We will be including Krakow in our travel plans for next year as I am of Polish descent. I have read here that there is not much to do over two or three days in Krakow so need to know if it's worth our while to make such a big departure from France and England. We are NOT interested in seeing Auschwitz, but would like to see the salt mines and the Wawel castle, along with any important museums and a day to wander and enjoy some shopping. How much time should we allow?
We spent four full days in Krakow last October and could have been there at least two more. Even then we didn't get outside the city. If you aren't interested in Auschwitz maybe the Oskar Schindler museum might be interestine. It is new and very well done.
Hmmm, didn't say anything about Warsaw at all. Don't need to be bummed out on our well-deserved vacation thinking about the horrors of war. We are well-informed and have seen and read about it all. Glad to know we will have spent our time well going to Poland.
We spent 3 days there and it felt about right. Although we loved it so much, we could have stayed forever. Saw all the major sites, missed a few things of course. I understand about Auchwitz. We went, glad we did, but never going to another one. Milk bars are the best. Good hearty food and seriously cheap. Stayed in a great apartment right off the main square. Lots of room, super clean and quiet. Grocery store next door, a 10 minute walk to the train station and across from the opera house. Beautiful city.
"Don't need to be bummed out on our well-deserved vacation thinking about the horrors of war." I am not sure you will be able to escape the horrors of war in Krakow. I would suggest some place else. Go to Plovdiv for instance.
We spent five days there, including Auschwitz and the salt mines (essentially two days). The Schindler museum took up most of a day, as well. I wish we could have had at least one more day. There is plenty to do in Krakow and lots of fun restaurants.
Pat, As to how many days you might want to spend in Krakow, I would say at least four full days just in the city itself for Wawel, the museums, etc. Great place to explore by bus and on foot. Krakow survived the war practically unscathed and it's interesting to see the prewar architecture. If you're interested in taking a very doable day trip r/t, say on a fifth day, I would suggest Pszcyna (Pless). You have to change in Katowice (Kattowitz). Whether it's worth going to Krakow, yes...absolutely. Look into flying the discount carrier Wizzair, ie., flying from London to Krakow. I took the train leaving Krakow to Berlin ca. 10.5 hrs.
I spent 3.5 days / 4 nights in Krakow in May. One of those days was spent at Auschwitz. I also spent one afternoon taking the Communism Tour offered by Crazy Guides which was very entertaining. I did not venture out to the salt mines. I thought it was a reasonable amount of time, but would have liked an extra half day as I didn't have time to get to the Schindler Museum. If you are flying, pay attention to the airports. Some airlines fly into Katowice rather than Krakow. I flew from London Gatwick to Krakow on Easyjet. I believe that Wizzair uses Katowice which is quite a ways from Krakow.
Yes, if you're not interested in being bummed out about the horrors of war, I'd suggest you skip Poland entirely. The bravery and spirit of the Polish people have carried them through the centuries in the face of staggering odds, domination, and attempts to wipe them from the face of the earth. Krakow is a beautiful city with a lot to offer culturally and historically, but I'm not sure it's the right spot for your vacation.
I don't think either Kim or I are trying to be negative, demeaning or sarcastic. The history of less than pleasant events is still very current in this part of the world. So much so that most people with a conscience will find it difficult to compartmentalize all but the superficial beauty of the place. This same unfortunate reality extends over most of Central Europe, but there are few places where it is as intense as Krakow. A shame too because Krakow is such a beautiful place. On the other hand letting the history into your trip doesn't have to be a bummer. There are always two perspectives, and in this case the other perspective is the courage of the people that Kim speaks of. Still it will come hand in hand with the horror. It's just a matter of if one will lift you more than the other will bum you.
Hi, Admittedly, I was hesitant and cool to the idea of going to Poland. It was an incorrect assumption on my part. That was in 2001 when instead of choosing between Warsaw or Krakow, I went to both. with a day or two longer in Warsaw. Warsaw was the city obliterated in the war, very poignant, whereas Krakow, like Prague, came through vitually undamaged, unscathed given a wartime situation. I say stick with your decision to go to Krakow...a good choice culturally and historically. In both cities I saw monuments to Katyn. If you wanted to see "the horrors of war" and all that military history stuff in Polish history, you would include Warsaw in your itinerary, not only because of WW II but also the Polish Military Museum is located there. Poland is on my travel agenda for the fourth time.
Very well put, James an elegant articulation of what was bothering me. Hats off, even from this Okie to a Texan! :)
Thank you all for your comments. WE are interesteed in art and achitecture. The fact that the city was untouched by war was a big attraction. We find nothing more charming than a city that retains it's medieval buildings and streets. That is why we chose Krakow over Warsaw. Can anyone recommend an art museum?
Well informed and read about it all...don't want to be bummed out... Why not just watch a DVD on Krakow. Then you will know ALL about it and don't even need to go.
The salt mine at Wieliczka is a MUST. Incredible place. And get a bus down to Zakopane - best in deepest winter as it is VERY photogenic, but a great place to visit.