Although its popularity is on the rise, Krakow is a massively underrated place but one of the best European cities when it comes to short breaks – and no, I’m not just talking for stag and hen parties. It really is the most beautiful place and there are so many things to do in Krakow that you’ll love every second of your trip there! So, whether you want to take in some history or relax with a delicious meal and beer, here are 5 of the best things to do in Krakow.
1. Bernatek Footbridge
Let’s start off with a lesser known attraction. This bridge over the Vistuala river is adorned with padlocks engraved with couples names. Many of the tourist buses take a route by the bridge en route to Schindlers factory but on my latest visit, we found it by chance when strolling the riverbanks after a morning at Wawel Castle. While the Pont des Arts in Paris was the world’s most famous bridge groaning with padlocks until they were removed in summer 2015, you’ll be happy to know that there’s plenty of room left to attach a padlock to the Bernatek Footbridge if you so desire. It is a gorgeous place to look at the river on a sunny day and you can enjoy a pleasant walk back through the Jewish quarter.
2. Wieliczka Salt Mine
You wouldn’t believe that the picture above was taken 101 metres underground and can hold up to 400 people for weddings, religious services and even music concerts. It’s carved entirely from salt – even the chandeliers! A taxi around 30 minutes out of Krakow should cost you about 100 zloty (£20) and entrance is discounted for students. As well as this incredible chapel, you get a tour of three levels of the mine including some history about the miners, an underground lake said to help with ailments such as asthma and a restaurant.
It feels wrong to list this as a tourist attraction but visiting Auschwitz was the main reason that I wanted to visit Krakow the first time around. World War II is a period of history that I’m particularly fascinated with and a trip here makes for an emotional and worthy visit. At certain times you can make your away around without a tour guide but I’d definitely recommend the guided tour. It’s incredibly informative and gives a lot of interesting detail about the camps. Both Auschwitz and Birkenau are included in the tour as they are a mere five minute shuttle apart: be prepared for a lot of walking in Birkenau and some shocking, sad stories.
4. Planty Park
Surrounding the Main Square in Krakow Old Town is a gorgeous circular park where the city walls used to stand. If you want a break from the square and a relaxed stroll, you can’t miss it – just head outwards through any of the streets. There’s some gorgeous monuments and fountains to admire (or to run through if that takes your fancy).
5. Grab a Dessert
You cannot visit Krakow without sampling one of the amazing bakery shops around the area. I particularly recommend Cafe Mini on the road leading from the Main Square to Wawel Castle! If you fancy something with a bit of a kick however, there’s a small cafe right on the square that has cakes laced with rum. Try it for yourself – we certainly got more than we bargained for!