Book a cheap hotel room in Krakow
Krakow is the third largest city in Poland, with around population of 750,000. Mostly know of its historical old town district, which contains many jewish historical buildings and sites. These old buildings are preseved in good condition, much better than in Warsaw, where those were mainly bombarded during the 2nd World War.
It is mostly World Heritage Site nowadays, that bring more and more tourists to Krakow, which is one of the best known tourist site in central and eastern europe.
Biking in Krakow, and the Industrial Heritage Tour
The Communist Government collapsed in 1989 and Krakow is now undergoing another period of regeneration, with historic buildings being restored.
Getting to Krakow
Balice Airport is the main airport, about 12km to the west of the centre. It is the second biggest airport in Poland, with frequent domestic and international charter and scheduled flights.
Trains run from the airport to 'Dworzec Glowny PKP' (the central station) approximately every 30 minutes, starting from 4:24AM, until 12:15AM, takes around 20mins, ticket cost 7PLN
Dworzec Glowny PKP (see schedules )is the central station in Krakow, and is located just outside of the Old Town. It is connected to other cities in Poland and the rest of Europe. Every hour between 6 AM and 8 PM there is either Express (EX) or Intercity (IC) train between Krakow and Warsaw that do not stop on the way and journey takes less than 3 hours. It is by far the most convenient way of traveling between Warsaw and Krakow.
There are plenty of international connection as well from Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Kosice, Leiping
The station has a left-luggage service, waiting room, small cafes and shops. However, the food is not the best, and you would be better advised going out of the station to buy from the shops nearby.
Be warned, the station staff are not always the most helpful to foreigners who don't speak Polish as they often speak no English and you can spend an awful long time queueing only to be told to join another large queue. If you get confused try asking someone young to help you as most young Polish people speak communicative English and are very helpful.
Train tickets to Krakow
Getting to Krakow is fairly easy, mainly from the East on the A4; driving from Warsaw (300 km) is more difficult as there is no highway connection between these cities yet.
There are Europe-wide coach services operating into Krakow. However, it is cheaper and much quicker to fly, providing you book at least six weeks in advance. The journey time by coach from London, for example, is around 24 hours. It's pretty uncomfortable, and not recommended for anybody other than the desperate or enviornmentally conscious.
There are bus services from Budapest as well, for low price Centraleasteurope.com Bus Transfer
Things to see, major sights in Krakow
The Old City (Stare Miasto)
The Krakow Old Town historical district, barely touched by time, is among the most fascinating views in Poland. The Old Town is certainly what draws most tourists to Cracow, offering a density of landmarks, museums, churches and squares unique in the scale of Central Europe. In the historical surroundings of the Krakow Old Town a modern tourist infrastructure has been developing, making it the perfect place to start a tour of Krakow.
The Rynek Glowny (Main Marketplace)
One of the biggest medieval squares in the world is at the heart of the Old City, currently being repaved and beautified, full of churches, restaurants, and bars.
Ancient seat of the Polish kings and now a major museum. They have a very odd pricing structure, requiring you to pay to get in to different bits of the castle at particular times of day, but during other times these appear to be free.
Kazimierz The former Jewish district
south of Wawel. More than 40,000 Jewish residents of Krakow and surrounding areas died in the Holocaust. Now there are very few Jewish residents of Krakow, but synagogues and other signs of Jewish culture remain in Kazimierz, which was the scene of many of the events in Schindler's List.
Some five hundred years ago the Barbakan was an important part of Cracow's fortifications, and deadly projectiles were cast at anyone who dared to threaten the Polish capital. The three rows of the Barbican's loopholes were filled with archers or riflemen whose shots wrecked havoc amongst the enemy lines. Along with the City Walls, the Barbican made Krakow an impregnable fortress.
Museums and Galleries in Krakow
Many of Krakow's state museums have free admission on Sunday and are closed on Monday.
- Czartoryski Museum
is a former townhouse of one of Poland's great families and proud owner of the famous da Vinci portrait, Lady with an Ermine.
- Bunker of Modern Art
(Bunkier Sztuki Wspolczesnej), Gallery of contemporary art very near city center. There is also a book shop and nice cafe in the "bunker".
- Centre of Japanese Art & Technology
(Manggha-Centrum Sztuki I Techniki Japonskiej), Houses the National Museum's Japanese artifacts, consisting mostly of the fabulous 6,500-item collection of local legend Feliks Jasienski (1861-1929) who adored Japan. It is located across the river from Wawel castle.
- Archaeological Museum
- Armia Krajowa Museum
All over Old Town you can find campus parts of the third oldest university in the world: Jagiellonian University. You are free to enter (and leave) all buildings at your leisure (mind the students milling around every day of the week).
* Theater — The main building housed the Teatr Wielki from 1833-1834, the Rozmaitości Theatre from 1836 to 1924 then the National Theatre, the Reduta Theatre from 1919 to 1924, and from 1928 to 1939 the Nowy Theatre, which staged productions of contemporary poetical drama, including those directed by Leon Schiller.
* Galicja Jewish Museum The Galicja Museum in Kazimierz houses an exhibition of photographs with explanations in Polish and English. These are recent photographs of locations around Poland associated with the Holocaust. Some are places where massacres occurred; most show old synagogues and Jewish cemeteries with comments about how respectfully (or not) these places are now preserved. The museum also has a bookstore and coffee shop and arranges coach trips to Auschwitz.
* Gallery of 19th Century Art (one of several national museums/Muzeum Narodowe in Krakow) This is one of the best collections of 19th century paintings in Poland. The collection's usual home upstairs in the Sukiennice is undergoing refurbishment until 2009. Until then, the collection is on display in the castle in the town of Niepolomice about 20km away. Minibuses go from the stop on ul. Starowislna opposite the main post office.
Getting around, public transport in krakow
With Krakow Discount Card you can get lower prices on public transport
During the day, there is an excellent system of public transport in Krakow, covered by trams and buses (but remember, you can spend a lot of time in traffic jams!). The rush hours are mostly between 7AM-9AM and 3PM-5PM.
Buy tickets before you get on board. Ticket inspectors are fairly common and though the fines are not steep, they are not worth the hassle. Single, one-hour, daily, weekly, and monthly tickets are available and can be bought from news agents and kiosks. For single tickets, as soon as you get on, punch the ticket in the machine. A ticket must be punched or it is not valid. Daily tickets and one-hour tickets need to be punched the first time you get on, but do not do it again after that. Do not punch weekly and monthly tickets.
Ticket prices: single 2.50PLN, one-hour 3.10PLN, 24-hour 10.40PLN, 48-hour 18.80PLN, 72-hour 25PLN, 7-day 39PLN, family ticket (Sat-Sun only, unlimited daytime travelling) 10.40PLN, monthly pass 94PLN.
ISIC and Euro26 student holders that study outside Poland can use discount tickets, but not the full, 50% discount student tickets. They can use "gminny" fare, which means: single 1.35PLN, one-hour 1.65PLN, 24-hour 5.70PLN, 48-hour 11.50PLN, 72-hour 15.60PLN, 7-day 23.60PLN, monthly pass 41.70PLN.
When travelling to neighboring villages and to the airport you need an agglomeration ticket, that is just 0.10PLN more expensive. Keep in mind you need it even if you have any sort of valid time pass mentioned above (as they cover just the city area).
Single ticket prices are doubled during the night. Tram and bus stops show routes and most kiosks will be able to advise you on route numbers.
How to get to Krakow from Airport
Learn how to get to Krakow from Krakow Balice Airport
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Hotels in Krakow
History of Krakow
Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland, with evidence showing settlements there since 20,000 BC.
n 1241, the city was almost entirely destroyed by Tatars. It was rebuilt to a design that remains largely unchanged to the present day. However, after more successful attacks by the Mongols in the late 13th century, Kazimierz the Great set about defending the city. Walls, fortifications, and the original Wawel Castle were added. The University was also established. King Kazimierz established the district of Kazimierz for Jews to live in free from persecution. This area remained mainly Jewish for centuries until the Nazi occupation.
The 16th century was Krakow's golden age. Under the influence of the joint Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellonian dynasty, Krakow became a centre of science and the arts. In 1569, Poland was officially united with Lithuania and as a result government activity started to move to Warsaw. King Zygmunt III officially moved the capital in 1609.
However, the 17th century was a return to troubled times for Krakow and Poland. After being invaded by Russians, Prussians, Austrians, Transylvanians, Swedes, and the French, it went through a phase of various forms of political control. These included being part of the Duchy of Warsaw, established by Napoleon, and becoming an "independent city". However, it mostly fell under the sphere of influence of the Austrian Habsburg Empire, in the province of Galicia.
In the First World War, Jozef Pilsudski set out to liberate Poland and the Treaty of Versailles (1919) established an independent sovereign Polish state for the first time in more than 100 years. This lasted until the Second World War, when Germany partitioned the country, with German forces entering Krakow in September 1939. Many academics were killed and historic relics and monuments were destroyed or looted. Concentration camps were established near Krakow, including Plaszow and Auschwitz. After German withdrawal, the city escaped complete destruction and many buildings were saved.
In the Communist period, a large steel works was established in the suburb of Nowa Huta. This was seen as an attempt to lessen the influence of the anti-Communist intellegentsia and religious communities in Krakow. In 1978, UNESCO placed Krakow on the World Heritage Sites list. In the same year, the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, was made Pope John Paul II.