When it comes to travel, I think nothing of jumping on the first flight of the day, visiting a country, seeing some of the sights, have dinner somewhere, stay the night and then take the last flight back home on the following day. Sometimes when you don’t get a lot of days off to travel you have to learn to maximise the little amount of time you have! In this guide I share my itinerary for a weekend in Krakow, Poland, including things to see and do, where to eat and where I stayed!
Duration: 2 days, 1 night (Saturday – Sunday)
Month of Travel: May
Things to do in Krakow
DAY 1 AFTERNOON:
Rynek Glowny (Main Square)
Rynek Glowny is the Main Square in Krakow and dates back to the 13th century. It is surrounded by some great architectural buildings, such as the St Mary’s Basilica and the Cloth Hall which was apparently the first Mall in the world and is now full of little craft and souvenir stalls! It’s a fun little square to sit and people watch. There were street performers and horse and cart rides too and enough restaurants and cafes to keep you full up for a whole year!
Visit the Kazimierz Jewish District
Kazimierz is a short walk from Rynek Glowny. There are lots of Synagogues, cute little streets and interesting street art. Steven Spielberg used the Kazimierz District while filming the movie ‘Schindler’s List’. Schindler’s Factory Museum, which inspired the story for the movie, is a 20 minute walk away.
River Walk by Wawel Castle
From Kazimierz, you can head back to the Main Square via Wawel Castle and the Vistula River! Outside of the castle there is a dragon statue that breathes fire every 10 minutes!
DAY 1 EVENING:
Maze Krakow Escape Room
I literally searched TripAdvisor for hours before I decided which escape room to do in Krakow, there are a few to choose from! In the end I opted for Maze Krakow and it was so much fun! Me and my Mum done the World War 2 themed game where we had to find a bomb and diffuse it within an hour.
I won’t say too much as I don’t want to spoil the surprises for people that may do it! One of the good things about this company, was that they gave you a walkie-talkie. If it looked like you were barking up completely the wrong tree or if you wanted to check that you were doing something right, they would give you a little push in the right direction. This was good as there was just the 2 of us, normally escape rooms are recommended for 3 people+.
As there was no one booked in after our slot, the lady let us carry on until we got out, we managed to escape in 1 hour 10 (10 minutes over the allowed time)! We were buzzing when we got out, we were really proud of our team work and couldn’t stop talking about it!
Auschwitz and Birkenau Tour
The main reason for my weekend in Krakow, was because my Mum wanted to visit Auschwitz. Before arriving in Krakow, I booked a tour through Krakow Auschwitz that would give us enough time to do the tour and then get back in time for our evening flight at 9.50pm. We were picked up at our hotel in a mini bus and taken to the main Auschwitz museum first.
As we arrived AFTER a certain time, we had to join one of the guided tours where everyone was given a head set to listen to the tour guide. I think this kinda ruined the experience a little as it felt like everyone was on one giant conveyor belt where we were rushed through the buildings and didn’t really have any time to read the displays. If you are happy to try and navigate the local transport system, I would recommend trying to get there early so you are free to wander at your own pace.
*TIP* They are VERY strict with the size of bags that enter Auschwitz. If it’s bigger than a sheet of A4 paper. Think again. Also, be prepared to pay to use the toilets.
We jumped back in our mini bus and were taken to Birkenau camp that’s just down the road (if you’re not part of a tour, there is a shuttle bus between the two). This is where the majority of the people stayed in awful awful buildings that looked like chicken sheds. (This isn’t even trying to be funny, it’s to give you an idea of the poor conditions that these people were made to live in). You can also see the railway tracks where the trains used to bring the people to the camps and 2 ruins of the gas chambers that the Germans destroyed when the camp got ‘discovered’. Birkenau is now home to a big holocaust memorial remembering the lives of the 1 MILLION+ people that were killed at Auschwitz and Birkenau between 1940 – 1945.
(You may also be interested in visiting the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam)
DAY 2 AFTERNOON (tour arrived back in Krakow at 3.30pm):
Fail at finding Geocaches!
I went through a stage of being obsessed with Geocaching, there was one near my hotel…which we failed to find, there was one near the Church of St. Wojciech in Rynek Glowny and we failed to find that one too! We weren’t the only ones though, we saw several people trying to find the one in the Main Square and they couldn’t find it either…or maybe they just really liked stroking tree branches?! There are several more around the city but we only tried the 2 in these locations.
Where to Eat in Krakow
In all honesty, we were bad tourists during this trip. We bought food that we ate on the plane over (due to flight times) and then we literally ate junk food around the Main Square or bought snacks from the local newsagents/supermarkets…although I do love wandering round and looking at all the strange labels in the shops! Krakow, I apologise now, that I didn’t truly sample your cuisine.
Ice Cream in Rynek Glowny
There’s always time for ice cream and there’s plenty of little cafes and gelato shops to choose from! We bought one and then sat on the wall in front of the Church of St. Wojciech to do some people watching!
Czech Market (in a square behind St Mary’s Basilica)
After my visit to Prague and telling my Mum about Trdelniks, which is a doughy type cone covered in sugar or chocolate, she wanted to try one too! There happened to be a Czech Market in town during our visit so we had Trdelniks for lunch! (Yep, a healthy balanced meal!)
I know, I know! I don’t even really like McDonalds! We were slowly running out of time before we had to catch the train back to the airport and all the restaurants in the Main Square were PACKED. We played it safe and went to McDonalds as we knew it would be quick. We both had a chicken strip meal, a McFlurry and a smoothie for a little under £5 each which was a bargain really!
Where to Stay in Krakow
495zl ($124/£99) pn – breakfast included
We had a twin room and found the hotel a very nice place to stay, we were even able to check in early!
- Location: It was a short walk from both the main train station and the Main Square.
- There was a small bar where we bought a couple of drinks that we could take back to the room.
- Breakfast was included!
There is a train that runs from the Airport to Krakow Central. There is a self service ticket machine on the platform at the airport station. It’s quite simple to use. The trains have screens that display which station is next up, just watch for Krakow Glowny which is the central station!
A weekend is Krakow isn’t really long enough if you want to visit Auschwitz at the same time, as the museum is an hours drive from the city (longer on public transport). There is a lot more to see and do in Krakow, for example the Wieliczka Salt Mine looked like an interesting trip and as you can see, we didn’t even really have time to sit down and enjoy a proper meal! When you travel alongside working full time, sometimes compromises have to be made, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go because it’s ‘not long enough’…it just gives you an excuse to make a return trip!