A short trip report from our 6 days / 5 nights trip to Krakow Poland including:
• Krakows old city
• Local train to Auschwitz and Birkenau
• Tytano – cool urban bar/restaurant area for the local hipsters
• Local train to the salt mine in Wieliczka
• Krakow Zoo
Krakow gets A LOT OF visitors these days. Last year 2.1 million people visited Auschwitz and 1,2 million visited the Salt mine in Wieliczka. If you don’t want to chance it and get in the queue in the early morning for same day tickets it is important to book online in advance.
A short guide to our 5 favorite places in Krakow:
Krakow Old city
Everyone comes here to see the magnificent and well preserved old buildings (the city was not destroyed in WW2), the main square, the interesting jewish quarter, the Wawel castle and maybe take the underground tour, schindlers factory tour etc.
Auschwitz and Birkenau
We did not book online (all individual visits and group tours were booked out more than a week in advance) – just took the nice little local train very, very early in the morning (06.20 from Krakow Glowny) – walked 20 minutes from the train station and arrived around 08.20 at the little white ticket office next to the parking lot – here you can buy ticket for same day entrance (if they are still available). We got lucky and got free individual entrance tickets for 09.40. Between 10 and 16 only group tours are allowed so had we not been lucky to obtain the before 10am tickets we would have had to wait unitll after 1600 Hrs. Organisation is quite Eastern European (no signs, long queues, no explanation about which queues to line up in when). We took the free bus to Birkenau – totally we spent around 4 hrs seeing the two (chilling) sites.
Tytano is such a cool place – can be found on google maps – Urban bar/restaurant/open-air hang-out place attracting the local hipsters of Krakow. This complex of buildings used to be a tobacco factory. Today it has a “squatting” feel to it – since the buildings are all abandoned – except for the bars and restaurant in the ground floors – with boarded up and smashed windows. Maybe the coolest place in Krakow.
The Salt mine in Wieliczka.
No individual access – everyone has to join a group tour – we managed to book this online 4 days in advance (probably you will get same day tickets if you go in the early morning and queue up for same day tickets – but no guarantees). The guide was young and energetic and sounded like somebody who was working in a circus. “go to channel 157” he said after handing us our individual audio systems. The receiver started on channel 1 which meant you only had to press the + button 156 times to get to the right channel.. It is one of the oldes salt mines in the world, it ceased operation in 2007 (due to dropping salt prices and floodings), it is 310 meters at it’s deepest and there are 287 kilometers of tunnels inside the mine. The guided tour takes you through 3,5 kilometers of these or a little over 1%. Inside there is a cathedral, three chapels and lots of statues all
A modern and well-maintained Zoo – few foreign tourists seem to come here so it is a good place to meet local families with children. Entrance for 2 kids and 2 adults was totally only 56 zlotys (about 15USD which makes it almost 7 times less expensive that Copenhagen Zoo..).
The local bus getting us there had a screen with dynamically updated route on google maps and an electronical sign showing real-time remaining info about the coming stops – very, very modern and not what many people would think about Polish public transport.