Coming to Krakow? Read those Tips!
Krakow Tips from Locals and Tourists

09.09.2018

If you are looking for Krakow tips before you visit, then look no further. I’ve got you covered!

This post will include some advice for you.

You will find out:

  • how to get around Krakow?
  • what to do before entering a building?
  • how to make a Polish waiter (or waitress) smile?
  • what kind of food you have to try when in Poland?

…and a few more practical pieces of information.

I’ve teamed up with both tourists who came to Krakow this year and locals to create a comprehensive list for you – our future guest.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Somewhere stuck in classics: Old Town Krakow, Poland

Post udostępniony przez Yuya Matsuo (@esejapan)

1. Polish people are lovely, just talk to them!

Mike (Cleveland, Ohio, USA):

"Poles are actually  much nicer than they seem. It’s not a cultural norm over there to smile at strangers in buses or supermarkets. It made me feel really uneasy at first and I thought that the locals are cold and unapproachable, when in reality it’s the opposite.

Just start a conversation with someone and you’ll see how nice they are. Don’t be afraid of them!"

This is so true! A lot of tourists are used to smiling at everyone around them and, as a result, sometimes they find us quite rude.

We’re not, I promise!

We have a reputation of being very hospitable, so don’t feel bad when someone on the street does not reciprocate your smile. It’s normal to keep a straight, neutral face here – we don’t mean anything by it, don’t take this the wrong way.

2. Try speaking some Polish, it will be appreciated

Ola, local:

"Working as a waitress for 3,5 years has taught me a lot. One of the things you may find useful is that Polish people really do appreciate when you learn a word or two in our twisted language. Simple dziękuję instead of thank you will brighten up our shift and put a huge smile on our face, so it’s worth giving it a shot"

Polish is known for being an extremely difficult language and I can vouch that we really have a soft spot for foreigners trying to speak it.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good – it’s the thought that counts!

I am convinced that you will be treated well either way, but if you want to score a few extra points with a receptionist or a waiter, dzień dobry (good morning) or do widzenia (goodbye) is the way to go!

You can also try pronouncing Kraków the way Poles do.

3. Take your hat off

Neil (Chicago, Illinois):

"During my recent trip to Krakow I found out that in Poland it is rude to keep your hat on whenever you enter a building – be that a church, a restaurant or even a friend’s apartment. I thought it was quite bizarre at first, but I quickly got used to the fact that it is expected of me"

In Poland it’s a cultural norm to take your hat off when indoors.

If you don’t want to get funny looks or comments – especially from the elderly – it’s a useful thing to remember.

4. Getting around the city

Piotrek, local:

"If you’re planning on using public transport, Jakdojade app is going to become your best friend. Practically everyone uses it in any big city in Poland, it’s an absolute must and a great time saver."

Yup, Jakdojade is indeed very popular in Poland. It can come in handy while exploring the city, so we recommend downloading it from App Store or Google Play (it’s free).

And while we’re on the subject of public transport – I have noticed that a lot of tourists struggle to remember that they have to validate their tickets as soon as they enter the vehicle. Keep that in mind when using trams or buses in Krakow if you want to get around the city without any hassle.

5. Pre-book your activities

Lucy & Nathan (Birmingham, UK):

"Our trip to Krakow was terrific! Thanks for reaching out to us, we are happy to help other travelers!

If we were to recommend one tip, it would probably booking your tours in advance. The most popular attractions can get very busy in high season, so pre-booking key activities ahead of time will surely save you quite the headache, as it did for us (yay!)."

Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine are both extremely popular among tourists and almost everyone who comes to Lesser Poland has them on their agenda – hence the constant crowds there.

It really is a smart move to book your tours before you come to Poland, as looking for a seat last-minute (without the certainty that you will be able to find something) can ruin even the best of holidays, and I’m sure you don’t want to miss out.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#saltmine #saltminewieliczka #kopalniasoliwieliczka #wieliczka #jezioroweimar

Post udostępniony przez Kopalnia Soli "Wieliczka" (@wieliczkasaltmine)

6. See the less touristy parts of the city

Magda, local:

"I highly recommend checking out the less crowded areas that not many tourists visit, such as Podgorze or Nowa Huta. I always feel like they are underrated compared to Stare Miasto or Kazimierz. If you have a spare few hours, they are worth visiting as well!"

I couldn’t agree more.

Krakow is full of charming streets, interesting stories, impressive architecture and beautiful greenery, so if you want to step off the beaten track and explore something that most tourists don’t get to experience – check out Podgorze and Nowa Huta.

7. Compare the prices

Rosa (Genova, Italy):

"I was visiting Krakow with my extended family (8 people), so when we wanted to change the currency, it was quite a big sum. We asked the receptionist in our hotel for the nearest exchange office, but she gave us two addresses: of the nearest one and of the cheapest one (which was not that far away, either).

When we checked online, it turned out that we could have lost a significant amount of money by going to the first place. Wherever you go, it’s always good to compare rates between several exchange offices."

Another awesome and universal tip!

Those little differences add up and you can basically throw money down the drain by not preparing.

And you wouldn’t want that, right?

It’s always worth checking! You can easily find websites that compare rates in exchange offices by simply googling them.

Two minutes of research versus saving some money for souvenirs (or, let’s be honest… food).

You do the math!

8. Visit museums for free

Natalia, local:

"Most of the museums offer free admission on one chosen day of the week. I am a student (constantly on a budget) and thanks to that free day policy I was able to visit a lot of Krakow’s museums without breaking the bank! All it takes is a little planning."

It’s a great tip! If you will be in Krakow for more than just a weekend, you can read a little about Krakow’s museums, find the ones that interest you the most, and then check their websites for more information.

Bear in mind that even on days that are admission free, some of the museums will still require of you to register for a free ticket so it’s very important to double-check policies of the particular museums you want to visit.

9. Polish bake goods are very good indeed

Lauren (Atlanta, Georgia, USA):

"Polish bread is just next level. And I didn’t even know that before! Why isn’t that knowledge readily available to everyone? When my couchsurfing host got me some food for breakfast, I didn’t know what was coming!

You HAVE to try Polish bread. I am not kidding. It’s one of the things I miss the most about Poland. And one of the reasons I will come back, for sure."

Interestingly enough, I’ve heard that a lot from foreigners and whenever I mention it to Poles, they are quite surprised.

We don’t know how good we have it, eh?

I recommend you to take a morning stroll to one of Krakow’s numerous bakeries and see for yourself if it lives up to Lauren’s hype.

And if you will love the bread and will want to indulge more in the amazing food Krakow offers, check out our guide to Krakow’s restaurants.

10. Forewarned is forearmed

Marta, local:

"When I was visiting my friend abroad, I had a very unpleasant experience the very first day I arrived.

When I got in the cab, the taxi driver – who clearly saw that I was a tourist – had taken me to my destination via route that was four times longer than the actual distance.

Of course I am sure that the majority of taxi drivers are very friendly and honest, but since that fiasco my number one tip to any tourist in any city is to check the map for a rough estimate of how many kilometres there are from point A to point B and reconfirm that with the driver at the beginning of your journey – he will know that you’ve done your research and you’re not an easy target to manipulate!"

I am sorry to hear about Marta’s experience.

The one good thing that came out of this situation is that clever tip that we can all use in the future wherever we go!

While checking the map you will also be able to see what is in the proximity of your accommodation, which is an added bonus.

11. City bikes in Krakow

Lars (Goteborg, Sweden):

"Krakow has a great system of city bikes, so if you enjoy cycling and can’t bring your bike with you (for obvious reasons), you still have the opportunity to explore the city on two wheels for a very reasonable price.

I was pleasantly surprised by that and I recommend it to all of my friends who are planning their trips to Krakow."

City bikes in Krakow are really popular and you can find plenty of Wavelo stations all around the city.

It’s an efficient and user-friendly system that will give you the freedom to explore the city at your own pace. Definitely make sure to check it out if you’re a fan of cycling.

12. No alcohol in public

Wojtek, local:

"Don’t drink in public! It’s illegal in Poland to drink outside and you can get fined for that. Trust me… Been there, done that."

Well, that’s pretty self-explanatory, nonetheless very important to remember.

You can drink if a pub has an enclosed beer garden-esqe area outside, but sipping on a beer in a public park is not allowed and you can get in trouble for it if you’re caught by a policeman.

It’s a much better idea to party indoors :)
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Post udostępniony przez Jose Luis M. (@mirndjl)

I hope that you found the information we have prepared for you useful.

Once again – a huge thank you to all who contributed!

And hey – if you have some travel tips that will help fellow travelers with planning their trip to Krakow, share them below in the comments!

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