Three Days In Kraków

Kraków, Poland is the 12th country I’ve visited and destination 16 added to my travel map. Before I give you a rundown of my itinerary and a list of places you must visit, let me just say I didn’t expect to love this city as much as I did. I knew it would be a great trip but I didn’t realise it would be the kind of place I’d be urging others to visit. 

The top 3 reasons I’d suggest going to Kraków:
  1. It’s soaked in history, everywhere you turn. There is so much to see and to learn.
  2. It is VERY budget friendly. The cost of everything is cheap and you don’t have to spend a fortune.
  3. There is lots to do, I was there for three days (technically four but we travelled early on the 4th day) and I still feel there was so much to see. 

Where we stayed 
There were five of us in total so we stayed in an apartment. It was just over £100.00 each for three nights and it was beautiful. We were only a five minute walk from the main square, making it really convenient to get around. Search “Krakowhomes” on or find the link here

Explore the Old Town
Kraków main square is the first place we explored after dropping our luggage off at the apartment. It was a short walk into the main square and although we arrived late October, the weather was a pleasant 20 degrees. We ate in the main square on our first evening, it was so pretty and we all enjoyed just sitting back and taking in the picturesque surroundings. I’d say the perfect place to sip a wine and people watch. 

The Cloth Hall is in the centre of the square and was once a major centre of internal trade. You can wander in underneath its gothic arches and you’ll find souvenirs, bags and gifts galore. 

The Town Hall Tower is also a sight to behold, especially at night. You can book tours here to walk up to the top, however I’ve read online that the views from the top are underwhelming as visitors can only look out of a small window.

St. Mary’s Basilica (see first image) is a gothic church adjacent to the main square and is a must see when you’re visiting. On the hour, every hour and 365 days a year a trumpet tune is played from the top of one of the towers. The tune breaks away mid song, to pay homage to a 13th century trumpeter who was shot during the sounding of an alarm when the city was under attack. 

Schindler’s Factory
Oskar Schindler’s factory was one of the trips I was most looking forward to during our Kraków trip. If you’ve seen the Spielberg film Schindler’s List you’ll already have a good idea about the story and why it’s so renowned. Oskar was part of the Nazi party but used his position to save people. He was an industrialist and a businessman.

In November 1939 he purchased an enamelware factory and later in 1943, managed to convince Nazi personnel that he needed Jewish workers. On three separate occasions he was arrested and investigated by the SS as they suspected he was helping the Jewish workers, but there was never enough evidence so he walked free every time. 

He saved 1200 Jewish people, who were almost certainly destined for the concentration camps. The tour is really worth visiting and only took us around 15 minutes to get to, via Bolt electric scooters. The tickets cost around £12.00 and we didn’t have a guided tour here. 

Getting around
As previously mentioned, when travelling longer distances we hired Bolt scooters to get around. They’re practically everywhere in the city and all you have to do is download the Bolt app to your phone, scan the barcode and you’re good to go. They make travelling much easier and were way cheaper than the local open air taxis you’ll see. I only fell off once (I blame the wet leaves!).

Explore the Jewish Quarter/ former Jewish ghetto
Looking back I wish we’d taken a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter. I’ve read online about a little Jewish bookshop which I never found. 
In this area, there is a lot of fantastic polish street food including the famous polish pizza bread or “Zapiekanki” as it’s known by locals. This delicious spectacle was 18 polish zloty, so around £3.00. Worth every penny and you can choose from various different toppings. 

We also visited a couple of little bars in this area in the evening and the drinks were very cheap. 

I opted for mushroom soup inside a delicious baked bread, also picture traditional dumplings aka pierogi 

Eating out 
Whilst on the topic of food, there are so many fabulous places to eat in Kraków. As I mentioned, on the first evening we opted for an Italian in the square but another place I’d highly recommend is Morskie Oko. This little find was just outside the main square. 

Morskie Oko is a beautiful polish restaurant, serving up traditional polish dishes and they even had a polish band playing live music. It held a really warm, inviting atmosphere and was very well priced. I’d love to visit during the Christmas season because I expect the Christmas decor to look really fitting against the backdrop of open fireplaces and timber furniture.

My favourite place for breakfast had to be Milkbar Tomasza. Before we entered, we were all taking a look at the menu outside when a friendly face popped up and said “good Irish breakfast inside!”. I later found out he was the owner of the establishment and he wasn’t lying. The breakfast was amazing and we definitely fancied a savoury not sweet breakfast. This place hit the spot with full Irish fry ups, pancakes and delicious coffee. 

I opted for scrambled egg and I also got a savoury pancake to share. I anticipated it would be some sort of hash brown type side we could all share but instead we all got a taste as it was an entire dish! A delicious savoury pancake with spinach and garlic dressing topped with Gouda cheese.

This place gets very busy and from the looks of the queues to get in we were very lucky to seat all 5 of us. The portion sizes were generous, the food tasted delicious and the price point was brilliant. The staff were all very friendly too. 

The history of a milk bar or bar mleczny is a polish cafe that would serve cheap meals to poor citizens. They became popular after WWI, with many opening after WWII until most milk bar’s closed after going bankrupt.

Auschwitz - Birkenau 
The tour to Auschwitz is a necessity as part of your visit to Kraków. My experience was harrowing, moving and simply devastating. I’d heard a few people tell me they were reluctant to visit as they’d find it too upsetting, but I’m thankful this was part of our trip and that we paid our respects to the 1.1 million people murdered there during WWII. 

Whilst entry is free, we booked a tour which cost around £32.00 and I’d personally recommend paying, it was much more organised. You’re picked up and once everyone is loaded on, it’s around 80 minutes to travel there. You’ll visit Auschwitz 1 and spend a couple of hours there, before going back to the bus and travelling the 3km to Birkenau. 

Auschwitz 1 is definitely the place you’ll spend a longer period of time as this is the place you’ll see the belongings of the people sent to the camps, see their photos and hear their stories. Seeing their suitcases with names on was deeply upsetting, knowing each of the cases belonged to someone who had packed the case full of their most treasured possessions only to have them taken upon arrival. There are parts where you cannot film or take photographs which is understandable. Walking through the gates was a truly solemn experience, knowing that people who once walked in never came out. The coldness felt when you walk through the gas chamber, see the holes in the roof where the gas would’ve dropped, was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. 

 I didn’t realise Auschwitz was the German name given to the camp, based on the name of the polish town in which it’s situated. 

Birkenau was essentially the bigger camp and was left as it had been when it was liberated. Throughout the camp there are collapsed buildings, many destroyed to try and cover up the atrocities that had gone on but the telltale chimneys were still standing. It’s hard to believe Birkenau was essentially built by the prisoners held there, whereas Auschwitz had previously been a polish barracks. Our tour guide for the day was simply fantastic and so knowledgeable. During the Auschwitz 1 tour we each had a headset so we could hear our guide at all times. 

We booked our visit to Auschwitz 1 and Birkenau for our second day, but I’d definitely recommend doing it the day before you’re due to fly home. It’s exhausting, both mentally and physically. That evening I didn’t really sleep because of the things I’d seen during the tour, so I’d really recommend doing it as the final day of your trip. Even writing this small piece on my visit there was a lot to do, to recollect. I would urge everyone to go there. I’d read the books, seen so many documentaries but nothing is like being there and understanding it in it’s entirety. 

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