Monday, 16 July 2018

A Weekend in the City | Krakow, Poland


After our time in Warsaw, which you can read about here, we headed to Krakow for a couple of days.  Voted the cheapest city break in Europe for 2018, we were excited for a budget-friendly trip to a new city and were keen to explore what Krakow had on offer.  Have a read of what we got up to...


How We Got There...
We'd decided to get the train from Warsaw to Krakow as this seemed the most time and cost effective way.  Fortunately, the ticket machine had an English setting and we easily purchased our tickets to Krakow.  We chose to ride the EIP which is the pricier ticket at £35 each, but the train was lush and we were given free drinks, so we didn't mind paying the extra to travel in comfort.  Before boarding the train, we had time to kill so naturally I spent a good 20 minutes choosing a donut at Dunkin' Donuts.  I ended up going for two (plus an iced coffee) and I wonder why my dresses are too tight... The journey took about 2 and a half hours, and was surprisingly lovely for a cross-country train ride.  We talked about style and edited our Instagram pictures (millenials eh?) before arriving in to Krakow.

Just a pretty building...


Where We Stayed...
Using our favourite Booking.com (click here for £15 off your next trip!)  we found Hotel Rubinstein in the Jewish Quarter.  It was a lovely little hotel, unique with a gorgeous interior and beautiful furniture, full of character, in an ideal location and with breakfast included.  I'd definitely recommend checking this place out if you are hoping to stay in a hotel in Krakow!

What We Did...
For our first afternoon in Krakow, we decided to book ourselves on to a Wieliczka Salt Mine tour with See Krakow at the recommendation of Hamilton's parents who had also visited Poland recently.  The tour cost £32 each and included the minibus journey to and from the salt mine.  At first, I was a bit "Why would I want to go underground and look at a salt mine?" but having now been, I could not recommend it enough.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

It was a really cool experience, possibly made better by the hungover Irish lads on our tour who LOVED every second, and we saw and learnt so much.  I half expected it to just be a load of salt, but we saw the most gorgeous underground lakes, the impressive timber constructions used by the miners, a stunning chapel and we loved exploring the tunnels of the mine.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine

After a night of lying in bed eating Milka (they have so many varieties in Poland) and drinking beer whilst watching a really good film that I've forgotten the name of, our second day in Krakow was set to be a more sobering experience.  We booked on a tour to visit Auschwitz; I dare say you are aware of Auschwitz and the atrocities that happened there, but if not, Auschwitz was a concentration camp operated by Nazi Germany during World War II, where 1.1 million Jews were murdered.  I have another blog post planned to talk more about Auschwitz and my experience there, but for now I will just say that whilst it is a devastating and harrowing place to visit, it is fascinating and very educational and I would recommend a visit there if you are staying in Krakow.

 

Apart from a little wander of the Old Town in the morning, the trip to Auschwitz took the majority of the day, so we spent our evening sat on Rynek Glowny in the Old Town, reflecting on the day we'd had, eating carbs, people watching and admiring the sun-drenched square before dark.

Rynek Glowny, Krakow

Sun setting on Rynek Glowny

As our flights home were at 10pm, we had a full day to explore Krakow.  We started our day with a hearty breakfast in the hotel and then set out to see as much as possible. Something that was not on my original list of places to see, but that Hamilton insisted we visit, was the Krakow Walk of Fame. Fortunately, this was en route to Wawel Castle, so we didn't have to take much of a detour to see it.  We went for Celine Dion's star, and whilst I recognised a few of the other celebrities, truth be told most of them I couldn't even pronounce their names.  It was very different to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in a very different setting!!


After an uphill hike (it was about 5 minutes but felt an age in the 30 degree heat), we reached Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral.  We wandered the grounds, admiring the stunning architecture and enjoying the sunshine. I'll let the pictures do the talking, as this is truly one of the most beautiful places I've had the pleasure of visiting...

Wawel Castle and Cathedral

Wawel Castle

Wawel Cathedral

Wawel Hill, Krakow

Wawel Castle

The rest of the morning was spent wandering the Old Town.  We visited the main square, the largest medieval square in Europe, to see St Mary's Basilica (which for some unknown reason, we did not go in to despite it looking 10/10 gorgeous) and the Cloth Hall, the world's oldest shopping mall.  I loved the hustle and bustle of the square, Krakow's Old Town was busier than Warsaw but just as lovely.

Cloth Hall, Rynek Glowny, Krakow. 
Inside Cloth Hall, Krakow. 

We also visited a lot of churches, each unique and beautiful.  TIP: if you are planning to go inside the churches, make sure you have a jacket or shawl to cover your shoulders.

Church of St Bernardine 



Church of St Paul and St Peter 

St Andrews Church

St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist Church

Following our successful cycling adventure in Warsaw, we decided to hire bikes in Krakow too! For about a fiver each, we picked up bikes from KRK Bike Rental and cycled to the bottom of Kosciusczko Mound.  We initially attempted to get up the hill to wear the mound sits, but ended up abandoning our bikes and going on foot.  By the time we reached the top of the mound, I was a sweaty mess and my Milka snack in my bag had turned to liquid, but the views of Krakow were excellent!

Kosciusczko Mound

Sweaty Selfie 

Krakow from Kosciusczko Mound

Krakow from Kosciusczko Mound

We rode our bikes back to the city centre, cried with laughter at me dinging my bell to get everyone out of the way, and spent the rest of our time enjoying a delicious 3-course meal and picture-perfect dinner views on Rynek Glowny before grabbing our bags from the hotel and catching a taxi to the airport.

What We Ate...
For convenience on our first night, we popped just outside our hotel where the cobbled square was full of restaurants.  I'm not sure of the restaurant we chose, and I have no hope of remembering after drinking the strongest Long Island Iced Tea in existence, but I do remember the food being delicious and very reasonably price.  We then had a post-dinner stroll through the Jewish Quarter, stumbling upon streets and bars full of life.


We snacked on-the-go on day two of our time in Krakow, but by the time we were back in the city, we settled on Le Grande Mamma for dinner.  A typical Italian serving pizza and pasta, the restaurant was great, had a perfect location on the main square and was so cheap.  We shared a foccacia, had a huge portion of pasta and a beer each, and even with a tip, it only cost about £20 for the two of us. I can definitely see why Krakow is considered one of the cheapest city breaks in Europe; a meal on the main square for £10? Bargain.




After exploring the Old Town on day three, we stumbled across Cafe Camelot and decided to stop here for a raspberry beer.  It was so good, especially on a hot summers day.  Even more lovely than the beer, was the cafe itself.  It had a maze of cute rooms, full of art and old furniture, a spiral staircase and some antique candelabras. There was also a delightful little courtyard at the back of the cafe, perfect for enjoying lunch with friends.


Before leaving Krakow to head back home to the UK, we decided to treat ourselves to a 3-course meal.  We opted for The Spaghetti, 3 guesses what cuisine this is... Again, this was cheap as chips and we didn't feel guilty indulging on cocktails and dessert as we wouldn't be breaking the bank.  This was just a little way down from Le Grande Mamma, and of course it was lovely to watch the sun set on the main square, the perfect way to end our time in Krakow.




It often takes a while for me to want to revisit a city, but I'm already feeling it for both Warsaw and Krakow.  I feel as though I've only scratched the surface of what these beautiful cities have to offer, and I hope to head back to Poland within the next few years.


You can read my Warsaw blog post here!

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Thanks for stopping by,

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5 comments

  1. I loved this post! This is my mother's favourite city and she's planning to go there again next month. I'll definitely show her this post.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, it has become one of my favourite cities too, I hope she has a wonderful time xx N

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  2. This post was so informative! You pretty much covered every aspect of the trip which makes this a great travel guide! I was born in Krakow but I haven't visited the city in years so I feel like I should go back asap and explore it more. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip! xx

    Primavera | my-primavera.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! You should definitely head back for a visit soon! xx N

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  3. Such beautiful, beautiful photos! It's so lovely to read about your visit to my home country! The salt mines are somewhere I haven't actually had the chance to see yet so I will have to add it to my travel list next time I visit Krakow! I'm so happy you enjoyed your time in Poland :)

    Milenka x
    Blushing Lately

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