Things to do in Krakow
June 21, 2008 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Krakow, Poland. A fleeting visit - seeking suggestions for Great Things To Do.

I'm travelling courtesy of my employer and I'll be tied-up with work for a few days, but I'm hoping to stay longer and explore the city over a weekend. It's very last-minute, so recommendations for place(s) to stay, sights to see, food to scoff and bars to relax/revive, all welcome.

Auschwitz and the salt mines are within tour-bus distance, but I'd love to hear about those gems nestling in Krakow itself. I'll be alone; cafes or whatnot where I can simply watch the world go by are a good thing. Thanks!
posted by 4eyes to Travel & Transportation around Krakow, Poland (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely check out Old City -- the old part of the city in the center. It's surrounded by a beautiful walking path and is perfect for people watching.

Further, there are plenty of bars and restaurants and cafes in Old Town, many of which have outdoor seating.

Not sure what your accommodation budget is, but I stayed at Hostel Yellow when I was there. Don't let the word "hostel" scare you though -- this is a quirky, clean, fun little place in an old building. The staff are quite friendly and full of knowledge about the city. You can get a private room if you want, and the bathrooms were nicer than many hotels. Plus, you can catch a bus to Auschwitz right across the street.

Krakow is a great little town.
posted by nitsuj at 3:58 PM on June 21, 2008

Take the south road down from the old town, the more interesting for cafes or people watching of the four directions you could take out of there. Walk down to Wawel castle. You don't have to go through the museums unless that's your thing, but it's interesting to walk up the hill and look around outside. Then take the back stairway to the "dragon's lair" and the river. Costs a buck or two, goes through a bit of a cave down there. Then there's the river, with a floating cafe if you choose.
posted by Listener at 4:40 PM on June 21, 2008

To echo another poster, Old City really is nifty-- more so, because you'll probably find festive young people wandering the area late, late, late into the night...
posted by darth_tedious at 4:52 PM on June 21, 2008

Once upon a time in Kazimierz is an excellent restaurant, as is Klezmer Hois (with live Klezmer music).

Take a tour in a Trabant with Crazy Guides - they'll take you around the old Jewish Kazimierz district and further afield to the planned Soviet part of town.

If you're only there for three days, bear in mind that Auschwitz will certainly take almost a full day, including travel there and back (about an hour and a half each way - and Auschwitz requires at least two hours at each camp [Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau]). The Salt Mines might just need an afternoon - I can't quite remember.

You can see the last remaining part of the Jewish Ghetto wall in the Podgorze area, just south of Kazimierz (at Ulica Lwówska, if I recall correctly), along with the Schindler factory nearby.

Evening drinks are, in my opinion, best taken in Kazimierz (I liked Kazimeirz - can you tell?). Alchemia, on Plac Nowy, just off Ulica Jozefa is fantastic - dark, smoky, rambling and bohemian, and a few doors away the Singer Bar is an olde worlde kind of 1930s dark bar. The "Singer" refers to the sewing machines (yes, really).

Krakow is one of my favourite cities in the world. Have a great time.
posted by idiomatika at 5:56 PM on June 21, 2008

Go to the salt mine. It's mindblowing.
posted by rbs at 9:48 PM on June 21, 2008

Milk bars! A totally local cafe-type thing; in Krakow they probably get so many tourists that if you're in the Old Town and know one or two words of Polish, you can manage on your own. Not fancy or expensive at all, by the way. They're all over, but perhaps tucked into little side streets a little further from the Rynek Glowny (the main market square). Ask the receptionists at your hotel if they've got a local favorite.
posted by mdonley at 10:50 PM on June 21, 2008

Definitely check out the Wawel. It is one of the coolest castles I've seen in Europe.

Note that if you do go to Auschwitz, it will, as noted above, take pretty much a whole day (it is worth it though). Most of the bus tours from the city are fairly expensive, although most do give you your own tour group. If you want something a little less costly, you can go to the bus station and take public transit there. I think it cost us ~20-30 zl roundtrip when we were there in April.

Eat some pierogi. They are really good.

Finally, if you are interested in Polish movie posters (and even if you think you aren't), you should definitely check out the shop in Krakow. It is one of the only places in the world with so many polish movie posters, which are incredible. Be warned that it can have somewhat unreliable hours. But if its open, it's definitely worth a stop, even if it is only to look.
posted by pwicks at 12:02 AM on June 22, 2008

The Ariel restaurant was a highlight of my trip to Krakow; live Klezmer music and good food. We ended up wandering around the bars in Old Town and meeting lots of interesting young people and had a blast. What a fun and beautiful city.

I thought the salt mines were interesting, but pretty tourist kitschy.
posted by xholisa13 at 5:20 AM on June 22, 2008

Get a copy of Krakow in Your Pocket (pdf).
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:18 PM on June 27, 2008

Thanks everyone. Alas, seems my visit is postponed, if it goes ahead at all. But never mind; you've given me more fuel to stoke my motivation to travel across Europe soon. Cheers!
posted by 4eyes at 12:14 PM on June 30, 2008

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