Beaches are at a premium in landlocked Kraków, and the options for a dip are mostly in the local swimming baths. However, if you’re after the more traditional sun, sand and sea combo, there’s a beach at Zalew Bagry which sits on the edge of a beautiful lake.
At Plaza Kraków, you’ll come across one of the largest city beaches in Europe. Perched on the riverside, it’s home to 10,000 square metres of imported sand, and there’s a pool on a barge which floats just steps away. You’ll find plenty of sun loungers to relax on, and an al fresco bar and restaurant, too.
Just beyond the city limits, there’s a reservoir known as Zakrzowek Lake. Boasting natural beauty, you’ll find limestone cliffs overlooking a deep blue lagoon. It’s a top spot for sunbathing, barbecues and scenic hikes, and if you’ve got a head for heights you can practise your cliff diving skills.
Plac Targowy is the city’s best open air market, with row upon row of stalls, selling everything from fresh fruit to vintage vinyl records. It’s open every day, with most sellers not packing up until sunset. It’s a mecca for bargain-hunters, and there’s some top-notch street food to be had too.
Helpfully sat next to Krakow's main train station, Galeria Krakowska is the place for shopping. It’s got over 270 shops and restaurants set over three floors, with the likes of H&M, Bershka and Zara all making an appearance. Meanwhile, the Kraków Cloth Hall – one of the world’s oldest shopping malls – sells plenty of traditionally Polish goods, as well as glittering Baltic amber jewellery.
If splashing out is on your agenda, the Rynek 13 Shopping Arcade’s the place. Found in two converted town houses, it’s a designer hive of elegant boutiques. Here, you’ll find names like L’Occitane and Diesel lighting up the bare stone interior.
If you’re on the lookout for a low-key affair, head to one of the many wine bars dotted around the city centre. Normally low-lit with candles, and tucked away from the hustle and bustle, many have a tapas menu to browse and mellow background music.
For a night of pulse-pumping music, Kraków Old Town is the place to be. Whether you're into jazz or techno, lots of the bars and nightclubs are located underground. They're usually found in cavernous cellars with vaulted ceilings and lots are located on Szewska Street – Kraków's clubbing corridor.
Krakow's street food scene has been a big hit since the 1970s. Topping the list of small-sized bites is zapiekanka – an open, toasted baguette covered in pizza-style toppings, with a big dollop of tomato ketchup.
One of Poland's staples, piergoli can be found on menus across the city. It's a pan-fried dumping style snack filled with cheese and meat. And, if savoury isn't your bag you can even get a wild forest-fruit filled dumpling.
One of Krakow's favourite winter-warmers is Zurek – a sour soup containing a mix of sausage, bacon or ham, alongside potatoes and mushrooms. It's usually served up in bowl made of bread, and garnished with a boiled egg.
Head to the Kasimierz for some authentic Jewish fare. Test out some mouth-watering mezze, the majority of which are meat-free, and a wine list that consists solely of wines from Israel, Armenia and Poland.
Poland's known for its vodka varieties, and the story is much the same in Krakow. If you don't like it neat, try it in a cocktail - a Krupnik is a sweet drink made with vodka, honey and herbs.
Kraków is a fairly compact city, meaning you can get almost anywhere on foot. The terrain is fairly flat and there’s a nice riverside promenade you can enjoy on sunny days. All the hotels are conveniently located too, under 20 minutes’ walk from the market square and Jewish District. There’s also a fair few parks and green spaces, ideal for an afternoon stroll.
The Vistula River is Kraków’s sole waterway, offering an alternative way of seeing the city. There are two types of boat operating on the river, the first by double-decker Pleasure Boat. Departing from the Wisla Bank near Wawel Castle, these boats make it easy to navigate the city towards St. Norbert’s Convent and Bielany Monastery. The rides last an hour and run every day between 9.30am and 5.30pm, or up to 4pm on weekends. The other is by river bus. Like land buses, this boat stops at multiple places along the river on its 10km route, meaning you can hop on and off whenever and wherever you like.
Kraków Glowny is the city’s main station, and is located within walking distance from the market square next to the Galerie Krakowska. From here you can hop on trains to major cities around the country – like Warsaw in 2 hours and 30 minutes or Wroclaw in 3 hours and 40 minutes.
You’ll find the bus station right next to the train station. From here you can travel to numerous places around the country – including Zakopane in just 2 hours and 20 minutes, or Oswiecim (the town close to Auschwitz) in just over an hour – for a very decent price. The buses depart quite regularly, too.
The most convenient and cost-friendly way of getting around the city is by tram. A full service runs regularly between 5am and 11pm, with some night trams in operation after dark. Trams are included with the Krakow Card, but you can buy tickets from the machines at major stops (which also operate in English) and on board most trams. All tickets are timed, meaning you can hop on more than one tram within your allotted time, and come at very good prices.
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