Top 5 Things to Do in Krakow

The following is a guest post by blogger and round-the-world traveler Amber Hoffman.

Krakow is a beautiful city and its heartbeat is the Main Market Square, or Rynek Glowny, and every visit to Krakow will include a walk through the square, perhaps a drink at one of the dozens of places that line the largest medieval town square in Europe. But, what happens when you leave the Old Town? Here are my 5 suggestions for things to do in Krakow outside of the Market Square.

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The Vistula, or Wisla, River

It separates most of the touristy places in town and the rest of Krakow. In the middle are miles of walking and running paths along the river. Walk the path to see locals riding their bicycles or walking their children in strollers. In the summer there is a beach bar complete with sand volley ball courts - not something you would associate with Poland. If thirst strikes, hit one of the many barge bars along the river, ranging from traditional boats to trendy, high end cocktail barges. Try Mauritania Bistro and Pub, near the pedestrian bridge, for happy hour (11 am - 7pm). Enjoy refreshing vodka sours in the summer time on the roof of the barge, and enjoy the on-the-water kitsch decor inside during the colder months.

Kazimierz, the former Jewish Quarter

Kazimierz provides a unique look into a real Krakow neighborhood. Historically, it was home to Jews fleeing persecution during WWII, but was ultimately wiped out and left deserted. The remaining synagogues seem silent and haunting with the small number of remaining Jews who reside in the neighborhood. There are a few museums, a traditional milk bar, a range of boutiques, and numerous outdoor restaurants to stop and soak in the atmosphere of a historic neighborhood with a haunting past.

Traditional Polish cuisine with a Bavarian twist

This takes you to Pod Wawelem (ul. Swietej Gertrudy 26-29, in the Hotel Royal) where the Bavarian side of the house provides you one liter ice cold beers in a beer hall setting and the Polish side of the house provides you with traditional cuisine, including a crispy pork knuckle that will knock your socks off. A 1.2 kg pork knuckle was only $14 US and served us 4 meals while keeping in the fridge of our apartment. Served simply with shaved horseradish, two kinds of mustard, some dill pickles, and pickled cabbage, it has to be the best deal in town. Although a little touristy, locals rave. Everything on the menu is quality food and in huge portions served on wood cutting boards.

Wawel Castle

It will forever be the symbol of Polish tourism. It sits just on the outskirts of the Old Town and hovers large on Wawel Hill, with a wonderful vantage point over the city. The small cathedral across Ul. Bernardynska has free Chopin concerts Monday and Thursday each week.

Live like a local, by renting an apartment.

We stayed for a week in a gigantic apartment, overlooking Wawel Castle through huge windows. A stones throw from the river. We shopped at the local super markets and bakeries, made our own breakfast, and said hello to neighbors. The back of the apartment faced a large courtyard shared by several other buildings, and gave us a sneak peek into their lives. Rates are very reasonable for apartments walking distance to the main sites.

*To find a great place to stay in Krakow, check out the local rentals on Tripping.

Guest Post by:

Amber S. Hoffman,

After 10 years as an attorney, Amber left her job at the largest law firm in the world and decided to start living her life. She is now a recovering tax lawyer, traveling the world with her husband. This is her second RTW trip. Her first RTW ended with a return to the tax world. This trip hopes to explore Europe, Latin America, and ultimately end in a happy existence somewhere in Asia, where her passion really lies, outside the law.