12 min read
After our Head of Operations Sam shared his tips on how to spend 48h in Rome, our Travel Expert Ellis takes a short BRB break in Krakow, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and shares his tips on how to spend 48 memorable hours in Krakow.
Kra-cow, Kra-co, Kra-cough – one of Poland’s most popular tourist destinations, a city that is consistently mispronounced, Krakow welcomes 9.5 million visitors per year, impressive right?
And what city wouldn’t brag about these numbers of eager visitors when they also boast the attractions, sights, history and culture of a city like Krakow, not to mention being the birthplace of figures like mathematical buff Nicolaus Copernicus and Helena Rubinstein, AKA a pioneer in the cosmetics industry who we have to thank for waterproof mascara.
At just 2 hours and 20 minutes away by plane, or an eye-watering 26 hours and 46 minutes by train (probably will defeat the idea of the 48 hour city guide if this is your choice of transport so we heavily encourage the former), getting yourself to Krakow is a simple, stress-free and fast process, which you probably can’t say about your commute in and out of the city. It only makes sense to jet off to Krakow for the weekend.
Whether you choose to visit in the crisp, cold breeze of the winter, or in the peak of the heat in the summertime to bask in the sunshine, this Be Right Back itinerary can adapt to all climates – just don’t get your packing checklists mixed up. Your favourite shorts and t-shirts outfit combo has no place in Krakow’s lows of -4 degrees.
Hand-picked, and lovely curated by yours truly, check out how exactly you need to be spending your short 48 hours in Krakow for a trip you are bound not to forget.
After a two and a half hour flight from London Stansted, I arrive in Krakow mid-morning on Friday and take a taxi to get to my hotel as quickly as I can, in time for a traditional Polish breakfast.
As I enter 4* Privilege Suites, I remember why it is one of our favourites hotels in Krakow. Each guest has the comfort of their own apartment, all carefully designed with modern techniques and furniture.
Enjoy a drink at the end of a busy day on your own private terrace with a beautiful view.
And with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5, I know it's going to be a great stay!
It wouldn’t be a Be Right Back city guide without a medieval square now would it. You know us by now, it’s the only way we know how to begin these guides. A city without a square leaves us floundering, lost and confused.
It’s a pretty good medieval square though to be honest. In fact, it’s Europe’s largest – how’s that for a square.
Photo Credit: @prettylittlekrakow
Known to the locals as Rynek Główny, this was the spot of executions from back in the day, an activity we have kindly excluded from this guide out of the goodness of our hearts. It was also renamed the ‘Adolf Hitler Platz’ for a short time during the German occupation of the city back in World War Two – thankfully, the name didn’t stick.
If that wasn’t enough history for you, the historic ‘Cloth hall’ or Sukiennice located in the centre of the square it is also one of the first UNESCO Heritage Sites, and sees millions of tourists flock to enjoy the history and culture of the square year by year.
There’s also St Mary’s Basilica, considered one of the most important churches in Krakow whose Gothic architecture makes it an unmissable sight.
Photo Credit: @mrs.megansheets
See, we don’t just take you to any old squares – oh boy are they worth the visit.
After taking in the sites, make sure to grab some breakfast at the Europejska Café only 2 minutes from Cloth Hall.
Photo Credit: @djale_official
It’s also worth knowing, before your morning in the square is over, that it is not all about medieval history. In terms of recent history, as recent as 1994, Rynek Glówny is home to a dachshund parade that happens every autumn, and is simply, yet incredibly, a celebration of sausage dogs. If this is a sight you must see (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see a plethora of little-legged dogs marching the medieval streets of Poland), then be sure to plan your trip in the Autumn time.
When in Krakow, it is a no brainer to get involved in Polish culture and embrace Polish cuisine. This means it is of the utmost importance that every tourist must take part in a baking workshop – it is non-negotiable and incredibly tasty work.
I say with confidence that homemade bread is up there with some of the greatest, most yummy and satisfying food-stuffs to exist, and the Zwye Muzeum Obwarzanka is dedicated to the obwarzanka, a braided, ring-shaped bread snack that has been part of Krakow’s history for over 600 years (it must be mouldy having been around for that long).
Boiled and seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and sesame or poppy seeds before being baked, these dough rings are loved by Polish citizens old and new, and a tourist favourite.
This interactive museum combines an educational history about this beloved bread and the chance for you to get your hands floured up and make your own during the obwarsanki making workshop.
Photo Credit: @ewawachowicz
And don’t worry, I know what you’re all thinking. You will in fact be rewarded for your efforts at the end of the bake, and will receive a well-deserved certificate to commemorate your participation, which you can cherish forever.
Homemade bread and awards isn’t bad for Day one of the trip.
With a stomach full of bread, and happiness in your heart, it’s time for some much needed cardio. At Be Right Back, we leave no stone unturned as far as activities go; first you bake, now you walk, I’m sure there’ll be crafting at some point in this adventure…
Your walk this evening is the ascension of one of four ancient mounds, specifically Krakow’s Mound, which is actually Krakow’s highest point.
Photo Credit: @gzerjav
Erected to commemorate the Polish national leader, Tadeusz Kościuszko, this artificial mound has a serpentine path that leads to the top, providing panoramic views of the Vistula River and the city (another thing we can’t be without in our BRB city guides – a good old panoramic view).
Photo Credit: @jennacolephoto
If a hike doesn’t quench your activity-thirst, there is a museum devoted to Kościuszko next to the mound that display treasures and artefacts from his life, definitely worth exploring.
To welcome the late night of Krakow, head to the Jewish Quarter and grab a drink at Chevra Tehilim.
The above is a fairly harmless sentence, but all is not what it seems.
By ‘drink’, I mean a piwo z sokiem and by ‘Chevra Tehilim’, I mean a former synagogue that has now become a popular bar, heavily damaged during WW2.
Photo Credit: @iwa_krakow
I told you, not quite as it seems, but definitely a lot of fun.
A piwo z sokiem is basically a Polish style beer made with raspberry syrup. Not too dissimilar to cappuccinos that have a hazelnut syrup flavouring. The only difference being we don’t recommend giving the piwo z sokiem to kids.
Photo Credit: @bestbirpiwo
For a steal of £2.50, you can be one pint of piwo heavier and can tick off yet another Krakow bucket list item.
Your second morning in this Polish city begins with being picked up by a quirky, retro car for an education in Krakow’s political history; a tour of the city’s communist history in a car that will only make left turns..
Photo Credit: @retrocarcracow
The tour takes you back in time and provides insight into Nowa Huta, the easternmost district of Krakow.
Photo Credit: @thegoldenmoss
Don’t worry though, it’s not as heavy as it sounds. The vintage cars and laidback guides make the tour memorable and fun whilst providing an education in communist history in the city.
You will see the trees that line the streets with the purpose of absorbing the impact of nuclear strikes, the avenue of roses that was once home to a monument of Lenin, and you will even be taken to an ‘apartment’, filled with Soviet memorabilia where you can watch a propaganda film and taste some vodka. A drink we all need at 10am.
You have tried the Polish obwarsanki bread, now it is time to fill your rumbling stomachs and line them after dabbling in some early morning vodka, and indulge in another Polish national dish: dumplings, or more accurately, pierogis.
Photo Credit: @polishfood.hk
Head to Zielony Kredens restaurant to sample some pierogi, with whatever filling takes your fancy, and finish up your meal with even more pierogi, only this time choose the sweet options. These Polish dumplings really are versatile.
And fear not, your final afternoon is not dominated by stuffing your face with pierogi (not that we’d judge you if it were), we just have a significantly cooler place you must see.
The Wieliczka salt mine is 327 metres deep, and an eye-watering 800 steps down to the bottom, so make sure you’ve packed your walking boots, and try to pretend you don’t suffer from vertigo.
Photo Credit: @whatsupdoc_w
The mines have been open since the 13th Century, producing sodium chloride – or table salt, to you and me – until 2007.
Although those 800 steps may sounds off putting, the journey down is worth it, as the depths of the mine hosts the world’s largest underground chapel (another UNESCO world heritage site – Krakow is just bragging now).
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the chapel is carved entirely out of sodium. Not only the walls, floors and ceilings, but also the intricately carved monuments on the wall, including a recreation of Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper.’ We promise, you will have never seen anything like it.
Photo Credit: @sunken_squid
For our eagle-eyed readers, you may have noticed earlier in our guide a brief hint at crafting being on the agenda. Well the time has come for crafts, specifically a stained glass making workshop – a relaxed way to see in the evening of Day two.
The stained glass museum was opened by S.G. Żeleński in the early 20th Century as a place for artists, part of the art nouveau movement to meet and work.
Photo Credit: @workshopandstainedglassmuseum
The workshop provides a unique, memorable experience to work in the same location as these artists, and create your own stained glass from scratch – from selecting the separate stains, to soldering the pieces together. Not a bad souvenir from a great trip if we do say so ourselves.
To say goodbye to this city, it is only fair to go and see St. Florian’s Gate, the epitome of history in the city.
Photo Credit: @mika_gaillard
It is the best-known Polish Gothic Tower, and is at the epicentre of the old town, having been erected as early as the 14th Century. It was once the Royal Route, and had Kings, Princes and distinguished guests passing through it into the city.
It is the focal point of the old town, and a testament to the medieval history of Krakow and cannot be missed.
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.
I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Krakow and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Ellis (Travel Expert at BeRightBack)
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