Did you know that CNN has listed the Krakow Christmas Market as one of the 17 best Christmas markets around the world? While the Irish Times rates it as one of Europe’s top ten Christmas markets. But this is not the only reason to take a winter city break in Krakow, there are a milliard of reasons as to why Krakow should be your destination of choice for your next winter city break.
The city has a booming nightlife, a thriving café culture, beautiful greenery and is steeped in history. We’ve managed to narrow it down – with difficulty! – to the top five reasons we think this city should be on your radar, but there are many, many more!
1. Krakow’s Old Town Charms
Krakow’s old town is iconic. The medieval city is famous for a variety of its iconic features, including the cobbled streets and Gothic architecture. It is a UNESCO world heritage site that offers history, architecture and a lively night scene. Start your day exploring the old town off in Rynek square. You can choose to opt for a free walking tour, or if you prefer the freedom you can decide to take in the sights yourself.
Pay the Sukiennice museum a visit – this Gothic and Renaissance style building is one of the most important landmarks of the city, and contains a wide array of 19th-century art from across Poland, as well as a dedicated exhibition on life in medieval Krakow. Move onto the Barbican Museum, this medieval fortress is recognised by its formidable Gothic turrets. If you want a unique experience, then why not consider exploring underground? Rynek Underground Museum will take you underneath the old town where you will uncover archaeological finds including old weapons and goods that were lost to the earth.
But the old town isn’t only famous for it’s historical features. Why not explore the cobbles through a Krakow pub crawl and sample some flavoured vodka or bask in the finest graphic design art Poland has to offer at the Polish Poster Gallery?
2. Café Culture
Move over Vienna, Krakow is the king of café culture. This city is home to an array of independent coffee shops and artisan roasters all within the setting of the old town and historic squares.
After a long day of walking and taking in the sites, give your feet a rest and enjoy an afternoon of people watching, freshly brewed coffee and delicious polish pastries. Just remember that your coffee will be served black and strong, so if you prefer a weaker coffee be sure to ask for some extra milk or water so that you can dilute it.
3. The History
Krakow is a city brimming with history, from its once former glory as a castle to Poland’s Kings to battles of power between the Russian, Prussian and Austrian and empires and for the atrocities committed by the Nazis here during the Second World War.
You cannot escape history in Krakow, it is everywhere. Most tourists come to Krakow for the Second World War history, the city was invaded five days after the war broke out and the Nazi’s made it the capital of the German Central Government. Jewish residents were soon expelled from their careers and homes and forced into a ghetto. The concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau is located outside of the city and many of its Jewish residents’ fate ended here. You can visit this harrowing death camp and take a guided tour through the of Auschwitz.
However, in amongst the horror, there were Krakow residents who risked everything to save their Jewish neighbours. One who became a famous example was Oskar Schindler, whose story was told in the film Schindler’s List, which was filmed in Krakow. Schindler saved over 1,000 of his Jewish workers during the Holocaust. You can visit the Schindler museum where you can learn this emotional story of resistance and of the impact of the Nazi occupation on Krakow as a whole.
4. Krakow’s Christmas Market
During the festive period, Krakow turns into a winter wonderland. Rynek square hosts the city’s Christmas market where you can fill your day with browsing through the many stalls, indulging in the festive food or treating yourself to a glass of cherry vodka or mulled wine.
Photo by Admirable Journeys
Shop for last-minute Christmas gifts or find yourself something special from the stalls, including local crafts and homemade jewellery. After all that shopping, why not go for a horse-drawn carriage ride or warm your hands with hot chocolate whilst listening to some Christmas carols – at this time of year, concerts are available throughout the city. There’s a reason why Krakow’s Christmas market is one of the most popular in Europe!
5. It Won’t Break The Bank
Krakow is an affordable city break that offers you incredible value for money. It is up there with the big cities like Vienna or Bruges but without the price tag. You will be able to treat yourself to luxury low-cost accommodation with some four- or five-star hotels only costing around £100 a night.
Many of the city’s museums offer low ticket rates with entrance to Schindler’s Factory only £4! Eating out is reasonable also, you can expect to enjoy a delicious filling plate of Pierogi for under €5. Because of the low costs, you can treat yourself to added extras you wouldn’t normally opt for in more expensive cities such as Paris or London. You could try giving a luggage shipping service like My Baggage a go with your extra cash and travel light.
This is a guest post by Sarah Mc Cann. Sarah is an avid traveller and spent a year teaching abroad in China. She loves discovering new places and writing about them, and spends her weekends exploring cities and finding the hidden secrets. She currently works as Blog Editor at My Baggage, luggage delivery specialists based in Northern Ireland.
All guest posts are written by the author as indicated. The information contained within each guest post is correct to the best of our knowledge. In some instances the author may have received a free trip, meal or payment in some form. When this is the case, we will inform you at the end of the post. This author works for the organisation MyBaggage as the Blog Editor.