For those of you that have taken the Best of Eastern Europe tour with RSE, could you please tell me what sites you actually went into when you did your morning walking tour in Krakow? Do you go into St. Mary's and Wawel Cathedral or do we need to do that on our own? Thanks!
We took this tour in 2017. Yes we went into St. Mary’s with the local guide and her commentary. It was at the end of walking tour, so we could spend as much time in there as we wanted and the we were on our own for the rest of the day.
We did not go inside Wawel Castle, we did tour the outside grounds on the guided tour. You would have to do that on your own if you want to go inside.
We did go to the Oskar Schindler museum (on our own, not part of tour), which was excellent if you are interested in WW II and the story of the Jews in Krakow.
It looks like it depends on the particular guide... I took this tour in 2019 and we did not go into St Mary's but we did go into the Wawel grounds and Cathedral! I remember stopping at a number of landmarks on the walking tour but think the castle is the only place we actually went in to....
Thank-you for your responses. I am a planner so wanted to know ahead of time, but for this I think we can just roll with the punches. Can either of you, or anyone else, give me the approximate time the morning tour ends? Sometime prior to lunch? 11? Noon?
Ellen - yes, we plan on visiting the Schindler Factory Museum. I have a masters in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and last time I was there (oh, 15 or so years ago now) as part of my grad. degree there was no museum. We had to settle for taking our group photo in front of the gate.
A key question is whether the RS tour includes pre-arranged entrance times for the heavily touristed sites, like the castle and Schindler. You could well be shut out of both if you don't reserve independent tickets weeks in advance of your trip. (I have not been on this RS tour.)
Tim - Schindler's Museum is not part of the tour. I will be reserving my own tickets.
I seem to recall the tour ending right around noon (give or take a half hour.) we did Schindler museum later in the day. It was a short tram ride from the town square. At that time, the guide got everyone tickets, who wanted to go. We paid him back. It may be better to get them ahead now to make sure you get in. I know the itinerary has changed a bit since our trip in 2017. They added another night stay to Krakow (3 nights instead of just 2), so the timing of the schedule may be somewhat different. A great tour. You will enjoy.
The short answer to your question is that the walking tour was over before lunch. However, before you book any tickets to Schindler I would suggest you talk to the RS office. I got the impression that the schedule in Krakow is all determined by when they can get the Auschwitz tickets. When I was there we did the walking tour and then had plenty of time for lunch before we got back together for our afternoon trip to the death camp. So, while we did what was on the itinerary, we did both sights on the same day instead of two half days. Our guide clearly knew in advance that this was going to be the case and he had arranged a second walking tour, this time of the Jewish area of town for the second morning. He had also made reservations for Schindler in advance for anyone who wanted them. We had to pay for the visit but the hard to get reservations were made by the guide. I don't know if other guides go the extra mile to help everyone get the most out of the visit to Krakow, but ours sure did! And I also don't know how often the schedule is changed.
Thanks Martha and Ellen! I have made a notation to check with the RS office for when our Auschwitz tour will be before I arrange when we do Schindlers Museum etc....
If one evening you find yourself hankering for a kielbasa, check out the Blue Van, krakow’s original street food. You can google Blue Van in Krakow for up-to-date info. Also, the Obwarzanki carts around town are another great snack. They are made fresh everyday. They cannot sell the leftovers the next day. So the earlier you eat one, the fresher. It is the original bagel. Oh and don’t forget the donuts. I haven’t eaten a doughnut since our trip. Look for the chain Stara Paczkarnia. There is at least one in every city, cause we ate one in every city we visited. You will love Poland, one of our best trips ever.
Barbara, I've been to Poland twice before but have never thought of them as a bagel and doughnut place. I will check it out!
Agree with the suggestion to contact the RS office, but even they may not be able to tell you for certain. If the tour itinerary says you have a free afternoon, then chances are you could safely book tickets for mid to late afternoon. You can also let your guide know at the beginning of the tour so they're aware - it may be you cut out of the walking tour a little early if cutting it close. FWIW I booked a fun Crazy Guides tour for my free afternoon in Krakow. It was a light counter point to the heavy (but important) topics covered on the tour, and I learned some excellent skills push starting an old Trabant.
I think the Auschwitz listing in Rick's book says they start booking tickets 3 months out, so I'm thinking the RS office would be booking them then and would then be able to tell me if it is different from the tour itinerary so I can work my other things around it. I can't buy tickets for Schindler online until 3 days before my desired date, so I will actually be on the tour in Prague when I book them.
"I can't buy tickets for Schindler online until 3 days before my desired date, so I will actually be on the tour in Prague when I book them."
This is good because it's something the guide may discuss in your initial meet-up. If not, I'd talk with them ahead of time about it
I loved those giant round bagel like goodies!
And the donuts filled with the rose jelly were wonderful. Thankfully, we walked enough to burn off most of the calories.
I would look at the Itinerary and see what's on it. If it doesn't say you will visit a site, then assume you won't. Tour itineraries change from year to year, based upon a lot of things such as the almost ongoing maintenance of older historical buildings. Scaffolds and restoration work just never seem to end when one is talking about buildings that are hundreds of years old.
Schindler is best visited individually rather than as a group. Spaces inside the museum are fairly small and better visited individually, IMO. I would definitely visit it on your own.
Just a note about the Schindler museum. Be sure to see the film which loops, very interesting, Second, the museum is very well done, but be alerted there a 1000's of photos and quite a bit to read along with them. Depending on how you tour a museum of this nature, it will take quite a while. I also agree it is best seen without a group and done individually.
Thank-you to all. Yes, I know it is not part of the tour and will be booking the Schindler Museum etc... For just my group of 4 on my own.
If you have a few minutes and like glass works, across the street from Schindler’s is the Lipowa 3 Glass & Ceramic Centre. Lipowa3.pl. It’s small and they give a quick glass blowing demo. When we there they let us try it. There is a small museum on the second floor and a gift shop. They do not pressure you at all like at Merino in Venice. I purchased a small glass blown bagel and use it as a paperweight.