Kraków, Poland is a southern Polish city of less than a million people near the borders with Slovakia and the Czech Republic. For a small city, Kraków has a lot of historical significance to Poland's history which makes it a perfectly worthy place to visit.
It can be accessed by plane, since it has an airport, or, you can make your way to Kraków via bullet train from larger cities, like the capital, Warsaw. If you're coming by bullet train from Warsaw, the transit time is a comfortable 2:30.
Even though Kraków is a small city that is very easy to manage by walking, it is complete with a great tram system which can help you get around without much effort.
Rynek Główny City Square
It would be very hard to miss Rynek Główny square when visiting Kraków as it's the epicenter of the city. This city square is where most of the city's foot traffic is centered and leads too. Most of the main streets of Kraków go outward from here.
This beautiful city square is where you will also find the most beautiful views in Kraków. The ambiance, atmosphere, and beauty of Rynek Główny lit up at night is definitely something any visitor to the city should (and must!) want to experience.
In this square, which dates back to the 13th century, you can find an open air market in the center (pictured above), a 14 century Gothic cathedral (pictured above), and the Town Hall Tower which dates back to 1967. It is here you can find most of the bars and restaurants of Kraków.
A trip to Kraków would not be complete without spending time during the day and at night in Rynek Główny square. Something so simple as taking a stroll around the square and even through the market before it closes at night is well worth it. Of course, you can also sit at any of the restaurants and bars dotted around the square and enjoy it even more. If you dare, you can come back for a, "Polish Breakfast," which consists of a beer and a shot of vodka, according to one of the funny waiters I interacted with during my trip.
This Gothic styled city gate tower from the 14th century is in pristine condition. When paying it a visit it will be noticeable that it is connected to the fortified city walls which once had a purpose of protecting the city from attack from Turkish invaders. If you're visiting it from the outside, then make sure to walk through the entrance and continue on down the main road to Rynek Główny city square.
This fortified outpost, which is also in great condition, is part of Kraków's city fortification. It is located just a few meters from the Brama Floriańska gate tower.
Pomnik Bitwy pod Grunwaldem
This very small square with it's statue of King Władysław Jagiełło can be found just north of the Brama Floriańska and the Kraków Barbican. They're all within very short walking distance of each other and if you're coming from the train station, they're all on your way to Rynek Główny City Square.
The memorial near the statue honoring King Władysław Jagiełło is a memorial to Polish soldiers who have died fighting in defense of Poland.
Wielickza Salt Mine
This 700 year old salt mine is located in a small town just south of Kraków. It is no longer active and currently serves as only a tourist attraction today. It is the fifth largest in the world and reaches 327 meters at its deepest point.
It is here you can see chapels, yes real chapels, underground with religious paraphernalia completely made out of salt.
It can be reached on your own from Kraków or through a tour. I highly recommend a full day of Auschwitz-Birkenau and then this salt mine. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about the mine and it is with them, where you'll get the most out of your experience.
I will discuss this day trip in another post which I will link here when I get around to it.
Where To Stay
For the best experience and for convenience, you're definitely going to want to stay in the area near the Rynek Główny city square. As previously mentioned, Kraków is very walkable so staying elsewhere wouldn't make experiencing the city that much more difficult or inconvenient. The Krakow Glówny train station is located just northeast of the Rynek Główny city square and just two blocks away from the Pomnik Bitwy pod Grunwaldem.