When you take the free walking tour and the souvenir map includes in it’s key Polish phrases to know, “I don’t like Warsaw,” you can tell there is somewhat of a rivalry between the two cities. There needn’t be because the two cities are so vastly different. Warsaw is the financial center while Krakow, with much of its history surviving the war, is the more artful, more lively, and yes more touristy. But in a good way. As you visit key parts of the town and, of course, venture out to Auschwitz, history stares you in the face wherever you go.
Of course, the apartment I rented is hardly historical. In fact, it is pretty much brand new and beautiful, located not right near the Oskar Schindler factory.
The Old Market Square is a central gathering spot with bars, restaurants, cafes, museums, flower markets and more.
With an unexpected sight of police in riot gear as the Krakow rival football teams were preparing for a match.
Just a little walk from the square is Wawel, the Royal Castle:
And a local celebrity you will find everywhere, Pope John Paul II, Karol Józef Wojtyła, with many statues and some of the places he lived:
If you need directions to, say, Richmond, NY (some of Krakow’s sister cities):
The food can be described in one word – hearty.
Crossing the pedestrian bridge to get to the apartment:
A visit to the Salt Mine is really a must-do. It’s pretty fascinating taking a tour of what is still a working (albeit not much output) salt mine. If you’re claustrophobic, think twice. And you have to go down a lot of stairs. A lot. Fortunately there is an elevator going up, which is an experience in itself (hint: you get to know the people around you very intimately).
The Old Jewish Quarter was where the Jew lived before being moved to the ghetto. During Communist times, this area fell into disrepair. Now it is the center of Krakow night life with bars, restaurants and clubs.
And what was once the Jewish Ghetto is being built up with much more modern buildings. But some of the sites remain.
And what would be a visit to Krakow without a trip to the Oskar Schindler factory, which is now a museum focusing on the history of Krakow around the time of WWII.
Krakow is not one of the must-see destinations for a lot of people. But to not consider it is really missing out.