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Warsaw or Krakow or both?

My 26 year old daughter and I will be traveling to Vienna for the Christmas markets in December. We were thinking that we have never been to Poland and would like go there. We have budgeted 4 1/2 days in the first week of December to do that. Initially I thought of starting in Warsaw and then going south by train to Krakow, spend a night then see Auschwitz and then train to Vienna.

Warsaw, Krakow and Auschwitz in 4 1/2 days seems a bit whirlwind.

I was wondering if just starting at Krakow and spending a day at Wieliczka Salt Mine and anotheer day at Auschwitz would be better idea?

Posted by
6715 posts

I think you're trying to pack two disparate locations (Vienna and Poland) into too short of a timeframe, and not accounting for travel times between them. I would not try to combine the two. Four and a half days isn't even enough for both Krakow and Warsaw alone (without Auschwitz in the mix), and you can easily spend 4 1/2 days in Vienna and cities within a train ride of Vienna.

Posted by
1424 posts

Krakow is a far more touristy, which is both a plus and a minus. It is prettier, more charming, and has more appeal in general. It also has more crowds, though I'm not sure what it would be like in December. I had 4 nights there in April 2019, and it was plenty. I had a lot of free time to explore and relax. I went to Auschwitz but not to the Wieliczka Salt Mine.. I assume 4 1/2 days means 5 nights? That's a lot but if it's cold, you might appreciate being able to spend time in cafes to warm up between wandering the streets.

Warsaw is a bigger city and has many interesting sights. I had 3 nights there, and I really liked it. But it's also further from VIenna. I think if you have 5 nights, you'll be rushed doing both Warsaw and Krakow, so I'd stick with Krakow.

Posted by
2208 posts

I'd also opt for just Krakow, if making a short escapade to Poland. I was in Krakow during Christmas time 2 years ago and they had a wonderful Christmas market in the Rynek Glowny (largest medieval town square in Europe), complete with many colourful handmade crafts and food stalls serving Pierogi and Polish sausages.

You can read more about Krakow's fantastic Christmas market here - https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/krakow-christmas-fair-on-the-market-square_3364e

Posted by
133 posts

I agree with the other posters about just going to Krakow for that limited amount of time - save Warsaw for another trip. There is lots to see in Krakow and the surrounding area (we also liked the Schindler museum, besides the side trips to Auschwitz and the salt mine), and you will want to spend some time just wandering the city and really enjoying the ambiance.

Posted by
1019 posts

You can fly non-stop from Chicago ORD to Krakow for $318 and fly home from Vienna non-stop to Newark on Alaska operated by Austrian Airlines for $568. I would skip Warsaw as everyone else suggests and focus on Krakow, Auschwitz and Vienna. I visited the salt mines in Krakow and don't recommend it unless you get up early on a Sunday morning for a church service since the chapel was the only highlight for me.
I was in both Krakow and Vienna late Nov early Dec and found it to be extremely cold, so do invest in a very warm coat, hat, scarf, good walking boots and anti-blister socks. I would also buy hand and feet warmers.

Posted by
2122 posts

I agree that you should spend all your Poland time in Krakow. I liked it much better than Warsaw. It's got a great vibe, and there's plenty to do there to keep you busy for 4 1/2 days if you visit Auschwitz and the salt mine.

Posted by
853 posts

We liked Krakow!! Well worth the time. Don't miss the Salt Mine, truly unique. The Schlinder museum was interesting, also. Even more to do!

Posted by
2042 posts

I agree with most posters. Don’t rush Krakow. We spent 6 nights there and didn’t run out of things to see or do. Plenty of museums, Churches, evening converts, history. Warsaw is a large city which needs more time. Also, if you make a return trip for Warsaw, there are plenty of small cities worth visiting.

Posted by
18887 posts

I have no idea what ticket demand will be like in December, but at the time of my visit in the summer of 2018, tickets for Auschwitz were sold out 8 days into the future. The Schindler Factory also sometimes sold out, though not that far ahead. If distancing requirements remain in place at the time of your visit, tickets could be a challenge even with the lower expected demand in December.

I don't know anything about the ticket situation for the salt mine.

Note that Auschwitz is fairly large and the tour takes quite some time. I'd be extremely surprised if there's any form of heat in the barracks buildings, and you're also outdoors a lot. Are you sure you want to go to Poland in December?

Posted by
179 posts

I am sorry. I meant to say We have 4 1/2 days in Poland. We have 6 additional days in Vienna. My question was supposed to only cover the Poland part of our trip. Old age certainly addles the mind. Again, I am sorry for not being much clearer.

4 1/2 days- two Polish cities, or only one? If one, which one?

Posted by
18887 posts

I think it's fair to say that a greater percentage of Krakow is "charming". Warsaw was pretty much leveled during the war, and only a rather small part of it was rebuilt in the old style. However, Warsaw is attractive, and it has a lot more indoor points of interest, especially if you have an interest in 20th century history.

I believe you would enjoy either city if the weather doesn't do you in. If the monthly averages included in Wikipedia's climate charts are accurate, there's not likely to be much difference between them, but Krakow averages 1 or 2 degrees (F) warmer and a bit drier. On average you'll have roughly one hour of sunshine per day no matter which place you choose.

Posted by
1353 posts

Carlos, I enjoyed the video, thx so much!

Posted by
2208 posts

@Pat - no problem 😀 Krakow is magical during the Christmas time.