Seek out some lunch as soon as you arrive to fuel your afternoon of sightseeing. Pierogi are filled dumplings and are ubiquitous across Kraków. The most traditional are ‘Ruskie’, filled with potato and onion, or those filled with minced pork. A bowl of borscht, beetroot soup with hard-boiled eggs, turns this into a quite spectacular lunch. There are many pierogi cafés in the old town and Jewish quarter, so make it your mission to get a local to recommend the best one.
The centre of Kraków is fairly small, so you should be able to take in most of the sights in one day. Either pick up one of the free walking tours that depart from the Main Square, or equip yourself with GPS and a guidebook and go it alone. Meander around the cobbled streets of the old town and up to Wawel Castle for amazing views of the city, then through the fascinating Jewish quarter, before crossing the Vistula river on Lovers’ Bridge to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Krakow (MOCAK) and Oskar Schindler’s factory. Be sure to wear good shoes.Take a quick respite and stop for coffee in one of the cafés in the Main Square. We liked the old school grandeur of Europejska. Sit inside for a taste of classic European café culture, our on one of the outside table for people watching. The old town is circumnavigated by a small park, which is also lovely for walks.
Europejska, Rynek Główny 35, Kraków.
Start your evening out in the Jewish quarter with a craft beer or two at Domówka Café. They have one of the best selections of Polish and international beers in the city, as well as a decent cocktail menu. Locals tend to come here to play one of the bar’s vast selection of board games.
Domówka Café, Miodowa 28, Krakow.
Head around the corner for what is rumoured to be Kraków’s best burger. The decor at Gruba Buła is somewhat spartan, but the menu is excellent. Try the ‘BBQ’; beef patty with bacon, cheese, gherkins and barbecue sauce; or the equally imaginatively named ‘Hot’ if you like your burger with a bit of a kick. They get busy at the weekend, so you may have a bit of a wait. Fortunately, there are plenty of bars around the corner where you can do so.
Gruba Buła, Na Przejściu, Kraków.
Round off the night with drinks in one of the city’s many jazz bars, which have live music most nights of the week. We like the atmospheric Harris Piano Jazz Bar in the old town.
Harris Piano Jazz Bar, Rynek Główny 28, Kraków.
Start your day with an Israeli breakfast at Hamsa restaurant in the Jewish quarter, which promises “hummus and happiness” to all. We especially liked the shakshuka.
Hamsa, Szeroka 2, Kraków.
There are a number of day tours you can take from Kraków. The most popular is to the wartime concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. A day tour costs around 100 zloty (approx £20.00) and includes coach travel, admittance to the site and an English-speaking guide, and usually lasts around six hours. Another popular trip is to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. There are a number of tour operators in Krakow, but we organised ours with Krakville, who have a kiosk in the old town.
Head to Tram Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. They make all the usual suspects and a few of their own concoctions. Try the rum mate with cucumber or a classic Aperol spritz.
Tram Bar, Stolarksa 5, Kraków.
For a proper Polish feast, head to Pod Baranem for some of the best traditional Polish food in Kraków. It’s on the more expensive side for food in the city, but still a fraction of what you would pay in the UK. Try the pickled herring, Kraków-style, with a shot of local vodka; and the Polish-style stuffed duck with sour cherry sauce. The fillet steak with pepper sauce is excellent and a bargain at just over ten pounds. A slice of traditional apple cake, Szarlotka, is a perfect ending to the meal, if you have room.
Pod Baranem, Gertrudy 21, Kraków.
Before you head back to the airport for your flight home, be sure to check out a traditional Polish bakery for one of their incredible pastries. The best ones have poppy seeds and soft cheese. This, along with a strong coffee, will set you up for the day. There are a few in the Main Square, but can be found across the city.
You can fly to Kraków directly with Ryanair from London Stansted, Bournemouth, Bristol, Birmingham, East Midlands, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh and Belfast International.
One year ago: Turkish eggs