Krakow is the most popular city in Poland when it comes to travel itineraries and it surely lives up to the expectations. Picture a beautiful city with stunning architecture, hip vibe and delicious food–in other words perfect! We stayed at a modern one bedroom apartment overlooking the Vistula river and I couldn’t help thinking how amazing would it be to live here. I can go for a morning/evening walk along the river everyday!!
We spent 5 days in Krakow and our itinerary was a mix of exploring the city and some fab day trips.
Day 1: We arrived from Wroclaw in the afternoon (3.5 hour train ride). After a quick lunch at Cawa (I had a simple Pesto pasta since I wasn’t feeling too well) we went to the Schindler’s museum, an. Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory has been converted to a museum which tells the history of Krakow in the context of the World Wars, Soviet occupation, Solidarity movement and current state of affairs. There is also a small section on how Schindler saved his Jewish workforce from execution/concentration camps.
Post this my husband went back to the apartment to watch Spain vs Portugal Football World Cup match and I walked along the river for a bit. Packed dinner from the same place we had lunch at (husband was glued to TV so no other option) and went back.
Day 2: We visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most deadly Nazi concentration camps where the Nazis killed millions of Jewish men, women, children during 1940-1945. These are basically two camp sites at Auschwitz and Birkenau which have been converted to museums. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable with a lot of personal stories to share. I know a lot of people who think this is a sad/tragic experience to be done on a vacation. I think everyone should visit this place once in their lifetime. It is very difficult to describe what I felt, I was overwhelmed to say the least. I think it shows what hatred can drive humans to do and compel us to embrace our differences.
Next stop were the Wieliczka Salt mines- excavated from the 13th century and produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world’s oldest operating salt mines. The underground Wieliczka Salt Mine boasts kilometres of walkways and ramps, magnificent chambers, lakes and breathtaking salt statues. I found the tour to be very interesting, and my favourite part was the chapel with its beautiful carvings– all carvings done by salt mine workers!!
Day 3: We started the morning with a great breakfast and delicious coffee at Boulevard 11. We did a walking tour of Krakow’s gorgeous market square, old town streets and Wawel castle. After a super experience in Wroclaw, we naturally picked the Free Walkative tour and we loved it.
Post the tour, we had a delicious lunch at Klimaty Poludnia Winiarnia and hopped on to our bus to Zakopane.
After checking in at the pretty Villa Nosal, we took the cable car to Gubalowka. It was a perfect day with beautiful views of the hills. We spent some time enjoying the view and then took the cable car down. The market square was lovely with its shops and wafting smell of food and to top it all the chill in the air felt great. We had a nice dinner at Dobra Kasza Nasza before heading back to our hotel.
Day 4: After breakfast, we went to Kasprowy Wierch via cable car. Its a ~2000m high peak in the Tatra mountains on the border with Slovakia. It was a rainy day and the visibility up there was bad when we arrived but due to the winds it cleared up and we were blessed with awe-inspiring views. We hiked a bit and honestly I didn’t want to leave but we had to move on to the next activity i.e. hike to the Morskie Oko.
We took a bus from our Villa to the Tatra National park. You will have to buy tickets at the entrance. The hike is about 11 km uphill and then down. It was a cool day so heat wasn’t an issue. The hike consists of paved road with some short cuts. Post the hike, we picked our luggage from the Villa and headed back to the bus-stand.
Day 5: We went back to Boulevard 11 for breakfast. Today was dedicated to exploring Krakow a bit more. Our first stop was the Wawel castle, residence of Polish kings and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most striking feature for me was actually the Wawel Cathedral with its gold and brown domes. Also, the collection of paintings inside the castle museum is lovely.
We then walked to St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow’s market square. A stunning piece of architecture, I loved how the two towers are different. Krakow’s market square itself is very charming and we walked along the many streets around it for sometime to soak in all the beauty.
We shopped for some souvenirs and had an amazing lunch at Miod Malina–probably the best meal of the trip! Finally, we headed back to Warsaw for the flight back to Singapore.