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Why fly to Krakow?
Krakow is a city with ancient architecture and old school charm. Although recent history in the city has been tumultous Krakow is resilient and is experiencing a revival. The city is flanked by the Tatra Mountains and you can take a day trip
to go exploring and perhaps take a hike or enjoy a leisurely picnic in this beautiful setting.
The modern day center of Krakow is the central Market Square. Head there and you will find a hubbub of activity from horse-drawn carriages whizzing past old shops and restaurants. This is where you will find the old cloth house that is made up of shops selling traditional Polish goods like hand-painted wooden eggs as well as beautifully-crafted amber jewellery which makes for a great souvenir or gift.
The city has numerous churches and old buildings but one of the best preserved and most important is Wawel Castle. This castle has seen it all since its eretion in the 14th century. It has been the home of royalty and also the center of life in the city, it has also played the role of army barracks during war time and today it sits as a monument to the city's strength. The stately rooms boast of the royalt past and the beautiful grounds and gardens deserve at least a short promenade.
Another one of the most treasured sites in Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it deserves to be. This salt mine has been working since the 14th century when salt was almost as valued as gold. Today you can visit the site which has nine levels and winding pathways that are dotted with all sorts of great things to see including an old chapel that still is in existence. The mine also has an art gallery and sculptures created out of rock salt as well as historical information about the development of the mine over a span of close to 1000 years. The mine is a little city of its own.
Take a visit outside of the city into the parks and forests. One of the best is Wolski Forest which is just 10 minutes outside of the center. The old forest has an interesting energy that gets you thinking about the story of this old city. It is plush and green but you can still gaze out and see the outline of the city.
The city is slowly coming into its own and today houses restaurants, bars and clubs that are on par with other European cities. However, the soul of Krakow is still old and it is a lovely thing to experience.
Krakow summers are warm and winters very cold. June through August the temperatures are in the mid 20s on average and in the winters the numbers dip into the minuses. With January and February plummeting further into the minus teens in the nights. There is an average amount of rainfall throughout the year with the summer months seeing the most of it.
When to fly to Krakow
The summer is prime season to visit Krakow as the weather is hot and perfect for strolling from site to site or sitting out a cafe. The summer tourist high also means flight ticket prices at this time are pricey.
The cold winter months put a damper on tourist travel to the city and this also results in lower flight ticket prices. Book travel from January to March and you will save a bunch on the flight and also be able to visit many of the indoor sites without having to wrestle with crowds.
Getting into Krakow
Your gateway into Krakow is located at Krakow Airport which sits approximately 15 minutes from the city center. From the airport you can walk or grab the free shuttle to the train station situated just a few hundred meters from the airport. Public buses also run between the airport and along various routes through the city.Taxis are available outside of the airport.
Getting around Krakow
Traveling around Krakow is quite easy as it has an extensive tramway and bus network as well as mini-bus service. The old historic city center has been pedestrianized and in turn the only transportation there is horse and buggy or rickshaw - which can be a bit of a treat in itself. Additionally taxi service is also available.
- Head to Mariacki Church to hear a sound unique to Poland. At noon you will hear the hejnal tune played by a bugler, this whole episode is linked to a legend relating to bugler who was shot with an arrow so you will hear it play and then end abruptly - portraying when this bugler was pierced.
- Numerous synagogues dot the city due to the large Jewish population that thrived in the city prior to WWII. You can head to the Stara Synagogue Museum in Kazimierz and learn a little more about the Jewish history in the city as well as visit the 16th century Remu Synagogue, which is still in operation.
- For a historical venture that is nothing to smile about but rather more of an educational experience visit Auswitz. This well-known concentration camp from WWII has many stories to tell.
- Old Krakow center is the Stare Miasto, the old city is still protected by ancient walls. The moat surrounding the walls makes for a lovely afternoon walk as it has been filled in and now is a buffet of gardens and sculptures.
- If you are travelling with children they will especially enjoy a visit to the Krakow Zoo, which is housed in the corner of Wolski Forest. Here you can admire close to 300 different species, including the always pretty llama as well as hippos and flamingos. An endangered animal program is in place as the site houses close to 100 endangered species.
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