There are few things better than a spontaneous city break for those who like travelling alone. Popular and accessible, larger cities are easy to get to and have loads of great accommodation on offer – and they also offer many chances to meet new people and try new things.
In this post, we’ll sum up some of the best things to see and do in and around Krakow, focusing on the hidden gems you might otherwise miss. Read on, then, for everything from calming hikes to hip and happening areas!
Eat Like a Local
Although they’re far from gourmet, restaurants branded 4zl or 8zl are great places to meet students, travellers, locals and more. They serve cheap snacks and cheaper drinks, and are perfect to visit on your first day in the city. This could be one of the best budget tips you’ll have.
Papal Cream Cake
Yes, you read that right: ‘papal’. While many areas of the country make great Polish cream cake, Krakow’s bakeries add the title ‘papal’ with pride. Former pope John Paul II was apparently such a fan of the city’s distinctive take on the national classic that he would import it all the way to his residence in Rome.
Try them for yourself anywhere in the city and see what had the Holy Father so excited!
The name might sound a little odd – who would want to go to a bar just to drink milk? For some, it might even conjure up images of A Clockwork Orange, where the main characters spike their drinks with a range of substances to get a buzz on before a night of crime! Don’t worry, though: these bars are neither boring dairy industry outlets nor wretched hives of scum and villainy. Instead, they’re simply cafes offering filling food at affordable prices – perfect for a hearty meal before a long night or breakfast the morning after.
For Hiking and Outdoors Types
You might not know this about Krakow, but you don’t have to go far from the city centre to see some pretty impressive greenery. This first site, for instance, is popular with local students as it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the university. But it’s also calm, secluded and even impressively rugged, with some cool unique rock formations.
A little further out, Zakrzówek is still just a short tram ride away, and you’re well rewarded for venturing out of the city, with this former quarry having transformed into an oasis of natural beauty over the decades. If you come in summer it’s also a great place for a swim.
Do be careful, though, as ownership of the area is still disputed. Although many fences have holes for you to slip though easily, local advice is to make your own routes around.
One of Krakow’s many ceremonial mounds, Pilsudski’s is both higher and less crowded than the more popular Krakus Mound. The rewards for the mid-length hike are some great views and a real sense of peace.
Explore the City
The Rainbow Stairs
There are many well-known attractions in Krakow, and if it’s your first visit you should definitely take in the guidebook highlights. This article is about hidden gems, though, so we’re not going to sum those up here. Instead, go off the beaten track for things like this new, easy to miss attraction, for example – which is 55 stairs painted in all the colours of the rainbow.
Perfect for Instagram-worthy photo opportunities.
The Botanical Garden
Yet another bit of greenery for residents and visitors to enjoy, the botanical garden is well worth a visit even if you’ve already gotten out of the city and into nature. Part of the Jagiellonian University, it includes a huge variety of exotic plants from all around the world, making it truly unique in the area.
Finally, we end with a city spot for good vibes and good company. A former tobacco factory converted into a sprawling complex of pubs, bars and cafes, Tytano is worth a visit at any time, any day of the week.
A magnet for many of the city’s cooler and quirkier residents, it’s a great place to hang out and meet people. It’s well worth visiting even if you’re not bothered about making friends, though, just to immerse in the laidback atmosphere.
Where to Stay
Just 1.5 miles from the market square and less than two miles from Wawel castle, this well located hotel offers spacious, air-conditioned apartments with LCD TV and a shower, as well as a choice of Polish and international dishes available in the onsite restaurant.
A short drive from Wawel Castle and other well-known attractions, the Aparthotel offers stylish rooms complete with kitchenette and dining area. There’s also a restaurant offering Polish and Italian cuisine and even a shopping centre, all included in the complex.
How to Get There
Flights from the UK to Krakow airport are always affordable, although as always you can save by staying away from busy periods like school Christmas holidays. With an average of 40 flights a week and prices as low as £20, you’re almost spoilt for choice.
Once you land, the best way to get from the airport to Krakow is with a prebooked Shuttle Direct transfer – you won’t need to mess around with public transport, and you can be there well inside a half-hour.
- UK to KRK Flight Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- KRK to Krakow Distance: 28 kilometres
- Shuttle Direct Transfer Time: 20 minutes
About Shuttle Direct
Here at Shuttle Direct, we’re proud to be Europe and North Africa’s most popular airport transfer operator. Whether it’s a short jaunt from a city airport or a longer journey, our friendly, experienced drivers are happy to accommodate you – and get you there on time and in comfort.