KRAKOW

August 2018

Introduction

Krakow (also written as Crakow) is a city that has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland's second most important city.  It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already being reported as a busy trading centre of Slavonic Europe in 965. It became the capital of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1038 to 1569. With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic in 1918 and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic centre.

The city infamously has associated its mid-20th century history with German concentration camps and nearby Auschwitz, which sadly enough is one of its most visited “attractions”.  Krakow, in 1978, was designated as an UNESCO world heritage site which helped for the city to emerge as an important tourist destination of the 21st century. The same year, the city became worldwide known, when Karol Wojtyła, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II — the first Slavic pope ever, and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

Auschwitz.

Auschwitz.

For years I was scorning Krakow as a tourist destination.  I have always avoided mass tourist destinations, and Krakow in my mind was always associated with noisy tourists who after visiting Auschwitz gorge on pig knuckles in “traditional restaurants”.  And yes… for the majority of the people this is Krakow: a cheap, fairy-tale-like destination, where salt mines can be attractive!

This August, I had decided to stay home and not travel outside Greece. Moreover, I needed all my days-off-work for my autumn holidays.  But, obviously, Ι do not have control over my actions, and that hot Athenian night, while wasting my time in bed by browsing the social media, an airline advertisement appeared (don’t they appear all the time?): “Europe from only 19.95€, one-way”…. that triggered the wanderlust gene in me and I started searching … and there it is: Krakow.  O well, this may not be my dream destination but the weather forecast for Krakow is attractive (cool for the next couple of weeks)...I could escape from the hot mediterranean weather for some days.

A Note about the layout of this page: neutral background means proper touristic (the regular tour) information,

orange background means cultural or historical information for those who want to know more, and

brown background means FOOD. 

Getting around & tips

❤ Krakow’s main gateway is its airport, officially named “John Paul II International Airport Kraków”, but widely known as Balice (named after the nearby town with the same name). It is located only 11 km west of the city. Direct trains cover the route between Kraków Główny train station (Krakow’s Main Train Station) and the airport in 20 minutes.  One-way tickets cost PLN 9,00 (that is just over 2).

The Old Dworzec Glowny (Main Train Station), which is now used as an exhibition center, as since 2014, a new terminal and underground facilities have built just to the north of it.

The Old Dworzec Glowny (Main Train Station), which is now used as an exhibition center, as since 2014, a new terminal and underground facilities have built just to the north of it.

Krakow and the airport on the map.(Courtesy of Google maps).

Krakow and the airport on the map.(Courtesy of Google maps).

At the airport, the train station is located near the passenger terminal, at the rear of the multi-storey car park.  The Kraków Główny train station is located in the center of the city, and from there one can walk to most places in the city center or take a tram/bus for a couple of stops.

Taxi costs about PLN 80 from the airport to the city center.

 Poland’s currency is called zloty (written as PLN) and at the time of my visit the official exchange rate was PLN 1 = € 4.3.

Comments

03.11.2019 04:15

Rob

What a great adventure.

15.10.2018 08:50

Jane

The first time I read such an interesting review on Krakow.