Discovering Krakow

My sister and I had wanted to visit Krakow for some time, so we decided this year instead of birthday presents we would just pay for our flights to go. Initially we wanted to visit for the Christmas markets but with our birthdays both being in March it felt too hard to wait that long!

Krakow Streets
Old Town Krakow

We arrived in Krakow on a Saturday night and didn’t leave until Tuesday night so it gave us three good days to explore. We booked the Tyzenhauz Apartments for our stay which I would highly recommend. They have apartments all over the city so I suppose it depends which one you get. Ours was about a 15 minute walk to the Old Town. It was a completely straight route the whole way in and we were less than 10 minutes away from the amazing shopping centre Galeria Krakowska which would have everything you would ever need! They also organised a taxi to pick us up at the airport as well as our tours for the Salt Mines & Auschwitz.

On our first night arriving we were quite late so just ended up in the bar Huki Muki in the Old Town. The front bar is a really modern, bright setting and then when you continue into the back it is a completely different feel. Their two floors are really dark, with everything made of wood.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Halls In The Wieliczka Salt Mine

On our first full day we took a trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. I mean, it’s cool.. but if you’re stuck for time I definitely wouldn’t be rushing there. It’s an underground mine where they used to extract salt from the rocks. I found the most interesting part to be the general infrastructure underground but the whole salt aspect wasn’t overly fascinating (and it isn’t the cute pink salt either, it’s completely grey). They actually have quiet a few sculptures and chandeliers which are interesting – but overall I would only be giving it a 5 out of 10. It didn’t help that our ‘English speaking tour guide’ had quite broken English so we didn’t grasp much of the history of the mine!

Horse & Carraige
Horse & Carriage

We spent that evening wandering around the Old Town. There are some amazing buildings around the place, great buskers and lots of cafés on the edge to sit and people watch (but you pay the price!). There were also loads of beautiful horse & carriages throughout the city. I’m not sure how much it cost as we never asked but it would definitely be a gorgeous way to see the city.

Sunset in auschwitz
Barracks in Birkenau

On our second day there we heading to Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps from the second world war. I think there is just too much information about those as a whole so I have kept the details for another post which you can find here. I will say that it was one of the main reasons that we chose to go to Krakow and I would highly recommend anyone to go there. It is incredibly eye opening and interesting to visit. It is a very long day and your mood won’t be superb after visiting so I would suggest doing this on a day where you don’t plan on going out afterwards. Before I scare you, it doesn’t cripple you in despair or anything but the day as a whole really does take it out of you both physically and emotionally.

Wawel Castle
Wawel Royal Castle

On our last day we had no major plans for the day. We went to visit Wawel Royal Castle which is really beautiful. There is a museum inside but we didn’t bother with it. The grounds are quite vast, giving you different gems in every direction. Close by you will find the famous fire breathing dragon and a beautiful view over the Vistula River. We spent the evening in another shopping centre by Kazimierz to find an Inglot store. Inglot makeup is notorious for being much cheaper in Poland. At less than half price compared to Ireland we made sure we bought our monies worth while we were there!

Conclusion:

Being really honest, Krakow isn’t the most capturing city I have ever visited. As far as Old Towns go it is beautiful but possibly not as interesting as the likes of Tallinn or Prague. But, somewhere doesn’t have to look like a fairy tale for you to have a good time. The architecture was interesting, the nightlife was good, the shopping is great and the history there was amazing. Auschwitz was so amazing to see it actually made Krakow one of my favourite trips away to date.

Have you ever been to Krakow or Poland? Would you like to visit it some day?

12 thoughts on “Discovering Krakow

  1. I haven’t been, but I’d like to! Although I might give the salt mines a miss because your review is less than glowing and also because that tunnel reminds me of the one in Sicario that had my nerves absolutely shredded!

    1. Krakow is such a nice place for a weekend break! The Salt Mines are cool to see but if you’re stuck for time you could definitely spend it better somewhere else. Yeah you have to go down almost 2,000 steps I think it is!

  2. Glad I saw your post because Krakow is on the top of my must-visit list! 😀 I heard it has quite a cool music scene, did you get to do any of that while there?

  3. I really appreciate your honesty about how you felt about Krakow…we’ve never been but I’m open to going just about anywhere! I can totally understand what you mean about the concentration camp…we visited Mauthausen years back and it was a great but somber experience. I also love that you did the trip instead of gifts- we do this same thing in our family!

  4. I haven’t been to Krakow, but one of the main reasons I want to visit is also to see Auschwitz and Birkenau. I can imagine how grim of an experience it must be to walk through the concentration camps, but I have been fascinated by WWII history for so long that it would be worth it for me to set aside a day to visit the camps. Can’t wait to read your post on the camps and what types of things you saw there.

  5. Thanks for your honest opinion! Was the cover/featured photo actually filled w/ bubbles or was that a photo effect? It looks interesting none the less. Haven’t been there before! Do you think you would come back to revisit during the Christmas Market?

  6. I love that you decided to go traveling instead of buying presents! Seems like although you didn’t love the city, Auschwitz was an eye-opening experience for you. I’d love to visit one day and experience it for myself.

  7. I haven’t been, but would certainly love to. I think the history itself is a pull as I love learning interesting facts about a country/ city. The Halls In The Wieliczka Salt Mine does really look claustrophobic. Was it very long?

  8. Such wonderful photos! I have wanted to go to Krakow for a number of years, it’s very high on my list! Hopefully I’ll get there next year 🙂

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