To be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about Krakow before I went aside from the fact that it was a gateway to Auschwitz (which I didn’t necessarily want to see but felt like I should see). Even after hearing only positive things from fellow backpackers, who raved about how much they loved the city and Poland as a whole, I still arrived in Krakow with pretty low expectations, thinking I’d just swing by, visit Auschwitz, and leave. Boy was I mistaken. Krakow turned out to be an awesome city, and three days were just not enough! A few things that made me fall for Krakow:
1. The greenery. Scattered amongst Krakow’s many cool buildings are a great deal of parks and gardens, making it a beautifully green city to wander through. In just minutes you can go from hurrying about the bustling city center to relaxing in a forested park or on a grassy riverside meadow.
2. The history. Even if you’re not a history buff, visiting Krakow’s sites and museums will bring about a sort of sympathy for the place. There’s no way to see the millions of shoes of deceased Holocaust victims or the piles of metal cookware in Schindler’s Factory without feeling some sort of emotional connection for the city that underwent such atrocious historical events.
3. Awesome architecture. Krakow’s buildings are a combination of gothic, renaissance, and baroque architecture and are simply stunning to look at. Old Town is especially beautiful with many monuments dating back to the Roman and Gothic periods, and also features the largest Medieval town square in Europe (at 10-acres, main square is pretty impressive!)
4. The vibrant atmosphere. The bustling city center is a fabulous way to enjoy a sunny day, as it’s full of traditional food stands, little restaurants, street performers, horse carriages, bars, and markets. The only way to describe the feeling of the square is “alive,” and it’s impossible not to feel the town’s enchanting atmosphere.
5. It’s cheap. I think Krakow might actually be one of the cheapest places I’ve been so far. My hostel, Benedict Hostel (a pretty awesome place), was only 5 Euros per night, breakfast included. And I bought a liter of beer from the supermarket for only $1.39 USD! Shocked? I was too. Prices will never make or break a country for me (Norway is still one of my favorite places despite being extremely expensive), but cheap prices do make it easier for me to enjoy activities and food without worrying about going over budget.
6. Free museum day. The only thing better than “cheap” is “free”! I’m not even usually a museum person, but I am a backpacker, so free anything sounds pretty great to me. Plus with the fascinating history, Krakow’s museums are better than most, in my opinion. Many museums in Krakow offer free admission one day of the week. It’s Monday? You can get into Schindler’s Factory, Rynek Underground, the Old Synagogue, and more, all free of charge! Check out this site for more info.
Have you been to Krakow? What did you think?
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌