Rynek Glowny – Main Square
This is the heart of Krakow, a beautiful square with a lot of history. In the centre is Sukiennice (Cloth Hall), which is considered to be the world’s oldest shopping mall, it has food and flower stands, little shops and terrace cafes. Surrounding the Cloth Hall are many monuments such as, the statue of Adam Mickiewicz (national poet in Poland) and ‘The Head’ or Eros Bendato. There is also a lot of impressive churches and architecture in this area.
Alcatraz Krakow – Restaurant
Along one of the side streets from the main square (Grodzka) is this Alcatraz themed restaurant, where you can enjoy a warm drink while sitting in a prison cell based on the real inmates of Alcatraz prison. The American style food is well priced and very tasty, plus the décor makes for great photos and the restaurant’s vibe is very fun!
Wawel Royal Castle
Wawel Castle can be seen from most parts of Krakow, it consists of a number of structures from different periods, situated around the Italian-styled main courtyard. You can enter from most sides of the castle and its accessible for wheelchairs. Entrance is free and you can get some lovely views of the city. Visiting the castle was one of my highlights from the trip, as it’s so stunning.
If you entered Wawel castle from the main square side, I would recommend exiting on the opposite end, as this is a great opportunity to walk along River Wisla and take in the gorgeous scenery. You can see the relatively new twelve storey Ferris Wheel from there too.
NOTE: We visited all of these sites by foot, which was a lot of walking, however you can take trams which are super cheap and run all the time.
Kosciuszkos Mound – Viewpoint
Just outside of the main city is an artificial mound, modelled after Krakow’s prehistoric mounds of Krak and Wanda. It’s a great viewpoint for seeing the whole of Krakow and it only costs around £3 per adult, which includes entrance to the museum and of course walking to the top of the mound. The museum is very small and obviously low budget as the lights kept flickering on and off, and the statues of people were very bizarre, however going into the trench was interesting and as its included in the price, you may as well give it a visit.
This was surprisingly my favourite part of the trip as we had a lot of fun following the different spiralling paths to reach the top and taking photos once we got up. Luckily, we were the only ones on the mound, so I believe this isn’t a tourist hotspot, but I would really recommend visiting, especially if you’re going to do a whole day of city sightseeing the day before, it was nice to find some country side.
Ghettos Heroes Square – Memorial
33 memorial chairs of iron and bronze to symbolise the tragedy of the Polish Jews. You can find it at Plac Bohaterow Getta, 30-547 and its free to visit.
Piwnica Pod Baranami – Bar
This bar is located in the main square, just behind Starbucks. I recommend it as it’s underground, so you can dine while sitting in a cave. They also have chess on the tables to amuse you for a while. The atmosphere here is very chilled and their hot chocolates are amazing!
Kuchnia Domowa – Traditional Polish Restaurant
This traditional Polish restaurant was so delicious that we went twice! I ate tomato soup with pasta inside and cheese and potato dumplings (Russian dumplings.) The restaurant staff spoke great English and were super friendly. Plus, as we found with everywhere in Poland, it was very cheap. If you want to try Polish food, this place is a must! You can find it at Karmelicka 3, 33-332. However, it’s hidden away a little, perhaps why the restaurant wasn’t busy on both nights we went.
Auschwitz and Birkenau
On our last day, we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau’s concentration camps. These are, now of course, very famous history sites. We booked an eight-hour day with the Tourist Information Centre in the main city, which cost £30 each. They picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel and the journey was around two hours each way.
We spent the majority of our time in Auschwitz with a tour guide and a head set which was interesting, but unfortunately, as it’s such a tourist hotspot, you couldn’t move around in the buildings freely and we spent a lot of time in lines, waiting to move onto the next section. However, our tour guide was very good information wise.
We then spent an hour in Birkenau, seeing the ruins and train tracks that transported the prisoners to the camps. As this was all outside, there was not a mass of tourists and we had the same tour guide here too.
Overall, my opinion of the tour is quite limited, as it’s not something you can enjoy or dislike. My only fault was that it felt very rushed and the bus driver and bus guide were quite rude, but our tour guide for Auschwitz and Birkenau was lovely and she answered all of our questions very well.