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Krakow Holidays

City of regal splendour

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Discover medieval marvels and sobering sights

With beautiful Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and the largest medieval square in Europe among its stunning sights, there’s plenty to keep you entertained on a city break to Krakow. Poland’s former royal capital and second city escaped the ravages of World War II and does a fine job of reflecting on that dark chapter of its history. Elsewhere, museums devoted to cats and pinball help showcase the city’s quirky credentials, alongside a buzzing nightlife scene. It’s also one of the top cities to explore with toddlers in tow, thanks to its fun, interactive theme parks.

Pop into St Mary’s Basilica to gawp at the spectacular blue vaulted nave and the world’s largest Gothic sculpture – a 3-storey altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss – and listen for the hourly bugle call sounding from one of its two towers. Peek into Krakow’s regal past with a tour of the 14th Century Wawel Castle’s impressive state rooms and royal apartments, then delve into the crypts of nearby Wawel Cathedral. Browse the amber shops on Ulica Grodzka and stroll through the Planty gardens which encircle the Old Town. Take a riveting tour of Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory before calling into the 15th Century Old Synagogue in Kazimierz. Compelling side trips await beyond the city. The Wieliczka Salt Mine offers fascinating underground caverns, galleries and even a chapel, while Auschwitz-Birkenau provides a harrowing but important reminder of the full horrors of the Holocaust. Book your flights to Krakow today and start exploring.

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Krakow holiday FAQs

Make the most of your Krakow holiday

Look out for the Wawel Dragon at the foot of Wawel Hill. The 6-metre-tall bronze sculpture by Bronislaw Chromy breathes fire from its mouth every 15 seconds and can even be triggered by text message, much to the delight of visiting children. The dragon has been immortalised by a local legend involving a brave cobbler who slayed it by feeding it a lamb laced with sulphur.

What are the best places to stay in Krakow?

Krakow’s Old Town throngs with tourists year-round. Visit Main Market Square, which has horse-drawn carriages and stalls selling traditional ring-shaped obwarzanki bread. Climb the 110 steps of Town Hall Tower for sweeping city views, shop artisan wares in Sukiennice Cloth Hall and admire the Adam Mickiewicz Monument. There are also many pubs, cafes and clubs housed in medieval cellars with vaulted ceilings, plus museums, theatres and churches built in styles including Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic. Stay at the Maksymilian Hotel, a cosy 19th Century red-brick building with an elegant courtyard.

Kazimierz, Krakow’s old Jewish quarter, was destroyed in World War II, then rejuvenated in the 1990s, thanks largely to the interest generated by Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. It’s now a bustling bohemian area with atmospheric cafes, art galleries, synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other historic landmarks. Take a sobering trip to the Galicia Jewish Museum, grab a gooey, pizza-like zapiekanka on Plac Nowy and sink a beer aboard a boat bar on the Vistula. Stay at the luxurious four-star Metropolitan Boutique Hotel with its attractive bar/lounge and fully equipped gym.

The charming Kleparz district offers more of a local vibe, plus attractions such as the Womai interactive museum of science and the senses, Nowy Kleparz market square with its colourful stalls and farmers’ market, and nearby Jan Matejko Square flanked by the Academy of Fine Arts and the Baroque St Florian’s Church, and with the imposing Grunwald Monument as its centrepiece. Stop for a super-affordable bite at charming Venetian-themed restaurant Baqaro. Stay at the chic, modern PURO Krakow Stare Miasto next to Krakow Glowny train station.

Podgorze is an area that’s home to exciting new museums and galleries, like contemporary art venue MOCAK. Podgorze is the former site of Krakow’s Jewish Ghetto and was a bleak industrial district during the Soviet era. Visit Ghetto Heroes Square, with its poignant memorial of 33 iron and bronze empty chairs, and the intriguing prehistoric landform the Krakus Mound, said to be the resting place of King Krakus, the city’s mythical founder. Stay at the Lwowska1 Aparthotel which offers modern, air-conditioned apartments with kitchenettes, plus an on-site bistro.

Where are the best things to do in Krakow?

  1. See the 13-tonne Sigismund Bell at Wawel Cathedral, then explore Florianska Street’s historic landmarks, including the house of artist Jan Matejko and the Museum of Pharmacy. Explore the remains of old Krakow’s outer fortifications at the Barbican and Old City Walls. The Church of Saints Peter and Paul offers some terrific late Baroque statues.
  2. Head to the huge Galeria Krakowska mall, or barter for bargains at flea markets in Kazimierz. Source ceramics hand painted with beautiful regional patterns on Joseph Street, or stock up on delectable Polish foodie goodies at Krakowski Kredens on Grodzka Street. For quality handcrafted souvenirs call in at Kacper Ryx Historical Shop, whose owner is also an acclaimed author.
  3. Feast on divine dishes such as crayfish stew at Wentzl, sit among mannequins and sewing machines while tucking into a delicious Jewish-inspired meal at the atmospheric Dawno Temu na Kazimierzu, or dine in a 19th Century carriage-cum-booth at Italian/Polish eatery Cherubino.
  4. Enjoy a coffee by day and listen to funky sounds by night at the bohemian Singer Cafe or dive into the refreshingly diverse world of Polish vodka at the tiny Wodka Cafe Bar. Head to CK Browar where the beer is brewed on the premises and so good it’s considered a medicinal product by some, or indulge in a vintage libation at Mr Black Cocktail Bar.
  5. Visit one of the world’s oldest universities, the 15th Century Gothic gem that is Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Maius where the astronomer Copernicus studied. Be transported back to medieval Krakow at subterranean museum Rynek Underground. Don’t miss Leonardo da Vinci’s sublime Lady with an Ermine, considered his best painting, at the Czartoryski Museum, where Rembrandt’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan also hangs.

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