Here’s a report from our long weekend in Krakow. It was our first visit and we were there for 3 nights/4 days. We stayed at The Wentzl – I will write a separate review but the location is just great and if we return to Krakow we will look no further than The Wentzl. The reviews of that hotel on here are accurate.
After an uneventful flight with Ryanair from East Midlands on Thursday morning we landed at KRK, got our bags and we took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. It cost 90 zloty. I know there has been some discussion on here recently about the relative merits/costs of taxis and trains but for just under £20 we thought it was a bargain to be honest for the lack of hassle and for the convenience. (My days of sleeping on trains, in bus stations and getting the most out every penny are over but I have done my share in the past!!). Taxis in Krakow are metered and the driver should give you a receipt.
We were bowled over by how beautiful the Rynek Glowny (main market square) is and we spent the first afternoon just wandering around, taking it all in, visiting the Cloth Hall, Basilica etc and just generally soaking up the atmosphere. If you only have a few hours to spend in Krakow then I’d say – spend it at Rynek Glowny.
It has become a tradition with us that, if there is a Hard Rock Café in town, then we go to eat there! We did exactly that on the first evening but I have to say we were not very impressed with the food. The atmosphere was pleasant enough, as were the staff but the burgers left a deal to be desired and were not up to the standards we have come to expect from HRC. Stick to going in for a drink would be my advice. We had a fairly expensive bottle of wine which was 93 zloty as we had an occasion to celebrate. Total bill for the wine, two burgers and a side salad came to 148.5 zloty as we used a 10% off voucher which came with the free Krakow “In Your Pocket” Guide (a useful publication). We spent the rest of the evening at Anticafe on Slawkowska just off the main square – we liked that bar and it became our “local”. Nice vibe, separate smoking and non-smoking areas. Beer and either a glass of wine or a Havana Cuba Libre (on a promotion) was approx 20-22 zloty depending on exactly what we had.
The next day (Friday) dawned damp and drizzly so we ended up spending most of it underground! We didn’t realise until we arrived that there is a museum underneath the Cloth Hall in the Rynek Glowny – it’s very good and well worth a visit for the entrance fee of 17 zloty. Lots of information about the history of Krakow, the excavations under the Cloths Halls. We spent a couple of hours in there quite easily and thoroughly recommend it. We had lunch at Gehanowska (part of Pod Sloncem on the main square) – it was very good. I can’t remember the price exactly but we had a half ciabatta each (I’d hate to see the size of a whole one!). The food was excellent and the bill was not large, especially when you consider we were on the main square. That goes for Coffee Heaven and Coffee Club – and everywhere really. Krakow is not expensive in compared to London, Paris, Venice or pretty much anywhere else we have been in Europe.
We had pre-booked a visit to the Salt Mines with Krakow Tours – back underground again! That cost 160 zloty each and included the entrance fee of 68 zloty, the guided tour and a taxi each way. We were due to be picked up from our hotel at 4pm and were waiting outside by 3.50pm but the taxi driver took another couple booked with another company and left us there! It was a genuine misunderstanding on his part and fortunately the reception staff at The Wentzl sorted it all out so we did make the 5pm tour of the mine but it all ended up being a bit rushed. The tour of the Salt Mines was enjoyable and lasts about 2 hours. There are a LOT of stairs to descend and approx 2 km walking inside the mines so it may not suit everyone. Also, the lift that brings you back out terrified the life out of me!! Another excuse for some more hot wine to calm the nerves! I am missing that already ….. We went in search of Polish food that evening and, by no reason other than chance, went to Pod Sloncem – very reasonable prices again and tasty food. I loved the mushroom soup in the bread bowl and my husband loved the meat stuffed dumplings. We had a carafe of wine and the total bill was under 90 zloty.
I will hold up my hands and say that we did not visit Auschwitz. That was a deliberate choice and was nothing to do with lack of time or lack of grasp of the inhumanity but I knew that I would find it very difficult to deal with and, after a traumatic time earlier this year, I did not feel that I could handle it at all.
On Saturday we visited Wawel Castle, had a wander by the river and also went to Oskar Schindler’s Factory. It would be wrong to say that we “enjoyed” the Schindler Factory visit but the exhibition is very well presented – do watch the film which is in Polish with English sub-titles near the beginning of the exhibition as it gives a good overview and puts it into context for some of the people involved. That evening we ate at Milano’s – the most “top end” restaurant we visited and the food was, again, excellent and at a price well below the equivalent in the UK.
Sadly Sunday was the last day but our flight was not until the evening so we walked around Kazmierz. We loved Alchemia – very Bohemian! We managed to do some shopping (chocolate and vodka!) and somehow squeezed in watching a match at the English Football Club which is exactly as you would imagine it to be. All rounded off by yet more hot wine sitting in the sun in Rynek Glowny before heading off to the airport.
We loved Krakow and would recommend it to anybody. It’s beautiful city with lots to see and do and I know that in a few days we only scratched the surface.