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Warsaw/Krakow Must See's

My wife and I will be visiting the "motherland" for our 1st time July 19-25. Staying 2 nights in Warsaw and 3+ nights in Krakow. Must see's include Warsaw uprising,Old town Warsaw,Wawel Castle, Auschwitz, Schindler's Factory, maybe a day trip to Zakopane and definitely some great places to drink and eat at. Does anyone have any other recommendations for other museums,parks and Polish restaurants/bars?

Dziękuję!
Justin

Posted by
53 posts

In Krakow, I would recommend the Jewish Quarter - great food and powerful sights. You can also drive to the Salt Mine, just a little bit outside of town. If you are planning on getting a private driver, I highly recommend Andrew from Rick Steves book. Fun, professional, entertaining, insightful - one of the highlights of our trip. Have fun in Poland!

Posted by
388 posts

If you don't already have one, you might start with a good guidebook. Rick's Snapshots Poland guidebook will have all the recommendations we can make on restaurants and sites in these areas.

One of my favorite restaurants in Krakow called Restauracja Farina. Its really more for a nice dinner out but the food was great. I also really liked their "Milk Bars" which served traditional Polish fare. In Krakow, two worth mentioning were Polski Smaki and U Babci Maliny.

I hope this helps some.

Posted by
4935 posts

Justin. Google up the In Your Pocket Guide - Warsaw and -Krakow, and you'll find a ton of info on sights and restaurants, with interactive maps and reviews. Great reference, and you can download the guides for free. Depending on where you are staying in Warsaw, the walk up the Royal Way (the street name changes every so often, but Nowy Swiat is part of it) is a wonderful walk, and ends in Old town. We liked the New Town area just north of the Old Town as well. The Lazienki Park with the Palace on the Water and the Chopin Memorial is very nice. In the area west of Old Town, within walking distance, are some memorials and traces of the Ghetto Uprising, and the Holocaust museum, WWII memorials everywhere. I think it would save time and be worth a guide for some of this.

In the market square area of Krakow (Stary Rynek) there are about a zillion busy restaurants. The Wawel Castle has tombs of many of the Polish Kings, so worth a visit. The old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, which is not that far from the market area, has some nice restaurants - look for a short street named Szeroka that has several, some with Jewish with music in the evening. Not sure there is much to see at the Schindler factory, but there is nearby memorial to the Holocaust worth a stop.

Posted by
11153 posts

I'll just add to the chorus recommending Rick's Snapshot Krakow, Warsaw & Gdansk book. It has all the details you need for a short visit like yours. And while his restaurant recommendations were fine, the two that really stood out for me in Krakow were Polskie Smaki (Polish food, at lower prices for equal or better quality compared with most of the other places serving Polish cuisine I went to) and Aqua e Vino (delicious high end Italian food at prices high for Krakow, but not compared to what you'd pay for food of this quality in Italy or the US).

Posted by
4935 posts

@ George, you're right. I was just there last September, and the factory was closed that day, but I did not get impression there were any exhibits there, just the old building. My loss - it looks worthwhile. Agree with Kredens - great take-away sandwich from the window on the street.

Posted by
767 posts

Other suggestions-In Warsaw, take a walk down the "main drag" street that starts in Old Town and ends...somewhere else. There are so many restaurants, stores, churches. And it is great people watching. The church that hold's Chopin's heart (if you are into that sort of thing-my family is) is on that street. There is also Lazienki park which is a beautiful and huge. We were there on a Sunday and listened to a free classical concert. Warsaw has a hop on/hop off tour too. In some other cities, that can take several hours because of traffic. But I think the whole loop only took an hour or two with no stops.

Another suggestion for Krakow, especially if you are Catholic is the town of Czestochowa which is a pilgrimage site, similar to Lourdes or Fatima. We were given a tour of the church and grounds by one of the priests and it is one of the best tours I have ever had.

I did not have a bad meal in Poland. Everything was delicious. One thing that I was not expecting were their elaborate ice cream dishes. It was common to see sundaes with a lot of fresh fruit. It was a family favorite midday or late night snack!

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12086 posts

Hi,

Among those WW II memorials both Krakow and Warsaw have a memorial to Katyn.....very striking and very poignant.

Posted by
26 posts

Krakow restaurant called Chimera is great. Good selection of salads and hot dishes as you go through the line and order. There is also a regular restaurant in the same location in the cellar with more expensive food. Both are off the main square on Sw. Anny street .

Great wood fired pizza in Krakow at Pizzeria Cyklop on Mikolajska street #16. Off main square in direction of St Mary's Church.

U Stasi down the hall from Cyklop is good for traditional home cooked Polish food. Only open for lunch, I believe. Good prices.

I find Chlopskie Jadlo in Krakow off main square is ok, but overpriced, for traditional Polish food.

Great Italian place in Krakow off main square is Corleone. Classy place. A little pricey, but great quality. Poselska Street 19. Try their vanilla. Ice cream with fruit sauce and coarse ground black pepper.

Lesser known museum in Krakow is Dom Slaski #2 Pomorska street (outside of main square, near tram stop Plac Inwalidow. WW II exhibits (English descriptions) in one building plus Gestapo prison cells
nearby which you can walk into. Not as well known as Schindler's Factory, but worth visiting.

Try to find out when are the free museum days in Krakow (generally once a week, often on Mondays). Get there right when they open. Especially great for more expensive museums like Schindler's.

Underground museum below main square in Krakow. Reserve tickets in advance! Tricky to get tickets for their free day, but if you can reserve a ticket (staggered entry times) a few days in advance, you may get lucky. Ticket office in a room in the Sukiennice building (main square).

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26 posts

One more museum in Krakow - the Pharmacy (Apteka) in the area called Podgorze, south of the Wisla river. This pharmacy was in the former ghetto in Krakow during WWII. Tram stop is Plac Bohaterow Getta. Right on corner of main square there. Check out the ghetto memorial of empty chairs on the square there.

Outside of the city center of Krakow is Łagiewniki, a site of a famous modern looking Catholic Church and a newer Church, park and museum dedicated to Pope John Paul II. Large area. Great for a peaceful walk and contemplation. Check out the tall Church tower where there is a great 360 degree view of Krakow. The tram can take you there. Stop is called Łagiewniki. A bit of a walk from stop to this area.

Posted by
242 posts

Just returned yesterday from a week in Krakow. It was fabulous, the best city in Europe. I didn't have a bad meal there either. In fact, all the food was very, very good and we enjoyed almost every traditional Polish meal that had been recommended. Be sure to eat at a milk bar. We ate at one on Sunday and both had goulash over dumplings with three kinds of coleslaw and bottled water and the entire meal was about $10 for two. We had just come from Scandinavia where we had a similar meal for $100 for two.

The Schindler Museum is so much more than Schindler. It is extremely well done and gives you a very moving and comprehensive multimedia tour (in English) about the Nazi occupation from 1939-46. A comprehensive ticket will also get you into the Eagle Pharmacy nearby.

Krakow is easy for tourists with street names where they should be. Good maps all around the city.

We went for a day trip with a driver to the salt mines (fabulous) and a trip to the Vistula Ethnographic Park. This museum has many old wooden structures (homes, tavern, church, etc) and objects to see how Poles lived in the 1800's. This entire adventure, including admission for two was about 560 zl. (less than $200). You get to see the lovely Polish countryside this way. We also saw a few more wooden churches on this tour.

The main square and old town was so festive with easy to manage crowds of friendly people enjoying the lovely weather. Lots of churches and sites and great places to eat and shop.

We stayed in Kazimierz and it was a 10-15 min walk to the main square. We enjoyed visiting the Jewish sites and some of the restaurants. One of the best was just about 5-10 mins. from our hotel and it was crowded. No need to have someone standing at the entrance to entice you to enter.

I can highly recommend two drivers: the "Rick Steve's famous Andrew Durman" or a very nice young fellow who we found at the last minute, Bart Novak. His email is Noowakbartlomiej@gmail.com. He is the one who did the salt mine and museum day.

Andrew was booked months in advance and did some contacting of possible relatives in the Zawoja area. What a fabulous day we had with him. Locals with our same name invited us into their homes, went to find possible relatives with us in Andrew's car and made the day so warm and hospitable. It is a stunningly gorgeous region. Andrew worked so hard for us and was kind and charming. I felt like he was our cousin when we left. Rick's Steve's praise is so very well deserved.

One thing that I would NOT recommend is a free walking tour. We did not do one, but I believe you just see the outsides of many of the places if there is any entrance fee. Your time is too valuable to just do that, although they seem to offer a good service. This was just my observation. If we had gone on one, we would have wanted to retrace many of our footsteps to go inside where the wonder experiences really are! Krakow is easy enough to do on your own. Take Rick's book along and do your homework first.

I can't say enough good things about Krakow!

Posted by
767 posts

Glad you had such a good time, Donna! I agree about Krakow being one of the best cities in Europe!

Posted by
4 posts

Want to come to Krakow?

Please read a post on my blog about top 10 things you should see in Krakow.

www.krakow-how-to-do.blogspot.com

I usually use services of some travel agents because they have well organised trips for everyone, so you will find something for you for sure. The trips are conducted through the city and also outside the city like tour to Auschwitz or Wieliczka Salt Mine even to Zakopane.

Posted by
5 posts

A few people have suggested the Wielizcka Salt Mine outside of Krakow, so I'll just echo them. This tour is an interesting few hours with plenty of info on Polish legends and history. I took the Polish tour because I had a friend to translate, but I'm sure the English tour will be equally good.

The most fascinating way to learn about Poland is talking to the locals. Whether that's with a guide, driver or striking up conversations with strangers, you won't regret it. Most young people (30 and under) will speak some English, usually quite well. In my experience, Poles are passionate about their culture, history and future. Ask a few questions and they'll take off running with interesting opinions and stories.

Happy Travels!

Posted by
106 posts

We were in Poland 2 years ago, and everything that everyone suggested is great.

We ate at a fantastic restaurant in Warsaw called Folk Gospoda. The reception desk at our hotel recommended it, and it was one of the best meals on our 2 week trip. Absolutely delicious and very reasonably priced (as I think you will find most food and drink in Poland).

I do recommend going to Zakopane if you have the time. It's a lovely little town. We ate a fantastic restaurant there as well (sorry, can't remember the name), but the food was delicious and they had a live band playing traditional folk music.

It's too bad you have such a short amount of time. Auschwitz itself is really a full day trip, as it is a bit of a drive outside of Krakow. If you start out early and time it right, you can do the Salt Mines either before or after Auschwitz.

Enjoy!

Hi,
I recently came back from one of the eastern city in Poland.
I mean, I was in Krakow, the quiet old town. I agree, this country is rich in history, especially the history of second world war.
I had the opportunity to saw the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.
I think this is the one of the greatest place in the world (and yet, You can go there extremely easy).

What more? So, I was in Wieliczka Salt Mine, I visited the CASTLE- WAWEL and Zakopane,
(small town under the mountains TATRA.)
In the end I came back to the airport,
all was organized by Krakowdirect.
I hope that someone will read it and do the same as me.
People need to travel and explore new places ;)