7 things to know before you visit Krakow

Krakow is a good choice for an incredibly affordable destination with a medieval vibe and great architecture and the second largest city in Poland.

Going around is easy, since the city is quite small and can be seen within a day. However, Krakow is full of surprises… both good and bad…

 

1. Money makes the world go round

The exchange rates in Krakow are quite high, especially at the airport. If you want to exchange currencies after you arrive, think again.

By far, the best choice is to roughly calculate how much money you are going to need and exchange this sum of money from your hometown.

The tickets from the airport to the city cost 9 PLN per person for a one-way ticket. The food is quite cheap. Try to research a few of the places you want to eat at and see their menus for prices.

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2. Google Maps is worthless

When arriving in Krakow, your first instinct will be to open Google Maps and find the best way to go to the city.  But for some reason, Google Maps will simply not cooperate with you. The only way it shows is to use the LEO EXPRESS, which is nowhere to be found.

Instead, follow the sign ´Train to the city´. This train is scheduled to depart every 30 mins.

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3. Ticket Madness

At the train station outside the airport, there are only 2 ticket machines with MANY people waiting. You may find yourself waiting for more than 40 minutes, and you will definitely lose at least one train.

What you must know is that if you have Polish money, you can enter the train and pay inside. 

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4. Shop your heart out

Any Polish city is great for shopping since everything is quite affordable with sales up to 80%.

Besides well-known clothing stores, such as Bershka, C&A, Pull&Bear and more you will find many Polish ones with better prices and more unique clothes.

The drugstore Hebe, has two stores in Krakow and has a variety of brands at very low prices.

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5. Gotta love the bakeries

Who does not love baked goods that smell great and taste even better? In every corner in Krakow, you will come across bakeries with a variety of pastries and local goodies. Just get inside and try as much as you can.

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6. Smell your lungs out

Polish people love cleanliness. ANYWHERE and I mean anywhere you go, you will realise that everything smells amazing. People, malls, streets, sights, restaurants, hotels, even public bathrooms smell amazing.

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7. Souvenir without existence

Every city will always promote some specific sights. Every city makes a big profit from tourists that buy souvenirs of those famous sights.

What if, Krakow had a souvenir of a sight that was nowhere to be found???

The fire-breathing dragon is located in the Wavel Castle, but only from April to October.

While in Krakow, you will see the dragon in every kind of souvenir; fridge magnets, teddy bears, chocolates, postcards and more have the dragon in them, possibly making it the ´maskot´of the town.

However, no one will buy a souvenir to remind them something they never saw…

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Where to eat in Krakow

Admittedly, Poland is known for the good food and Krakow is not an exception. From traditional cuisine to classic burgers, one thing is for sure… You will want more.

Below you can find the best places for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and coffee based on taste, ingredient quality and prices.

 

1. Milkbar Tomasza

A true hidden gem in the city of Krakow. There are many breakfast choices for you and everything is simply delicious.

Address: ul. Sw. Tomasza 24 | 31-027 Krakow, Krakow 31-027, Poland

Opening Hours: 08:00 – 20:00 (Tue – Sat)

09:00 – 20:00 (Sun)

What to eat:

  • Poached eggs with spinach, grilled peppers & Cottage cheese
  • Spanish omelette with potatoes, olives, gouda & bacon
  • Irish breakfast

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2. GOGO Burger

For the burger lovers, this is a must. The burgers are all super tasty, the service excellent and the prices very very low.

Address: Starowislna 16, Krakow 31-032, Poland

Opening Hours: 12:00 – 22:30 (Mon – Fr)

What to eat:

  • French burger
  • Bacon Cheeseburger
  • Guacamole burger

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3. Vegab

A truly unique place with unique and healthy food and the perfect option for any vegetarian. Everything is delicious and prepared with fresh ingredients.

Address: Starowislna 6, Krakow 31-032, Poland

Opening Hours: 11:00 – 21:00 (Mon – Thur)

11:00 – 23:00 (Fri – Sat)

11:00 – 20:00 (Sun)

What to eat:

  • Beirut (hummus, sesame tahini, pickled cucumbers)
  • Olymp (tzatziki, black olives, sundried tomatoes)
  • Aloha (mango sweet & sour sauce, marinated pineapple)
  • Superfood smoothie (goji berries, chia, date paste, young barley, orange, apple)
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by Vegab

4. Smakolyki

If you want to taste traditional Polish food for breakfast, lunch or dinner, this is the place for you. The decoration of the restaurant is very cosy, the food is delicious and the prices excellent.

Address: Straszewskiego 28, Krakow, Poland

Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 daily

What to eat:

  • Dumplings
  • Mushroom soup with noodles
  • Roasted ribs
  • Homemade cheesecake
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by Smakolyki

 

5. Lajkonik – Piekarnia i Kawiarnia

The local and traditional bakery with many locations around the city. Everything is fresh and delicious. Perfect for a quick snack during the day or a rich breakfast.

Address: Karmelicka 22 | Opposite Carmelite Church

Opening Hours: 06:30 – 20:00 (Mon – Fri)

07:00 – 20:00 (Sat)

07:00 – 21:00 (Sun)

**Opening hours vary in the other locations

What to eat: 

  • Cinnamon roll
  • French dough with vanilla cream filling
  • Bagels
  • Tortillas
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by Tripadvisor

 

How to tour Krakow in only 1 day

Krakow, as well as most cities in Poland, are a very affordable European destination. Being located in Berlin, visiting Krakow was a no-brainer for me.

With 1 day off from work, the second largest city of Poland is a perfect destination. The tickets only cost 12 euros, so it really was a perfect choice.

It turned out that 1 day was enough to see everything. Since our hotel was in the centre of the city, everything was within walking distance.

Whether you arrive by train or plane, you will arrive at Kraków Główny, the city´s train station. Even though the town´s biggest mall is right on the floors above, I would recommend you leave it at the end when it is darker and you cannot enjoy the sights anymore.

So, from that point on, you can follow the suggested itinerary above to fully explore the city within a few hours.

 

St. Florian´s Gate & The Barbican (30 min)

These two sights are the remaining parts of what used to be a fort. They do not take long to explore and they are worth visiting for a while.

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Slowacki Theatre (Pass by)

After the Barbican, turn back and keep on going towards the castle. There is absolutely no chance that you will miss this grand, beautiful and perfectly preserved theatre.

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Franciscan Church (30 mins)

If you are into unique churches, you should visit this one. Even if visiting a church is not in your to-do-list, just give it a go.

When you enter, it might look like a common church, but if you explore it further you will find some huge, breathtaking, handmade, wooden art pieces. From the doors on the left, you will enter a gallery of incredible paintings and find out more about the history of the church.

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Wavel Castel & Cathedral (1-2  hours)

On your way to the castle, make a stop outside the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, to admire the beautiful architecture.

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This beautiful Gothic castle can either be the beginning or the end of your tour. Visiting the castle and the cathedral is free of charge. Only a few specific parts need a fee. The audio tour of the cathedral is perfect for those interested in the history of the castle and the city. Keep in mind that pictures are not allowed inside the cathedral.

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Even if you don´t wish to visit the museum, you can easily explore the surroundings of the castle. Do not miss the fire-breathing dragon statue, which is one of the most famous sights in town. However, the dragon is only on display between April and October.

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Main Square & Cloth Hall (2-3 hours)

After the Wavel castle, after a 14-minute walking distance, you arrive at the Main Market Square. This is obviously the centre of the city, filled with restaurants, bars and local merchandisers.

Anywhere you choose to go, it will definitely be tasty and cheap. However always check the prices before entering, because you may find yourself in one of the more expensive restaurants.

In the square, the two sights that will instantly catch your attention are the St. Mary’s Basilica, the Cloth Hall and the statue of Eros Bound.

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The Cloth Hall is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of the most famous sights, as it used to be a place of international trade with merchandisers.

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The architecture in the heart of Krakow is simply outstanding, leaving you amazed at every move your head makes. Make sure to visit the square both during the day and at night.

 

Galeria Krakowska (2-4 hours)

After you are done with sightseeing, it is time to relax, go around, buy souvenirs, have a hot chocolate or go big. And by big I mean go shopping. The Galeria  Krakowska is a rather large mall, in which you will find all the stores you are looking for and all types of food.

 

 

 

To Oyster or Not to Oyster? Transportation in London

Getting a ticket for the London transportation can be quite tricky for the first-time visitors. Personally, the only way I have used transportation was through an Oyster card.

If you planning to visit London for a day or two, probably getting an Oyster is not the option for you. Instead, you can pay through American Express, Master Card and Visa for contactless payment cards

You can also get Day or Group Day travelcards or a Visitor Oyster one. When using the bus the adult fare is always  £1.50. But for all the other means of transportation, there is no fixed price. The price depends on what zones you will travel from and to and at which time. Peak times in London are Monday to Friday from 06:30 to 09:30 and from 16:00 to 19:00.

Most London visitors buy an Oyster card no matter how many days their visit is, because they want to keep the card as a souvenir. Why keep a card as a souvenir? Only because is represents the rhythm and life in London. There is no Londoner that does not use the Oyster card. In case you buy one and do not need it afterwards, you can always return it and take your money back. But how does it work?

You can buy your Oyster from most metro stops. The price is  £5.00 and you need to add £5.00 more, which will not be taken away from your balance. It is better if you put around £15.00 in total, since you will spend all of them. Trust me on this.

After purchasing the Oyster, you have nothing to worry about. You can go anywhere you want without worrying about tickets. Just remember to place it on the readers on the station gates before you exit. If you do not see one around. look again.  

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Each time you use your Oyster on the way in or out, you can always see how much you were charged and how much money you have left.  Recharge your card by placing it on the charging cubic machines and once you select the amount of money you want to add, you place the card again, so that the transaction can be complete.

Cubic HQ where they run the Oyster card and turnstile services for TFL ...
Cubic HQ where they run the Oyster card and turnstile services for TFL …

The most important thing you need to know about the Oyster, is the daily price capping. After using the card for about 2 days, on the third day the card will cap at some point. Based on your average use of the card, when you reach the average of the 2 previous days, you do not get charged anymore.