After our trip to the italian city of Venice we thought we then head to the beautiful city that is Krakow, this wasn’t our first visit but we fell in love the first time and couldn’t resist on returning when we had the chance to do so. Here's a guide to some of the MUST visit places in Krakow & Zakopane.
Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
We were lucky enough to have our own private tour guide who walked us through. Located in the heart of Krakow, this beautiful castle perched on top of a hill, full of deep history and a symbol of national pride. A mixture of renaissance and gothic architecture, Wawel castle is the crown jewel of architectural treasures and is a must when visiting Krakow. From being used as a home for over 30 royal rulers to the head quarters of the Nazi governor general, Hans Frank during the german occupation of WWII. It was pretty quiet when we visited but i can imagine on the summer months it getting very busy!
Powiśle 7, 31-101 Kraków, Poland
We were invited to stay at the Sheraton Grand for a few days whilst we visited krakow. This beautiful hotel is situated at the foot of Wawel castle, which is an ideal and peaceful location. The hotel itself in incredible, and we couldn’t have felt more welcomed upon arrival. All the staff were so accommodating, and they couldn’t do enough for us. The room we were allocated was on the first floor, overlooking the garden, and what a room it was. The room was big enough to get lost in, and don’t even get me started on the bed. If we didn’t already have a million things planned to do in Krakow I would’ve probably spent the whole time in that bed it was so comfy. Another amazing part about this hotel was the breakfast. They have anything and everything you could possibly imagine on offer. Bottles of champagne, tea, coffee, caramel lattes, DIY homemade waffles, a full english, polish cuisines, fruit, yoghurts, the lot. INCREDIBLE.
We were also offered complimentary access to the first floor club lounge, which is a great place to relax and unwind. They had bottomless drinks, from soft drinks, to Mexican beers and red wines, as well as an array of snacks available all day. They also did they’re own breakfast, which was just as nice as the main breakfast downstairs, but in the comfort of the club lounge. At around 5pm, they set out a selection of soups and warm foods for dinner, which were super tasty after a long day walking around the city at -2 conditions. This is definitely the place to stay in Krakow, and due to me raving about it so much, I will definitely be revisiting!
The Jewish Quarters is part of Krakow’s district Kazmierz, to which we often visited due to its unspoiled nature, and its cheap traditional cuisines. The majority of restaurants here look like peoples living rooms, filled with what looks like friends and family, enjoying true home cooked meals. Considering its just a 10 minute walk from the Main Square, the pricing is almost halved, and the food is out of this world.
The Jewish Quarters are filled with history, small museums, and synagogs (even some are still used to this day) which are truly eye opening to visit. If home cooked meals, true culture and history is something you long for, then visiting the Old Town is definitely a must!
Food, Chese & christmas market
When visiting any new city we always love to try its traditional foods and drinks. We were lucky enough to be in krakow on the opening weekend of the Christmas market, which was an ideal opportunity to try as many different foods as possible! Our favorite was definitely Oscypek, which is a slice of Polish smoked cheese that is grilled on a barbecue, and then served with their homemade cranberry jam. I have never tasted anything quite like it, and definitely lives up to its name as a Polish delicacy. From hearty sausage soups, to fried potatoes, if you get a chance to visit Krakow, then the Christmas period is the ideal time to go. The christmas market opens on the last weekend of November and closes mid January time!
Auschwitz & Birkenau
Memorial and Museum
If you’re visiting Poland for the first time, then i highly recommend visiting Auschwitz. You hear so much about it so to actually go and see it for yourself is definitely something you need to experience in your lifetime. I feel that there aren’t enough words to accurately describe the feelings i felt whilst being there, its so peaceful and it leaves you speechless. We had an excursion from Krakow, the minibus picks you up from the town centre and then it takes around 2 hours until you get to Auschwitz where you receive a guided tour, you then get back on the minibus which takes you to the next camp, Birkenau where the tour continues. Birkenau is mainly outside and is much bigger camp than Auschwitz.
Although you will be visiting a place where unbelievable atrocities took place i would still recommend visiting to experience a part of history that should never be forgotten.
Zakopane is a resort town situated in southern Poland, at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. A town full of charm, culture and is often very popular holiday destination, both in the winter for skiing and in the summer for hiking. We visited late November where the snow was very heavy and temperatures were in the minus but Zakopane makes you feel at home with its quaint chalets filled with locals eating home cooked hearty food.
You can catch the Polski Bus from Krakow bus station to Zakopane for as little as £4 return, which is what we did, so i’d highly recommend this! You can get day trips to Zakopane from Krakow, but they are way more expensive and you only have around an hour to explore, which is nowhere near enough time to experience the beauty that is Zakopane!
Nowotarska 24, Jagiellońska 33, Zakopane
We were lucky enough to be invited to stay at VIP Apartamenty during our time in Zakopane. These stunning apartments are only a stone throw from the town centre, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. The apartment itself is so modern, and has such an aesthetic feel, it was so comfortable to come back to after a long and cold day exploring the mountains.
They also had a spa and pool at the resort, but unfortunately they were under construction whilst we were there, however its a nice touch for some serious chill time in the evenings, especially since it doesn’t close until 10pm. They boast great value for money, great location and you won’t to leave!
Tatra mountains & Cable Car
kasprowy wierch, Kuźnice 14, 34-500 Zakopane
This was one of the main reasons we wanted to spend a couple of days in Zakopane, these incredible mountains stand at over 2,500-metres and are some of the highest peaks in Poland. The cable car trip to Mount Kasprowy takes approximately 15 minutes and takes place in two stages with a change in Myślenickie Turnie. Once you reach the very peak of the mountain, you can enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views which are just incredible! We suggest completing the trip at the terrace by the restaurant overlooking the peaks of the Polish High Tatra mountains with a warm bowl of Polish soup!
To get to the Kasprowy Wierch cable car station you have to get to Kuznice - the upper part of Zakopane. You can easily get there by the public minibus or by taxi. The cost of the taxi transfer from the centre of Zakopane to Kuznice is about £5, which is great because it’ll save you a 45 minute walk!
Of course you have to get yourself a ticket to ride the cable car. Many tourists buy them over the counter at the lower cableway station, hence there is often a long queue of passengers waiting there. However you can purchase tickets in advance from the ticket machines in Zakopane town or online (www.pkl.pl)