Work today, fly tomorrow • April 2015
With its majestic architectural monuments, cobbled thoroughfares, cultural treasures and student-fuelled nightlife, Krakow is a charmed city that will fascinate any visitor. Here, editor of Krakow In Your Pocket, Garrett Van Reed guides you toward some of the city’s less-lauded locations
Everyone in Krakow has two neighbours: a church and a shop selling alcohol. If you visit only one of the former, make it St Francis Basilica, with its colourful Art Nouveau interiors boasting one of Europe’s most magnificent stained-glass windows – Wyspianski’s God in the Act of Creation.
Krakow’s main market is in the largest medieval square in Central Europe and the cultural heart of the country, but Plac Nowy offers the best bisection of local life. Here you can buy produce or antiques from daily market stalls, visit half a dozen synagogues within a few blocks, go gallery hopping on Jozefa Street or enjoy a bohemian pub crawl around the perimeter of the square itself. The former slaughterhouse at its centre is full of food hatches dispensing zapiekanki – a sort of French bread pizza, and the city’s official street food.
For the latter, stuff your suitcase full of flavoured tinctures, meads and absinthes from Szambelan, or sample the exclusive organic vodkas of Bistro Trojkat. Poland’s drinking culture no longer suffers from vodka blindness, and the brewing industry has gone through a major renaissance in the past five years. Eager to taste the best local craft beers? Head to Tap House.
The quality of Krakow’s museums is extremely high and the 19th-century Polish Art Gallery offers a crash course in the country’s history via its enormous floor-to-ceiling canvases. An audio guide brings the epic paintings to life and, with only four rooms, the museum can be enjoyed in less than an hour.
An activity specific to Krakow is the tradition of building massive earthwork mounds in honour of the city’s heroes. Visit Kosciuszko Mound for outstanding panoramic views and a lesson on freedom fighter Tadeusz Kosciuszko – the greatest Pole who ever lived.
Wierzynek is the town’s most renowned restaurant, thanks to a launch party attended by five kings and nine princes back in 1394. For a similar pedigree, but a more modern take on Polish food, Wentzl is only a few doors down. Or travel a few doors further and trade the formal attire for folk patterns in Marmolada, where you can enjoy excellent Malopolska recipes in a relaxed atmosphere for half the money.
British Airways will begin flying to Krakow in May 2015