A lot of my friends ask me: Andrew could you write something about your country Poland? At that moment, I realized that I only wrote a review about Krolestwo WWA. In my mind, I thought it’s a good idea but not easy to write about my the city I was born and where I used to live for seven years. For me, it wouldn’t be that honest and I wouldn’t be able to share my true feelings as a traveler. A week ago, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Krakow, so let me share to you my weekend.

Kraków (spelled as Cracow or Krakow), is the second largest city and one of the oldest in Poland. Situated in the Vistula River (Polish: Wisła) in the Lesser Poland region (Polish: Małopolska), the city was built in the 7th century. It used to be the capital of Poland before Warsaw. It took me 2.5 hours from Warsaw to get there on Friday evening.

I was really starving when I get there so I decided go to Kazimierz (the old Jewish quarter) and eat a polish baguette Zapiekanka. The best Zapiekanki in Krakow is located in historical pavilion at the center of Kazimierz at Plac Nowy. It was a bustling commercial place since its inauguration in the early 1900s. Inside the building, you can find over 20 shops where you can try different kinds of Zapiekanki. I ordered the classic one.

How a traditional Zapiekanka looks like? It’s half of a baguette or long roll of bread, topped with sauteed white mushrooms, cheese and sometimes other ingredients, toasted until the cheese melts. Served hot with ketchup, it is a popular street food in Poland. With its origin back in the 1970s, the zapiekanka is associated with the austere times of Poland’s communist regime, but it has regained popularity in the 21st century, which has also brought a wider range of varieties and quality.

After my dinner, I went to bed and prepare to discover the city for the next day.

SATURDAY

First thing in the morning, I took a 15 minute walk to Wawel and saw the nice view of Wisla River. It is a complex of several buildings and fortifications; the largest and most known of these are the Royal Castle and the Wawel Cathedral (which is the Basilica of St Stanisław and St Wacław). Some of Wawel’s oldest stone buildings, such as the Rotunda of the Virgin Mary are dated from 970AD. Some parts of the complex are made of wood as old as 9th century. The castle itself has been described as “one of the most fascinating of all European castles”. When I arrived there I took pictures of the castle from the outside and I also decided to see the inside of the Cathedral.

If you like to see architecture of churches, this place is definitely for you. You can find many stained glasses, monuments, Sarcophagus of St. Stanislaus and also tombs and Cenotaph of Polish Kings (Casimir III the Great, Władysław of Varna), Generals  and Presidents.

After walking for few hours around Wawel hill, I felt hot and I decided go to where the lake is so I went to Zakrzowek. Only 25 minutes away,  this place is part of a landscape park and was founded in 1990 after flooding an old limestone quarry. It is consists of two tanks connected by an isthmus. The banks of the lagoon are ones of the favorite leisure spots of Krakow. If you would like go down to the water you must to pay for an entrance fee. There you can enjoy swimming, kayaking or scuba diving. The water is crystal blue during sunny days; for sure you can feel like you are in Croatia. It was a little bit cloudy that day, that’s why I decided to hike around this place instead. While hiking, I met some people who are jogging, cycling and also barbecue.

Zakrzowek reminded me a bit of Cenotes in Mexico, but it is bigger and has different landscape. After my hike, I went back to city center for dinner and few pints by the river, before I went to sleep.

SUNDAY

I decided to walk around the old town and started my day with a breakfast at the main square. This is a square space surrounded by historic townhouses (kamienice) and churches. The centre of the square is dominated by the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), rebuilt in 1555 in the Renaissance style, topped by a beautiful attic or Polish parapet decorated with carved masks. On one side of the cloth hall is the Town Hall Tower (Wieża ratuszowa), the 10th century Church of St. Adalbert and 1898 Adam Mickiewicz Monument. Rising above the square are the Gothic towers of St. Mary’s Basilica (Kościół Mariacki). You can find plenty of coffee places, restaurants, local artists, street performers around the market.

If you are at the square at every hour, you might have a chance to listen to the trumpet melody. Every hour, a trumpet signal—called the Hejnał mariacki—is played from the top of the taller of Saint Mary’s two towers. The plaintive tune breaks off in mid-stream, to commemorate the famous 13th century trumpeter, who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before the Mongol attack the city. At noon-time, hejnał is heard across Poland and broadcast live abroad by a Polish national Radio 1 Station.

After walking around the old town, I passed by the Wisla River. I found the Wawel Dragon monument which is located in front of Wawel. It also known as the Dragon of Wawel Hill which is famous in Polish folklore. Its lair was a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill. It is located in Kraków which back then was the capital of Poland. The Dragon was defeated during the rule of Krakus, by his sons according to the older brother; in a later work, the dragon-slaying is credited to a cobbler named Skub.

When I passed by the monument I found the polish walk of fame like in Hollywood, where you can find there names of famous actors, actresses, singers with star and handprint.

My last stop before I took a train back to Warsaw was Jubilat Restaurant. From the terrace you can see beautiful view of Wisla, Wawel and old town.

Is it worth to go to Krakow only for a weekend?  My answer would be: It is better than never. To everyone who is planning to visit Poland, I would suggest that it is perfect go to this city first. Krakow is a good choice for solo, couples and family travelers. For sure you will find many foreigners, and you will be surprised  by the Polish hospitality.

I hope to be back with Elodie in December to see Krakow for IDA.

I hope to see you there!

Travel Tips:

  • If you would like to stay in Krakow check the Airbnb located in city center with amazing host.
  • If you are planning visit Wawel hill and see Wawel Castle inside, I recommend you to go in the morning and book your ticket online (to avoid the crowd and the long ticket queue).
  • If you are planning change money £ EUR, $, check the FX rate around. Each currency exchange place has different rates and commission. I prefer to withdraw cash from the ATM or pay card sometimes.

Ps. If you would like to see more videos and pics from Krakow, check our saved insta stories on our profile.