Krakow is the most popular tourist city in Poland so when you arrive here after a three hour flight from Shannon, don’t be surprised to find a thronged metropolis. It’s the second largest city in the country comprising 18 districts so there’s plenty of room for everyone.
Most places in Krakow will accept euros but some, especially if you plan on travelling outside of the city, still hold a candle for the official currency, Zloty. It’s best to have some handy just in case or ideally pick some up at Shannon before departure to avoid ATM charges and high commission fees while you’re away.
The city’s airport, named after Pope John Paul II, is just a short 12km from the city centre. A return ticket to the centre by express bus takes about 30 minutes. You’ll find your transport waiting outside Terminal 1 – schedules are usually driven by flight arrivals so there should be little or no delay.
Trains are also available and boast a shorter journey time than the bus – you’ll save approximately 11 minutes. However, expect that time to be taken up if you take the free shuttle bus from the terminal to the train station – the distance is just 200 metres so it is only a short stroll and possibly the better option time wise. Taking a taxi can prove expensive by comparison depending on where you’re staying.
On arrival in the city, visitors will find accommodation of all shapes and sizes suitable to all budgets. It’s just a question of deciding which suits you best. Once that’s out of the way, one of the most historical and wondrous cities in Europe is waiting to be discovered.
Discover the City
There’s a thriving café, bar and restaurant scene here, serving up international and local dishes that will delight. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to surroundings too – from gritty to chic, and everything in between, you’ll find a host of options when it’s time to eat. Bohemian bars and beer halls also sit comfortably with elegant cocktail and wine establishments.
Before all that though, the breathtaking array of architecture styles here has to be admired. Renaissance, gothic and baroque buildings stand tall and proud throughout the town – it’s even more remarkable to think that they survived the Second World War. The backdrop is impressive too – a riverside hill named Wawel looks over the city. The Kings of Poland were crowned and buried here once upon a time and a visit to the castle and cathedral is highly recommended.
If it’s striking tales of human endeavour you’re after, then look no further than the Wieliczka salt mine. A UNESCO World Heritage site, there are so many things to admire here. Top of the pile is St. Kinga’s Chapel – an underground church that contains opulent sculptures and reliefs, almost all of which are carved from natural rock salt. The mine is a 20-minute trip from Krakow and the three-hour guided tour will explain the miraculous feats in more detail.
Of course, no visit to Krakow is complete without a trip to Auschwitz. Located about 50km from the city, expect a profoundly moving experience while on the tour, which takes in the museum and memorial to those the suffered and died here.