Krakow is a beautiful city and perfect for any tightwads who want a city break for mere pennies. I spent 7 days here in July, and so here’s a brief guide to all it has to offer:
Where to stay
Pink Panther’s Hostel was where we stayed: a large, lively and very pink hostel right by the main square. It hosted different nights every night in the common for example: karaoke, beer pong and vodka tasting – afterwards everyone hit the town together, so there are plenty of opportunities to disgrace yourself in front of your fellow guests. Greg and Tom’s also seems to be a very popular choice, and I think offers free beer to its guests.
Price: around £10 a night
As I mentioned before, Krakow is a ridiculously cheap place, even when you try to splash out on a fancy meal in the square you’ll still probably only spend a tenner.
Daily overall budget: £30 (frugal)/£45 (budget)/£80 (standard)
Daily accommodation: £10 (hostels)/£25 (AirBnB)/£40 (hotel)
Daily price of food: £10 (budget – free hostel breakfast and fast/street food)/£20 (a few fancy meals)/£30 (restaurants every meal)
Daily price of attractions: £10-£25, most of the attractions in Krakow are only a few quid but day tours to places like Auschwitz and the Salt Mines are around £25.
What to do
St. Mary’s Basilica and the main square
A very visually pleasing square indeed. You can even get a horse-drawn carriage, if you want to look like a bit of a knob. St. Mary’s Basilica is a typically OTT Catholic church.
Price: 5 PLN student entry to St. Mary’s Basilica, plus 5 PLN just for the privilege of taking photos inside
Scare yourself silly at Lost Souls Alley
A kind of escape game meets haunted house – you’ll be given one torch between your group and have to make your way through the pitch black rooms, finding the codes and keys to get out while being jumped out at by people who can’t get real jobs. Pro-tip: give the torch to someone else and let them deal with everything while you cower behind them. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but wear shoes you can run for your life in.
Price: 18-22 PLN depending on how many are in your group to protect you
Go on a day trip to Auschwitz
A truly sobering and upsetting day, but an important trip to make nonetheless. Get a guided tour from Cracow City Tours and you’ll also get a free lunch at Greg and Tom’s to make you feel a bit better afterwards. You’ll start at Auschwitz I, where horrific piles of human hair the Nazis stole from their Jewish prisoners are on display. Then to Auschwitz II where you can see the barracks the prisoners lived and died in. A guided tour is best to get the full story, they’ll be able to tell you so much more harrowing information that will really fuel your new found hatred of humanity.
Price: 110 PLN with Cracow City Tours
Get a great view of Krakow at the top of Sygmunt’s Bell Tower
Included in the price of a ticket at Wawel Cathedral is a visit up to see Sygmunt’s Bell, which is a large bell, but not the largest you’ll ever see so don’t get too excited. At the top you can look out over Krakow’s brightly-coloured roofs and get some great pictures (including an obligatory one of you touching the bell, of course).
Price: 7 PLN student entry
Take a tour of the Salt Mines
Like me you might think ‘pffft salt mines? Sounds riveting’. But you are mistaken, because these mines are incredibly impressive, surprisingly spacious, and even feature a cathedral carved out of the salt with a salt crystal chandalier. Now, I don’t have any photos of this because it was far too dark inside so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Or google it. Go with Cracow City Tours again, the guides are very informative.
Sample some Polish vodka at Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa
Try a selection of Poland’s favourite drink, including Chupa Chups – vodka with lemon, ginger and black pepper. They might sound nice, but don’t be fooled – they all taste like vodka. However they’re so cheap you’re bound to knock back a few until they inevitably start tasting quite pleasant.
Price: 4 PLN per shot
Have a cup of tea with some incredibly cute cats at Kocia Kawiarnia Kociarnia
This cat cafe is a short walk from the main square, when you get there you’ll walk in and see the counter and then have to enter the cat area through a wardrobe (just like Narnia, but better). Once inside, you’ll be in cat heaven. This is a perfect place to ease your Polish vodka-induced hangovers, while desperately following cats around and trying to get them to reciprocate your affections.
Price: 20 PLN for a green tea and a cookie
Where to eat
Go vegan at Krowarzywa
If you think at least one animal needs to die in order to satiate your hunger, think again! These burgers are filling, healthy and cruelty-free. You can even add some vegan ‘cheese’ or coleslaw, and they also serve sickeningly healthy smoothies if you’re one of those people.
Price: 12-16 PLN per burger. The one pictured is 13,50 PLN
Eat some typical Polish cuisine at Milk Bar Tomasza
Milk bars served as cheap canteens for workers in communist times, and nowadays they’re just trendy tourist attractions – but don’t let that put you off. They are cheap as chips and serve a selection of Polish soups, dumplings, and other artery-clogging food like the deep-fried Camembert in the picture above (I’m salivating over the memory of it).
Price: 6 PLN for a plate of dumplings and 18 PLN for fried Camembert and chips
Get a Zapiekanka in Kasmiersz, the Jewish Quarter
This Polish classic is an open sandwich, aka a massive hunk of bread smothered in toppings. Get them from one of the many sellers in the kiosk in the middle of the market square in Kasmiersz, we went for the one with the biggest queue. Suffice to say these were too much for us to finish comfortably, but we finished them nonetheless because our mother didn’t raise no quitters.
Price: around 9-12 PLN per zapiekanka
I hope this post gives you some inspiration for your trip to Krakow, or even convinces you to go! Let me know if you think I’ve missed anything out!