Krakow is the cultural capital of Poland, and if you're looking for a weekend getaway infused with food and cultural activities, look no further. From rustic old towns to grand cathedrals, the city has preserved its history and kept it alive. There's a whole bunch of reasons to visit this wonderful city, but here are seven, and we bet you won't need another one.
Before anything else, let's talk about food because without good food, we won't move a muscle. Polish food is the ultimate comfort food and it thrives in simplicity. Everyone's favorite dish and a must try is Pierogi - the polish dumplings. These dumplings are stuffed with a variety of different ingredients, including sauerkraut, seasonal fruits, meat, mushrooms and potatoes. This is a popular Christmas dish, but you can find it the whole year round! Another comforting dish to help you tackle the cold weathers of Poland is Rosol - noodles sitting in a clear chicken broth topped with leak, onion, cabbage, celery and parsley.
Wawel Royal Castle
Among the collection of magnificent buildings that make the city, our favourite is the Wawel Royal Castle. This castle is so extensive that it's been divided into 5 museums that require separate tickets to enter. The history of the castle goes back to the Paleolithic Age and has been occupied by many monarchs since. You can imagine how precious the treasures inside must be. Attached to the castle is also a cathedral that you can visit. This was the private prayer sanctuary of all the royal members that occupied the castle.
Krakow Old Town
Krakow really is one of the most beautiful cities, boasting a traditional European charm. The Old Town Historical District is the centre of Krakow . Its magnificent architecture and enriching historical treasures have landed it on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. In the middle of the district, you'll find the largest city square in Europe, which is a buzzing place. You'll find many tiny cafes tucked away in the corners of the streets, shops and marketplaces for you to browse through and you can even take a carriage ride through the square. There are also various museums, landmarks and art galleries that are worth checking out in Old Town. The towering St. Mary's Basilica is yet another reason to visit Krakow.
St. Mary's Basilica
You can find cathedrals all over Europe, but St. Mary's brick gothic architecture makes it stand out from the rest. If the exterior draws you close, the interior will blow you away. It is filled with unique glass paintings and an extraordinary blue ceiling, so you can really see the cultural influence on the design of the cathedral. Unlike the many cathedrals you may have seen, this one is lined with colour, which fills it with a very different atmosphere. Every time the clock strikes a new hour, a melodious tune is played on the trumpet and then stops abruptly. This tune, called the hejnal mariacki, was played by a bugler to warn the city when the Mongols came to attack, and then the tune stopped abruptly because he was killed. Now the tune stops abruptly as well to commemorate the bugler's bravery against the Mongols.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
This nine century old salt mine became an underground extravaganza over the years and it's a sight for the eyes. The mine was commercially active until 2007 and has now become a national monument for tourists to marvel at. You can learn about how man worked with nature to score the prized white gold - salt. There are many more incredible things to discover inside the mine. You just need to walk along the long corridors and you'll come across underground chapels with intricate carvings and salt lakes - one is even 9 metres deep! There are exquisite sculptures all around, that were carved by the miners, and they help you get a realistic view of miners' lives underground.