Traversing the Magical and Historical Krakow

Poland Cloth Hall

©King-of-Herrings/flickr

Poland has a well-known historical city called Krakow. And in this 9th largest country in Europe, you can find the largest square of all Europe’s medieval cities, Grand Square. Also known as ‘Rynek Glowny‘, this 10-acre square is simply huge. Almost everyone will tell you it is the most beautiful square.

So in a historical Krakow, there are many historical monuments that you must not missed. For example the Cloth Hall or Drapers’ Hall which dates back to the 16th-century. This is a 700 year old, world’s oldest shopping mall of textile trade! This Sukiennice building has a Gothic structure. After the 1555 fire, you will see today its rebuilt Renaissance structure.

Gothic Town Hall Tower

You must also check out the Gothic Town Hall Tower of 13th-century and the magnificent Gothic basilica of the Virgin Mary’s (14th-century). From the Great Altar, to the 11th century tiny church of St. Adalbert’s, all are great sights to behold. In Krakow, there is a series of 47 buildings of architectural value. Krakow is a musical, theatrical, commercial as well as political center full of vibrancy and life.

The Zloty Country

Traveling in Poland, you must remember that it is a cash country. So it means you can forget about travelers check and credit cards. The official currency is Zloty, PLN and their official language is Polish. If you are heading there soon, prepare US dollars or Euros for change at hotels, banks or ‘kantors’ offices which usually offers the best rates. Do note that banks closed at 5 pm for weekdays and Saturday at 1 pm.

Prior to your travel to Poland, do note that you should not bring prohibited items such as birds or any products of domestic origin arriving from countries infected with bird flu.

Eating and Drinking

There are some travel tips when in Poland. It is safer to drink from bottled water in any case. At the restaurant when at the point of paying your bill, you are not expected to tip. However, when you say ‘Thank you’ to a waiter, it means he will keep the rest of the change.

Stay Vigilant

You should never lower your vigilance against theft and robbery in tourist areas.

If you have to make phone calls, the international access code for Poland is 48, and the outdoor code is 00 followed by the respective country code. Hence if you are calling out for Warsaw – (0)22 and for Krakow – (0)12.

Walking and Getting Around

For such a beautiful city, it is best to be on walking trails. You are recommended to sight see the Royal Road or the garden surrounding the city all the way to the Florian Gate.

I would recommend the Garden around the castle. If you are planning to be there in winter, be sure to wear waterproof shoes if you plan to walk.

Public Transportation

Just a note that you should avoid peak hours if you are using the public trams and buses from 7 to 9 am and 3 to 5pm. Tickets can be purchased from vendors or newspaper kiosks. And always remember to stamp and validate your tickets to avoid fines by controllers. A two days travel ticket is about 18.80 PLN (6 USD).

Driving in the Downtown

Poland Krakow horse taxi

©Paul Philippov/flickr

Due to the huge traffic in the downtown, you are advised not to drive in the downtown. Moreover, there are limited parking spaces and expensive at the end of the day. The alternative is to hire a taxi which is easier and cheaper. A taxi transfer from Krakow airport to Krakow is only 70 PLN (23 USD). Taxi charges an initial fee of 5 to 7 PLN plus 2-3 PLN/km. For us, we tried the horse taxi, a bit expensive, but the ride was really romantic and lovely.

The ‘Crowd Ticket’

A green colored ticket called ‘Crowd ticket‘ is necessary if you are traveling to some villages nearby. You can get this ticket that covers the city area you’re planning to visit at the Airport.

If you can cycle, you should consider renting a bike which costs about 20 PLN a day. other options include the Segway.

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