a city [and country] with heavy history, delicious food, cold winters, warm people and a very soulful energy. we'd been excited for quite a while to visit kraków, but still weren't sure what to expect. for the most part they still aren't on the typical european tourist track and despite becoming recently known for their creative renaissance, it was still somewhat of an intriguing mystery. it helped that one of our best friends with deep polish roots visited here a couple of years ago, swearing by the city and his time spent here.
with 13th -14th century churches, an imposing castle and europe's largest market square - the old town of kraków is full of historic charm. in the jewish quarter [kazimierz], you are reminded of the tragic history here during WWII, but also inspired by the art scene, hip cafes, creative food and inviting culture that reigns today. while we visited in the dead of winter, it seems like the most charming of seasons might be autumn – beat the heat and avoid the frigid winter [that being said, their christmas market was very fun to see, you can read more about that here].
- eat pierogis & borscht soup and lots of it. our two favorite spots were przystanek (locals sent us here as "the best in town") and mr. vincent in kazimierz.
- sick of pierogis? try some of these spots, too: pod baranem authentic polish restaurant, great for dinner | boscaiola pizzeria in a beautiful old vaulted brick ceiling | skwer judah food truck park | zenit hip culinary & cocktail experience | kolanko no. 6 patio, food and ambiance all great here | focha42 italian inspired, food is really good and a popular spot with locals.
- drink vodka i'm not a vodka-straight person... but i really enjoyed bison grass. there are a bunch of cool bars where you can try the different vodkas and blend in with the locals. some we liked are: mleczarnia | miejsce | singer | wódka cafe bar
- sick of vodka? enjoy the cafe culture! BAL is the best. we went here multiple times, perfect for coffee, lunch or drinks. it's also around the corner from schindler's factory and MOCAK | cheder jewish cafe and event space. great vibes and tucked away in the jewish quarter | mostowa artcafe fun spot with local art displayed and a deep local beer/cider menu
- take a day to see auschwitz read more about our somber experience in our next post
- avoid restaurants & cafes right off the square kraków is really cheap, but these cafes will rip you off
- day trip to the salt mine baths 30 minutes from kraków by train is a 13th century salt mine that has been converted to a bath house, music venue and resort. the mines are very medicinal as the air underground is free of pollution and rich in micronutrients.
SLEEP: airbnb (€) designed by an architect host, this studio was chic, clean and perfect. it's in a cool local neighborhood and great for budget travelers. we stayed here and loved it | aparthotel stare miasto (€€€) full apartments with exposed brick decor – most rooms have jacuzzis, but on the higher end.