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CRACOW | Important points

My travelling experiences tought me that in any city, there are great places to discover, but also some things to keep in mind to have the best trip possible! As Cracow is not yet universally known (which is very sad), I have decided to share with you some tips to enjoy the city fully !

Transport

The old traditionnal Cracow tramway !

The old traditionnal Cracow tramway !

As I was explaining in the introductory post to my trip to Poland, one of the most important factors to know when organizing a trip in a foreign city is the transport, especially if you don’t speak the language. Here are my tips for transportation in Cracow.

After arriving at the Cracow Airport, it seems very easy to take the taxi and get to the city center fast. Especially that the cost is not very high, as it costs around PLN 85 to PLN 100 (around €20-25). It’s true that taking a taxi is not very expensive in Poland, but I think that the bus is also a great idea, as it costs only PLN 4 (=€1) per person. There are three buses that run from the airport to the city centre: the 292, the 208 a,d the 902 (night bus). The ride takes about 40 minutes and if you are early, you’ll get a seat so it will be even more comfortable ! Once you’re seated, relax because if you want to get to the Old Town (which is probably what you want) so you have to get out at the last stop – the Cracow Central Station. My advice, keep your suitcases close to you because the bus gets very crowded once it arrives in Cracow. We had left our luggage in the space for it in the bus and there was so much people that we couldn’t see it and we were so afraid that someone would take it by mistake! Once you arrive at the central station, you have only a 10 minute walk (even with big suitcases) from the Old Town. Here is a map to help you find your way from the Central Station to the Main Square. Don’t hesitate to check out the map below and downlaod it on your smartphone via google maps ! All the information about the busses are in the map.

When you get out of the bus, you’ll be next to the Central Station. Go inside the station, and find the entry to the Galeria Krakowska shopping center and leave it with the Pawia street exit. Cross the street and turn into the Kurniki street. Then go strait, and turn left to the Jan Matejko square. It’s straight forward !

Where to stay in Cracow

Finding the right place to stay is always something difficult. In Cracow, like in many other cities, the closest the accomodation is to the city centre, the more expensive it will be. But don’t forget that in Poland renting an appartment or a hotel is not extremely expensive.

Planty after the rain !

Planty after the rain !

If you are visiting Cracow for one week-end, I would advise you to chose your accomodation in the old town. On a map you can easily find it because all the old town is surrounded by a park which is called Planty (read: Planti). If you stay in the old town, or very close to it, you will be at a walking distance of 20-25 minutes to all the touristic areas of the central Cracow. You will avoid the expense and the time of transport. As for the prices, you can find a room for two people for more or less 40€/night. There are also a lot of appartments for rent at that price, so don’t hesitate to check on websites like Airbnb or Maps and contact the people directly.

If you are planning to stay in Cracow for longer, and if your budget allows it, you can always stay at a hotel in the centre. You can also find an accomodation a bit further from the city center and pay around 20 to 35€ a nigh in a hotel or find an entire flat. Personnally, I like having my own flat, because eating out 3 times a day can become expensive, and I tend to appreciate it less. Just know that Cracow is not an extremely big city  so the transport time will not exceed 20 to 30 minutes.

During our week-end vacation in Cracow we lived in an appartment right in the middle of the old town, on Szpitalna street (2min away from the Main Square) for a great price (40€/night in low season). If you are interested, don’t hesitate to check it out, because the appartment was very comfy and the company renting it very professional and flexible !

Good to know

As I was explaining in the beginning of the article, there are always good things to know when you arrive in a new city. Here are some tips that can be very useful in Cracow:

Don’t change your cash at the airport
If you are travelling to Cracow by plane, having taken out cash at home to excha, it woudld be tempting to exchange your money at the airport to pay the taxi or the bus. My advice, try not to do it, and to exchange a few zlotys before you leave your home town because the exchange rates are very expensive. If you really want to have some cash at the airport, you’d better go to an ATM, or pay directly with your credit card, rather than exchange the money you have. Just as an example, we exchanged 50€ at the airport and received 165zl. When we went to the ATM and withdrew the same amount we received 195zl, quite a difference right ? It might not seem a lot but with that money you can pay for a ticket to the museum, a fancy drink or a nice dish at the restaurant !

Don’t overpay for organized visits
In the city center, you will see many tour operators selling organized visits to several places: Wieliczka, the salt mine, Auschwitz (which is very close from the city) and other… As I have explained to you with the example of the taxis, if your budget allows it, you can of course enjoy a visit like that, not having to worry about transport, buying of the tickets and so on. But if you wish to visit those places but don’t have the money to pay for an organized visit you can still do it. For example you can save some money on a visit to Wieliczka that you organize yourself. The 304 bus leaving at the central station (the bus stop is in front of the shopping center Galeria Krakowska 10 min of walking from the center) will take you all the way to the salt mine for 4zl per person. Tickets to visit Wieliczka cost 85zl per personne with a tour guide that speaks a foreign language (english for example).If we calculate, you can save 60zl (€13) per person if you organize the trip yourself ! It’s maybe not a lot of money but it can pay for a meal for example. For more information, don’t hesitate to check out Wieliczka’s website.

CRACOVIE | My favourite places

Restaurants

1.Restauracja Starka
14 Jozefa street | from 12:00 to 23:00 | non stop

Thank you Restauracja Starka for this beautiful picture !

Thank you Restauracja Starka for this beautiful picture !

This restaurant is one of the best ones we have tested during our trip in Cracow. It is located in the Kazimierz district (read: “Kajimiej”), the jewish district that I would highly recommend you to visit if you have some time. The restaurant serves mainly traditionnal polish food but with a modern twist. We have particularly enjoyed the service and the atmosphere of the place: perfect to rest after a long walk or heat up during a cold day. For the story, we have decided to eat at this restaurant due to its great comments on Tripadvisor – classified 3d among all the restaurants in Cracow. And it’s not a surprise at all because everything was great ! The price is affordable even tough it’s a bit more expensive than other restaurants in the city. For two three course menus plus drinks we paid 35€!
For more information about the place, don’t hesitate to visit the restaurants’ website.

2. Marmolada
5 Grodzka street | 12:00 – 23:00

$_20

Located in the heart of the old town, on the very busy Grodzka street, this restaurant specialized in Polish and Italian cuisine was our favourite restaurant in the center. People were very friendly and welcoming there and the prices were very reasonnable for the area. If you wish to have a candlelight dinner with your loved one, a lunch with friends or just simply eat something good, we would really recommend you to try Marmolada. The restaurant cooks with fresh and high quality products which is, I think, very important. If after reading the article about polish food you were curious to eat a soup in a bread, you will be able to try it at Marmolada ! We have also ordered a beetroots soup and krokiety (salty pancakes with meat), which very delicious !
For more information here is Marmolada’s website.

3. Chłopskie Jadło
3 Swietego Jana street | sun-thu 12:00 – 22:00 | fri-sat 12:00 – 23:00

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Chłopskie Jadło (read “Hwopskie yadwo”) is a chain of traditionnal polish food, that you will find in most of the big cities. We have decided to eat there on a sunday night, were there was not much open anymore. It was a big surprise, because we are not used to eating in chains (apart from fast-foods hum…). Everything was excellent ! There is just one thing to keep in mind about this restaurant (it can be either a great thing or a frustrating thing) – the portions are huge ! For starters every client gets bread with herb butter and smalec (read “smaletz”) that you might have seen in my article about polish food. This means that before you even start to eat what you’ve ordered you already ate a lot ! When we were there, we ordered a soup each and a dish which we had a hard time finishing even though it was good. Good thing is that the restaurant allows you to take a doggy-bag with the rest of your food. The prices are affordable and the decoration 100% polish. If, like us, you are not a big fan of chaines, don’t worry because this restaurant is very nice !
More info on the website.

Milkbars

4. Milkbar pod Temidą
43 Grodzka Street | 9h:00 – 21:00 in the summer | 9:00 – 20:00 in winter

bar mle

This milkbar is located in the center of the old town and allows you to eat for very very cheap. If you don’t know what a milkbar is, it’s kind of a self that serves traditionnal home made food for very competitive prices. We have ordered two soups, two dishes and one big dessert and paid 40zl (=10€)! It’s important to know that this milkbar is a traditional one, so it closes very early and it’s self service. Also, due to the prices and its location, this milkbar is very popular, so the service has to be very fast. That’s why I would recommend to read the menu before ordering and to practice naming the dish you want, because the cashier won’t have the time to make sure there is no qui pro quo ! For more information about the milkbars, check out my article about traditionnal polish cuisine.

5. Milkbar Tomasza
24 Świętego Tomasza street | tue-sat 8:00 – 20:00 | sun 9:00 – 20:00

milkbar tom

Here is a second milkbar that we liked very much. This one is a more modern milkbar. It still serves traditionnal polish food, but they serve beer as well and have a more restaurant-ish look ! It’s much more cosy than the milkbar I was writing about above and less crowded so perfect for a nice lunch or a quick coffee break. It is located 3 min from the main square. We have tried the delicious sweet-cheese pancakes and I would really recommend them to you.
For more information, check out their facebook page!

Food to go

The christmas market

The lovely Christmas Market !

The lovely Christmas Market !

We have visited Cracow right before Christmas (yes I know I am suuuuper late) and we have been able to enjoy the great christmas market and all its food ! If you have the chance to visit Cracow during the christmas period definately check out all the things you can find there and especially the magical atmosphere of the place!

Traditional Cracow Brezels

On the bottom left corner, see where you can buy Obwarzanki !

On the bottom left corner, see where you can buy Obwarzanki !

One of the “traditions” in Cracow is to eat Brezels, which are called “Obwarzanki” in Poland. You can buy them on the streets in little huts. There are salty, cheese, sweet and plain ! Eveyone will find one they like, perfect snacks !

Where to have a drink ?

6. Żarówka Cafe
20 Floriańska street | sun-thu 10:00 – 22:00

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Thank you Zarowka Cafe for this great picture !

If you like little independent cafes, where cakes are home made and coffee of great quality, I would definately recommend Zarowka Cafe. It’s located in one of Florianska’s courtyards, so there are not too many people and it’s possible to sit outside on a heated tarrace and not be bothered. The important information about the place is that it has free wifi, which is crucial to all the travelers. Apart from excellent cakes the cafe proposes salty food for lunch and a happy hour where you can have a coffee and a muffin for 10zl (=2,5€). A lot of good (and tasty) reasons to visit the place.
Don’t hesitate to visit the facebook page for more information.

7. JazzBar U Muniaka
3 Floriańska street | 19:00 – 02:00

The Jazz bar is located in the very popular Florianska street, a few steps from the Basilica !

The Jazz bar is located in the very popular Florianska street, a few steps from the Basilica !

If you like jazz, or even if you don’t know it very well, check out this bar, situated in the heart of the city centrer, in the cave of one of the place’s oldest buildings from the XIVth century. On some weeknights you have the chance to see live jazz concerts for a very low price (20zl which is approximately 5€). When we went there, we had the great luck to hear the owner of the bar playing. His name is Janusz Muniak, and he was one of the best saxophone players in Poland. Unfortunately I  have to say he “was” because he passed away shortly after we saw him. At the time, I didn’t realize how lucky I was. That’s why I recommend you to go there, one night, to check out the great live music and the particular atmosphere of the place !

As you see, in Cracow there are things to do for everyone and for all the budgets!

I hope my article was usefull for you, and that will help you organize your trip to this amazing city. And if you had already been there, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments if there are other great places you would recommend to someone preparing a trip to Cracow.

Have you enjoyed this article ? Please let me know in the comments !