Arguably the most interesting place in Poland, Krakow, a European Capital of Culture, has food festivals, fantastic pubs and is full of famous landmarks.
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Despite having spent the last two years in lovely Edinburgh, I always look forward to returning to my beautiful home town. Krakow (pronounced ‘crack-oo-f’ and sometimes spelled ‘Cracow’) has fantastic pubs and nightlife, amazing landmarks and historic sites, modern shopping centres, lots of interesting cultural events and vibrant student life all year round, making it a great city for an action-packed weekend, a relaxed holiday or an even longer visit.
If you’re looking for a really luxurious stay in the city centre then aim for Hotel Copernicus between the Castle and the Main Square. There is also the recently-opened Hotel Stary (ironically ‘Stary’ actually means ‘old’ in Polish!) or the nicely-located Hotel Kossak with an amazing view of the Vistula River and the Wawel Castle. Or just find one of the many apartments scattered around the city centre, which offer a cheap alternative.
Even though there are plenty of restaurants serving international food, from Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Turkish to even Georgian (there as many as five Chaczapuri restaurants near the Main Square), I definitely recommend trying some traditional Polish dishes.
The natural first choice would be the exclusive Wierzynek Restaurant, which opened in 1364 and has served generations of kings and noblemen. Then you can try Chlopskie Jadlo with their fantastic soups and unforgettable bread, or some delicious grilled dishes at Pod Aniolami.
Time your visit right and you might even get to visit one of the food festivals. At the International Soup Festival, amateurs, professional chefs and celebrities compete to prepare the best soup, or sample one of Poland’s favourite dishes favourite – pierogi – at the Dumpling Festival. After your main course, try some great desserts at Dynia or the delicious chocolate or ice creams at Wentzl.
There are many great pubs spread all around Krakow offer good value beer – one of the reasons why the city has become popular with British stag parties. I recommend the CK Browar, where the beer is brewed in front of the customers and served in big tubes. There’s also the Bodega Marqués Winebar which has a wide choice of wines.
As well as the many city centre pubs and bars, the old Jewish district, Kazimierz, it’s a buzzing part of town, known for the nightlife. Fans of indie-rock music will enjoy the B-Side Club, for those who like higher culture there’s Lokator, and for the techno crowd there’s Baraka Pub.
If you want a more relaxed evening, visit one of the many cafés gardens that serve delicious tea and other refreshments.
The Florian Gate, the Gothic St. Mary’s Basilica with its beautiful Altar, its two towers and the hourly trumpet hymn, Hejnal Mariacki, and the Clothes Hall in the centre of the Main Square, with its many merchant stalls.
If you’re up for some exercise and nice views, grab a cycle from a rent-a-bike and ride to Zakrzowek Beach and Twardowski Rocks or to the Tyniec Benedictine abbey by Vistula River. Just avoid the main roads and you’ll love it.
The public transport. Even though it is constantly getting better, avoid getting on a public bus on a weekday morning or during rush hour, as it gets really crowded. Also, don’t come between two rival football fans, it might get dangerous!
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