Krakow is the 3 largest Polish city with approx. 900,000 inhabitants. Or that is actually the second largest in Poland after Warsaw with 1.5 million. inhabitants. The city in the world with the most Poles living, is namely Chicago, USA. Here live more than 2 million. Polish immigrants and their descendants.
The Old Town is the heart of the city, and is surrounded by a parks and green areas. The district is built around the large market place where the first “shopping mall” is still active. Today you won’t find your daily necessities, but all sorts souvenirs and bargains for tourists. Next to the shopping mall is also a tower, which is actually the old town hall tower. It was planned to demolish the tower along with the old town hall, but the tower was spared.
In Krakow’s old town, there are countless churches and other religious buildings, and Poles is generally considered to be very religious. Up to 95% of the population is believed to be religious, and most churches are open for visits also from tourists.
The train from the airport called “Balice Ekspres” but do not expect high speed. It takes roughly 20 minutes drive from the airport to the center of Krakow, but the train drives at snail’s pace. Tickets can be purchased on the train.
Stay centrally in or near the old town. It is mostly in the old town that things happen, and it is easy to walk around the city. The Jewish Quarter is also worth a visit, and there are also a large number of cafes and restaurants in that part of town.
Staff picks and must see
Take a walk on the local marketplace. In Krakow, there are marketplaces in every part of town. You can buy everything that is needed in an ordinary household, and it is also where you can find supplies for a picnic in one of Krakow’s many parks.
Everywhere in Krakow’s old town you will be approached and offered guided tours through a part of the city in a horse carriage, on a Segway, with modern electric rickshaws, in small electric cars, on foot or in an old east car like Trabant or Polski Fiat.
Don’t miss the castle Wawel on a hill in the center of Krakow, next to the River Vistula. That’s where you see the first signs of the establishment of the city in the 9th century.
When you walk around in Krakow, there are plenty of opportunities to find venues in the city. Often you are handed leaflets offering Chopin piano concertos or jazz concerts that take place at smaller venues.
At the Old Town Hall tower and on the Main Market music is free and can be enjoyed, with a glass of beer in one of the nearest restaurants. In the city you can also find hosts offering “Polish evenings”, with traditional Polish cuisine and folk dance and music.
A visit to Auschwitz is almost a must if you are in Krakow, and there are many opportunities to take a trip to the camp. You can use one of the many private tour operators that arrange tours departing directly from the center of Krakow or with pickup at your hotel.
Wieliczka Salt Mine is also worth a visit. It is possible to get to mine either by bus or car, but you can also choose one of the guided tours running several times a day from Krakow center and directly to the mine. Tours are arranged with guide in different languages, so be sure to get a seat on a trip with a language you understand.
The trip can be done in normal shoes and the temperature in the mine is constantly around 15 degrees. If you are a wheelchair user, it is possible to see parts of the mine via an elevator that gives access to one of the levels.