Monday, February 27th, 2017

How to Fall in Love with Kraków in 30 Steps

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I wondered if I was doing myself a disservice, waiting so long to visit Kraków and Poland as a whole. As much as I hate to admit it, you do lose a bit of sense of wonder when you travel constantly. Would I greet Kraków with the enthusiasm of my early twenties? Or be underwhelmed and head to cafes to work the whole time?

The good news, however, is that traveling this much teaches you what you like and don’t like. You can often tell in an instant. And that’s how Kraków was for me. It hit me all at once. It was beautiful, it was comfortable, it was interesting. This is a great place, I said to myself.

Here’s how I fell in love with Kraków. In 30 steps.

1. Start by walking a few minutes from your accommodation to the main square.

2. Admire the purple flowers that seem to be everywhere.

3. Discover a gentleman making bubbles for the kids! Play with them, take hundreds of photos, and curse the little girl in the pink shirt for jumping in front of all your photos.

4. Try to catch a moment where the bubble guy looks like God. This will do.

5. Realize that the whole Old Town is encircled by a park. Think to yourself that if you lived here, walking this park would be how you caught up on all your podcasts.

6. Pass a sidewalk cafe and debate whether to go in and get a cup of coffee — until this girl catches you taking a photo and you feel too intimidated to set foot beyond the fence.

7. Head back into the Old Town, find another coffee shop, and order a coconut latte topped with blue syrup. Giggle when you realize that you’ve only had coconut lattes in Guatemala and Poland.

8. Realize that the light is changing fast and head back to the main square to photograph the sunset. Be immediately spellbound by the exquisite, perfect light.

9. Catch the clock tower and a wisp of cotton candy clouds.

10. Nearly burst into tears at how perfect the colors are. This photo won’t need a single tweak. Marvel that it’s just the kind of photo that will do great on Instagram. (Spoiler: it does.)

11. Say goodnight to the sunset and the purest light you’ve seen since Japan.

12. Practice a little panning on your camera with the many tourist vehicles that drive by.

13. Try a few motion shots of the trams as well. Why not? The sky looks great!

14. Pick up your laundry from Frania Cafe, the cafe laundromat where you dropped it off three hours earlier. Wonder to yourself whether a laundromat cafe would work in your neighborhood in New York. It could be great. Also, rejoice at getting to wear a bra again.

15. Spend a morning hopping around Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter. Hop in and out of the vintage boutiques and odd shops, then meet up with a lovely reader of yours.

16. Realize that you’re falling into the trap of imagining what your life would be like if you lived here. Even though you know it won’t be happening. Do you have a ghost life here?

17. Stroll up to the cathedral at Wawel Castle.

18. Take another pic that you know will do great on Instagram. It does.

19. Contemplate adding a knocker like this to your apartment in New York.

20. Head to one of your reader’s favorite spots, Camelot, a funky cafe in the Old Town.

21. Get up to use the bathroom…and take photos of everything inside.

22. Taste your first Polish cheesecake — it’s milder than its American counterpart, and not as smooth, but very delicious, especially with berries.

23. Take an evening stroll to confirm that yes, Kraków looks just as good by night.

24. Discover that paczki, Polish donuts, are apparently being sold right around the corner from your guesthouse! Give in to temptation, purchase one, wait until you’re in the privacy of your room, then take a bite and sigh.

25. Eat soup. Again and again. Decide that Poland is your new favorite soup country in the world.

26. See that there is a Sephora near the main square and this is all that matters right now. Realize they only stock foundations for the very pale, but get recommended an eyebrow pencil that you use till this day.

27. Follow a group of four friends around the park — then realize that they remind you of The Wizard of Oz!

28. Evaluate whether you’ve been missing out by only having two beers during your entire duration in Poland.

29. Admire the first trees turning red for fall.

30. And finally, on your final night in the city, capture the perfect sunburst after five or six tries. Vow to remember this moment forever.

Essential Info: In Kraków I stayed at Poselska Góscinne Guesthouse, one of the best budget guesthouses I’ve experienced in a long time. It was close to perfect: good-sized private room with a private bath, super comfortable, great internet, modern facilities, very nice owners, in an ideal location in the heart of the Old Town. AND they charge solo travelers less! Double rooms 150-180 zloty ($36-44) for one person, 230-260 zloty ($56-63) for two people.

Two restaurants I loved happened to be on the same street as the guesthouse: Restauracja Miód Malina has delicious local food in a building from the 1300s, while Corse is an outstanding Corsican restaurant (what a surprise to find it in Poland!). And the cafe pictured above with the cheesecake is Camelot.

If you plan to visit Auschwitz from Kraków, I urge you to book as early as possible. I didn’t go in part because the English tours were sold out. More information is here.

Don’t visit Kraków without travel insurance — it could save your life. I use World Nomads for insurance on every trip I take and I highly recommend them.

Have you been to Krakow? Or does it look like your kind of city?

Comments

53 Responses to “How to Fall in Love with Kraków in 30 Steps”
  1. Kate says:

    Beautiful photos!

  2. Your photos are making me want to travel right now instead of being trapped in my office!

  3. Sharon says:

    I’m going to Krakow in april 🙂
    You’re pictures are beautiful

  4. PM1 says:

    Amazing pics Kate!

  5. Wanda says:

    You inspired me to begin traveling and start a travel blog. Thank you so much. Krakow looks amazing.

  6. RJ says:

    I visited Poland 2 years ago and fell in love! I learned that the park that surrounds the city was actually where the city wall used to be to protect Old Town. So magical!

  7. Julie says:

    Poland is a country high at the top of my wishlist, especially as my great-grandmother’s village is only a couple of hours from Krakow and I would so love to make a pilgrimage to it one day.

    Your photos look dreamy and amazing that just like in Prague, this beautiful city escaped the destruction that befell how many other European cities during WWII. I think my favorite photos are numbers two and 10.

  8. Warsaw was a gorgeous city, and I can see on your photos that Krakow isn’t any less. Poland is such a wonderful country!

  9. Looks beautiful! Hopefully I’ll get there on my European travels. 🙂

  10. I have never really thought about Krakow as a destination, but now that I see your pictures it looks like a really exciting city to explore.

  11. Christine says:

    Great photos! But you don’t mention the history! Like the Cathedral, there are layers upon layers of history in this great city and nearby. I’d recommend the free walking tours (I went on three different walking tours there). Of the 16 cities I visited in Europe, Krakow’s tours and guides were my favorites. The Oscar Schindler factory is a short walk from the old town. There are many companies offering transportation to/from the city and guided tours (in English) of Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. This is the company I used http://www.cracowcitytours.com/
    I was a bit disappointed with the Wawel Castle exhibits. But don’t miss the fire breathing dragon!

  12. Upasna says:

    What a lovely and fun post!

    You definitely made me fall in love with Krakow through your post, absolutely love all your photos Kate!

  13. Imogen says:

    What fantastic pictures! I went to Krakow alone for my 22nd birthday but unfortunately that was in late January during a blizzard. It wasn’t so fun trying to explore in minus 15 degree weather! I ended up drinking a lot of hot chocolate in tiny cafes. This post has just pushed Krakow back to the top of my ‘places to visit again’ list!

  14. We’ve finally been to Krakow last spring and it instantly became one of our favorite cities in the world! Along with Prague and Vienna. You really captured some beautiful colors! 🙂

  15. Gustavo Woltmann says:

    Beautiful photos you got there. I definitely love your post. – gustavo woltmann

  16. Debbie says:

    A great Post Kate! I can’t wait to see Krakow – you have influenced me with your beautiful photos! Those flowers are heather.

  17. Wow, these photos are stunning! Krakow is on my list of places to visit but it just got bumped up, might see if I can fit in a trip this year, I love the idea of a park surrounding the city.

  18. Thad says:

    Great job Kate ! Thank you for promoting Krakow as one of the Great cities in Europe, because it is.

  19. I’ve fallen in love and now need to go.

  20. Aga says:

    I lived there 5 years and I’m visiting now again with my Scottish boyfriend who is discovering Poland for the first time. It was -20 when we arrived and it was new even for me to survive in the city in such cold 😀 but all of the hot beer and mulled wines in cosy cafes saved us 🙂 I’ll write a post about that in my blog soon! Poland is really beautiful in winter as well!

  21. I love Kraków. I went in 2008. It was Easter and snowy and magical. I long to go back.

    Beautiful photos, Kate.

  22. Zenobia says:

    “… until this girl catches you taking a photo and you feel too intimidated to set foot beyond the fence.” Haha I always feel so awkward when I am trying to take a photo and other people are clearly moving on with their lives way more efficiently…

  23. Anna Belkina says:

    “traveling this much teaches you what you like and don’t like” – AMEN. This only hit me last year, and now I think I have finally synthesized what my perfect holiday/destination needs to have to be a success. So while I havent been to Poland (and it’s not on my agenda), the 30-step recap felt eeriely familiar, because I’ve experienced something similar in London, Budapest and Alsace.

  24. Stacy Bailey says:

    Until this post I’ve never had much interest in going to Poland, but now I DEFINITELY do!!!

  25. Imad Nohad says:

    Krakow is one of the finest cities in Europe.
    Very high on my list of must see places and this post really helps to have a glimpse.
    Thanks Kate.

  26. Kate says:

    I was in Poland and Krawkow and Aushwitz in 1974 before the Iron Curtain fell and your pictures are so familiar and so hopeful. There is much color and joy that was not present in 1974. Our high school choir toured Poland for 2 weeks. I believe we sang in one of the cathedrals in your pictures as well. Such a joy to see these pics.

  27. Elen says:

    I visited Krakow during my last year of secondary school. I was only there for a day, but I fell in love with the place instantly. I’d love to go back – it was so gorgeous!

  28. JM says:

    Gorgeous! Enjoyed reading this!

  29. Arianwen says:

    Oh wow! This city looks truly amazing! I like the shot with the bubbles 🙂

  30. Jas says:

    Great post!

    Less ‘wordy’ than a lot of yours I’ve read, but really loved it! Wondered if the four friends realised you were following them?!

  31. Paige says:

    Lovely pictures, watching the light change chronologically was gorgeous! I hope to visit Krakow on the big central Europe trip I’m dreaming up for 2018 (I really enjoy planning far in advance, haha!)

  32. Frank says:

    We’ll be going to Poland for the 1st time in April and will use Krakow as a base for at least a month (we’re slow travellers). Looks beautiful.

    Did you happen to come across a good Indian restaurant there? It’s the first thing we look for whereever we go 🙂

    Frank (bbqboy)

  33. Amy says:

    Thank you! I just relived my time in Krakow with your post!
    Although, it only took me 2 steps to fall in love: just steps 1 and 24 will do me 🙂

  34. Wonderful travel diary 🙂 Stunning photos too

  35. We fell in love with this beautiful city too! We had an amazing experience at the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz, right on the outskirts of the city, thanks for a great reminder!

  36. Travelling to Poland is so great. I done Warsaw a d Krakow last summer at it was great. You can go on your last day by night train to Budapest, Bratislava or Viena from Krakow. That safe you one night in a hotel and you wake up in the next city

  37. Aga says:

    My home country and a city where I lived for 5 years 🙂
    Always worth visiting! And if you know where to go you can find real gems.

  38. Kent says:

    Love the photos, Kate!

    I’m planning to visit Krakow this summer, so it’s extra-relevant for me. Good to know about booking an Auschwitz tour ahead of time, although I’ll be traveling by bike, which makes an exact schedule more difficult…

  39. Amy-Anne Williams says:

    I looove this, and some parts I found so hilarious, like capturing the bubble guy to look like God. But it seems like you only need one step to fall in love here – arrive! My goodness, you make me so jealous with this captivating writing and photographs.

    Amy

  40. Beautiful! It seems so easy to fall in love with Krakow. I can’t wait to go!

  41. Asterienne says:

    Warsaw is at least seven times as good as Krakow. Kraków is a tourist trap, Warsaw is a city you can actually live in. Wile yes, there are no ancient castles or mounds, there’s plenty of memorable places still. I hope you’ll visit Warsaw or some of the smaller towns in Poland like Plock or Bialystok!

  42. I don’t know this city but your photos are beautiful !

  43. Maaike says:

    It took about the first three reasons only to convince me! Would love to go visit soon.

  44. What a beautiful photography and adventures. Beautiful! It seems so easy…. Awesome post. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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