Krakow is one metropolis that casts a appeal over all who go to. Duncan Rhodes experiences the attract of Poland’s historic capital, with its myths, magicians and medieval structure.
“Magiczny Krakow” (Magical Krakow) is how Poles seek advice from their historic capital (Warsaw solely took over in 1596), and the epithet matches in extra methods than one. Sure, there are tales of shoe-makers slaying dragons, alchemists driving round city on big cockerels and devils lurking in the town’s warren of cellars, however you needn’t resort to utilizing your creativeness to expertise the magic of this metropolis… you’ll see it in the dual towers of St. Mary’s Basilica glazed by the setting solar, you’ll really feel it in the candlelit cafes as you tuck into tasty szarlotka (apple pie) and grzaniec (mulled wine), and also you’ll soak it in up in scenic squares and courtyards on scorching summer time’s days, chilly beer in hand.
Maintain an ear out for the trumpet name
After surviving WWII just about intact – and regardless of rising a curious appendage referred to as Nowa Huta throughout Communism – Krakow got here out the opposite aspect of a turbulent 20th Century in surprisingly fine condition. No marvel that by the early noughties the town, with its preserved medieval Previous City, had properly and really been ‘discovered’ by the West and flocks of vacationers began to outnumber the pigeons (or ought to that be heroic knights?) on the Market Sq.. With Poland’s religious coronary heart, Wawel Citadel, sitting imperiously on the river Wisla, and each the Wieliczka Salt Mines and Auschwitz shut at hand there’s little hazard of them leaving any time quickly. Should you’re planning on leaping on the bandwagon (and this one is well worth the experience!), then one of the best time to go is in spring or autumn when the town’s 200,000 odd teachers present the town a youthful power and the nightlife is at its most frenetic; while for sheer snowy romance December and the Christmas markets are additionally loads of enjoyable.
Better of the Crushed Monitor
Krakow’s Previous City is filled with fantastic sights and the curious might be rewarded for throwing away the information e-book and poking their nostril down seemingly uninviting alleyways and up inconspicuous stairwells. Of the town’s most celebrated cultural points of interest I might go for the sensational stained glass of Stanislaw Wyspianski over the altar of Veit Stoss (discovered at St. Francis’ and St. Mary’s Basilica respectively) – particularly as the previous is free to view! And I might say the Nationwide Museum, with its assortment of 20 Century Polish artwork, simply edges the Czartoryski, regardless of the latter’s crowd-pleasing assortment of historic Egyptian artefacts and one work of Da Vinci’s. This itinerary will even offer you an opportunity to forged your eye over the open Blonia widespread (subsequent to the Nationwide), a picturesque inexperienced swathe of the town and a favorite with keep-fitters.
A contact of glass
In fact it might be downright impolite to return to Krakow and to not pay your respects to the traditional seat of the nation, the Wawel Fort (…and for Hindus the resting place of one among seven chakra stones forged by Lord Shiva). Within the crypt of the complicated’s cathedral lie Poland’s kings and queens of previous, and it’s additionally value climbing the tower for a take a look at the Zygmunt bell. You’ll want to make your method out of the fort by way of the dragon’s lair… you’ll emerge from this cavern on the backside of Wawel hill the place a bronze incarnation of the monster awaits. Textual content ‘SMOK’ to 7168 to make the beast belch hearth!
For a very long time Plac Nowy in Kazimierz held sway because the patch for Krakow’s arty youngsters to hang around and examine existential crises, and, though you’ll discover extra of a cross part of characters inhabiting the world lately, there’s nonetheless lots for aspiring Bohemians to wax lyrical about in the holy trinity of Alchemia, Singer and Mleczarnia. Sadly nevertheless it’s getting more durable and more durable to seek out such charismatic cafes amongst the depressingly formulaic ‘trendy’ bars which have sprung up round them.
Reopened as a historic museum and trendy artwork gallery
Lately if you wish to be avant garde in Krakow you’re in all probability greatest crossing the river over to Podgorze, a much-maligned district (it was in any case the location of the notorious Jewish Ghetto beneath the Nazis) that’s present process a sluggish resurgence (Podgorze photographs right here!). Main the cultural cost are the Starmach Gallery, Drukarnia Jazz Membership (the place you may even hear a live performance of ‘new klezmer’ music) and a renovated Schindler’s Manufacturing unit which now types a department of the Historical past Museum and holds a everlasting exhibition on Krakow underneath Nazi occupation. While bolstering the bar and nightlife scene is the uberhip Discussion board Przestrzenie, which enjoys a beachside location on the river Wisla in the previous Communist-era Lodge Discussion board. On a high-quality day take a stroll, by way of Bednarksi Park, to the Kopiec Krakusa – a pagan burial mound devoted to Prince Krak, which affords splendid views over your complete metropolis.
Expertise & Occasions
Krakow’s cultural calendar will get fatter on a yearly foundation however two mainstays value travelling for are Unsound Pageant (each October) and Photomonth (held each Might). The previous supplies digital music geeks with shoe-gazing sounds and audiovisual odysseys (if that’s your bag child); the latter is an entire month devoted to images, with collaborating cultural venues, plus a good few bars and cafes, turning the town into a big exhibition area.
Extra magic on the Market Sq.
Whereas it’s arduous to keep away from the sensation of being a vacationer on a normal strolling tour, a extra energetic and interesting various may be to take to 2 wheels… the beach-cruising bikes of Cruising Krakow are perfect for taking in all the main sights while listening to some entertaining tales and trivia. Alternatively take a journey in an East German Trabant to the Communist district of Nowa Huta (click on on the hyperlink for our report!) with the Loopy Guides gang. They’ll offer you a historical past lesson you gained’t need to sleep via! For a full vary of choices head over to this web page on Krakow excursions.
With frescoed ceilings, a rooftop terrace and a moodily-lit pool in the basement the Stary represents the cream of Krakow’s motels. For one thing barely extra reasonably priced the Grodek enjoys a quiet cul-de-sac location in the guts of the Previous City – and as soon as put up former president Lech Walesa, and his twenty-strong retinue of moustache combers. For unbiased dwelling speak to the aptly named Krakow Flats. Lastly, on the finances finish of the worth spectrum there are not any scarcity of high quality youth hostels. Attempt Giraffe or Tom and Gregs.
A minimum of certainly one of your meals in Krakow must be taken at a milk bar, Communist-style lunch canteens the place surly babcias (grandmothers) dish up stodgy Polski classics like barszcz, golabki, nalesniki and pickled cabbage. These much-loved establishments vary from kitsch rural-style eating places like Babcia Malina’s to grotty 70s bars the place big helpings of grub may be exchanged for only a handful of zloty. On an analogous “cheap and cheerful” tip you’d be properly suggested to take a look at our prime 5 pierogi bars report.
For one thing a lot fancier, however nonetheless reasonably priced, you’ll be able to’t go far mistaken with Pod Aniolami, set in an exquisite cellar on the Market Sq.. Attempt the grilled oscypek (sheep’s cheese). While Farina is a much-vaunted seafood restaurant with an intimate environment that gives an ideal prelude to tried underwear removing. Nevertheless, you actually need to pull out the stops head to the romantic backyard at La Campana, on the equally romantic Kanonicza road, for the best Italian delicacies in city.
People who have already upgraded their travels to Tourism 2.zero ought to take a look at the Krakow-based begin up Eataway, a peer to see platform the place you possibly can join a meal in the home of an area.
Krakow’s nightlife might lack the scope and variety of Warsaw up the street, not to mention London and Berlin, however for a wild weekend it could be more durable to discover a higher celebration vacation spot. The Previous City (allegedly) has the very best focus of bars and golf equipment in the universe and with so many venues inside stumbling distance of each other, low/no cowl costs, liberal opening hours and the fabled-amongst-British-stag-parties ‘cheap beer and fit birds’ you’d need to be a depressing git of epic proportions to not have enjoyable. Bomba and Pauza are two nice decisions for warming up, attracting each native scenesters and in-the-know vacationers, while Cien is the right place to apply your decide up strains with the town’s pin ups. The legendary Prozak can also be again, with a 2.zero in tow. Lastly, Where2b has all the data on one of the best midweek events, plus publishes celebration pics and extra nightlife naughtiness.
A philosophical mural
For much more options refer again to the Hipster’s Information part, for advisable locations to drink away from the circus of the Previous City, or our Prime 5 Cellar Bars in Krakow for consuming underground.
The financial disaster plus some stiff competitors has put paid to some low cost airline routes, however you possibly can nonetheless fly into Krakow from many a serious metropolis with Ryanair and Easyjet, while Wizzair fly to Katowice close by. BA and LOT additionally function. An categorical practice hyperlinks Krakow to Warsaw, while clunky Communist-era carriages will get you, albeit not in a rush, to the likes of Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk, Lodz and Lublin (see our Metropolis Guides on every!). While in a single day worldwide practice providers to Prague and Budapest are useful for backpackers on a grand tour of East Europe. Lviv, throughout the border in Ukraine, can also be a practice experience away.
Cracow Life is your one-stop store for all of your journey wants, from restaurant critiques to lodge reservations – their on-line occasions listings additionally seem in lime-green map type so decide up a replica in the town. The Metropolis Spy and In Your Pocket guides are additionally beneficial, and the Krakow Publish has the newest native and regional information. And, as one among our favorite cities, you’ll discover a lot extra articles about Krakow proper right here.
Krakow’s nice novel nonetheless hasn’t been written (which might be one thing to do with the intoxicating distraction of the town’s nightlife), nevertheless you’ll be able to nonetheless get in the Polish groove by studying the translated works of greats reminiscent of Gombrowicz, Isaac Bashevis Singer or Sienkiewicz. Cracow Life has extra ebook suggestions right here.
Famously elements of the Oscar-winning Schindler’s Listing have been shot in each Kazimierz and Podgorze.
Soundtrack to the Metropolis
Krakow – Myslovitz and Marek Grechuta
Shut Your Eyes – Smolik feat. Kasia Kurzawska
Kazimierz – Nigel Kennedy & Kroke
Soldier On – Don’t Ask Smingus
Drift Movement – New Century Classics
Bracka – Grzegorz Turnau
View Krakow Metropolis Break in a bigger map
We chosen Krakow as considered one of our favorite low cost metropolis breaks in addition to one in every of Europe’s most romantic locations. Take a look at the articles for extra nice recommendations, or browse all our journey guides.
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