If you are a World War 2 buff, Poland is a must visit. My travel buddy and me did a girls only trip and we could not have chosen a better place.
We stayed in an excellent, spacious, two room, two bathroom apartment pretty much in the heart of the city. (Józefa Sarego 28. Krakow). Every sightseeing desitnation / museum / restaurants etc were all pretty much within walking distance.
Important Places to visit:
Aushwitz Tour: This is approximately 2 hours away. I strongly urge you to book a tour and a little in advance. The tour ensures a pickup and drop at the doorstep. More importantly, if you do not go in a co ordinated tour, you will have to wait in long lines, and that may also be futile as they stop non-tour visitors after a certain time.
wagons that carried the “undesirables” to auschwitz.
the very daunting and haunting auschwitz camp
Be on time, carry water, and be prepared to walk a lot – I mean A LOT!
Do not be daunted by the history and horror stories. It is definitely a distressing experience, but it allows your empathy to develop and it’s most assuredly a humbling experience.
Old Synagogue : The oldest Synagogue of Poland where Polish Judaism was practiced. In 1300 ‘s the King welcomed Jews into the country to increase entrepreneurship and commerce. Poland had the largest number of Jews, and the numbers have gone down by almost 90 percent after the holocaust.
Jewish Quarters – Kazimerez: This covers the history and geography and culture of the Jews of Poland. It’s also bustling and full of restaurants cafes and entertainment. The night life buzzes here.
Zgody Square: A part of the Holocaust history, this square is a memorial to the tortures of Jews.
jewish atrocities were carried out in this square
Krawl through Krakow (pub crawl): Visit their website. They take you all over the city tasting various different Polish Vodkas and local brews. We both are not vodka drinkers so did not go. But Vodka lovers should def try this.
local polish beer
Plac Nowy: Where the castle starts. Buzzing night life.
Galactic Museum: Paintings related to the new and old Poland, taking into account the alteration of Poland post the Holocaust.
Wawel Castle tour: Must do a tour. Interesting history.
Salt Mines: An hour from Poland. Take a tour, don’t go on your own.My advise? – unless you are super curious about salt mining, don’t waste your time. I found it two hours of time and money waste. Fully hyped.
Schindler’s Facotry: This is a museum. We did not go, but it’s worth visiting.
Krakow Walking Tour: This is a must do, if you want an indepth knowledge of Poland and it’s history, take this tour.
There is a huge mall in the new town area. It looked rocking and had some local brands as well. We did not do any shopping whatsoever so cannot comment on it at all
Vodka: do pick up a local vodka for your bar.
Places to eat:
We found some fabulous places to eat in. Vegetarian was easy to find.
I’l Calzone : part of a hotel. Food was Italian and great.
Hamsa : New the old town. Excellent Mediterranean. Not to be missed.
Vegab : Falafel and wraps. Again not to be missed.
Pod Norenami : Completely vegetarian, hole in the wall restaurant. We really enjoyed our meal there.
Hotel Balthazar: Dinner in their very cute courtyard restaurant. Order in advance for vegetarian. Service was excellent.
Try Zapiekanka : It’s a local open flat bread dish. There are stalls near Plac Nowy which serve it.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- If you are staying in an AirBNB make sure they have lifts or some help to carry up your luggage. If it’s summer, AC or fan is a must
- Carry water at all time because you will be walking a lot.
- Take walking tours. These give a lot of info and cover a lot of ground in terms of historic / cultural centres.
- Auschwitz is a must do, but prepare your self for some horrors. You will have to walk a lot. Plan to take a tour after a heavy meal, or carry snacks.
- Where ever possible take organized tours.
- If you want to take it all in, plan a 3 day 4 night minimum stay.
- Go with friends who don’t mind walking.
- Enjoy the night life of Poland.
- Talk to the locals.