If you find yourself in Poland on your next European adventure, there’s one city you absolutely shouldn’t miss: Krakow. While it may no longer be Poland’s royal capital, the city is a treasure trove of culture and history, with many unique events making the city feel alive any time of year.
As you walk through the city, you will find that its streets are lined with an eclectic mix of distinct European architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and even art nouveau. This seamless combination of old-world pageantry and modern-day fun is what makes Krakow so incredibly special.
Whether you’re looking for the best eats in town or a place to stay, we’ve got you covered.
What to see
One of the largest castles in Poland, Wawel Castle contains multiple different structures around its Italian-styled main courtyard. The towering feature is a medley of nearly all European architectural styles during the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. Formerly the home of Polish Kings for centuries, it has now become one of the country’s most celebrated art museums. It houses 71 impressive exhibition halls, holding thousands of valuable paintings, tapestries and archaeological findings.
Historically, Jews were expelled from countries all around Europe, but many found their home in Krakow. Kazimierz was Poland’s Jewish quarter and mostly known for being the venue of coexistence between Polish and Jewish cultures. Today, there are very few Jews in the area, yet Jewish culture is firmly embedded in the restaurants and synagogues here. Visit Kazimierz today and you will find a hubbub of culture, with the youth dominating the area as a trendy and creative space. Discover an eclectic mix of art galleries and contemporary cocktail bars, complete with quirky independent stores.
Main Market Square
The Main Market Square is one attraction you cannot miss on your trip to Krakow. 40,000 square metres big, it is the biggest and oldest medieval plaza in Europe. It is enclosed by sophisticated townhouses and Medieval palaces, and is a popular meeting spot for tourists and locals alike. In the centre of the plaza lies Cloth Hall, once a major centre of international trade in the 15th century. Presently, it is an iconic building for visitors wanting to purchase Cracovian items. Just adjacent to the Main Square is St. Mary’s Basilica, a 14th-century church built in a traditional Polish Gothic architectural design. Visitors looking to worship need not pay an entry fee. If you still have time after visiting these two areas, sit down and dine alfresco like one of the locals at one of the numerous bars and outdoor cafes.
Where to eat
If there is one thing you need to know about the Polish, just remember this: they love their meats. Rzeznia is famous in Krakow for their serving up beautifully glazed rib platters. Also known as ‘Ribs on Fire’, choose between six different sauces for varying levels of spice. Sweet tooths will love their Maple sauce and those looking for a boozy kick can try their Bourbon sauce. Our personal favourite? A dose of Bacon Cyder BBQ for good measure.
Wierzynek is the embodiment of old-school luxury. This is Poland’s oldest upscale restaurant, dating back almost 700 years during the medieval ages. The four-storey establishment seats up to 200 guests in 8 of their pompous dining rooms, adorned with elegant historic paintings of kings and dukes alike. If you feel a little royal yourself, go for their seven-course degustation menu. For just a glimpse into the royal lifestyle, their a la carte menu is delightful too. One of the more interesting dishes on the menu has to be their honey-caramelised porcini mushroom ice cream, served with chocolate, ground nuts and a touch of blackcurrant sauce.
Enjoy seasonal dishes at Copernicus, one of Krakow’s top restaurants. The innovative menu is made up of classic aristocratic Polish dishes with modern touches. Those who want a curated menu can skip past the a la carte menu can choose between a five, seven or 12-course tasting menu. Don’t miss their veal marinated in linden honey with veal tongue, carbonated parsnip puree and potato strudel. In the summer, dine on their rooftop terrace, complete with some of the best views of the city.
Where to stay
Bachleda Luxury Hotel Krakow MGallery
Just a few minutes walk from the Main Market Square lies Bachleda Luxury Hotel Krakow MGallery. It is housed in a 19th-century historic building and is nothing short of luxurious. Each room is opulently decked out in beautiful velvet interior, with a set of Christian Lacroix cosmetics in its own private bathroom. We cannot imagine being tired of the city, but travelling can take a toll on one’s body. Step into their indoor jacuzzi, laden with gold tiles and accessories as far as your eyes can see.
The Bonerowski Palace
What better way to live out the history of Poland than living in a historic building? The Bonerowski Palace is housed in a restored heritage building that dates back to the 13th century. Today, it is a cosy boutique hotel with 14 bedrooms, each fitted with old-world charm. Fryderyk Chopin was one of the permanent guests at the Bonerowski Palace, and this has inspired the hotel to spotlight music: it is home to the St John Jazz & Wine Club, a jazz club located in the historic cellars of the hotel.
Vienna House Andel’s Cracow
Those who enjoy a little more modernity in their stay can consider Vienna House Andel’s Cracow. Although the property features a Medieval facade, the interior is completely contemporary in nature. The establishment plays host to 159 design-centric rooms and with some that have beautiful sea-views. Only 250 metres from Krakow Central Railway train station and a short 20-minute drive from the J. Paul Ii Balice international airport, this venue is situated in a convenient location suitable for guests of all ages.