Are you planning a trip to the lovely Krakow city of Poland? In this post, I have gathered some key information on things to know before travelling to Krakow.
1. Transportation from the airport the city center of Krakow
First thing that I Google after booking a trip is how on earth I can reach to the city center. I’m a big fan of public transportation! It’s not only a cheaper option than taxi, but it’s an adventure where you’ll blend in with the locals right away. Trains, trams and buses in Krakow are easy to use and you can buy your ticket straight from the driver or from a ticket machine on board. Just remember to validate your ticket. In my experience, public transportation might be easy to use, but it’s slow, so make sure that you have a flexible schedule.
I recommend the train from John Paul II Kraków–Balice Airport (Krakow Lotnisko in polish) to Krakow Glowny (main train station). Buy a ticket from the ticket machine on the platform or on board the train with cash or credit card. It’s also possible to buy a ticket from conductor. One-way ticket costs 9 zlotys. Other option is to take a bus 208/252 which costs only 5 zlotys, but it takes at least an hour to the city center compared to the 20 minute train ride.
2. Best time to visit Krakow
Krakow is a great city to visit at any time of the year. I was there in spring and absolutely loved it! Weather in April was warm and I loved the beautiful blooming cherry trees. There’s a lot less of tourist than in summer which is a plus. If you visit during winter, it might be chilly, but you can always visit Tatra Mountains for some winter sports.
3. Cash is king
Poland is an EU country, but they use their own currency, zloty. One zloty is about 0,24 euros or 0,27 USD. In my experience cash is king, so don’t rely only on your credit card. Some restaurants only take cash and I learned that it’s always a good idea to keep some small coins in your pockets for public toilets (1-2 zloty).
4. Take advantage of free entry days
Some attractions like museums in Krakow are free to enter on a certain days of the week. This is a good place to save some cash if you are on a budget. For example popular Schindler’s Factory museum has free admission on Monday. So if you are keen on seeing a certain attraction, check the official website first and plan your visit.
5. Best place to enjoy Krakow city view on a sunny day
There are several places to see Krakow’s city view from above, but usually you have to pay admission fee to get inside. No worries, because there is a hidden gem that not too many tourist have found and it’s completely free! Go to the Academy of Music (Akademia Muzyczna w Krakowie, ul. św. Tomasza 43) and take an elevator to the top. You can even enjoy low-cost lunch here!
6. Beer everywhere
After spending some time in Krakow, you’ll notice beer commercials everywhere. It’s because beer in Poland almost doesn’t cost anything and everyone seems to drink it.
7. Just walk
Krakow city is very easy to take over on foot. I always use maps.me offline app for navigation on my trips, so I’ll never get lost. You’re not only save a little money on public transportation by walking, but it’s also super healthy and environmentally friendly. You will also notice more details on the streets by just walking around than using public transportation. So make sure to pack some comfortable shoes.
8. Tap water
It’s totally safe to drink, but I had read that locals like to buy water in plastic bottles for some reason.
9. Day trips from Krakow
Don’t just stay in Krakow, go and explore! Do some day trips to Salt Mines, Tatra Mountains in Zakopane or learn some history in Auschwitz.
10. Try to learn some Polish words
Words like hello (siema), sorry (przepraszam) and thank you (dzięki) will come in handy! I found the Polish language to be a tricky to master. Especially the pronouncing is hard for foreigners. Communication in English might be difficult with older people and especially with some bus drivers. Young people speak a little English.
I was very pleased that streets of Krakow were very clean and looked after. People in Poland are friendly and will help you in need. Of course be aware of pickpockets in crowded places and take care of your belongings. I was travelling alone all around in Poland with just my backpack with me and never felt unsafe. I would definitely recommend Poland as a travel destination for all solo female travellers out there!
12. Polish cuisine is hearty
Polish cuisine is not the healthiest. It’s all about hearty comfort food that fills your belly to the max. Think of pork, sauerkraut, pierogi…Oh and don’t forget to try obwarzanek or also known as Krakow bagel! They are sold literally in every corner for a few zlotys. Sesame seed topping was my favourite, but try also cheese or poppy seed.
+ 1 extra tip
If you travel with gadgets like me, you will eventually need to charge your electronics. In Poland you will need a 2-pin socket adapter.
Okay people, that’s all I have to share with you this time. I hope this post had some useful information about Krakow. Until next time…