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This trip took place in July 2019.
I have been to Krakow before, but that’s a long time ago, shortly after I finished school. I remembered this city to be really beautiful and had a spare week to travel in this summer, so I decided to combine it with another beautiful city nearby: Wroclaw. Those two are among the most famous cities in Poland and both have been European Capitals of Culture for a year. Due to the flight options and prices my trip was starting in Wroclaw, going on with a train ride to Krakow and the ending of the trip there. So here’s what I experienced and what I can recommend in those cities:
I arrived at Wroclaw airport (WRO) after a short hop on Wizz Air from Dortmund. Getting to the city center is easy, besides the taxis waiting in front of the terminal, there also is a stop of a private (10 PLN) or public (3 PLN) bus. Tickets for both busses can be purchased at a machine or on the bus, payment by credit card is possible. I took the public bus, which already gives you a small insight into the city on the tour to its center. As I was arriving in the late afternoon, I didn’t do much more than getting something to eat nearby the hotel, to get to sleep early for a long day of exploring the next day. I stayed at the Hotel Premiere Classe Wroclaw Centrum (Tripadvisor) which had a good value.
And so I got up early the next day. It is really recommendable to explore the city in the morning, as especially on weekends most places are less crowded than. My first longer walk took me to the famous market square. It is the historic center of the city and there are a lot of restaurants, bars and stores around this place and in the surrounding streets. Besides the many beautiful old buildings, the historic town hall from the 13th century and the St. Elisabeth’s Church are the highlights here.
The St. Elisabeth’s church can be visited free of charge (for sure you can donate money for preservation of the building). The church in this place was built and extended between 1220 and 1946 from a wooden church to what it is today. When approaching the church from the market square, you also pass the historic “Hänsel & Gretel Houses” that are connected by an arched gateway (see picture below).
Another interesting thing you can find here, are some of the Wroclaw Dwarfs, 350 of it can be found all over the city. The dwarf was the symbol of the Orange Alternative, an anti-communist movement that started in Wroclaw in the 1980s. Nearby the St. Eilsabeth’s Church you can also find the dwarfs museum.
From the market square, it is not far to walk over to the Oder River, where you can also find a lot of sights. On the opposing side of the river you find the oldest part of the city: “Ostrów Tumski”. It is home to the Wroclaw Cathedral, the Archbishops Palace, a botanical garden and several mostly clerical buildings distributed onto different islands.
If you turn left after you crossed Tumski Bridge, you get to a small island with the Nawa sculpture, a part of the celebrations when Wroclaw was the European Capital of Culture for one year. It is meant to show the metamorphosis of culture in the city and should give viewers another view onto the surroundings it reflects every visit.
Walking through Ostrów Tumski is really pleasant. It’s calm, it’s historic and the buildings are beautiful. The Cathedral and Archbishops Palace are a must see when you visit Wroclaw. First Parts of the gothic cathedral have been built in the 13th century, since that time a lot of changes in different eras of rulers in the following centuries have been made.
When getting back from Ostrów Tumski to the city center via the Tumski Bridge, on the other side of the bridge, you can find the Wroclaw Market Hall, a very interesting place for market and food lovers. There are not too many stands selling cooked food, but there is a lot of fresh food for sale! I always like to visit markets, not only to buy food, but also to get an insight into what’s traditionally available in a country. Usually that’s the basis of the local cuisine.
If you have enough time in town, a visit to the Wroclaw Zoo is recommendable as well. The zoo is not in the Eastern Europe typical Soviet Style with cold, small and inappropriate enclosures, but a lot of work has been done here, to modernize and improve both housing conditions for the animals and comfort for visitors. Especially the new Afrykarium is a really nice addition to the zoo.
If you like shopping, Wroclaw also has to offer a lot. Beside the Market Hall and the shops in the city center, a visit to the Wroclavia shopping center is a good idea. It is very modern, home to a lot of shops of national and international companies and housing a food court with a lot of choice. You can easily get there, as it is located right behind the main station.
In total I spent four days in Wroclaw (including the day of arrival and departure) and it was easily possible to visit all those places within that time. If you have a hotel in the city center, a lot of things can be reached by a short walk, while there is good and cheap public transportation provided throughout the city.
Here are some restaurants and bars I can recommend:
- Good local food and drinks: Restauracja Konspira (Tripadvisor)
- Great pizza in stylish atmosphere: Iggy Pizza (Tripadvisor)
- Inexpensive and good drinks: Chopper Bar & Gril (Tripadvisor)
I used the train to get from Wroclaw to Krakow, and it was quite convenient. You can find the detailed report here.
Krakow is a well-known tourist destination, often on the top seats of recommendation lists, but nonetheless, many did not visit it yet. And it’s a pity, as this city is really beautiful and has a lot to offer. Upon my arrival in the afternoon, I used the time for a short walk into the city center, to find somewhere to eat. As soon as you reach the center, you’re already standing on the main market square of the city, which is home to a lot of sights: St. Mary’s Basilica, the Cloth Hall and the Church of St. Adalbert. You notice why the historic center of Krakow is a UNESCO World Heritage site: it is extremely rich of historic buildings that outlived different eras in the history of Poland and Europe and the old town also is in great shape.
Around the main market square and in adjacent streets, you can find many restaurants, cafés and bars, what makes it a perfect place to have a break at, or enjoy the local night life as well.
Passing the Church of St. Adalbert, you can easily reach Wawel Castle within a short walk through some nice old town streets.
Wawel Castle is possibly the most famous sight of the city. With a lot of different building been built in different eras, the castle represents a large variety of European architectural styles and designs. You can walk around the castle and visit the courtyard and basilica for free, while the interior of the castle is a museum today and open to the public at a fee. You can inform yourself about current entry fees and opening times on their official homepage: https://wawel.krakow.pl/en
Within walking distance from the castle, you can find the historic Jewish quarter. Besides a lot of restaurants and bars, there are many memorial places for the once big cultural impact of the jewish inhabitants of the city, that have been moved to the nearby ghetto and concentration camps during WWII by the Nazis. Even some parts of the ghetto wall can still be seen in some places. Not far, you can also find the factory of Oskar Schindler, who tried to save Jewish people by employing them. The factory can be visited, times and prices can be found here: https://www.muzeumkrakowa.pl/branches/oskar-schindlers-factory
Something else you shouldn’t miss out on when in Krakow: taking a long walk through Planty Park. The park is surrounding the city center and is a great place to take a break at, relax and observe other people while doing the same. Once the ancient city walls guarded the city here, the park has been established in the first half of the 19th century.
Unfortunately after three days in the city I had to leave again. Nonetheless this was enough time to explore the city, but if you plan longer visits to museums and memorials, or even a trip to the nearby Auschwitz Concentration Camp Memorial, you should take some more time, as this was not included in my trip.
For sure here are some restaurants and bars that are recommendable:
- Great homemade cakes and breakfast: Cakester Café (Tripadvisor)
- Delicious and fresh breakfast: Milkbar Tomasza (Tripadvisor)
- Tasty and authentic Italian food: Luna Siciliana (Tripadvisor)
- Steaks, burgers and cocktails: Sioux (Tripadvisor)
- Good Italian pasta: La Stazione (Tripadvisor)
During my trip I stayed at following recommendable hotels:
- Wroclaw: Hotel Premiere Classe Wroclaw Centrum (Tripadvisor)
- Krakow: Ibis Budget Krakow Stare Miasto (Tripadvisor)
In the end, I can absolutely recommend a trip to both, Krakow and Wroclaw, also a combination is great if you have enough time. Both cities have a long history that reflects in their cityscape, especially the old town areas. That’s also why Wroclaw has been European Capital of Culture in 2016 and why both cities are home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
How to get to Wroclaw and Krakow?
Worclaw and Krakow both have an airport, are well connected by train and coach lines within Poland and Europe and you can get here by car from all over Europe, so it’s quite easy to get there.
Wroclaw airport (WRO) is a little smaller. Wizz Air and Ryanair are the biggest operators here, offering flights to many cities in Europe. Here is a choice of other airlines connecting Wroclaw with destinations all over the world: Air France (via Paris), Eurowings (via Düsseldorf), KLM (via Amsterdam), LOT (via Warsaw), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt and Munich) and Swiss (via Zurich).
Krakow airport (KRK) is a little bigger, but Wizz Air and Ryanair are the top dogs here with connections to all over Europe. EasyJet and Jet2.com are also offering various flights to Krakow, mainly from the UK. The Polish LOT is also offering intercontinental flights to and from New York, Chicago and Tel Aviv. Here is a choice of airlines connection Krakow with destinations all over the world: Air France (via Paris), American Airlines (seasonal via Chicago), Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), British Airways (via London), Brussels Airlines (via Brussels), Eurowings (via Düsseldorf and Stuttgart), Finnair (via Helsinki), Flydubai (via Dubai), KLM (via Amsterdam), LOT (via Warsaw), SAS (via Copenhagen and Stockholm) and Swiss (via Zurich).
Travelling between the two cities is easy as there is a direct highway connecting them and trains and coaches are going frequently at low prices.
Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some interesting tips and inspiration for your own trip to Poland.
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