Actually, Krakow wasn’t even on our list of destinations but sometimes it’s rather an event that determines the next trip than our wish list. In this case, it was the international Joomla! Conference in Krakow.
We decided to extend our stay past the actual duration of the conference, got ourselves an AirBnB near the centre and started to gather Information about Krakow.
Where is Krakow?
In Poland’s south, about 350 km south-west of Warsaw, is Krakow. It is the capital of the Voivodship of Lesser Poland and is situated on the river Vistula.
Krakow is located in an area where the Atlantic maritime climate transitions into a continental climate, therefore the weather is heavily influenced by the direction of the wind. Minimum temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius are just as likely to be found as maximum temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius. Characteristic for that area are the heavy summer storms and the torrential rain.
Until 1596 Krakow was the capital of the Polish Kingdom and even today the city is called the “secret capital of Poland”.
40 parks are to be found in Krakow, all home to a precious flora and fauna. Some of them are nature conservation areas.
Despite the multitude of greenery, Krakow is on the list of Polish cities with the heaviest pollution. Especially when wind speed slows down in winter a dense blanket of smog forms over the city.
How to get to Krakow
By car, the easiest way to Krakow is via the A4 motorway. Train connections are also very good. Trains from many Polish and German cities call at Krakow central station. Connections to Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia are offered regularly. Also, coaches connect Berlin and Krakow.
We opted for a direct flight from Berlin to Krakow. We decided against our initially planned train journey because despite an 8-hour journey the ticket would not have been much cheaper than the flight. That was also partly down to us not booking a return ticket because we directly travelled to another conference in Paris.
The Airport Jana Pawla II Krakow Balice is the second biggest airport in Poland. It is a little out of town but has excellent connections to the city. One option being a bus to town (it takes approximately 40 minutes) or the relatively new train line (that takes roughly 15 minutes).
We took the train to Krakow Central Station. Signs in arrivals point you to the station.
Ticket machines can be found directly on the platforms. In 2017 a one way trip from the airport to the city cost 9 Zloty. The machine offered English and German controls and the option to pay cash or by card. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased from the train staff, also cash or by card.
The train arrives in Krakow on platform 1. The platform has access to the underground arrival hall of the station. We needed to leave the hall towards the Old Town. That took us through a little mall on the way out of the station. From the outside, however, it was not immediately obvious that this is the way into a station.
What you should know about Krakow - Information about Krakow
Krakow is very popular with tourists. Over 100 monasteries and churches, 28 museums, over 200 basement taverns and the Jewish District Kazimierz can be visited. Since 1978 the Old Town is considered UNESCO World Heritage.
The currency is the Zloty. Good news for shopaholics: There is no limitation for opening hours and many shops stay open 24 hours.
Culinary, Krakow is top notch. Polish meats are fancied all around the world. Polish beer is world famous, too. Well known breweries from Krakow are for example Okocim, Warka and Żywiec. Polish Vodka can be consumed either pure, e.g. Wyborowa, or with different aromas, e.g. Grasowa or Żołądkówka. An old Polish speciality is Mead.