I am looking for suggestions on how best to get from Prague to Krakow. I am assuming that a train is the best way, but you know what happens when you assume things. I am not sure of the day I will be traveling as we are on a very 'flexible' travel plan, so I can't buy super discount tickets weeks in advance, maybe a few days in advance at the most. Any suggestions?
Barnstormer, your post reminds me of my own travel from Prague to Krakow back in 2011. I found the best way was by train, which involved most of a day, maybe 9:30 or 10:00 am to about 4: 30 pm. I looked forward to a quiet and lazy day of reading, watching the scenery pass by, and napping. Not so, though. After taking quite a spill when my baggage and I lost our balance on a very long and steep escalator at the Prague RR station, just shaken up with no damage fortunately, I caught my train, and found my seat and got settled in, struggling with too much baggage however. When the conductor came around to check tickets, I was advised that I was in the right seat, but on the wrong car, as this car would go off in a different direction along the way. It was quite a chore to move myself and my stuff through several cars, in two trips I remember, and get re-settled. I believe I needed to change trains in Katowice, Poland. Then as the we approached Krakow, we were advised that the train would not continue to the main station in downtown Krakow, but would end at a suburban station, requiring another train change to get to my destination. So, travel light, pay attention, and do not lose your balance.
I found first visits to both Prague and Krakow very enjoyable. I took various day trips in and beyond both cities, very good ones. The two cities were in many ways similar, both old cities which were not bombed during World War II. Of course while both are the cultural centers of their countries, Prague is also the political and economic center, which Krakow is not. So Prague is much larger and more intense than Krakow. I remember that on one day tour near Krakow, I met a young woman from New Zealand, a physician on a sabbatical traveling around Europe. She was heading in the opposite direction, from Krakow to Prague, and I remember telling her I thought the two cities were similar, but that Prague was like Krakow on steroids. She said she enjoyed quiet places, and thought Krakow itself already felt like it was on steroids. I hope she enjoyed Prague!
From Krakow, I certainly encourage day trips or tours to both the very tragic Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps and the incredible Wieliczka Salt Mine.
If you just buy the ticket there on short notice, you'd expect to pay the equivalent of about $50 per person in 2nd class, not more than that.