We arrived in Krakow quite early in the morning of Monday 15th June. Both Hannah and I were excited to visit Krakow purely due to its history and beauty. Whenever we spoke to fellow travellers, they first thing they would mention is Krakow. It was a clear favourite and so as we stepped off the train, we felt more than ready to soak in what this city has to offer.
Day 1: (Mon 15th June)
- Visited Schindler’s Factory
We decided to do this as soon as every arrived as we were both really keen to see this and it is also free entrance every Monday between 10am to 4pm (except every first Monday of each month, in which the museum is closed).
This Schindler Factory does a good job in telling the story of Oskar Schindler, who surprisingly started off as a nasty, opportunistic German business man. He was a member of the Nazi part and only went to Poland in order to exploit the cheap Jewish labourers. As soon as he arrived, he gained control over this factory, complete with around 1,100 Jewish labourers. As he started making more money, the made strong connections with top Nazi officials in Krakow. However, there man changed during the war as he witnessed a raid on the Krakow Jewish ghetto. From that point, he started utilized and bribing his networks to protect those Jews who worked in his factory. He went bankrupt trying to pay those bribes and spent the rest of his life on the financial help of Jewish organizations.
- Spent afternoon in the Wieliczka Salt Mines
We spent the afternoon taking a day trip to the Salt Mines, an hour outside Krakow. It is a very popular day trip and a must when visited Krakow. My experiences of visiting the Salt Mines can be found here.
Day 2: (Tues 16th June)
- Walking tour of Old Town
I highly recommend you taking a free walking tour of the Old Town. It will go into the depth about the buildings surrounding the Main Square and its history. The main square is the hub of the city where you will find a great atmosphere. It will also discuss the history of St. Mary’s Basilica, which is incredibly stunning from the inside.It will cover the best bits of the city and you will find out must more than you ever could do on your own. Our town guide was incredibly knowledge and brought the stories alive!
- Walking tour of Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz
By the end of the 1930s, the Jewish community of Krakow constituted about 25% of the city’s population. The walking tour takes us to Krakow’s Kazimierz and Krakow’s ghetto and discuss about this vibrant and diverse community. What I do remember from this tour is that in Podgorze, the former Jewish ghetto, you will find two memorials to the Jewish people. The first is called Ghetto Hero’s Square – which is a square filled with sculptures of empty chairs, symbolic of the furniture the Jews had to carry with them from their homes to the ghetto. To get to this square, walk over the Bernatka Bridge from Kazimierz to Podgorze and its near there. Alternatively, you could take tram 3 or 19 to the stop Plac Bohaterow Getta. Kazimierz is also the place to go if you want to go out for a drink and something to eat!
- Visited Wavel Castle
Another main attraction to see in Krakow is the Wavel Castle. I’ve been a number of these European castles and palaces, and for me, this was not as memorable as the other ones. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed walking around its grounds. You could walk around its ground free of charge.
- Pub Crawl with hostel
We spent this night doing a pub crawl organized by the hostel we were staying at – Goodbye Lenin Hostel. It was a great way to meet fellow travellers and to get to know the more locals bars and clubs.
Day 3: (Wed 17th June)
- Visit Auschwitz and Birkenau
We spent our last day in Poland visiting the infamous Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. I’ve spoken about my experience here.
- Souvenir shopping in Cloth Hall
Located in the center of the Main square, the Cloth Hall is a great place to find some meaningful souvenirs to take home. Hannah and I then had to run to the train station with our huge rucksacks so that we could catch the night train to Vienna.
We stayed in Goodbye Lenin Pub and Garden for 2 nights in a 4 bed female dorm.
I couldn’t recommend this hostel enough. It has great character and atmosphere – very retro with its Communist feel. It’s the small details of this hostel that I appreciated – such as the funny pictures of famous communist dictators and the communists mottos on the walls. They also have evening activities planned for every day of the week, from movie nights, bbqs to pub crawls – which is a great to meet fellow travellers. The location is also brilliant as its only 5 minutes’ walk to the main square.
My friend and I hugely appreciated the free washing machine and dryer because at this point in the interrailing trip – we were in desperate need. A basic breakfast is also provided free of charge.