KrakowThis medieval city looks like it was taken straight out of a fairy tale, with its bustling market square, spiralling Gothic towers, castles and legends of dragons. Explore the city's narrow backstreets, hidden courtyards and the network of underground cellars and tunnels. Krakow is known as the cultural capital of Poland through its love of music, poetry and theatre. After years of occupation and struggle, Krakow has emerged a proud city with a strong sense of identity, yet has still maintained its artistic and fun-loving soul.
The CityThe medieval market square (Rynek Główny) and the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) are the focal points for visitors to Krakow, forming the heart of the Old Town. Wander through the menagerie of stalls in the cloth hall, enjoy a coffee and visit the nearby medieval churches. The district of Kazimierz has developed an almost separate identity to the majestic Old Town. The Jewish quarter of the city consists of darker, winding streets full of intriguing cafes and shops. Krakow was featured in a number of scenes in the movie "Schindler’s list", and hides a dark past in which most of the quarter’s inhabitants were taken to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps during the Second World War. The area is now enjoying a renaissance with visitors eager to explore its numerous museums and cafes. Today, Krakow has emerged from a tumultuous past with a fantastic party-going spirit and visitors will find it hard to find a street without a liberal scattering of watering holes. Cafes and bars open early in the evening and don’t close until the early hours of the morning, with many offering live music or poetry readings, and others just keep it simple, providing good vodka and lots of it.
Do & See
There is a lot to see in Krakow, including centuries-old landmarks, lovely vistas, world-class works of art, and stunning curios. The city boasts some of the best art collections in Poland, and museums all over the world envy some of the treasures that can be found here.
Polish cuisine offers a whole host of different flavours. Krakow itself is probably the gastronomic capital of Poland, offering many types of world cuisine, while steadfastly holding on to its culinary roots. Milk bars ("bar mleczny") offer great value polish dishes. Look out for thick soups such as "zurek" (soup with sausages and potatoes) or "barszcz" (beetroot and dumplings). Bigos, or hunters stews, are also worth a try.
If you got a sweet tooth or just curious about Polish cakes and pastry, you will certainly find something to tickle your taste-buds. On a sunny day there, nothing is better than grabbing a quality ice cream or a nice cup of coffee and sit down on one of the benches in Planty Park, close to the Old Town.
Bars & Nightlife
It can be hard to distinguish between bars, cafes, nightclubs and restaurants with many fulfilling all four definitions in one. Like the majority of bars and cafes, after-hours dancing and drinking usually take place underground in Krakow's many medieval cellars. Dance clubs and live music are a big part of social life in Krakow, with most bars hosting regular jazz nights or impromptu jam sessions.
Krakow is a good place to pick up antiques, artwork and jewellery. Amber jewellery is particularly abundant in markets and shops across the city, and the Jewish quarter of Kazmierz has begun to attract a lot of arty boutiques and unique jewellery stores. One of the main streets for clothes shopping is Florianska Street, and a number of large shopping malls stocking international brands have appeared in the city.