One of Central Europe’s Underrated Destinations is Krakow - Ahulan

One of Central Europe’s Underrated Destinations is Krakow


Poland had never been on my travel bucket list, but last summer, after two months in Southern Turkey and Greece, my husband and I kept talking about Krakow as a nice city break.

After some preliminary investigation, I was intrigued by all the cool things to do and the dark history to study, so we booked our tickets and went!

After visiting Krakow for a week in July, I can state that it is one of Europe’s lesser-known attractions, unlike Budapest or Vienna. I suggest adding Krakow to your Europe bucket list for its intriguing history, wonderful food, and magnificent architecture! We loved our stay and the neighbors’ friendliness. Even in July, the city was clean, safe, and not congested. Even though the Main Market Square in the Old Town was the most congested, it didn’t seem as touristy as in Florence or Sevilla. Since we went with our 11-month-old, Krakow was perfect for family vacation.


With Ubers and most sights within walking distance, Krakow was simple to navigate.

I’ll list 16 amazing Krakow activities, Polish dishes to eat, and where to stay!


The old city of Krakow, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1978, survived WWII whereas Warsaw was devastated. Knowing you’re following a historic path is sobering.

The ancient town is surrounded by Planty Park. Find relief from a hot summer day (uncommon in Krakow, since temperatures are quite mild) or rest your feet after strolling. Walkers can reach Wawel Castle from the south entrance of the main plaza in minutes. Beautiful grounds and well-kept landscaping. Many Polish emperors’ tombs were at Wawel, where history was formed.

Walking near the Vistula River is soothing in any weather.

You may cross the Vistula River via Father Bernatek Footbridge to leave the historic core and explore Krakow on foot. This charming bridge with acrobatic figures leads to Eglise Saint Joseph Church, which resembles a storybook castle.

The cool, local area Podgorze awaits you after crossing the bridge.

For the greatest Krakow panorama, visit Krakus Mound near Podgorze.

Why are there so many Krakow mounds? Mounds were built to memorialize renowned persons or historic events. They are now picnic areas for friends. Krakow has five mounds.

Krakus Mound is 45 minutes by foot from the Main Square in downtown Krakow, or you may take an Uber.

After all the walking around Krakow, why not have a Thai massage? Thai massage is one of our favorite things to do after a long walk, and many establishments provide it.

Jewish History and WWII in Krakow

After seeing Krakow’s stunning architecture and natural attractions, you may be curious about its WWII past. Pre-war Krakow had 65,000 Jews; six years later, just 2,000 survived. This is one of the darkest and most horrible episodes in global history.

Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory is a well-curated museum that illuminates this horrible period. Each room resembles a distinct locale from that period (a hair salon, a work camp, a rail station, etc.), and all the senses transport you there. Museum admission is free on Mondays.

Parents should carry their babies instead of using prams since they’re tight and have tiny places. Due of its serious subjects, this museum is not suitable for children under 15.

Schindler saved around 1,000 Jews from the Nazi extermination camps by employing them in his workshop. The firm initially made enamels but switched to bullet casings to stay in business during the war. There are 45 rooms, and witnessing each room as a chronology through history will leave a lasting impression.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is next door to Schindler’s Factory, so you may see both in one day. Mondays are free at Schindler’s Factory but closed at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

A small playground and swing for children, an inside dining hall selling foreign cuisine, and pleasant outdoor seats are next to the museum. Our favorite stand had Georgian, Armenian, and Ukrainian dumplings, Kresova.

When my husband and I visit a new city, we start with a free walking tour. I endorse Walkative. Free walking tours operate by signing up online or showing up at the appointed time and meeting place, and you tip the tour guide depending on how you liked them. We loved two free walking trips with this firm. The guide gave them a customized city guide book he and his colleagues developed with hidden treasures for eating, shopping, supporting local companies, sightseeing, and other local ideas.

The greatest way to grasp the Jewish Ghetto’s history and importance was to explore it. The primary attraction in this neighborhood is Ghetto Heroes Square, a living memorial of 70 big chairs honoring those died during liquidation and expulsion. This is a sad and moving sight.

Some of Krakow’s greatest Polish food is currently in the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz). Try zapiekanka, a toasted baguette street dish with unlimited toppings, in Plac Nowy, a circular structure in Poland! Cheese, chives, and mushrooms were my pick.

Stary Kleparz, Krakow’s 600-year-old market (closed Sundays), offers more local Polish cuisine. Here you may see Krakow residents completing their weekly food shopping.

Go below in Wieliczka Salt Mines for a unique experience, especially on a wet day.

This unusual attraction, 64 meters (200′) below ground, involves traveling down 53 stories of steps (there’s a lift to go back up) and via tunnels and narrow places, making it unsuitable for claustrophobics.

For parents with young children, leave your pram at the top of the check-in and put your infant in a carrier, hold them, or walk them. Our infant liked the chilly, smooth salty surfaces.

Due to great demand, I suggest reserving tickets online in advance to choose a time window.

Because salt was essential to preserve food before electricity and refrigeration, the salt mine made Krakow rich. Excavation lasted 1280–1996. The miners had ideal conditions since the indoor temperatures are constantly moderate and they didn’t have to be outdoors during cold Polish winters.

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