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City Break Poland - One day walk in Krakow

As we were in the northern part of Slovakia so close to Poland we thought it would be a great idea to do a city break to Krakow on one of our non-mountain resting days. We heard many great things about this Polish town with its full of culture and history life so we decided to experience it first hand in a one day trip.

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Krakow is the second biggest city in Poland and one of the most important cultural, economic and artistic centers in the country with a population of around 800000 people. The city dates back to the 7th century but there is evidence of a stone age settlement that was built beneath the Wawel Hill above a cave, that legend says was occupied by a dragon, Smok Wawelski.

Probably the city is best known internationally for the Nazi Concentration Camp at Auschwitz, built during the Second World War, and for Oskar Schindler’s factory - Deutsche Emailwaren Fabrik - that helped the Jewish community by saving them from the camps and ghettos.

In terms of culture, Krakow offers a lot of diversity with many museums, artistic centers, and UNESCO world heritage sites. If this still hasn’t convinced you the city also has a vibrant nightlife with many interesting venues and bars.



Hiking statscity-break-krakow-map


Time: 8 Hours
Distance: 13 kilometers
Altitude gain: +/- 200 meters
Difficulty: easy
Route: Krakow GPS Track

Where is this?


Getting to Krakow from Tatranská Štrba in Slovakia is pretty easy and you don’t need to pay the vignette as you can avoid the short highway section. From the camping site, you will head on Route 18, followed by 539 and 537 in the direction of TATRANSKÁ LOMNICA resort. Continue on the same road until you will intersect with Route 67 that will take you over the border.

In Poland, you will go through Nowy Targ city on Route 49, then on 47 until the city of Myslenice and lastly on 7 / S7 until Krakow. The last part of the road is on a highway but it is free of charge and there are no taxes for driving on it. All in all the total length of the road was of 170 kilometers and it took us roughly 3 and a half hours to reach our destination.

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For parking in Krakow you can use the public parking spots where you will need to pay during the weekdays (10 AM to 8 PM) for one hour 3 zloty (0.70 euros) at the shiny metal parking meters. We parked the car here.

Do note that the parking meters don’t give change and you will get parking time equivalent to the amount of money you put in. Also they only work with coins so if you have bills you’ll need to get some change. If you want something with security and watch cameras, in the center, you will find many paid private parking facilities but the charge starts at roughly 2-3 euros per hour, but can go as high as 5 or more.


What can you see here?


Rynek Główny

This is the center of Krakow, probably the place with the biggest touristic concentration per square meter and you should definitely visit it. It is a large square full with restaurants, venues and bars, all packed with a typical old European architecture and an old bell tower in the center.

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Besides this, there is also the Cloth Hall, a large building resembling the markets of old, that offers a wide variety of souvenirs, traditional decorative merchandise, and handmade crafts. You will easily find here something that fits your taste and budget.


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Wawel Hill

Our next stop was Wawel Hill on the banks of the Vistula river where you can find a really impressive castle complex that dates since the 9th century. The castle is really important to the Polish people as it became the first political center and one of the most significant Christian centers in Poland at the end of the first millennium.

The most important buildings here are the Royal Castle, the seal of Polish monarch until 1611, and the Wawel Cathedral, the place of coronation for the kings of Poland and also their mausoleum.

Legend has it that the castle was built over a dragon’s cave that used to feed on sheep and virgins until prince Krakus came and defeated the beast, thus the name of Krakow.

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The entrance to the castle complex is free of charge and you can see all the splendid gardens, buildings and towers from the outside. There are some entrance fees for the cathedral, dragon cave and royal museum where you have the possibility of joining a guided tour. Another interesting fact is that in 1905 the restoration of the castle complex was done by public subscriptions and the names of all the donors are marked in stone at the northern entrance, a full wall of them.

Kazimierz - the Jewish quarter

The final stop in Krakow was the Jewish quarter, a place full of history but on the darker and not so happy side. Kazimierz was formed in the late 14th century and used to be an independent city until the 19th century located south of Krakow’s Old City and delimited by a branch of the Vistula river. In 1941 under the German occupation, most of the citizens were relocated by force in the Krakow Ghetto just across the river in Podgórze. For us, the quarter didn’t seem that appealing or attractive as there are many old building that are slowly falling in decay and the place seem lifeless. You can visit some synagogues and the Galicja Jewish Museum here.

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Where do I sleep?city-break-krakow-center


We didn’t sleep in Krakow but with a simple Google search you can find plenty of accommodation options in the city depending on personal budget and preference.

 

What do I eat?


During our chaotic wandering in Krakow, we found a great place to grab a bite to eat and to enjoy a cold beer right in the city center. The place is called B4 (Bracka 4 - as the street name) and it is located in the inner courtyard of an old building with plenty of shade and cute decorations. The service was outstanding, with fluent English speaking staff and the same can be said about the food and the beer. Also, it was surprisingly cheap as we paid for two pizzas, two beers and two coffees only 12 euros. As we found out the pub is also a great place to party during the night as it is located on two stories and also underground.

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Other close destinations?


Auschwitz Memorial and Museum
  • One of the most notable touristic destinations in this area is the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, but you will need to be emotionally fit in order to visit one of the saddest museums of our time. The complex is located roughly 50 kilometers from Krakow and you will need about 3-4 hours for a tour. We did not have the time to visit it, but I strongly recommend it to get the full feeling of Krakow. The museum is open all year round, but the opening hours are different depending on what month you are in. The price is 30 zloty (as of 2015) for youngsters under 26 years and 40 zloty for adults but the prices vary depending on the number of group members and touristic program. Check out their website for more information and reservations.


Oskar Schindler’s Factory
  • I don’t think there are people that haven’t seen or at least have heard about the movie/book Schindler’s List but in any case long story short he was a German Nazi industrialist that has opened a factory in Krakow and managed to save over one thousand Jewish souls from extermination camps during the Holocaust. The museum offers a permanent exposition of the dark times of the German occupation. The ticket price is between 16 and 19 zloty - for more information check out the museum's site.


Wieliczka Salt Mine
  • This is a 3 kilometers long underground gallery with lakes, corridors, and 800 steps and it represents of the oldest salt mines in the world dating since the 13th century. The mine has stopped production in 1996 because of the low salt prices and of constant flooding. A tour last at least 3 hours and among other things you can visit 4 chapels and many statues carved in salt rock made by the working miners and modern time artists. For more information visit their official site.

All in all Krakow is a wonderful city but in order to fully experience I would say that you need to stay at least a couple of days!

Hope you found the information helpful and accurate, but remember, if you have any questions drop them in a comment below!

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City Break Poland - One day walk in Krakow Reviewed by Alex on 09:35 Rating: 5

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