Krakow: 7 things I learned about the stunning city on my solo travels
A stunning spot all round.
Earlier this month, I visited Krakow for the first time.
I went alone, making it the second time I had decided to jump ship, head off, and go solo for a city break.
Going solo for Krakow was the entirely correct decision, namely due to the fact that I could explore the city at my own pace, stay out as late as I wanted, and eat as many kebabs as I pleased.
The city is beautiful, it's historic, and it's maybe one of the cheapest places I have ever visited - which naturally, made it that bit more appealing.
Here are seven other crucial facts I learned about Krakow while I was there.
1. The value for money is insane
Go to Krakow with a pleasant amount of money and you will return with a substantial amount of that money.
€1 is equal to about 4 Polish zloty, and although that technically should make you feel as if you're dropping a load of cash, it really doesn't - because it's so cheap.
You'll get a full delicious dinner, side, and glass of wine for the equivalent of 15 euro. You'll get a snack for about 50c. You'll spend literally no money on accommodation (if you're staying in a hostel), or very little money on accommodation (if you're staying in a hotel).
A delightful situation for all involved... including your bank account.
2. The vintage stores are bangin'
Think Dublin quality of secondhand, but about a third of the price.
During my first magical and delightful evening in Krakow, I visited many (two) vintage shops.
It was there that I discovered that the Polish folk have a penchant for good quality jazzy vintage shirts - and that unlike back home, they actually won't cost an arm and a leg.
Flyin' Vintage was a personal fav (out of the solid two, remember).
You can check out their Instagram below:
3. Vodka tastes better when free
And also when Polish.
Upon arriving in Krakow, I realised that it was just my luck to have checked into a hostel that offered its residents free vodka 'cocktails' every night after dinner - which was also free.
A divine set-up that would delight even the most anti-white-spirited folk among us, this traveller found it difficult not to wander down to the common area of the Greg & Tom hostel each evening some free, and therefore delicious, vodka.
Granted, the 'cocktails' in question were glasses filled with vodka and fruit juice of a 1:1 ratio, but hey, I certainly was not complaining.
4. The Salt Mines are a gift from God
I'll level with you. On my second day in Krakow, I did a walking tour. It was fine.
And on that walking tour, our guide told us that the Salt Mines were a tourist trap and that nobody should bother wasting their money on them. This was, in fact, not fine because it was simply a lie.
The Wieliczka mines, located about half an hour outside of the city, were first excavated during the 13th century.
Between that time and the 1900s, numerous chambers, four chapels, countless passage ways, and a salt lake were created - all as far as 135 metres below ground.
It's an extremely impressive feat, and 100 percent worth seeing.
5. Auschwitz is a powerful and deeply upsetting visit
The above statement does not even slightly convey how affecting and necessary a trip to Auschwitz is when spending time in Krakow.
Pre-book a tour online (do not just show up there on your own, your guide is what makes this experience), and reserve an entire day of your time to remembering those who were imprisoned and killed in the death camp during the Second World War.
The tour will take you to Auschwitz 1 where many Polish prisoners died during the war, and later to Birkenau, the site of the infamous train tracks that brought thousands upon thousands of Jews to their deaths.
It's a deeply upsetting trip, you will not emerge from it feeling positive, but it's important and should not be missed.
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Auschwitz I. Arbeit macht frei gate and the shadow of this cynical inscription which was the lying welcome for the prisoners. . . --- Photo by @neil_holman --- . . #Auschwitz #Birkenau #AuschwitzMemorial #Nazi #Germany #concentrationcamp #extermination #genocide #history #Holocaust #Shoah #Jews #Poles #Roma #people #life #death #humanity #humiliation #dehumanization #remembrance #commemoration #memory #museum #Poland #igerspoland #UNESCO #worldheritage #worldHeritagelist @unesco #photography
6. Kebabs are cheap and giant
7. The best Indian restaurant in the world is, in fact, in Krakow town
I may not have tasted every Indian in the world, but I'm fairly certain on this one.
Just off the city's main square lies India Masala - a restaurant that offers as many paneer options as your heart desires.
Or, at least, three or four of them. And that's enough, tbh.
I ordered myself a paneer, a rice, some garlic naan, and a glass of water. The meal was delicious, divine, and the water probably cost more than the glass of wine I decided against getting.
Honest to God, the best Indian I've ever eaten. No lie.