The Interrailing Diaries: A Weekend in Krakow

Krakow was the surprising gem of our interrailing journey (see an overview of our trip here). I associated it with beautiful buildings and cheap vodka, both of which there was plenty, but what I didn’t expect was the incredible selection of vegan food, the street art and the friendly feel of the city!

The Main Square

Lined round the outside with souvenir shops and bars/restaurants, the main square is the main image which comes up when you research Krakow.
A lot of the older sights are here such as the 70 meter Town Hall Tower. St. Mary’s Basilica is the picture-postcard church, where a bugle (simple brass instrument) is played on the hour every hour – you’ll see everyone start to group round to watch!
The Cloth Hall still has a market inside as well selling jewellery, cloth and a wide selection of souvenirs, from the pretty to downright tacky!

The Hostel

We stayed in ‘Rasta Hostel’, which has since turned vegan, however I won’t be recommending this due to poor management, and apparent bed bugs this spring. It was only £6 per night, which isn’t even the cheapest – online at the moment there are hostels from £4 per night in July! We could have been in a large dorm but instead ended up paying the same for a 4 bed room to the two of us with an en-suite. The management appeared to be a single woman who did everything from making the free breakfast in the cafe downstairs to the cleaning. As there was only one key for each dorm it had to be left in reception so not the most secure – also once our key had disappeared and we had to sit in the kitchen for a few hours before it was located. 

Our hostel was however right next to Planty Park, which aside from having the cutest name ever, was a really nice place to walk through and also to sit in and have a bit of time away from the tourists and midday sun.

The Old Jewish Quarter – Kazimierz

My favourite area of Krakow, Kazimierz is the old Jewish quarter turned hipster paradise. One highlight was the Cytat Cafe which translates to quote cafe and indeed every drink came with it’s own famous quote. Mine was ‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be‘ – Lao Tzu (an ancient Chinese philosopher).

The best part of this place however was the selection of drinks – I had a soya banana cappuccino! Another highlight was the shops and galleries such as the one above, Galeria LueLue. This is also where we found the cutest postcards in the city – I like to buy a stylised one for every place I go to!

Finally, this sign – the restaurant it advertised also looked really nice, but most of all it gave a great vegan slogan…

The Street art

Arguably one of the best things about Krakow, this is not some rubbish graffiti on a bordered up shop like you might imagine in your local town. Instead there’s a variety of street art all around the city, mostly centred around Kazimierz and across the river, this leads you to explore places you wouldn’t usually end up – the colourful steps were further out in a quiet neighbourhood away from the tourist attractions.

You can take a tour, such as this one, or do what we did and freestyle it thanks to the maps available online such as this one.

You could however, like us, end up probably taking photos of everything just in case it has some significance, and realising afterwards it is just some random scribble!

Vegan Food

One of the biggest surprises for me was the amount of vegan food in Krakow. My personal favourite was Vegab, which sold kebabs, hot dogs and smoothies, with loads of different flavours and fillings. Their standard kebab is delicious, massive and only around £4!

Also we stumbled across Cafe Mlynek which is a vegetarian B&B, where I got a tofu salad and delicious orange and almond chocolate cake.

Back in the old town, there are loads of options too. Using the ‘Happy Cow’ app I found Krowarzywa which appears to be a chain in Poland, with loads of vegan burgers, wraps and milkshakes.
Also tucked down a side street is ‘Legal Cakes‘, a franchise which sells raw, refined sugar free cakes, some of which were vegan, including banoffee pie and chocolate torte. These also did amazing iced lattes and had the cutest decor. This was a great place to sit and read for a bit!

A Few Extras

Plac Bohaterow Getta square, translated as ‘Ghetto Heroes Square’ is a poignant memorial to the murdered victims of he Krakow ghetto. To get here, the bridge linking Kazimierz to the former Jewish ghetto is well worth going across and taking in the views of the river.

There are sculptures on the bridge which depict people doing acrobatics, though I can’t find any information why so if anyone has any idea please let me know! It also has your classic love locks along the sides, though far less than the ones in Paris etc! 

And finally, one for the night time – there are loads of bars, jazz bars and restaurants in Krakow but the one which stood out to me was ‘Wodka’, which has every flavour of vodka you can imagine, served in quite frankly massive shots which look like little wine glasses! The 6 shot tasting stick came in around £12 as far as I remember, slightly more if you want to sample the more exotic/creamy flavours. It is tiny though, so get there early, and sit upstairs if you can!

Finally, it’s well worth thinking about booking a trip to Auschwitz if you find yourself in Krakow. The coach from the bus station was really cheap and takes around 2 hours, and you don’t need to book tickets beforehand. However, I would recommend booking tickets for Auschwitz as it gets incredibly busy to buy them on the day, especially in summer, and it’s pretty much the same price! It was a hard and sombre day but such an interesting and worthwhile experience.

I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of what there is to do in Krakow. Have you ever been? Did I miss anything out that was a must see for you? Let me know in the comments or come chat on Instagram!

Hazel x


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