“Magiczny Krakow” (Magical Krakow) is how Poles refer to their ancient capital (Warsaw only took over in 1596), and the epithet fits in more ways than one. Yes, there are tales of shoe-makers slaying dragons, alchemists riding around town on giant cockerels and devils lurking in the city’s cellars, but you needn’t resort to using your imagination to experience the magic of this city… you’ll see it in the twin towers of St Mary’s Basilica glazed by the setting sun, you’ll feel it in the candlelit cafes as you tuck into tasty szarlotka (apple pie) and grzaniec (mulled wine), and you’ll soak it in up in scenic squares and courtyards on hot summer’s days, cold beer in hand.
Start your wanderlust from the main square
Whatever your plans or budget are, this trip MUST begin with you strolling around the old city and main square (Rynek Glówny)– it’s definitely a must-see place. Such a picturesque, dreamy city that will make you feel like you’re living in a fairytale. If you love old cities as much as I do you’ll find in Krakow your paradise made of stone-paved streets.
For drinks and meals, check the cool Jewish district area
Two of the most famous regions in Krakow are the Old City and the Jewish District or Kazimierz. As in the Old City you’ll experience the elegance and romance of a historical city, in the Jewish District you’ll find the coolest shops, in bars and endless night out fun.
Visit the Wawel Royal Castle
A symbol of patriotism and cultural power of the city, the Wawel Royal Castle is the cultural center of Krakow. You’ll find 5 different departments in the Castle; Royal Private Apartments, Crown Treasure & Armoury, Lost Wawel, State Rooms and Exhibition of Orient Art. Each one needs a separate ticket to visit, so it’s essential you make a little search what you’re interested in visiting. You will have to pay for the separate parts of the castle however it is free to roam about the grounds.
To begin with, I would suggest you book a group tour to the camps – even if you do have your own transportation, you will definitely need a guide. You’ll need about an hour to reach the camps and a total of 8 hours for your visit. Apart from this, let me give you a heads up; however prepared you think you are, reality hits you in the face – and it’s way more harraowing than every imagination, movie or book. Our trips around the world consist of little parts of history. Auschwitz represents one of the worst and most violent pages in world history. It can’t be forgotten.
Catch a golf cart or Segway down the Vistula River
Krakow is such a wonderful city, worth exploring each and every corner of it. A ride along the river is a great idea and you can combine a visit to the Old City as well. (check 4:44 of this video)
Admire Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, Lady with an Ermine
One of just four portraits of women Leonardo Da Vinci ever created, is located in Krakow at Wawel royal Castle. Take a moment to visit this part of the Castle even if you’re not a big fan of art – It’s like going to Paris and not seeing the Mona Lisa.
Visit Schindler’s Factory where the movie was filmed
“Schindler’s List”, a movie based on the real story of Oskar Schindler, the man who managed to save 1098 Jews from the Nazi concentration camps by offering them work in his factory at Zablocie District in Krakow. This is the original building located in the Jewish District which has been turned into a museum. The exhibition includes a 40-minute movie and an accumulation of different rooms to explore as you walk through the history of not only the Schindler’s Factory but also the history of the Jewish Ghetto. Top tip: arrive around 10am (when it opens) as the first 300 in the queue get in for free.
Student Journalist, Creative Writer, Poet, Traveller, Eco Warrior