So my family (wife and kids 16 and 7) will be in Riga Latvia and then travelling to Frankfurt. We have about 3 days to spend in Poland and are thinking about Krakow for that time. We will be flying from Riga to Krakow. How is the train service from Krakow to Frankfurt-Is there an overnight train we could take that would be affordable? Or would we be better off flying? A final option is to skip Poland all together and spend our time and money on the rest of our trip that we already have planned (Germany and Austria). I guess what I want to know is if Poland is 'worth' the trouble and if so is Krakow the place to spend the time?
Poland is definately worth a visit, especially Krakow. Flying from Riga to Krakow is also a good idea- the rail link from the Baltic republics is MUCH longer than it appears on the map. Riga to Krakow by rail will probably gobble up almost 24 hours of your precious time. I've never rode the train from Krakow to anywhere in Germany (I have from Krakow to Prague, though). Polish trains are cheap compared to Western Europe, but sometimes quality can be a step below. If your train trip appears to be long, take some food on board, there may not be a cafe car.
Krakow is definitely worth it. Go to http://www.krakow-info.com/flights.htm to check what airlines fly from Krakow to Frankfurt.
Do NOT, I repeat NOT neglect a day trip to Auschwitz. It is something every human being should do once in their lifetime. Also, try to his the Wieliczka salt mines.
Krakow itself is a wonder. I was a student there in 1988 and the change since the end of Communism is astounding. The people are the friendlist anywhere, the food is good, and the city has been reborn. I recommend it to everyone I can.
Spent 5 days in Poland, based in Krakow, in July. Visited Auschwitz and the Wielitzca Salt Mine in one day (used a tour company for these side trips---convenient, not much more $$$ than doing alone, and made it possible to see both in one day). Would strongly recommend a Klezmer dinner/concert in the Kazimierz (former Jewish ghetto) area. Also spent one day touring the countryside with Marta (recommended in Rick's book) to visit my grandparents villages (a highlight of our trip). Poland is affordable, friendly, historic, and has enough variety to give you all something to look forward to.
Dittos on Krakow and Auschwitz. We also visited several other cities and we loved Gdansk !