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“A Wonderful City!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Krakow

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St. Albans, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
16 helpful votes
“A Wonderful City!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2010

We went to Krakow for a 3 night break, but ended up staying for 8 nights due to the Icelandic ash cloud, as a result we experienced the city during a State funeral as well as in the rain & sunshine!
Even in the rain the city is beautiful, the architecture is stunning & the cobbled streets add to the experience. The main square is a big attraction with the merchants houses lining its perimeter. Beware, the Cloth Hall is being refurbished at the moment so it not fully open & is not at its best with the scaffolding surrounding parts of it. Many of the souvenir stalls are outside in green cabins, but you can find very nice presents there.
St Mary's Basilica is worth a visit. You must buy a photo permit at the ticket office, they strictly enforce this rule ,so be aware! If you hear taped music being played go to the alter & see the carved fresco being unveiled from behind its ornate screen, quite a theatrical spectacle! St Barbara's next door is worth seeing too, very ornate.
The castle grounds gives lovely views of the river. You can see the dragon statue breathing fire at regular intervals from the walls too. THe castle courtyard is lovely; in the rain the dragon drain pipes pour water from their mouths, great to see from the safety of an umbrella! We did the tour of the State rooms. They are very starkly furnished, not very exciting, but passes time on a wet day.
We used Krakowdirect to take us the Salt Mines & Auschwitz. Their drivers speak excellent English & were very helpful & punctual. There may be cheaper options, but we'd recommend their services.
The Salt mines are a unique experience. You walk down 300+ stairs, its reminiscent of going into the deepest Swedish sauna you can imagine due to all wood clad walls! The tour guide we had spoke excellent English & talked about the various salt sculptures without over burdening you. Each cavern was more spectacular than the last & culminated in the cathedral like cavern with many religious scenes carved in the walls. You go to a cafe underground, but there is another ,bigger one once the tour ends with plenty of tables. Well worth a trip!
Auschwitz should be regarded as a visit to pay homage to the victims of tyranny, not just another tick in a travelogue box. We went in the rain which added to the experience. You do not need a guide if you have some historical knowledge or indeed younger teens with you too much detail causes distress& detracts from them getting the message;the piles of shoes,cooking utensils & other personal belongings speak volumes about the camp . We bought a guide book (4zl) & followed the well marked route. Do go to Bircheau. Only there can you get an inkling of the scale of the horror, row after row of chimney stacks, the remains of the accomodation blocks that housed the victims before they were sent to the gas chambers.A sobering experience, but worth making.
On a lighter note, the Poles are very friendly & helpful, many speak excellent English, but have a go at their language, it is appreciated; we only said "Jan koo ya" , Thank you, but you get an even warmer reception! Try Polish food, it's very tasty & certainly different from English fare. Coffee shops abound, cappuccinos & lattes were excellent where ever we had them.
There a plenty of tourist information offices with lots of information in English.
If you can't fly into John Paul II try Katowice airport. It's 1.5 hours away from Krakow, we managed to fly out from there with Wizz Air when nothing was happening with Easyjet at John Paul!
Krakow is a wonderful city with plenty to do, I'd recommend it despite our enforced stay!

4 Thank clements28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
46 reviews
42 helpful votes
“Eventful days in Krakow”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2010

Our Easy Jet tickets gave only Krakow Airport as flight destination. We caught the train from the airport and
it took about 20 min to the city station. It is about 5 min walk from the terminal to the station but we were misled and caught the shuttle bus. At Krakow station we werenot paying enough attention and Peter's small bag was stolen in the crush of people in the underpass exit. Happily this didn't contain his passport We spent much of the first day at two different police stations. Very many people in Krakow speak English but NOT the police. Our hotel, The Senacki, was well placed to explore the city. Our room was small but comfortable, except that smoking is allowed in the corridor and I had a bad night with a room full of smelly smoke until I learnt to open the window, turn up the heating (it was 0* outside) and put the bed overquilt along the bottom of the door. There is a really great restaurant very close to the hotel, Pod Aniolami. As we arrived in Krakow the presidential plane had just crashed. The subsequent activity in the city was very moving. A must for anyone visiting Krakow is to be sure to know the history of the Polish massacre at Katyn in 1940 and a visit to the Katyn Cross. All museums etc were closed as a mark of respect but we did visit the salt mines. Spectacular and interesting. We now need to return as we missed so much! BUT we shall guard our possessions closely, especially at the station. Apart from the invisible thieves all the people that we met were delightful!

1 Thank PatnPeter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
“A long week-end in Krakow”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2010

When I decided to spend two and a half days in Krakow, I was afraid not to be able to see much, also considering the fact that on Easter day most attractions were closed. It turned out instead I did manage to see a lot: Auschwitz, the Salt Mines, the Jewish district, a tour of Nowa Huta, a stroll along the Vistula, a guided tour of the Old town, and the ghetto, dinner in typical restaurant and also a little bit of shopping! I do recommend going on organized tours as it saves time and the price is just fine. Not all the companies offer the same service though, so pick carefully! I found a very good service with Krakow.direct; all the guides were extremely helpful and friendly and they could offer my little group of six a personalized service at a VERY reasonable price.

Thank liveandtravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
10 reviews
22 helpful votes
“krakow superb city”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 7, 2010

just returned from this beautiful city,our third visit here.however i must warn people of approach of girls asking young men to buy them a drink,then they are approached by a third party trying to get extortionate amounts of money from them for the drinks.please be aware of this scam.the authorities should stamp this out,as it is giving krakow a tarnished reputation.

2 Thank jimbobBirkenhead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Finland (Helsinki)
Level Contributor
5 reviews
50 helpful votes
“Came home yesterday, started planning the next trip right away”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2010

So much to see! We only had a two-night trip and spent most of the time in Auschwitz. Fell in love with Krakow and so many things we didn´t have time to do and see - so we started to plan a second trip right away.

The friendly and helpfull people, the beautifull sightseeing, historical aspects, good public transportation system, great!

1 Thank srjo79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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