Formal royal capital, second largest city in Poland – Krakow is wealthy of priceless historical monuments of culture and art. Besides history, Krakow offers plenty of entertainment, festivals and other leisure time options. You can go here for a sightseeing, city break, and a nightlife, or even endure on a religious path.
Main Square is a heart of Kraków, from where you can start your tour. One of the largest medieval squares in Europe features beautiful houses and places worth visiting – St. Mary’s Basilica, The Matejko House, International Cultural Centre, Town Hall and Sukiennice Gallery. Afterwards you can visit Market underground museum, a place where The ‘Middle Ages meets the 21st century’.
St. Mary’s Basilica
At the same place, you can visit St. Mary’s Basilica. Even though this beautiful gothic church has an amazing interior, starry ceiling with golden decorations, stained glass windows and so on, it remains popular mainly thanks to wooden altarpiece with Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz) carving. The pentaptych is opened daily at precisely 11.50am and closed at 5.30pm. Moreover, don‘t miss a trumpet signal, which is played from the top of the taller of St. Mary’s two towers and takes you to the medieval times at least for few seconds.
Royal Path in Krakow
Take a walk in Planty – narrow park which surrounds old town, and you will reach Wawel Royal Castle. This place was a political center throughout few centuries. However, now you can find different museum sections and Wawel Cathedral here.
You will find oriental Art, royal private apartments, sarcophaguses of Polish rulers, what is more, you will find city’s most valuable painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Lady with an Ermine. Travelers eager of impressive views can admire city‘s panorama from different Castles towers.
As soon as you will finish visiting main points in Kraków don’t forget to visit Jewish district Kazimierz. A place which became more famous after film director Steven Spielberg made movie “Schindler’s list” in this location. Therefore, district is famous for its museums, Synagogues and authentic spirit. In fact, you will find an immense amount of unusual gastronomic destinations, starting from Jewish and finishing with Indian cuisine, what is more, this place is booming of food trucks and cafes offering best coffee in the city.
Schindler’s Factory in Krakow
There are plenty of departments of Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. Everyone can choose what he likes – archeologic, old mummies or medieval furniture and accessories, military items or modern paintings. However there are most popular branches of a museum and one of them is in Old German Enamel Factory, which belonged to already mentioned Oscar Schindler. The exhibition shows you a history of Krakow, its inhabitants and their lives during World War II.
There is one place near Kraków, which is popular among tourists, however, it won’t make you smile or you won’t take incredible photos here. Moreover, it is a symbol of terror, holocaust, and war. It is called Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp. You enter this place through the gate with cynical slogan ‘Arbeit Macht Frei‘ (Work Brings Freedom). Though a lot of buildings were destroyed by the retreating Germans, you will still find lots of horror marks and the darkest side of world history.
Getaway To The Mountains
People tired of historical museums, churches and city rush can take train and travel to Zakopane and enjoy mountain views and local spirit. Tatra region is perfect for experienced hikers and for those who are not that fond in hiking or are with kids. There is plenty of marvelous sceneries around, like Morskie Oko, Kasprowy Wierch.
After a long walk, you can sit down in Krupówki Street, main pedestrian zone in Zakopane, and have some traditional Polish snacks. Do not forget to try out traditional sheep cheese “oscypki” that comes from this region.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
In the same region – Malopolska, you will find more worthy places to visit. Less than 15 km from Krakow you can find Wieliczka Salt Mine and reach this place by city bus. There are tunnels and labyrinths craved in salt located on different floors, you will find chapels and altarpieces, captivating underground lakes and original tools and equipment, which were used by the miners.
In addition, you can have a lunch in a salt mine cafe or buy “salty” souvenirs for your sibling in different shapes and sizes.
Additionally, if you are a person, who prefers café tourism – Krakow is a perfect city for that. Commonly, Vienna is a capital of coffee in Europe, but Poland can argue with that. It is interesting, that polish officer Franciszek Kulczycki, who received coffee beans from retreating Ottoman Turks decided to open first café in Vienna.
In fact, Krakow offers you plenty of cafes which have almost all sorts of coffee. From cheapest to the rare and extremely expensive beans. If you will order coffee, don’t forget to order pastries, on which Polish people are experts.
Even though Wadowice is a capital of Kremówka (cream-cake), you can order this John Paul’s II favorite pastry in almost every café in Krakow. Therefore, don’t miss a chance and try it out with a good cup of coffee.
In addition, one more place worth visiting is – Jagiellonian University. In fact, the oldest university in Poland was established in 1364 by Casimir III the Great and throughout the years was the most prestigious institution in Poland.
Nicolaus Copernicus, Andrzej Wajda, military leader John III Sobieski, John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła), Norman Davies and other notable Alumni were walking through University corridors, where nowadays almost 50 thousands of students are passing.
Moreover, visitors can enter the oldest building of University – Collegium Maius, which houses the Museum of the Jagiellonian University. Then, don‘t miss the procession of moving figures of the old clock in the inner Collegium Maius yard. The procession of the figures starts every day at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.