerful, charming, colorful and historic. Many people visit Krakow in order to visit Auschwitz. We decided not to visit the concentration camp, because we know that the place is very heavy and we do not feel the need to visit it.
We know what happened and we don't want to visit a place that was so bad and heavy in the world history.
Expect to find many, but even many tourists everywhere. It's a very touristic city which has a good and a bad side. In our case, we prefer Warsaw because it's more authentic and has much less tourism.
Krakow had its historic center as the first world heritage site and we can see that the historic center is really incredible.
The city is very clean, very well looked after and we find it super safe like the rest of the cities we visited.
The best way to get to know the city is even on foot and walk until you get lost in its beautiful streets and squares.
Some of the main attractions of the city that we recommend:
- Wawel Royal Castle - Is one of the biggest attractions in the city and is located on top of Wawel hill. It's one of the most beautiful, most important and largest castles in Poland. A large complex where you have the Royal Castle, the Wawel Cathedral and the Dragon's Den. You can visit everything without a tour, but if you want, we recommend Getyourguide. You can move around in the courtyards without paying, but at the entrance to the attractions you already pay. Buy in advance with Getyourguide in order to avoid long lines.
- Market square and its streets - The whole city revolves around this magnificent and giant square. It's considered one of the best medieval squares in the world. Has incredible buildings and is always full of people. There is no lack of entertainment in the square, as well as restaurants, fairs and shops. You'll surely pass this square many times.
- St. Mary's Basilica
- Royal route to St. Florian's Gate and the Barbican - As the name indicates it was the route that the kings followed from the gate, followed by Florianska street, passed through the market square, Grodska street and ended at the Royal Castle.
- Grodzka Street - This is the oldest street in Krakow. It's always full of movement and is one of the best streets to buy souvenirs in the city.
- Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
- Planty Park - The historic center of Krakow is surrounded by green areas and Planty is a giant park that circulates almost the entire city. It's perfect for long walks, doing sports or just resting and watching it go by. The park is very well maintained, has lots of benches, fountains and trees, as we were in December it had a special charm because it was covered with snow.
- Kazimierz District - Is the new fashion zone and was where we stayed and is also known for the Jewish quarter. It's an ideal neighborhood for strolling, eating and drinking. Has a very alternative vibe as well as interesting street art. Here you will find many Jewish restaurants and businesses. Explore the different streets and you'll find many surprises. In the neighborhood you also have the Old Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery.
- Ghetto Heroes Square
- Schindler Factory - As the name implies, this is where the Schindler list was filmed. Now it has 2 museums inside. The Contemporary Art Museum of Krakow in the old workshops and has a branch of the City's Historical Museum.
KRAKOW by NIGHT
At night the city doesn’t stop, it has an incredible life, you’ll even see a lot of people in the restaurants and bars. We advise if you want a particular restaurant to make a reservation. Once again we say that everything is full and it's difficult to find an empty table.
Before going anywhere, go through the market square to see its lighting in the buildings, in the white carriages that are in the square to take tourists and see their movement even at night.
Incredibly, Krakow also has an incredible gay night even though it's small.
You have some bars where you can just go for a drink as well as places where you can go dancing all night until morning.
- Lindo Cafe & Bar - It's one of our favorites in the city. We went there every night and stayed almost always until closing. It has excellent and friendly staff, lots of beautiful people and a super relaxed and friendly environment. I (Artur) don't know what happened but one of the nights towards the end I ended up lying on the bar counter doing body shots... And I don't count anymore! :p
The bar has 3 zones, as soon as you enter it's a kind of room, you go down the stairs and there you have the counter with a small area and next to another room with sofas and a giant screen where sometimes they make events and pass the RuPaul's Drag Race. It's located very close to the market square.
- Ciemnia Club - Is another popular and new nightclub in the city. Good for dancing and has some regular events as well as a more intimate area.
- Club Papuga (former Cocon Music Club) - Another new club in the city and has 2 bars, 2 dance floors, a chill out area and a smoking area. It also has several events, drag shows and bingo karaoke nights. We were there when was still Cocon Music Club and we loved it. If the new place has the same good vibe from when we were there, we loved it. This is where you end the night and you only want to go out in the morning.
If you want another type of action you have Twierdza Krakow with dark room, bar, play zones and theme parties. Another private and very popular club is Klub Blue XL, with several themed parties as well, dark room, dance floor, bar and many more facilities. If you are a sauna fan you have the only one in town, the Spartakus Sauna & Fitness and you can count on all the facilities of a gay sauna.
Enjoy the bustle of the city and don't stay home at night. These spaces deserve our help as tourists and for sure you'll have a lot of fun and meet a lot of new people.