Yikes! I have so many questions. Can I start with Krakow? I am planning a trip for 25-30 people in Poland. This is a Jewish heritage trip. We are not ultra-religious and want to take in Polish culture. Many of us have Polish roots. Some people in the group are vegetarians. We have options of one of these hotels (Golden Tulip, Andels, Holiday Inn City Center, Galaxy) which would you recommend and why? I don't want anyone to complain to me! Nice hotel, nice breakfast, close proximity to walking around and exploring. We will be going to the JCC, Galacia Museum, Kazimierz, and other parts of Krakow. We also want a place to have a nice Polish dinner with maybe music or something like that with vegetarian options. What restaurant would you recommend? Do any of these hotels have great food and ambience. I mean while in Poland why not get to know the culture, the people, the history, and explore. We will be in Krakow for 4 nights. We will be going to Auschwitz one day and I need a restaurant for lunch somewhere close as we will be spending the entire day. We will be spending an additional 7 days in other parts of Poland but I wanted to start here. Help! We will have downtime and some will want to explore concerts, salt mine, museums, etc.
I'm not sure how much "downtime" you guys have, but about 2:20 hr east of Krakow is the charming town of Przemyśl. The town has a long and rich history due to its advantageous geographic location and is the second-oldest city in southern Poland (after Kraków). Przemyśl also has Poland's only surviving pre-WWII Jewish Synagogue (built in 1910). It was not destroyed by the Germans during WWII, as it was used as a stable by the German army during their occupation. The Synagogue's original art nouveau architecture is now preserved as a library. Maybe it's worth a long day trip or even a night or two?
I don't want anyone to complain to me!
Well if that's really true, I think you need to resign as their travel agent right now. It's hard enough to keep a spouse or a small family 100% happy all through a trip, but a group of 30 people? A mathematical impossibility.
Start planning your Auschwitz day now - it's hard enough to get tickets for just a few people, for a group of 30...there's no time to waste.
Holy cow your post brings up a lot of questions. Foremost is WHY you are in charge of planning for a group that large. That's a job - not an activity. Are they covering all your personal costs on the trip? If not, you might want to rethink taking this task on unless you really have a sense of how much work it is. To do hotels, flights, activities for one of my trips takes me months....literally hundreds of hours. Booking hotels for 30 people will take you dozens and dozens of hours.
If I were you, I would either split the work...one person on hotels, one on activities, one on meals etc...or consider using an agent of some sort to help you sort this out. I love to plan a trip for me and my partner. I WON'T plan a trip for anyone else.
This is a job for a professional travel agent. You are simply taking on too much.
I agree that this sounds like a job, not something you should be volunteering to do. Four nights is not a lot in Krakow when you consider the day of arrival, day trips to the salt mine and Auschwitz. The Schindler Factory Museum or whatever it's officially called is essential, but it a way out from the center. Who's going to get a big group there--I guess you? This group needs to sign up for a group tour. For a group this large I hope it's some time out, like nine months at least. I highly recommend Gdansk as a very enjoyable city. Edit: One way you could do this would be to pretend it's a Rick Steve's my way tour. Book the hotel and transportation for them, point them to the key sights that they can do on their own. Auschwitz does have a restaurant on site, but I don't know how good it is. Wroclaw is a good stop as well but not essential. I might consider Gdansk-Torun-Warsaw-Krakow. (3-2-2-4 nights). But as I said, you could really use more time in Krakow. My wife and I visited Poland and northeastern Germany in May 2018. Poland is a much-underrated destination.
I will echo what others have said - do not underestimate this planning "task" - it's a huge job and you'll (likely) get burned out. Even the Rick Steves tours carry about 22-28 people or so, and they've been at it for years, constantly fine tuning things and having all the relationships with locals, tour guides, accommodations, services, restaurants, on the ground.
I know you're asking about Krakow, but also consider that Warsaw has several important Jewish sites, as well as the excellent POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. I figured that's the city most folks will be flying into or out of when coming to Poland.
Krakow is a very compact and manageable place, and there are more vegetarian options available than ever before (including ethnic restaurants). I have no problems picking up nice dishes. This is a very casual but popular vegetarian burger place - perhaps some folks in your party may be interested:
With respect to hotels, there are gazillions of reviews out there on the internet (so just check out Booking.com, Tripadvisor, Trivago, and the like). Most folks here likely haven't stayed in all of these hotels so it'd be hard to compare them.
You didn't say when you were going. I have two accommodation recommendations: Hotel Columbus which is close to Kazimierz and you can walk to the area and enjoy the Jewish restaurants, visit the synagogues, etc. Schindler's Museum, the Eagle Pharmacy, Heroes Square, etc are also within walking distance. Very nice breakfast also.
If you have plenty of time, consider renting an apartment. We did that last time (May 2018) and that is sure the way to go! We stayed in the Downtown Hotel Apartments and for the same price, they were so comfortable and affordable. That place would be closer to the train and bus station- walking distance. Victor owns several apartments in the building, so you might be able to book them for your group!
Both options are walking distance from the Rynek- market square.
POLIN published one of my articles about a woman I nominated for Yad Vashem's Righteous Among the Nations award. I'd love to visit but think you would most benefit from a trip to Krakow.
Like someone else said- get going on planning for Auschwitz. You might need to break the group up. We had a tour from a local company and Birkenau is a lot of walking, so be sure your folks are up to a pretty fast pace.
Keep this in perspective: Poland lost six million of its population during WWII: three million Jews and three million Gentiles. Hitler and Himmler stated early on that their goal was to eliminate the Polish gentile population. My Gentile relatives were killed, sent to concentration camps (Pustkow, Sachsenhausen, and Ravensbruck), and lost their homes when the Germans made them evacuate to build Camp Heidelager, the largest SS training camp outside of Germany. Most were forced laborers. There is a book called "The Forgotten Holocaust" that might be interesting when visiting Poland to truly understand the totality of the war and the Holocaust.
Poland is making great strides to restore the Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. They just opened up the ones in the town, Kolbuszowa, next to my grandfather's village. That town had a 51% pre-war Jewish population.
If your people go to the Salt mines, try to combine it with a visit to the local ethnographic museum- Here's the website.http://skanseny.net/skansen/wygielzow The skansen in Kolbuszowa has the only remaining Jewish tavern from the 1800s in Poland. It is wonderful to see how our great-grandparents lived when you visit these outdoor museums.
PM me if you have any questions. I've been to MANY places in Poland. Your group also might want to consider using the trains. Easy to do!