If in the near future you would like to plan a really interesting trip, you should seriously consider Poland with one of the most interesting city – Krakow. This is certainly a good idea, and you will be in excellent company as the huge number of users of one of the most popular travel portals – booking.com has recognised this old Polish city as a favourite city to visit.
You might have imagined Krakow as one of Europe’s historical cities, which at one point is absolutely true, however, that is not Krakow’s only striking characteristic. Besides its Historic Centre being Poland’s 1st UNESCO World Heritage Site; Krakow has come to more modern perspective recently. This year, booking.com ranked Krakow as one of the top group destinations among Bangkok; Barcelona; New York City; St Petersburg and Rome. The six destinations were compiled using booking’s survey done by its users who have been travelling in 2017 and who are planning to travel in the coming 12 months.
Krakow’s ranking ladder does not end there. In 2019 Krakow will become the 1st city ever to be European Capital of Gastronomic Culture honoured by the European Academy of Gastronomy which may sound like a smooth success for this scenic ancient town of Poland, but no victory comes free. Krakow piles up all the good reasons to receive this title. It creates a large variety of fresh local products that contribute to various traditional cooking techniques, whilst, it hosts 26 restaurants featured in the Michelin Guide.
In addition, it has been a venue for the famous ‘pop-up meetings’ where international big name chefs gather for virtual cooking. You should start exploring Krakow from “Rynek”, this is not only truly charming but also one of the largest old squares in Europe as well. Next step, “Kazimierz”, Krakow’s trendy, former Jewish quarter, is another hidden gem particularly suggested for those interested in pre-war Jewish culture. The district was destroyed during World War II before gracefully and excitedly being reborn as one of Krakow’s most interesting quarters thanks to Steven Spielberg and his famous Oscar movie Schindler’s List.
Completing the city’s multi-characteristics with its top quality educational institutions including Jagielonian University, one of the oldest universities in Europe, so we can surely say that Krakow is not only about leisure. Since Krakow has constantly made international rankings in various industries, there must be one that draws your attention. Either culture, culinary, art, architecture or history May we take you a little closer into details by flittering over interesting group-suitable historical attractions, remarkable spots to socialise, world renowned events, up to lifestyle facilities such as a wide range of accommodation and restaurants that you and your friends cannot miss.
The Wawel Royal Castle complex
What will you find there: Wawel Royal Castle/Wawel Cathedral/Wawel Hill
Why would you like it:
A part of the reason that Krakow was listed as UNESCO World Heritage is this Wawel Royal Castle complex. Considering the unique renaissance exterior of the Wawel Royal Castle, the interior is not less attractive due to its the exhibitions inside that are divided into different themes meant to tell you different stories. Wawel Cathedral will satisfy your fancy for heroic tales. It had been the venue for coronations for centuries, as well as the last resting place of Polish Kings, heroes, poets and well-respected saints of Poland.
You could walk around and imagine yourself travelling back in to a time when kings were still in reign, wars between lords politics, forbidden romance, you name it. Lastly, every tale has an end, but a happy one or a sad one? Say joyful goodbye to the Wawel Royal Complex on the Wawel Hill. The hill not only gives top view of the complex, but also the Vistula river and (at the right time) sunset as condiments.
What will you find there: Café/outdoor multifunctional space/art gallery
Why would you like it:
Because it is the definition of well managed hipster co-using space. Forum Przestrzenie is a café-clublifestyle space renovated from an old hotel that was closed down in 2002. You might have heard about Polish interior designers’ talents… see it for your own eyes! Its newly made interior design was well integrated into outstanding 90s exterior structure as the designer keeps touches of raw industrial decoration hidden in small corners, while bigger pieces of the decoration are mixture between vintage and modern style.
Forum Przestrzenie space utilisation is considerably functional. From the outside, the venue comprises of an open common space to either lay back and chill on a beach chair, outdoor cinema, concert venue, a small amusement park or even an ice rink in winter. Moving inside, some space is dedicated to an art gallery. So, here you could enjoy altered art exhibitions from different Polish and international artists. It is absolutely normal to be starving after a nice walk around, we would love to navigate you straight to the Forum’s café where you can find fusion Polish dishes or snacks.
Talking about food, how well do you know Polish traditional (and one of her most famous) food – Pierogi? How much Pierogi have you eaten in one meal? We challenge you to try out the Pierogi Festival in Krakow. The Pierogi Festival is usually held for around five days in August in Market Square Area. Rather than a chance to taste Krakow’s finest Pierogi from a numbers of shops, you can enjoy a Pierogi making workshop and competition of which the theme changes every year.
Poland is not only well known for artistic spirit, but also praised for its summer picnics in the town’s park. Krakow makes itself part of this reputation by establishing the annual “Krakow Picnic” during summer weekends from June to September. The picnic usually takes turns between one of the Krakow’s many parks; Bednarski, Kościuszki, Zalew Nowohucki, Krakowski and Dacius parks. If you are thinking The Krakow Picnic will be the same as every other picnic, you might want to reconsider. It provides a lot of different kinds of activities like art workshops, acrobatic workouts, yoga or bike-polo tournaments that you can choose to join on top of catching up with your friends.
It is not that easy to recommend a single restaurant in Krakow, simply because there are so many of them and every one is special. But let’s try. Surely, the top of the list must be about Krakow and, as the bigger picture, Poland. One of Krakow’s most famous classic Polish and Cracovian brasseries is Kogel Mogel. Its excellent reputation comes from their perfectly cooked dishes as a result of fresh ingredients that the kitchen team purchase daily – their duck and goose dishes are highly recommended with the guarantee as the winner of Best Goose Dish. Kogel Mogel famous ambience amplifies its reputation as well. You can be sure that the majority of customer’s request a table in the courtyard and there is good reason for that. In the courtyard, you will be surrounded by a garden of flowers from different species with a red brick wall background – something quite photogenic!
The interior design is not less attractive, the wooden ceiling contrasts perfectly with the black glossy bar counter that gives you warmly welcome feeling, but sophisticated at the same time. It would have been an unforgivable mistake if Corpernicus is not recommended. The restaurant, as a part of Hotel Copernicus, represents modern way of Royal Polish Cuisine among Renaissance atmosphere.
Worry no more for being overwhelmed by high table cuisine filled up with unknown artistry ingredients. At Copernicus, fresh local products such as mushrooms and quails have long been in the restaurant’s focus, as well as, the most selected choice by customers out of its freshness, truly from the community and well prepared. Though Copernicus underlines simplicity of the product in its menu, the other parts of this restaurant are outstanding. The terrace with a view of the majestic Wawel Castle is beyond greatness, while the castle-like interior is extremely competent.
The mentioned combination leads Prince Charles of Wales and the former US President George W Bush to be guests of this fantastic restaurant which was named after a famous Polish astronomer. What distinguishes Bottigllieria 1881 from other restaurants is that it was inspired by owner, Robert Gumuliński’s experience on a vineyard in Italy – the restaurant was first meant to be a wine bar! However, he realises that the variety of local products and envisioned a chance to establish something remarkable in Krakow’s residential quarter, so, the idea ‘why not opening a restaurant with a wine cellar?’ came across Gumulinski’s mind.
The restaurant provides customers opportunity to experience creative reconstructed Polish dishes that match with Bottigllieria 1881’s own wine list suggested by in house well-trained sommelier. When talking about the city’s industrial quarter, restaurants are definitely not the first things that comes to people’s minds. What about a contemporary art gallery? Does it relate to the industrial area? If the answer is yes, then you have come close. But not only industrial art gallery, Industrial Resto & Bar also combines these three extreme symbols of contemporary world: industrial factory, 3D art gallery and innovative cuisine, then express them within the form of one outlet.
Located in the same neighbourhood as Schindler’s factory and Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK). The fact that Krakow is a touristic city is not translated into overpriced accommodation options. The choices vary from well designed budget hostels to European standard 5 star hotels in great locations all over the city which emphasises that literally every part of Krakow is worth a visit. Useful recommendations can be found easily on the internet via official Krakow or Polish tourism agencies websites, as well as with international tourism agencies. If you wish to be part of the old school and travel on pages, Krakow provides a number of tourist guides including maps with accommodation. It is certain that price and availability is up to season and location. So, make sure you plan well before starting your trip in Krakow and joy will be guaranteed.