Interested in Krakow?
We'll send you updates with the latest deals, reviews and articles for Krakow each week.
Topics include Dining Scene, Poland: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Krakow, once you become familar with it, is relatively straightforward and the old town is wonderfully car free and pedestrianised round the main square.
If you take Rynek Glowny as the centre of the old town, streets radiate out from this and then are circled by a necklace of green and trees (Planty) and you will need to cross this area to get anywhere else. The top end is capped by Wawel Castle and the river. The other two areas that are easily reached on foot are Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter, which used to be a town in its own right, and Podgorsze, which is the site of the old Jewish ghetto and situated across the river Vistula. If you reach the river there are broad walkways along both banks which link the bridges.
Driving a car in Krakow could be a nightmare of trams, cars, taxis and buses and watch out if you are crossing the roads, trams appear from nowhere.
If you tire of walking you can always jump in a taxi, which are good value in zloty terms. Streets are clearly marked, but some of the pavements are very broken. In the winter make sure you pay attention to the roped-off pavements as this probably indicates that men are clearing snow from the rooftops overhead, or dagger-like icicles are about to fall.
BUSES AND TRAMS: Each stop has timetables giving the lines and the times buses or trams are due and where they will stop. Make sure each ticket is validated on first use by putting it in the machine on the bus/tram, it will be automatically date and time-stamped; there are inspectors and they frequently check tickets; they are plain clothed. On trams you can buy tickets from a machine, make sure you've got coins with you.
HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE RIDES: If you want a treat at a fraction of the cost for the same thing in most cities, take one of the many horse drawn carriages available in the main market square of the Rynek Glowny area in the centre of the old town. All the horses are exceptionally well cared for, there are two horses per carriage, and the ride is smooth. Most of the drivers speak English and are well versed in Krakow history, which they will share with you if you ask.
GOLF CART TOURS: There are also golf carts/buggies available for tours but be SURE to confirm the cost in advance of getting in. Some can be very costly. Also confirm that the person conducting the tour will be speaking in the language you request. In the very busiest time for tourism (late August through mid-September) the demand for these golf carts can be so great that some may be driven by people who don't know the history of Krakow and simply plays a pre-recorded tape in the language you requested for the tour. These tours are more costly than the horse and carriages (or at least they were in Aug-Sept 2011). Taxis are MUCH cheaper, and the streetcars are even less.
PRIVATE CAR AND DRIVER: Surprising as it may seem, the cost per person for three or four people can be the same or less than the tour bus for an excursion to places like the Salt Mines or Auschwitz if you book through your hotel and negotiate. Do not accept a "Taxi" as a private car & driver. There are several trusted private car services in Krakow. The better hotels are aware of them and if you are unfamiliar with the city, you should use the hotel to book.