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Poland, named European Capital of Culture in 2000, resonates as what you’d expect for a typical city break, but it is so much more than that. Many travellers gravitate towards Krakow - the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Krakow offers culture, compassion and a collection of historical attributes that are waiting to be explored. This eastern European city situated by the Baltic Sea is known for its medieval architecture and Jewish heritage, and is only a short journey away from one of the most historically known places – Auschwitz. Krakow is a city that exudes Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, as well as boasting the largest medieval market square in Europe. Take a look at what Krakow has to offer.
Places to visit:
The main square, known to locals as the Rynek Glowny, is at the heart of Old Town Krakow. The yellow and peach pastel coloured buildings are beautifully bright when the sun is shining, and nestled amongst is the Gothic Town Hall Tower. You also have the option to stroll through the town, or if you fancy a breather then why not take a relaxing yet informative horse and cart ride through the city for under 20 euros? The guide enlightens you on all of the important buildings, and it takes you right up to Wawel Royal Castle.
Wawel Castle is situated at the top of Wawel hill, which is perfect because it is visible from almost anywhere in the city. The walk is pretty easy to get to the top and it’s worth it to take in the culture of the Castle.
One of the most valuable and official national historic monuments is the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine lies within the Krakow metropolitan area, surrounded by greenery and is visited by more than one million tourists each year. It features many centuries of tradition and is the carefully curated work of tens of generations of miners. The attractions include multiple statues, four chapels carved out of the rock salt by the miners, as well as supplemental carvings made by contemporary artists. Deep in the mine, St. Kinga’s Chapel is a hidden gem. The enormous space highlights the grandeur of the mine, lit up by the lavish chandeliers draped throughout the chapel; it becomes hard to believe this space is known as a mine.
If you fancy taking part in an activity that will take up most of your day, another must-see lies just a short drive away from Krakow in Warsaw. Auschwitz is a harrowing place, but somewhere that you’ll be grateful you were able to visit. It was the largest of the German Nazi concentration camps and has become a primary symbol of the Holocaust. It is recommended that you dedicate some time to visit both Auschwitz and Birkenau to get a full insight into the history of it. Inside, you will discover in-depth information about the camps and the victims that were imprisoned there, including displays of suitcases and other objects obtained from the victims before they were incarcerated.
Stephen Spielberg’s famous movie Schindler’s List was filmed in Kazimierz, one of the Jewish quarters, and most of the quarter’s houses are still to this day decorated with Stars of David. Kazimierz is one of Krakow’s most exciting districts, described as a bustling and bohemian area that is jam packed with history, culture, quaint cafes and art galleries.
Food and Drink:
Krakow is a great place to enjoy the finest local craft beers from just £1.50! And although spirits are a little bit more costly, they definitely won’t break the bank. The typical cost of a three course meal is around £10 – so you can fill your boots with a lavish meal and have a handful of pints all for under £20, what a bargain! There are also a range of upmarket and casual restaurants to choose from. If you’re looking to taste the traditional cuisines of Poland, then look no further than restaurants Starka and Stylowa. Starka offers high class Polish cuisine for those who want to experience popular polish dishes such as sour rye soup and a collection of famous homemade flavoured vodkas. They also serve delicious desserts. Stylowa is located east of the Old Town and is known as one of the most authentic restaurants in Krakow. They serve popular delights such as veal escalopes in a mushroom sauce with buckwheat.