The only major city to escape the destruction of World War II, Krakow has one of the best-preserved medieval city centres in all of Europe. The Old Town is a significant UNESCO World Heritage Site and retains a wealth of architectural gems from different periods, with magnificent churches and aristocratic palaces lining the old streets, reminiscent of its glorious days when it was the abode of kings and royalty. At the heart of the city lies one of the grandest squares in Europe, the Old Market Square.
The charming Old Town is a compact area encircled by leafy parkland that forms a green belt around the historic centre. The main entrance to the old city was through the Florian Gate, set within the original city walls, now the haunt of artists and full of galleries containing their work. With a thriving cultural life, it has been home to many of the nation’s greatest writers, artists and intellectuals, and is one of the main cultural centres in the country, a spirited city with personality and charisma.
Overlooking the city is Wawel Hill, topped by the striking Royal Castle and Cathedral, the seat of Polish kings for seven centuries and the symbols of Polish national history. Also important is the city’s Jewish roots, and the history of one of the great Jewish centres in Europe can clearly be seen in the old ghetto area of Kazimierz, and starkly remembered in the memorial death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, west of Krakow.
Situated on the banks of the Vistula River, Krakow is also a modern city, the third largest in Poland, and an important university centre boasting the oldest university in Europe. The large student population creates a lively atmosphere and a vibrant nightlife. Countless cafes and outdoor restaurants surround the cobbled main square. The unique atmosphere of this medieval city has made it one of Poland’s most popular tourist destinations.
Hotels and resorts
Niebieski Art Hotel & Spa
A relatively new five-star hotel and spa on a quiet corner of the Wisła riverbank, the Niebieski is designed to be environmentally sustainable and energy efficient, with a harmonious holistic interior arrangement. The spacious rooms feature wide, comfortable beds, unique modern furnishings and soothing colours, and the third floor apartments offer gorgeous views of the Wisła River and Wawel Castle from their terraces. The philosophy of well-being also applies to the Vanilla Sky on-site restaurant which serves light fusion cuisine with only certified organic ingredients.
Kraków’s first five-star hotel has long been established as the city’s most luxurious and has the legendary guest list to prove it. Rooms and private suites with original murals, coffered ceilings, stained glass windows, ornamental fireplaces and ceremonious service create the imperial ambiance the hotel has built its reputation on since its 19th century.
You’ve chosen well. Few hotels in Central Europe can match the standard set by Copernicus, and it’s a firm favourite of visiting dignitaries, with former guests including George W. Bush. Tastefully uncluttered the hotel is decorated with heavy woodwork, marble, rich fabrics and wall frescoes – some dating from the 14th century. Enjoy rooftop terrace views of Wawel, gourmet food or the fitness centre and swimming.
Is one of the oldest private galleries in Poland. The offer consists of an extradionary selection off paintings, scultptures, drawings, ceramics and jewellery.
The essential goal of the gallery is to “seek and combine”, which it attempts to achieve through exhibitions of modern art featuring various forms of artistic expression: experimental, modern and traditional
Contemporary design with timeless style? You must go to this amazing shop. It offers hand-picked gifts, interior accessories and soft furnishings from both up-and-coming designers and more recognizable brands.
Femini’s renowned for its wedding dresses, too, should you be swept away by Krakow’s romantic ambience.
The cream interior is mostly sleek and modern, but the medieval artifacts on display in the conservatory nod to the city’s ancient heritage. The top end prices reflect the quality of the food
Aqua e vino
Still as exciting as the day it opened. Italian owned, this chic cellar space comes decorated in a minimalist style with cream and black colour combinations, and an atmosphere redolent of downtown Milan.
An important looking restaurant which seems to draw most tourists at least once during their visit. Vaulted ceilings, crisp linen and an atmosphere of complete elegance make it a great venue for your night
It’s a museum of contemporary art, built on theindustrial pavilions of schindler factory, the design respects and integrates the historical site by creating continuity between pre-existing and new construction.
Krakow’s National Museum
The Krakow’s national museum is actually 7 different museums spread across the city, but the main building is the one to head to first. A selection of over 400 works, the display guides visitors through all the significant trends in Polish art.
Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego
The Muzeum Lotnictwa is one of the largest museums of aviation in the world. It is located in historically preserved buildings and hangars of the former historic airfield of Rakowice-Cyzyny in Cracow, the first air-field on polish terrain, build in 1912 for the air fleet no. 7 of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
Country club living
Royal Krakow golf & Country Club
A clubhouse and restaurant overlook the double green 9/18 and the course is popular with both beginners and experienced golfers.
Krakow Valley golf & Country club
With a club house, driving, chipping and putting ranges, this magnificent 160ha 18 hole golf course 25km west of Kraków, is one of the largest and best in Central Europe.
Le grand salon
An newly-opened hair salon in Kazimierz with a stylish Art Deco design set over 2 floors and featuring a cafe. Customers are pampered with free coffee and biscuits while soft music plays in the background and the chairs massage you as your hair are styled.
This luxurious spa in the centre of the new five star Niebieski hotel is a palace of pampering for your mind and body thanks to a variety of holistic treatments in relaxing environs
Krystian Bielatowicz’s Milpa is a story that grew out of a meeting. For almost four years, the author made return trips to Central America, tracing the footsteps of people whose life is deeply rooted in the local tradition, to produce a testament to its vitality.
Points of interest
Overlooking the city is Wawel, a hill topped with the fascinating architectural complex that includes Wawel Castle and beside it, the gothic Wawel Cathedral. It was here that the Polish kings of the 14th to the 17th Centuries were crowned and buried, and it lies at the heart of Polish history. The Renaissance-style Royal Castle is now a museum, and the historic interior houses an astonishing collection of treasures from the Polish monarchy, including tapestries, period furniture and paintings.
Galicia Jewish Museum
Situated in the heart of Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, the Galicia Jewish Museum houses a permanent photographic exhibition, “Traces of Memory”. The exhibition documents the history of the Jewish people in the villages and towns of Poland.