Krakow Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Stay near Rynek Glówny Sure, it will cost more than accommodations farther out, but it will also be the key to your Kraków experience.
- Bring your sneakers This is a town for walking. Renting a car will likely only give you unnecessary headaches.
- Don't forget your passport Citizens of the United States and Canada are required to have passports, but visas aren't necessary for stays less than 90 days.
Much more than the sum of its parts, Kraków is one of those cities you have to explore a little before its true charm becomes apparent. Although Warsaw is the political capital, many consider this southern city the true cultural capital of Poland. When you first walk into Rynek Glówny -- a vibrant medieval market square and the symbolic heart of town -- a smile plays across your face as you realize a large part of your trip will be spent here. Lively restaurants, shops, cafés and bars lie along the perimeter and in the surrounding areas.
The best way to orient yourself in Kraków is to break the city into four main sections. Rynek Glówny is at the center of Old Town (Stare Miasto), which itself is at the center of Kraków. Most of the major tourist draws are clustered near the Old Town, in Kazimierz to the south and in Wawel Hill, home of the majestic Wawel Cathedral, to the southwest. Notable excursions out of town include the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.
How To Save Money in Krakow
- Avoid money-changers While some have decent rates, there are plenty around Rynek Glowny that don't. Play it safe and just use an ATM.
- Visit in winter Flights are cheaper. Rooms are cheaper. Actually, pretty much everything is cheaper. Just bring a thick coat.
- Phone for a taxi Tends to be quite a bit cheaper than hailing one from the street.
Krakow Culture & Customs
Much of the Polish population (especially the younger generation) speaks English, so you shouldn't have trouble communicating. While Polish is not the easiest language for English speakers, saying thank you or dziekuje (pronounced "jing-ku-yah") is polite. Your efforts will be appreciated.
The zlotych (zloty) is Poland's official currency, at least for the time being. The zloty is a strong currency, so expect to wince a little when trading in your U.S. dollars. However, as a member of the European Union, Poland is expected to adopt the euro, potentially by 2012. In the meantime, zloty ATMs are easily found in city center and the fees tend to be more favorable when compared to using a money exchanger. Credit cards are also widely used in the central areas of Poland.
With regards to general tipping in Poland, TripAdvisor says, "The average tip is around 10-15% of the cheque."
While not known as a dining mecca, Kraków has made large strides in recent years. The dining scene has evolved with the surge of tourism that Kraków has enjoyed over the last decade. The city features a nice blend of affordable and fine-dining establishments and the Old Town is virtually overflowing with eateries of every type. Travelers enjoy Ancora in the Old Town for its modern take on Polish cuisine as well as an excellent selection of wines.