Starting our theme of interesting and far-from mainstream tourist destinations in Europe, this week we’re looking at reasons why you might want to visit Krakow in Poland.
Poland has been part of the European Union since 2004 and since then it’s become rather more accessible to tourists, who arrive looking for something a bit special from their visit.
Krakow was once the capital of Poland (Warsaw became the capital back in 1596) and consequently there was once a good deal of money pumped into making the city look attractive and wealthy, a showpiece for the rest of the country.
Because all of that investment took place such a long time ago, what we’re left with today is a city packed with ancient attractions like Wawel Castle and the medieval Market Square.
There are tours available from and in the city will take you to see Podgorze and Kazimierz (resurgent districts) salt mines, Ojcow National Park and, if you’re feeling brave, Auschwitz.
But the city itself is worth exploring on foot before you consider any major excursions. It has that fairy-tale quality about its architecture that you might conjure up when you think of classical Eastern Europe.
Wawel Castle was once inhabited by kings and legend has it that this is where all those stories you were told about knights rescuing princesses from fire-breathing dragons were born.
The city has plenty of places to keep you fed and watered that are full of character and ambience. Visit an underground pub, café or theatre and soak up the atmosphere.
The Market Square is filled with music flowing in off the surrounding streets as musicians vie for space with local artists and actors performing for the crowds: this is, after all, the European Capital of Culture. Because of this title there has been a growing number of cultural events carried out in Cracow.
If you can, try to time your visit to coincide with one of the city’s many annual events – such as the Festival of the Jewish Culture in Kazimierz, the Summer Jazz Festival, Festival of Street Theatres, Wreath-Floating on the Vistula River, and the ‘Music in Old Cracow’ (a series of musical concerts).
There’s plenty to see and do in Krakow for everyone – so what are you waiting for? Book your holiday now!