While synonymous with stag weekends, Kraków’s rich history, stunning architecture and diverse culture make it an ideal weekend retreat for all. In the latest in our ’48 Hours in’ series, we explore Poland’s second city and offer up ideas on the top things to do during a short break in Kraków.

What to see and do

Wawel Castle

The original Wawel Castle was a much smaller Gothic structure, however after burning down in 1499, it was rebuilt into the Renaissance palace it is today. The castle was the seat of Polish kings for over 500 years, but is now open to visitors and is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine. If you have time, why not follow your visit to the castle with a trip to Wawel Cathedral which sits on the same hill?

Schindler’s Factory

Housed in the former factory of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi industrialist who is credited with saving the lives of over 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factory, isn't much to look at from the outside. However, once inside, this interactive museum tells the story of the German occupation of Kraków during WWII covering everything from everyday life in the occupied city and the resistance movement to Oskar Schindler himself. The museum can be harrowing at times but allows visitors to come away with a better understanding of Poland’s place in the Second World War.

Ghetto Heroes Square

During the Nazi occupation of the city, Kraków’s 68,000 Jews were forced into a small, entirely walled-off area, known as the ghetto. Although little remains of the ghetto, in its place stands a moving tribute to the thousands sent to from the ghetto to their death in concentration camps and labour camps. The memorial takes the form of oversized bronze chairs which stand in isolation, each representing a thousand Kraków Jews sent to their death. The heart-wrenching tribute is worth a visit as a stark reminder of the suffering experienced by the Jewish people during WWII.

Market Square

Thanks to its lively nature, the medieval square, which dates back to the 13th Century, has been named as the best public space in Europe by Projects for Public Spaces. The buildings lining the square are a must-see for any architecture lovers, with the Gothic Basilica of the Virgin Mary standing just a stone’s throw from the huge Renaissance Cloth Hall. It’s also a great place to grab a drink or bite to eat due to an abundance of bars and restaurants interspersed between all the landmarks, and at this time of year, it’s home to a wonderful Christmas market –  with enough mulled wine to leave even The Grinch feeling festive.

What to Eat

Pierogi

These filled dumplings are a traditional Polish delicacy, often containing potato, cheese or fried onions. If savoury isn’t for you, then opt for sweet pierogi, usually served with sour cream mixed with sugar.

Zapiekanka

Fuel your sight-seeing with some tasty street food in the form of zapiekanka – a halved baguette topped with sautéed mushrooms and melted cheese, and served with ketchup. Yum!

Makowiec

This poppy seed pastry dessert is particularly popular at Christmas and Easter. It looks like a cross between chocolate marble cake and a swiss roll, however, it tastes unlike any cake you’ve tried before.

Do you have any other recommendations for us? Let us know your favourite places in Kraków in the comments below!

Are you travelling to Poland soon? Book your transfer from Kraków airport with hoppa and arrive happy!

 

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