Hello and welcome to Kraków! I guess you won’t be surprised when I say that 48 hours seems like very little for Kraków, as after years I still don’t seem to be getting enough… On the other hand, two days can be just enough to get a taste of Kraków’s unique vibe, see interesting stuff, eat well and simply enjoy a magnificent weekend in a magnificent place.
Ready to explore this eastern European gem, famous for its history, legendary bohemia and art movements, as well as vibrant nightlife and interesting culinary scene? Let’s get started!
Day 1: 09:00 – 14:00
Start your day on Plac Szczepański, one of the squares in the Old Town. This area boasts interesting architecture and art galleries, but usually it’s Charlotte that makes me go there. This French bakery is perfect for people-watching breakfasts, as it attracts a stylish crowd – nothing too posh though, it still remains pretty laid back.
And the food? Top-notch. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss their signature Charlotte breakfast: a sizable basket full of different kinds of in-house made pastry with a jar of sweet spread on the side. My tip: if you’re in a bigger group, it’s good for each person to order a different kind of spread and try various combinations. White chocolate and raspberry jam are a match made in heaven! If this tremendous amount of carbs is a bit scary for you, go for Charlotte’s sandwiches. Divine combinations, served hot or cold. Yum.
Time for a stroll, as the city centre is best explored by walking. The streets of the Old Town are parallel and very logically designed, so it’s easy to get around. When it comes to the essentials, don’t skip the museum that’s located beneath the surface of the Main Market square. Trust me, the stories Kraków has to tell are worth taking a deeper look (pardon the pun). If the weather is nice, climb up the Wawel Hill and see the legendary castle from up close.
Ironically, the ideal way to discover the spirit of Kraków is to get lost. Apart from ticking all the usual tourist landmarks off your list, don’t be afraid to escape the crowds and turn into the small streets where no one seems to go. These lesser known tracks will make it easier for you to imagine how Kraków looked like hundreds of years ago (and for me they’re much more charming than the main routes).
You might also find some unique spots located off the beaten path, such as Bookstore Bona. Kraków is a fantastic destination for book shopping, but this place has two additional advantages – it’s located on Kanonicza, a street considered to be the oldest in the city, and it’s both a bookstore and a coffee shop. Well, what’s not to love? Being a literary geek myself, I’m also a frequent visitor to De Revolutionibus, which offers a selection of books in English, too.
Day 1: 14:00 – 19:00
If you want to grab a quick lunch and continue exploring to see as much as possible, head to Bar Mleczny Górnik. It’s more than just an extremely cheap and tasty traditional Polish lunch, it’s a cultural experience and another opportunity for people watching. Milk bars are loved by all locals, so you’ll get to see a wide variety of interesting personas. Please don’t expect anything fancy, it’s supposed to be cheap, simple and old-school. I suggest going for a classic Polish combo of barszcz (beetroot soup) and pierogi ruskie.
For a longer sit-down meal with a view, Smakołyki is the right choice. The prices are genuinely low, but this isn’t your regular student eatery – its windows overlook a park and beautiful historical university buildings (Hogwarts, anyone?) and it can become quite romantic after the sun goes down. The menu is a wide choice of Polish essentials, with their potato pancakes and – you guessed it – pierogis being my favorite ones.
Now that your tummies are full, why not go to the flicks? I love Kraków for its arthouse cinemas, with my favourite spot being Kino Ars. The biggest screening room of the venue has a fantastic art deco vibe, if you happen to see a movie in one of the smaller ones, you’re just as lucy, as they’re absolutely unique! Oh, and I love Kino pod Baranami just as much. They often show Polish movies with English subtitles.
Day 1: 19:00 – ???
If you decided to pick the second cinema recommendation, then Piwnica pod Baranami is just next door. I’m pretty sure I would pick this one if somebody asked me for a typical Kraków bar. Located in a cellar – check, connected with an artistic movement – check, offering nice cold pints in the summer and delectable mulled beer in wintertime – all check.
OK, let me tell you something: I wasn’t 100% honest with Smakołyki. There’s more to this entrance – a prohibition-style secret bar upstairs. Mercy Brown has the ambience of a vintage cabaret, Oscar-worthy drinks and gives you the feeling of being in the know. Sounds exciting enough?
Feel like dancing? You can’t miss Teatro Cubano, the hottest address in Kraków. Here you can show off your best dance moves to the rhythms of latino and have tremendous fun until the sun rises. Oh, and you won’t leave hungry, as the adjacent Papito Bar serves delicious mini burgers. Enjoy the fiesta!
Day 2: 09:00 – 14:00
Whether you’ve had a long night, you’ve got a long day ahead of you or you simply want to get stuffed with yummy stuff, Kolanko no. 6 is something for you. This spot has a distinctive for Kazimierz retro-style interior, but it’s particularly famous for their all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Trust me, it is good, and with the huge variety you’re sure to find something for yourself.
After exiting Kolanko you’ll find yourself on Józefa Street, which is a perfect starting point for exploring Kazimierz. The street is full of galleries, independent concept stores, vibrant cafes, quirky bars and creative wall art, pretty much like the rest of this Jewish district. Getting lost in here gets much easier (to be completely frank with you, I go astray in there more often than I’d like to admit), but again, it’s too much fun not to do it. The essential landmarks to see in Kazimierz include Plac Nowy and Szeroka Street, which is also home to an old synagogue.
Day 2: 14:00 – 19:00
Podgórze, the former Jewish ghetto area, is located on the southern side of the river Vistula. It may not sound exciting at first, but trust me, go see this up-and-coming neighbourhood of Kraków before it becomes mainstream. Head there via a distinctive pedestrian bridge, Kładka Bernatka, the one with love locks, sculptures and picturesque illumination after dark. When going in this direction from Kazimierz, you may want to check out Lokator – another brilliant books & coffee spot.
Time for a lunch? Treat yourself in a French bistro Zakładka. Cherished by the locals, this the perfect pick for top-level wining and dining. If you’re travelling on a tight budget, my go-to work lunch option will meet your needs. Bar Mleczny Krakus is anothe
r communist-style milk bar, serving delicious traditional food at prices as low as 5 zł (around 1 EUR) for a filling plate of pierogis – authentic vibes included.
Fancy a dessert? When I think Podgórze, I think of the ice cream. I can’t come up with another area of Kraków that has more or better ice cream parlours. Si Gela remains my favourite, especially if you’re after quirky flavours, like gorgonzola or carrots. You won’t be disappointed!
Not many things about my country make me feel as patriotic as Polish design. The guys and gals from Pan tu nie stał are doing a particularly great job. They draw the inspiration from the 20th century old-school aesthetics and create outstanding clothes and accessories (100% made in Poland), which you can purchase in their beautiful store in Podgórze. Sounds like a lovely souvenir from Kraków, doesn’t it?
Day 2: 19:00 – ???
If you’re visiting Kraków in the warmer months, go back towards Kazimierz to start the evening at another secret spot. Ogród na Dachu Kazimierza has a wide selection of cocktails and, most importantly, a wonderful view over the Jewish quarter’s rooftops. Perfect for sunset drinks! If the weather isn’t kind enough for you, don’t worry, because Kazimierz leaves you spoilt for choice.
My picks? Another secret bar, Sababa, loved for its classy interior and five-star cocktails. Want to dance the night away? Transformed from a historical Jewish prayer house, Hevre serves amazing Czech beer on the ground floor and boasts a lively club underground. Sounds like it’s gonna be a fun night!