I went for three weeks to Krakow for business and this time I decided to go out of the bitten path and explore the city differently. No museums, no cathedrals, no galleries and monuments, just the city and the pleasures it offers.
Krakow is the former capital of Poland and it’s literally a vibrant city where you can live a dolce vita at the fullest. We stayed close to the city centre and enjoyed its chill-out atmosphere in the evenings.
First thing you absolutely should see in Krakow is Smok Wawelski – The Wawel Dragon.
A metal sculpture of the Wawel Dragon is placed in front of the dragon’s den (at the bottom of the Castle). It breathes fire every few minutes and is one of the biggest attractions of the city. Many legends tell the story of the Wawel Dragon, but nowadays it’s a part of the recreational area between the river and the Wawel Castle. It’s a get-together place where people and tourists meet, chill out, get some drinks, ride skates and bikes or just buy little plushy dragons as a souvenir from Krakow. The street where the dragon is located is called Ulica Smocza which means ”Dragon Street”.
The second absolutely must-try thing in Krakow is The Ice Cream. The ice cream in Krakow is the best ice cream ever!!!!! I spent three weeks there and never missed to treat myself an ice cream in the evening. However, the best ice cream place for me remains Argasińscy. The shop is located close to a Red Cathedral (that how I call it) and a little street leading to cosy restaurants. My favourite one is Yagodowe sorbet!!! Yummy!!!!!
The best introduction to Poland is Chopin’s music. I had the pleasure to listen to Chopin’s mazurkas and polonaises in Chopin Gallery. The experience itself was amazing. Even if you are not a classical music fan, and you don’t look for concerts to listen to, you will hear music everywhere. Krakow is music – street artists and free concerts are organized in every corner of the city.
What else to do, to see and to eat in Krakow?
Get to know Krakow: explore the Main Market, the little streets and the Wawel Castle. Have a walk in Kazimierz – the former Jewish Quarter. It’s a hipster place with a lot of local design shops, cafes, restaurants and Jewish music. Kazimierz is the former city centre of Krakow and there is the main market square. Two synagogues are open to visitors. Jewish romantic music is played by artists working in the surrounding restaurants. A Jewish ghetto is located nearby – worth discovering too.
Try Polish cuisine – pierogi, placki ziemnaczane, obwarzanki, paczki and other Polish traditional dishes are just a part of my edible experience in Krakow. The food is good and affordable everywhere. One of my favourite restaurants is a vegan one – Veganic. The sweet potato fries are delicious and the beer is worth tasting too.
Reach the Bowels of the Earth in Kopalnia Soli Wieliczka: the Salt Mine is located 40 minutes by public transport from Krakow and is one of the top attractions around. Tourists are allowed to go 135 down where huge salt figures are waiting to be admired. The Salt Mine is big and you need at least three hours to visit. Buy tickets online to avoid the queues.
Visit Auschwitz – Birkenau concentration camp: synonym of human terror, the concentration camp is open to visitors to remind us that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Both places leave you speechless as you can imagine the scale of the cruelty committed there. Worth visiting if you are in the region.
As everything comes to an end, our business trip came to an end and the last evening we decided to have some good bye drinks. Polish vodka Bison Grass and Wiśniówka are the local alcoholic drinks you should absolutely try. Well, the best Wiśniówka we drank was in a Ukrainian bar, but still, local specialities are worth tasting.
What did I bring as a souvenir from Krakow? – a notebook made by the artist Aga Gaj. Her Galeria is situated on 11 (Je)Sienna street. The notebook branded Make Your Own Rainbow will remind me of my beautiful days in Krakow!
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