Late November 2015, my brother and I spent 3 days / 2 nights in Krakow, Poland.
Krakow is a beautiful city and the second largest in Poland. Easyjet and Ryanair both fly here and we bagged great flights at £60 return when we booked back in June. Hotels are also extremely reasonable. This trip, we stayed at the fantastic Raddison Blu which was a bargain at £50 a night for two people including a great breakfast. A 3 day, 2 night city break with great flight times and a posh hotel for £110pp, bargain!
It’s roughly a 2 hour flight to Krakow from the UK. It’s really easy to get to the town centre from the airport on the train which goes directly from the terminal. At only 8zl (£1.25) each way, it sets the tone as to how cheap things are going to be during your stay. The train took around 20 minutes and drops you at the main station in town which is attached to a super modern and glossy shopping centre. There is also free wifi on the train to let everyone know you’ve arrived safe. We didn’t have any Polish currency on us so changed a tiny bit in the airport just for the train. It was an awful rate so if you do need to change some money, only change the bare minimum there. Try and get £10 worth before you get to Poland just to tide you over before you can change your £££.
Changing money in Krakow is easy. There are many ‘kantors’ which are the exchange booths to do this. I’d read online about the varying rates and scams being run in some of these so was very wary. The best place to change your cash was actually in the shopping centre as you exit your train from the airport. These offered the best rate and looked super respectable. We did see the other backstreet places during our stay and they did look really ropey!
Krakow centre is completely walkable. There is a massive network of trams around the city which I’m sure with a bit of research would be quite an experience! Taxis are also everywhere and ridiculously cheap.
Every major food and shopping chain store was represented in the city centre, all at significantly reduced prices to the UK. It’s always a worry in a new city that you’re going to get fleeced when eating out, thankfully Krakow is the opposite, everything felt like a steal. Meals were working out at under £5 and drinks were between £1.20 – £2.
One of the reasons we chose to visit Krakow was so we could day trip to Auschwitz. Not what everyone would want to do on a break away, but something I think everyone should do at some point. There are organised trips from Krakow, but we decided to take the train ourselves after doing a little research online. You take the train from Krakow to Oswiecim (the ticket agents will know where to sell you a ticket to if you just ask for a return ticket to Auschwitz), this takes just under 2 hours and cost £3 return! Auschwitz itself is about a 20 minute walk from the train station or £2.50 in a taxi. The 3 hour tour around the camp, including a bus to, and tour of Birkenau (only a short trip away), costs around £6.50. I highly recommend doing this trip, it really puts life in to perspective.
We ate in some beautiful restaurants which were all around 1/3 the price of the equivalent meal in the UK. Your money really does go far in the city and every cuisine you fancy is on offer. The bars were fun to explore. Most of them were underground in caverns, innocuous looking doors leading down to really cool bars with exceptionally low prices. There are lots of different Polish beers on draught and in bottles, along with deals on shots which seemed a little TOO cheap!
The main shopping centre in Krakow is fantastic. All the major brands and labels, all cheaper than in the UK, a great place to do your Christmas shopping. There are lots of places to eat there too. Struggling for time, we decided to go to Pizza Hut for lunch. To give you an example of the prices there, I had soup to start and a small pizza for £2.50, cheaper than a boots meal deal. A soft drink to accompany my food was 50p.
We ran out of days and time to visit the salt mines near Krakow, I’ve heard great things about the trip to the mines so another trip to explore more of what this great city has to offer is planned for later in 2016, I can’t wait to return.
For the price, I have to say this was one of the best short breaks I’ve ever been on. Even on a small budget you can stay in a fantastic hotel, eat and drink like a king and take home some bargains too. Next time you’ve a few days to explore somewhere new, give Krakow a go!