Krakow Area Map - Wielopole
Professional travelers say tourists can best orient themselves in Kraków if they break the city into four main sections: the Old Town, Kazimierz, Wawel Hill and everything else. Notable excursions out of town include the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. The Wieliczka Salt Mine lies southeast of Kraków while the concentration camps are to the west.
The Old Town (Stare Miasto)
The vibrant and beautiful Old Town lies at the center of Kraków and at the heart of any vacation to Kraków. People from all over gravitate here for an atmosphere unlike any found in the world.
Old Town's core is Rynek Glówny, a huge market square with stunning medieval architecture. Cafés, shopping, nightlife and pretty much everything one could want are in no short supply here.
A neighborhood that must be experienced to be understood, writers say no trip to Kraków is complete without spending some time in Kazimierz, the historic Jewish quarter. Just southwest of the Old Town, it is a neighborhood that is a study in contrasts. Part of it is a crumbling yet haunting reminder of the atrocities the area's residents faced during World War II. The other part is a neighborhood alive with boutique restaurants and some of the best nightlife Poland has to offer.
Just west of Kazimierz, a trip to Wawel is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. A castle and the majestic Wawel Cathedral are the highlights, but also take some time to just soak in the history and enjoy the grounds.
Frommer's says "Wawel Castle is Poland's pride and joy. With Warsaw having been flattened by the Nazis, this ancient castle, and former capital … has become something of a symbol of the survival of the Polish nation. Understandably, for non-Poles Wawel has less significance, but is still a handsome castle in its own right and worth an extended visit." On your way out, make sure to check out the Dragon's Cave, former home of the legendary Wawel Dragon of Polish folklore.
Known for its communist-style architecture, the district of Nowa Huta draws travelers looking for something a little different. It was a planned community, envisioned to be a perfect urban environment and to reflect socialist ideals. Largely residential, it is mostly an attraction to tourists with an interest in Krakow's history and socialist architecture.
Kraków has a reputation for being a rather safe city in a rather safe country. However, as its popularity as a travel destination has grown, so has its pickpocketing community. Keep an extra eye on your valuables when you're hanging around popular tourist sites like Rynek Glówny and try to keep to well-lit areas in the nighttime.
The best way to get around Kraków is on foot, especially as most visitors spend the majority of their time in and around the walkable Rynek Glówny area. While taxis will get you from A to B in a hurry, the public transportation system called MPK S.A. is an effective and cost-efficient alternative. Getting into town from the John Paul II (Balice) International Airport (KRK), located roughly 10 miles west of the city, is easy enough -- for less than $5 USD you can take the "Balice Ekspres" train. The train is another popular option for getting to Kraków; you'll most likely arrive in the dazzling Kraków Glówny train station located on Old Town's outskirts.
Express train service is available from Kraków to Warsaw (the trip is a little less than three hours), plus there are daily direct trains to Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Vienna, among other cities. And though you'll trade in comfort and time, you might also take the bus from the city to other destinations around Europe.Getting To & Around Krakow»
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