Globeteller for a day: Victoria Moretti, who worked and lived in Krakow for 4 months, has listed for us 24 things to do and see in Krakow, considered by many the most beautiful city of Poland.
Take a carriage ride
Just arrived in the Rynek Glowny square (there are 11 streets to arrive there, you'll find it for sure!), you'll see a long line of carriages. Normally the rate starts from 150 zl, the routes are different but we advise you to to take the one from the market square to Wawel Hill (30 mins). Unfortunately the drivers don't give any information about what you're seeing, but this is a great way to get in touch with the city.
Eat hot chocolate
If you are in the cold season, when you finish your ride you'll need to warm up a bit. In the square you can find many popular cafes as Starbucks or Costa, but we suggest to try the Polish one, the E.Wedel one in particular.
Listen to the trumpet call
Every hour on the hour, from the top of Saint Mary's Church, a trumpeter plays a five-note Polish anthem, for four times in succession in each of the four cardinal directions. This song called Hejnal Mariacki, derived from a Hungarian expression meaning 'Saint Mary's down', and commemorates the trumpeter who, in the 13th century, was shot in the throat while give the alarm before the Mongol attack.
Saint Mary's church
Visit this amazing brick gothic church built in the 13th century and re-built 100 years later . It is 80 m tall and is famous for the largest wooden gothic altarpiece in the world (13mt x 11mt), carved by Veit Stoss.
Saint Barbara's church
Immediately behind the main church, you find a little square, Plac Mariacki, and in its centre there is this other brick gothic church. Until the 19th century it had been a churchyard Saint Barbara is the patron saint of good death) and, for this reason, on the external wall there is a skull and a crossbones statue.
Adam Mickiewicz statue
In the Main Market Square there is also a big man statue that represents Adam Mickiewicz (for Krakovian just Adash), the greatest Polish poet of the 19th century but also dramatist, publicist, essayist, translator, political activist and professor of Slavic literature.
When it's lunch time, try the Polish cuisine’s national dish, the pierogi: they can be found in every Krakow restaurant, but the Pierogarnias are the specialized ones. Pierogi are sfuffed dumpling cooked in boiling water, normally filled with cheese, potato, meat or fruits. The most famous in Poland are the 'Ruski', filled with Polish cheese and potatoes and topped with melted butter and boiled onion.
The Cloth Hall
The biggest building in the middle of the square, the Cloth Hall is a city icon that dates to the Renaissance, when it was a major centre of international trade, and that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Go on the upper floor where there is the National Museum (Sukiennice Museum), that holds the largest permanent collection of modern Polish art. After this visit, you can go downstairs to do shopping in the little market of folk and typical products.
The blindfold Eros statue
In the other side of the square, in the western corner, there is a big bronze head, a sculpture that the Polish artist Igor Mitoraj (1944-2014) donated to the city and that in the beginning nobody knew where to place. Finnaly, it became an unexpected tourist attraction.
The Town Hall tower
Close to 'the head' there is this amazing clock tower (70 m), that is the only remaining part of the Krakow Town Hall demolished in 1820, in which there was the city prison with the Medieval torture chamber. The entrance is guarded by a pair of lions from the Classicist palace of Morstin's family.
The Krakow Underground Museum
If you are curious about the Krakow history, visit the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, opened only one year ago when, during some road works, were found the remains of an underground city: the ancient Krakow.
The Small Market Square
Close to the main square there is a small but pretty square, called 'the small market square', that changed a lot during the centuries, being transformed from a fish market into to a parish school, and then from a car park to what we can see today.
Walk down Florianska street, among its many shops, restaurant and cafes, up to the high wall and the Polish gothic tower, where you find a big door, the Florianska gate, what remains of the city fortifications against Turkish attack.
Ready for a little uphill? Once you arrive at the foot of the hill, take the entrance on your left: it gives you access to a steep path, but from which you will enjoy the most beautiful view on the whole city and on the Vistula river. Welcome to the fortified Wawel.
Wawel Royal castle
Keep walking the path until you see the huge castle, built at the behest of Casimir III the Great (1333-1370), that consist of a great number of buildings situated around the central courtyard. Here you can visit the state rooms, the royal private apartments and the royal gardens.
The Lady with ermine
In the castle there are two permanent exhibitions: the 'Oriental Art' and 'The lost Wawel'. In this last one you can see the prestigious painting 'Dama con ermellino‘ by Leonardo Da Vinci.
The Wawel Cathedral
The Cathedral, full of history and tradition, is the Roman Catholic church in which the coronations of Polish monarchs used to take place.
The Pope statue
In front of the Cathedral, there is the Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) statue: Krakow was his beloved hometown.
Zapiekanka is the typical Polish street food: an open-faced sandwich, topped with tomato sauce, cheese, mushrooms, served with ketchup.
Walk along the Vistula
Vistula is the largest and longest river in Poland: in sunny day it is a perfect place to enjoy a relaxing stroll surrounded by swans, ducks, seagulls and nature.
The Dragon statue
The Dragon statue, dedicated to Smok, the legendary dragon who was supposed to spread terror among the Wawel’s inhabitants, several times a day spits real fire!
Kazimierz, the Jewish district
Pay a visit to the Jewish quarter, try the local cuisine, visit the synagogue (where men have to wear the Kippah). Until the 19th century, Kazimierz was an independent area on the administrative point of view, a royal city of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom. Its population was half christian and half jewish, but during the German occupation the jewish people were relocated into the Krakow ghetto, before the deportation in Auschwitz concentration camp.
The ghetto heroes square
The ghetto heroes square during the II World War was the point of departure for thousand people deported from the ghetto to the camps. The bronze sculptures you will see in it are by the polish architects Piotr Lewicki and Kazimierz Latak. If you have some extra time and you are emotionally prepared, we advise you to visit the Auschwitz-Bikernau deportation camps: an important and life-changing experience, deep in the heart of one of the worst human monstruosity.
Out of Krakow, don't miss the Salt mine in Wieliczka.