If you’re looking for a good value, easily accessible city break with plenty to see and do then this Polish treasure.
It may sound a sweeping statement but Poland’s second city has something for everyone.
Full of architectural gems, steeped in history, packed with culture and full of bars and restaurants serving craft beers, local vodka and traditional delicacies at a pittance.
With regular flights from both Belfast and Dublin this city of magic and legends is a mere two hours away from Ireland but with its old charm ambience it feels like a different world altogether.
Fairly compact in size the city packs a sight-seeing punch with its medieval buildings that escaped World War Two relatively unscathed. Based around a grid plan, by foot is probably the best way to explore the cobbled streets, with their many pavement cafés and candlelit cellar bars, though there are golf cart tours for the more weary.
Known as Poland’s city of culture, mainly thanks to its main market square, Rynek Glówny – the largest Medieval square in Europe – for centuries this hub has been the heartbeat of Kraków, historically as a centre of trade and worship and nowadays as a meeting and socialing point.
Around a twenty minute walk from the old town is the Jewish Quarter – Kazimierz. Named after King Casimir Ⅲ, relatively few Jewish people still live in this area but the spirit of the tradition survives with the synagogues, cemeteries and restaurants playing live music.
Atmospheric and unspoilt some of the best places to eat can be found in this area and it is the location of Oskar Schindler’s Factory.
Places to See
Just over an hour away from the city centre, a guided tour is the best way to see the camps and museum and most hotels can arrange transport to and from. Emotional and haunting, this is not an easy day out but one that any visitor to Kraków must make.
Wieliczka Salt Mines
Situated nine miles from Kraków these fascinating chambers date back to the 13th century. Travel by organised tour or local bus, a guide will then take you around the labyrinth of decorated tunnels and explain this underground world. Intriguing and eerie it is probably not for the claustrophobic – the deepest pit is some 327 metres underground.
Lost Souls Alley
Great for thrill-seekers or those looking for an alternative from the normal tourist attractions, find it just off the Ul Florianska – the main commercial street in the centre. Based around an experience of suspense and unknowing, the less said about it the better but Freddy Krueger is normally waiting to take you inside what is essentially a house of horrors.
Where to Stay
Andel’s is a four-star, boutique hotel right beside the Galleria Krakówska and opposite the central train station. Stylish and comfortable with spacious rooms it is less than a ten minute walk from the market square and in the winter months a large outdoor ice rink sits adjacent to it.
Weekend breaks start from £90 per person, bed and breakfast.