I ALWAYS tend to book and research for holidays/hotels myself, but I was browsing through Travelzoo and found this 3/4 day trip to Krakow in Poland from Gatwick. It was very good price and decided to save on the hassle of finding hotel as it was only 3 nights anyway!!
– Month: November 2016 – So yes, it was going to be cold.
– Flight: Easy jet from Gatwick.
– Money: I suppose one of the best things is that we found Krakow very cheap for a city! So that’s always a bonus. They have their own currency, Polish Zloty.
– Hotel: Leone Aparthotel – Not somewhere I would have chosen personally, but over all was pretty good. We had asked for a double bed and were given twin, which is fine, but my bed was completely broken and sunken at the foot of the bed. They were pretty good and quick and changed the room for us though. The rooms are big, spacious and clean. There is no lift and our room was on 3rd floor, but they will help you up the stairs if you wanted.
There are 2 main areas in Krakow, The Old Town and the Jewish Quarter. The hotel was located between the two, but I would probably recommend staying in the Old Town itself if you can as you will find you will spend most of your time here.
–Visit: So, for a few days in Krakow, you can get quite a lot done. The main things to visit are The Old Town, The Jewish Quarter, the Salt Mines, Schindler’s Factory and Auschwitz. We managed to do all but one, Schindler’s Factory simply because in the evenings it was so cold we quite enjoyed sitting inside with a hot chocolate or beer not going to lie!
The Salt Mines: The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. We took the train there. I had been recommended to come here, didn’t really know much about it but was really pleasantly surprised. It’s a really nice tour to do.
The mine’s attractions include dozens of statues and four chapels carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The main Chapel, St Kinga’s is really something else.
Beware, lots and lots of stairs throughout the tour, in fact, you spend the first 10 minutes just going down them (340 to be exact) to get to the mine. So bring good shoes and knees! There is a lift on the way back up, (if you can call it a lift…?!) So don’t worry you won’t need to walk back up them.
St Mary’s Basilica: Located on the Main Square in the Old Town. A must see!
Beware: 2 different entrances, 1 for tourists and 1 just to pray. Therefore one has a cost and one is free. I can’t remember how much it was but not a lot, and it means you can go up close to the altar. So I would pay the once but if you fancied going back in for a second look, just because it’s that nice, go for the free entry!
The Jewish Quarter: the now more vibrant quirky/arty area but with an eerie vibe.
The Old Town Streets / Market Square
–Food: I always find the food in these countries quite heavy, nice for a couple of days though. They are also massive meat eaters, lots of mash, dill sprinkled on top of everything, pickles and pickled stuff. We did end up 2 times in a French type café/bistro (Charlotte) which I would recommend for when you need a break of Polish food! One thing the Polish are massive on are Pastries/Desserts/donuts/cakes. Literally coffee shops on every corner. Here are a few of our recommended places to go.
Chlopskie Jadlo – There are 3 of them in the city serving traditional Polish food.
Polskie Smaki – This was an interesting find, very recommended! Traditional, very affordable food, lovely helpful staff and nice homely atmosphere. In Krakow, I would have thought in the rest of Poland it would be the same, but they are very much into their self-service restaurants, so you have to go up to the counter and they plate it up for you there and then. Because we didnt know what there was to eat the lovely lady kept giving us bits to try and help us chose!
And this is what we had! This meal was very yummy and comforting!
Od Jajka do Jabtka, a family run restaurant, quite hard to find but highly recommended everywhere as a great home cooked meal. The owner was lovely and the food was delish!
And for something a bit less Polish…Charlotte Bistro / yum! As mentioned above, a French style bistro for when you want a lighter lunch or lovely coffee and cake. Not very Polish I know, but it was lovely!!
The best bit, NONE of these places were in any way expensive.
Anyway back to visiting…
Wawel Castle – We were a bit unlucky as we were unable to visit parts of the castle as it was a Bank Holiday but even if it is closed you must walk up to the castle it really is beautiful.
And last but not least Auschwitz-Birkenau. Our trip away included a tour around the camp. I think everyone can more a less try to understand the feeling you get when you visit here. I think for me it was inspiring to pass the message on from the Polish: they want people to visit this place, and are very grateful that we do, as it must not be forgotten and we must know as much about it as possible as so much suffering was actually denied for such a long time here. An eye opener, but really glad I went.
Truly interesting few days, Krakow, you have been great!