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The city of Krakow is built around the Main Market Square (Rynek Glowney). You could spend a whole day walking around the square window shopping and meandering among the market stalls that are sometimes set up in the square. You will notice a clock tower upon entering the square in the building underneath there are stalls and cafes lined up. Here you will be able to find a snack for yourself and a souvenir for your friends. Also lying on the square is St. Mary’s Basilica, a grand church inside and outside. The interior of the church is much different than those of most of Western Europe indicating a big culture shift and interesting to note. Krakow is home to many different churches scattered throughout the city. Take the time to walk into as many as you can since each one is styled differently this is a paradise for architecture fanatics. St. Peter and St. Paul lies just a stone’s throw away from St. Mary’s but is completely different. As you visit the churches take note to see if they are holding any concerts while you’re in Krakow. Many churches will have concerts at least once a day and the tickets are very inexpensive (6-10 €) considering that many of the musicians performing are well-trained. Take the opportunity to listen to a Chopin piece while enjoying your surroundings. As you walk around the Old Town, you will notice that upon a hill there is a fortified complex overlooking the city. This complex is Wawel and inside its strong walls are old stone buildings, including the Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral. If you’d like just to walk up Wawel Hill and look around without going into any buildings, then you do not need to pay for a ticket. From this view, you will be able to see Krakow from a different perspective and snap some gorgeous photos at sunset. However, if you’d like to enter any of the buildings or exhibits being held in the complex then a ticket is required. Do some research ahead of time because the opening times, availability to complex and ticket price changes depending on the season. If you have a student ID, a reduced ticket is about 3 USD (12 zloty).
The American chain, Dunkin’ Donuts, attempted to enter Poland but all the stores were quickly shut down due to the preference of the Polish to their traditional donuts. With this knowledge, all donut lovers should try at least one Pączki. Normally these little fried treats are filled with rose jam and covered powdered sugar. You can find pączki everywhere for cheap, so allow yourself to sample a few without guilt. Another fun and interesting food adventure to have while in Krakow is to visit a Milk Bar, these cafeteria-style restaurants originate from the Soviet rule of Poland but are still very popular. Here you can try a plethora of different Polish foods without committing to a whole plate of one thing since you pay based on the weight of your plate.
If you have the time to take a day-trip while in Krakow, trips to either Auschwitz Concentration Camp and Wieliczka Salt Mines are great options. There are tour groups that can take you to Auschwitz from Krakow, but it is very easy to reach on your own saving the extra cost of a guide. While entrance to Auschwitz is free of charge, you will need to get an entry pass from the website since there are a limited number of people allowed daily. It is also recommended to take part in a guided tour to gain a better understanding of the tragedies that occurred. All information about planning a trip to Auschwitz can be found online.
The Wieliczka Salt Mines are a fun and whimsical trip outside of Krakow. Again, there are tour groups that can take you to the mines, but it is very easy to access the mines from public transport to save some money. The former mines have been transformed into a little magical underground world with stories depicted entirely out of salt. If you have an issue with claustrophobia, you may want to avoid a visit to the mine, however. The entry prices change depending on the season, but if you have a student ID expect to pay about $20 (69-74 zloty). If you like to have a real mining experience while visiting the salt mines, you can opt to take the Miner’s Route which takes you further down and lets you get dirty while you learn more about the history of the mine.
|Bus ticket from||$1.50|
|Number of cities reachable directly from Kraków||214|
|Number of bus stops in Kraków||3|