Kraków was an absolute delight. The architecture was incredible, the beer was flowing and the overall feel of the city was friendly and welcoming. Apart from being locked in our Airbnb with no water (even in the taps) and a steaming hang over because of a dodgy door lock, the weekend was everything we had hoped for.
1. Kraków Main Square
The variety and grandness of the architecture on the main square is incredible. There is always something to look at, towers, churches, decorated market halls and cafes and shops dotted in between. There is a main strip of restaurants that lines the square and as you’d expect it’s more expensive then the places just around the corners but sitting out, under the heaters with blankets and beers is a great way to watch the night come alive.
2. Wawel Royal Castle
The castle and surrounding buildings are another spectacular show of architecture and an interesting display of the history of the city. Everything from ornate gold domes to red brick government houses, it’s again just an amazing place to walk around. There is also an awesome view across the river as the castle is perched on top of a hill.
3. St Mary’s Basilica
Both being scared of heights, my friend and I some how thought it would be a good idea to scale one of the towers of St Mary’s Basilica. The staircase at first is the original spiralled stone enclosed type you’d expect but then opens up into an empty room. From there a new structure has been built taking you up the middle of the tower, know not enclosed at all. This was too much exposure for me, and my heart was thumping from then on up. If you aren’t scared shitless, the views from all sides are incredible across the city. I enjoyed it when I was back on the ground, beer in hand, looking up at the windows we had walked up to.
4. Rynek underground
Don’t bother with this one. We waited for a couple of hours in the queue because seeing the old marketplace that is now underground sounded pretty cool. When you get down to the exhibition it’s mostly built up into a couple of museum rooms with some rubble in them. It was pretty disappointing.
5. Jewish Quarter
We stayed in the Jewish quarter and in the time we weren’t trying to get out of or into our apartment, it was a great place to be. There are lots of independent bars, cafes and food stools with a nice buzz of people exploring the city. We happened to bump into a walking tour whilst on our way to the main square and decided to join it instead. It was being lead be a Polish guy in his mid twenties and he explained what the city was like before the holocaust. It was very powerful to hear about what had happened standing in the exact place it had happened. I’d recommend it to anyone.
6. Auschwitz and Auschwitz Birkenau
Everyone has heard of Auschwitz and as you can imagine it’s a haunting place to visit, but it was a very important part of our trip. To step foot in a place like that makes you really think about what happened and how it really wasn’t that long ago. Birkenau shows you the vast scale of the final solution, or in fact, how you can’t even grasp the scale or the amount of people who died. It’s important that people continue to learn about what happened and never think something similar couldn’t happen again.