We arrived at the Krakow main train station in the mid-afternoon. As always, our first order of business was to get checked in to our AirBnB. The check in process was a little strange as we had to go to two completely different locations in the city. The first was to pick up the key from management and the second was to actually go to the apartment. This was a little annoying, but not too bad considering everything was within walking distance. On the walk over to the apartment we took in our first sights and sounds of Krakow. We could immediately tell that it had a completely different vibe than Warsaw. The streets were cleaner and things looked much less industrial and more aesthetically pleasing. We both quickly agreed that we already liked it better than our last city.
Once we were settled into the AirBnB we came to the conclusion that this was the nicest apartment we had stayed in yet. Once again, we had a private flat to ourselves. However, this one was more modern, clean, and spacious than our flat in Warsaw. Perhaps the best part was that it was located just across the street from beautiful Old Town. As is the case with most travel days, we decided to have a quiet night and not begin exploring Krakow until the next day. For dinner we took a short walk to a small vegan restaurant called “Vegab”, where, as you can imagine, we devoured delicious vegan kebabs (something I had been dreaming about since we arrived in Europe).
For our morning run, we ran a large sections of the beautiful park that circled Old Town. Despite there being little greenery, it was the most beautiful run we had been on yet. After the run and getting ready for the day we headed into Old Town. The Old Town of Krakow is relatively small but feels like something out of a fairy tale. I was so glad our AirBnB was located so close to it, because I could have spent the entire trip roaming the streets of Old Town. We headed into the first cafe we saw in Old Town to grab some “breakfast” consisting of espresso and pastries.
Following breakfast we headed over to the meeting point for a historical walking tour we had signed up for. The tour group was rather large. We spent most of the tour walking around Old Town and the outskirts and learning about the rich history of Krakow. At St. Mary’s Basilica we watched the tower as the clock struck 13:00 and a trumpeter appeared from the top to give a short performance. This is a tradition that has been carried on every hour of every day for centuries in Krakow. Aside from learning about the stunning cathedrals around Old Town, the tour also spent a lot of time on sights relating to Pope John Paul II. He was from Krakow and is extremely popular there.
After the tour concluded we went back to the AirBnB for a short nap. We then headed back out for yet another walking tour in Old Town. This one was much different however. This was a “macabre tour” that took place at night. It focused on creepy murderers and criminals that lived in Krakow. While the tour wasn’t scary by any means, it was very interesting and our guide was a fantastic story teller. My favorite part was learning about past execution techniques in Krakow. After the tour we grabbed vegan burgers for a quick dinner. We then went to the very unique Vodka Cafe Bar. Here you can order a vodka tasting flight where you get to pick from interesting flavors such as chocolate or mint. Our favorite flavor ended up being chocolate, following closely by caramel. While at the bar we made friends with a group of two couples who were visiting from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hanging out with them was a fantastic and fun way to spend the night, and we hope we can drop by Belfast this summer to see them again!
The next day we decided to take things easy. We got a late start on the day and didn’t get out of the AirBnB until it was time for lunch. Considering we saw most of Old Town the previous day, we decided to check out the nearby Jewish Quarter this time. We ate lunch in the Jewish Quarter and spent sometime admiring the architecture of the residences and synagogues. The Jewish Quarter was a very pretty part of town, but I think we both preferred the looks of Old Town instead. In the late afternoon we stopped by a bar for some mulled wine to unwind. On the way home we stopped by a vegan grocery store in the Jewish Quarter to pick up some groceries so we could save money by cooking dinner that night.
The following day we decided to back into Old Town and explore it independently, without a guide. Our first stop was St. Mary’s Basilica where we were able to go inside and admire the awe-inspiring architecture for a small fee. Upon exiting the basilica, we waited in the courtyard to hear the trumpeters performance once more. We spent the rest of the day wandering the streets and visiting various cafes and bars. Around sunset, we headed to a large cathedral in the southern part of Old Town. This cathedral was on a large hill overlooking the river. We spent about an hour there looking at the church and watching the sunset. For dinner that night we had some vegan pizza and decided to head back relatively early. The pretty much concluded our time in Krakow, as we had something outside the city scheduled for the final day (which will be discussed in our next blog post).
Krakow was much more enjoyable than Warsaw. Admittedly, the weather may have had something to do with my feelings towards the city. The sun was out more and it was a few degrees warmer than we had experienced previously. Winter is by far my least favorite season and ever since we started this journey I have been counting down the days until I can walk around in a t-shirt and not pile on layer after layer. Any day that the sun is out is usually my favorite one and increases my mood tenfold.
Aside from our hostel in Copenhagen, this AirBnB was the best location we had encountered. As Kevin mentioned, we were right across the street from Old Town and nothing was much further than twenty minutes from our rental. The AirBnB also came with an espresso machine which Kevin enjoyed learning how to use. Krakow seemed to have more to do than Warsaw did, whether that is true or if we just didn’t take advantage of Warsaw, it’s what we experienced.
Krakow over Warsaw, any day.