Day 1 Visiting Kraków at Christmas

Best Western Old Town Krakow

A few weeks ago we noticed some cheap flights advertised to the beautiful city of Kraków from an easily accessible airport so, without hesitation,  we snapped them up for a pre Christmas weekend away.
The flight with Ryanair left on time and two and a quarter hours later we were touching down in Kraków, the jewel of Poland,  it’s my fourth visit here and the second at Christmas.  Since our last visit two years ago, a shiny new terminal has opened complete with an integral railway station for easy access into the city centre.  For those of you who may have visited Kraków before these improvements it was neccessary to take a 15 minute outdoor walk from the old terminal building to the train stop, it couldn’t be described as a station because it resembled a bus shelter.

Christmas Market

This afternoon we sped into the city centre in just over 15 minutes, tickets can be purchased on board and cost  8 Zloty  (£1.12) each.  We walked along to our hotel,  The Best Western Old Town Kraków a fifteen minute walk away overlooking the castle walls.   Our room, we were told was in the Jazz wing but the only nod to Jazz appeared  to be along the corridors which are adorned with large framed prints of jazz musicians.  Our room, in a new wing was both modern and comfortable.  We unpacked, freshened up and were soon ready to eat.

Our room at the Best Western Old Town, Krakow

Surrounding the Old Town lies ‘The Planty’ an attractive park which we walked through to ‘Pod Wawelem’‘ a favourite pub where we have dined previously.  It was busy but we managed to find a table and enjoyed a hearty meal accompanied by large glasses of the local Tyskie beer.  Then it was off to the charming old square where we wandered around the Christmas Market and soaked up the atmosphere before returning to our hotel for the night.

Pod Wawelem,Krakow

Day 2 and 3 Exploring Kraków

Day 2

Wawel Castle

We started the day with breakfast in the hotel, a good selection of hot and cold dishes were on offer in the pleasant restaurant.  Setting out,  it was a cold, sunny morning and our first stop was to the top of Wawel Hill to visit Wawel Castle  built between the 13th and 14th centuries.    The castle consists of several buildings built around a central courtyard.  There are fine views from the castle walls of the Vistula river, which is Poland’s longest.

Leaving the castle we walked along the river, crossing one of the road bridges and a little further on we came to Kazimerz,  the Jewish quarter and explored this neighbourhood.   A highlight here for first time visitors is Oscar Schindler’s Enamel Factory Museum devoted to the wartime experiences during the period of Nazi rule.  I have visited the museum twice before and would highly recommend it.   We wandered the cobbled streets, visited the old synagogue and enjoyed lunch in an attractive small restaurant that we discovered on our last visit.

Rynek Glowny

Our lunch of French Onion soup, toasted sandwiches and a pot of tea was delicious and cost less than £3 each.

We slowly made our way back to the town centre and headed to the stylish shopping mall Galeria Krakowska near the railway station.  We looked around several stores before stopping for cappuccinos in one of the cafes.  Then it was back to the huge main square,  Rynek Glowny, covering 10 acres it is the largest and one of the most beautiful of European squares.

The Cloth Hall

In the centre lies the impressive Rennaissance Cloth Hall which is now used to sell local crafts and gifts.

Interior of the Cloth Hall, Krakow

At one corner is the Basilica of the Virgin Mary and on the other side, the  13th century Gothic Town Hall Tower.  On the hour each hour a window opens from the top of the Basilica and a golden bugle is held out and played.  Crowds gather and it is lovely to see and hear the melodic sounds of this long standing tradition.

Festive stall selling sausages

We looked around the charming Christmas market and warmed ourselves with mugs of mulled wine which tasted delicious and cost about £1.20 each.  We were not hungry but passing the food stalls were unable to resist and bought ourselves large sausages (£1.50) each and sat at one of the nearby wooden tables to eat our snack.   It was then back to our hotel for a short rest before eating dinner in a nearby restaurant. We ended the evening with a last look at the festive market and returned to our hotel after an enjoyable day in this charming small city.

Day 3

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast then took a walk through the Planty garden before checking out of our hotel.  The Best Western Kraków Old Town exceeded expectations and I would be happy to return for a future visit.    We wandered back to the station with enough time for some Christmas shopping in the Galeria Krakowska mall before returning to the airport by train.

Walled entrance gate in Krakow Old Town

Our flight back home departed on time and in a little over two hours we were back in the UK after an enjoyable short visit to Kraków.

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