Last Minute Krakow
Table of contents
Kraków is one of Europe's architectural highlights. Once the royal capital of Poland, the streets offer a delightful blend of medieval treasures and bustling modernity. Although Kraków may no longer be the Polish capital, it is still a vibrant capital of culture. There are many reasons to go on a last-minute trip to Kraków, from the spectacular food to the thriving arts scene. It is an exciting city steeped in rich, if sometimes tortured, history.
Kraków’s Old Town, or Stare Miasto, has played a crucial role in Polish life since 1038. Its medieval centre was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites, and it's easy to see why. The streets are loaded with antiquated charm, from the beautifully preserved 14th-century St. Mary's Basilica to the spacious Market Square. It truly feels like a fairy-tale wonderland, complete with horse-drawn carriages.
Perched on a limestone outcrop just south of the Old Town, Wawel Castle was the royal seat of Polish kings for centuries. Today, it retains its magnificent splendour but has been converted into one of the world’s most alluring art museums. You can visit the 11th-century crypt below Wawel Cathedral or visit the Gothic treasure and armoury rooms in the castle itself.
This important museum on the outskirts of Kraków is an interesting contrast to the city’s medieval accomplishments. Housed in a former Soviet cinema (Kino ?wiatowid), it narrates the history of communism in Poland through photographic exhibitions and ephemera displays. One of its highlights includes the fall-out shelter in the basement with a guided tour of other nuclear bunkers in the area.
Kraków is a magnet for Polish foodies, offering everything from classic local staples to cutting-edge cuisine. Traditional delights include pierogi and kie?basa (sausage)- two local specialities that are served in just about every cellar restaurant. Look out for street-side obwarzanek krakowski (braided bread, like a bagel) stalls and lody (ice cream) vendors.
This sobering museum in a former factory is dedicated to both Oskar Schindler and Poland's wartime occupation. Schindler saved 1,200 of his Jewish workers from the Holocaust by bribing officials. His actions left him completely bankrupt and practically destitute following the war – but his legacy continued in the surviving Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews).
This gorgeous boutique hotel is located right in the centre of Kraków, just moments from the Old Town and a 9-minute walk from the Main Square. The hotel itself offers a quirky and unique stay, with bespoke furniture and spacious, modern rooms. Housed in a historic tenement building, No.23 is the perfect introduction to Kraków and its modern/traditional aesthetic.
Located close to the Wis?a river in a leafy tree-lined area, you have access to many of Kraków's most beautiful sights in a matter of minutes. The contemporary hotel is full of character with colourful furnishings and super-chic rooms. This is one for the style-conscious traveller, offering pretty bedrooms finished in attractive 5-shaded palettes. When the sun is shining, head out to the funky outside lounge for drinks and snacks.
Escape to the heart of the Old Town with this centrally located hotel. Located in a historic three-floor townhouse, this hotel maintains a perfect blend of traditional and modern with ornate rugs and classic furnishings. The rooms are also spacious with excellent street views. With a charming on-site restaurant space, you can opt to stay in or explore the many bars in the vicinity.
Avena Boutique is a charming little hotel in an artsy district in northern Kraków with excellent links to the city’s main attractions. Furnishings are modern and contemporary, with bold geometric patterns, intense blues and warm splashes of yellow. The common areas are particularly alluring and are ideal places to unwind in. Guests have access to the delectable Zielone Tarasy restaurant next door, offering organic menus and a delightful conservatory.
If you’re looking for a more independent stay, consider this excellent apartment hotel. Spacious and kitted out with all the essentials for a self-catered holiday, it benefits from a phenomenal location at the foot of Wawel Castle. The apartments themselves are elegantly finished with plenty of contemporary artworks and local crafts. The hotel has regularly been shortlisted for awards in design.
Any time is a good time for a last-minute escape to Kraków, but it's good to know what to expect. The peak tourist period is summer, with the most favourable weather and famed events like the Lajkonik Pageant and Jewish Culture Festival. Shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) are equally fantastic, with lower rates and charming landscapes. As for winter, expect picture-postcard snow-tipped towers and warming Christmas markets.
Most visitors will arrive in Kraków via John Paul II International Airport. It's easy to reach the city from here by train and bus. You can also arrive via train, with the Kraków Main Train Station being handily located right in the centre. As for travelling around the city itself, the centre is compact and can be tackled by foot, tram or bus. Ride-hailing apps are increasingly popular and a great way to travel in the evening.
Kraków is a fantastic destination for families with children. In summer, the Main Square comes to life with performers and horse-drawn carriages. Children will also delight in river cruises. As for the castle, it's sure to inspire young ones with its crypts and ancient caverns. There are also plenty of parks and green spaces, including the Zoological Gardens, to keep little ones busy.
It's easy to fall in love with Kraków. With picture-postcard streets, which are perfect for all-hours wandering, the city itself is loaded with opulent attractions and cutting-edge museums. With perfect travel infrastructure for a last-minute escape, Kraków is easy to get to and even easier to explore. Although its history is likely to draw you in, its cuisine and vibrant bar scene will keep you hooked. If you’re looking for a perfect blend of trend-setting and tradition, you’ll find plenty of cosy accommodation options in Kraków, here at Voyage Privé.