Krakow is somewhere that I’ve always wanted to visit; I’m a quarter Polish so I’ve been interested to see where some of my ancestry is from. In January I finally visited with three university friends for a ‘beat the January blues’ getaway.
We flew out from London Stansted and rented a 2 bed apartment which was located just off the main square. The total cost for flights and the apartment for a Thursday-Sunday trip came in at under £150 so it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for a bargain trip, Krakow is the place to go! It’s also worth saying at this point that our accommodation was fantastic – a loft style apartment with a spacious open plan kitchen/living area and two beautifully decorated bedrooms so I’d highly recommend Antique apartments if you’re looking for high quality living on a budget.
After settling into our apartment, we wanted to sample some of Krakow’s famous nightlife… It might have just been the fact that it was a quiet and cold January Thursday evening but it really wasn’t as busy out in the bars and clubs as I thought it would be, given that Krakow is such a well-known destination for stag weekends and general partying. It wasn’t a huge deal for us but based on our experience, if you’re planning on heading there for a purely party weekend then maybe give January a miss!
Regardless, we sampled a couple of the bars (we are such troopers) and came across a cool place called Noise. Ironically, we were the only people in there but still..! Like most of the bars in Krakow, it was an underground cave type venue which I loved so I would definitely be tempted to go back during more of a peak season in order to really see the bars come to life, and see how the city changes when it’s a bit more lively.
The somewhat disappointing nightlife didn’t stop the boys from appreciating the local beers. I can’t really stress enough just how cheap Krakow is – I only look £150 worth of Zlotys and I still had to buy a perfume from the airport on the way home because I hadn’t managed to spend it all (despite my best efforts) and it isn’t really worth changing back into pounds. You can eat and drink like a king for well under £20; I’m talking a 3 course meal at a restaurant on the square and cocktails/wine/beers after too. Not great for the waistline but hey, you’re on your holidays and can worry about that when you get back! Polish food is delicious, lots of hearty stews and perfect after a wintery walk around the city.
In terms of things to do in the daytime, the general scenery is really lovely so I’d recommend taking half a day out of your itinerary to wander around, get your bearings and take in all the sights.
Going to see Wawel Castle and its surroundings is something I’d really recommend. It is such a different and interesting castle in terms of the architecture, it is like a patchwork of various materials and styles – I think it has to be seen to be fully appreciated but I tried to capture the essence anyway!
As with all European cities, there is never a shortage of museums and walking tours available and often you can find discounted or even free tickets for these online. So if you fancy soaking up a bit of culture, there is a particularly interesting museum located underground beneath the market square. As it is predominantly about the early history of Krakow, it’s a good way to get a more well-rounded view of the city and is a great way to spend a few hours.
Any Harry Potter fans out there will be pleased to know that there is a Harry Potter themed cafe/bar tucked away in a rather bizarre warehouse setting just off a main street by the market square. Despite our initial doubts, this was such a cool little place! The butterbeer was so delicious and the interior was really cosy – if you ever see a promotional team dressed as wizards, telling you to visit their cafe: DO IT! I’m not even a Harry Potter fan (sorry) but it was a real experience and I’m so glad we went there.
As we went there in mid-January, the city was still decked up with lights so I’d imagine it’s pretty magical in the pre-Christmas build up and I would love to revisit Krakow when the Christmas markets are set up!
All in all, I’d probably have to visit again in summer before reviewing Krakow in terms of nightlife however on the whole I would highly recommend it based on everything else – lots of things to do, fantastic food, beautiful buildings but above all it is the most budget friendly major European city I’ve ever visited.