Browsing Skyscanner for cheap flights ‘just for fun’ can be costly – it was doing this that led to a last minute 4-day break to Krakow being booked. Saying that Krakow didn’t require much of a budget as food and drinks were extremely cheap and I did not spend over the 100 GBP spending money that I exchanged. On this I went out (heavily) multiple nights and even dined at the Michelin Star Restaurant Del Papa, in fact the only spending not included was the visit to Auschwitz which I had to book with card online. The hostel we stayed at (Freedom Hostel) was also reasonably priced and you could book for a breakfast option, in hindsight I would recommend opting out of the breakfast option as it was quite limited and you could grab a modest breakfast out for a similar budget. We also didn’t consider the fact the room had no proper aircon, which was a bit difficult in the height of a Polish summer! Apart from this, the hostel was a great base to explore Krakow from and good value for money.
Arriving late on our flight, we grabbed an uber from the airport. The uber driver was fantastic in giving us some tips about where to eat and explore in Krakow which is a bonus when opting out of public transport from the airport. Our first day we had a walk round the Main Square in the morning and headed out to Wawel Castle. The Castle has multiple attractions including the ‘dragon’s caves’ which you could easily spend half a day wandering round. Certain days also have free entry to these attractions so if you are interested this may be worth looking into further. That afternoon we were picked up for a tour round Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration camps, which we booked online with viator. This was a humbling experience and that obviously tops many tourist attractions lists. Although, if I could only visit one, I felt that the smaller Birkenau camp was more authentic and had a greater emotional impact on me. Auschwitz is now set up more as a museum, so it offers a lot of information and displays if this is something you’d prefer. These camps are something you could do by public transport, however, we found it much easier doing it in a group tour as our fantastic guide sorted all the tickets etc out for us to minimise waiting times. Queues and security are tight entering Auschwitz Camp and it’s essential to arrive early in order to beat these.
Schindler’s factory is another attraction that offers free entry on specific days, although understandably this is something many people take advantage of, so we were advised against doing the same because of increased waiting times. Something to be aware of is that the factory is more of a museum showing the history of the war and Poland in general, as opposed to solely focused on Oskar Schindler’s story and the film. This being said, his ‘office’ is shown at the end along with a memorial to all the workers he saved. It’s a good way to spend a couple of hours and tours can be cheaply booked online on websites such as Viator.
It may sound basic but one of our favourite things in Krakow involved hiring bikes to cycle round the Old Town and just absorb the atmosphere (apart from when I got lost and freaked my boyfriend out). This can be done at a low cost at multiple bike rentals around the Main Square and should be firmly on your to do list. We even headed down along the river where we found a boat hostel that offered a bar on top deck – this is a great place to just lock up the bikes and grab a quick pint. If you can incorporate this to include sights you may have wanted to see ‘walking tour’ style, bikes can offer a faster and more fun alternative.
An amazing aspect of Krakow is the cheap food and drink, we took full advantage of this with sampling many special shots, beers and spirits! The shots themselves have so many ingredients put into them it’s unbelievable… they are more like miniature cocktails. I was also a huge fan of polish beer so sample all you can manage. As previously mentioned, we did ‘splurge’ our budget at Del Papa for a proper meal out. We ordered two rounds of cocktails, an incredible seafood platter and two mains which cost only a fraction of what we expected. The staff were great and I would highly recommend a visit here, we did book in advance as it seemed popular. The other nights we ate at lower budget restaurants and cafes – although the quality of food was consistently high and impressive value for money.
With more time, I would have visited the quarry just outside of Krakow where you can go cliff jumping and swimming! Especially in the summer months this was a huge temptation, however, we simply ran out of time. We did visit a Modern Art Gallery next to Schindler’s Factory which may be something that appeals to you. Aside from this we didn’t visit any galleries or museums as Auschwitz and Schindler’s Factory were both factual and tour based, over a short period of time we didn’t want to cram too much in. With longer though, and the ability to space out more intense activities, there are plenty of museums and galleries within Krakow to explore and gain more historical and cultural knowledge. Krakow is a top visit – for younger crowds, couples, solo travellers or even families. The tourist scene is very varied and the low costs means there genuinely is something for everyone. Get on Skyscanner!