6 Reasons Why Krakow Was Voted Europe’s Best City Break

Krakow has just been voted Europe’s best city break – so what better time for us to see what all the fuss is about? For the third year running Which? users voted the Polish city number one, with the destination reigning champion over 43 others including: Rome, Paris, Barcelona and Berlin. Each of the cities were scored on six categories, including but not limited to: Food & Drink, Value for Money and Lack of Crowds. Naturally, we thought it only right to give the city a rating of our own for each category, and (spoiler alert) it’s gold stars all round.

Cultural attractions 4/5

There are plenty of cultural attractions and traditions to unpick in and around Krakow, meaning you’ll never be short of things to do. Krakow’s medieval centre was built in the 10th century and was once enclosed in a city wall which measured two miles long. Parts of the wall are still intact, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. One of the oldest and most iconic parts of the city is Wawel Castle, which is made up of a number of buildings and architectural styles, it also boasts a beautifully manicured courtyard in the centre. The castle is one of the largest in Poland, and by all means one of the most beautiful.

 

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Say what you like about Krakow, but the Poles know how to honour tradition. An example of this, is the trumpet that is played every hour on the hour, four times, without fail. Initially, you’d be mistaken for thinking that the trumpet is a stag do gone awry (of course, this did not happen to us, the travel experts) especially considering the abrupt end to the melody. But it is actually a historic tradition that dates back to 1241, when the city was invaded. The trumpet call warned the city residents of the ambush, but the trumpeter was shot in the throat by a bow and arrow as he played, hence the sudden ending.
Auschwitz and Wieliczka Salt Mines are often high on visitor’s checklists, but there is plenty to see inside the city walls if you don’t fancy venturing too far!

Accommodation 3/5

With every holiday we have to compromise on something – whether it be price, food or even location – but the compromise on this occasion is the accommodation. Don’t get us wrong, of the accommodation available in Krakow, the standard is great. Unfortunately though, the variety of options doesn’t quite match up to its competing cities. This is most likely down to the smaller size of the city, there’s not the space for large hotels, but this does also mean that pretty much everywhere is within walking distance of your digs. Of the hotels available, there are luxurious options and budget bargains, but we think your best bet is to book an Airbnb, of which there are plenty. In fact, there are so many to choose from that we’re pretty sure the supply surpasses the demand, and that means bargains all round! We stayed in a great value Airbnb apartment with a mezzanine floor, that came in at just over £100 for two nights. Split that between two people and you’re paying just £25pp per night! Try to pick somewhere as close to the main square as possible, this cuts down walking time and means there are plenty of dining options on your doorstep.

 

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Food & Drink 5/5

We’ll get on to this, but the food in Poland is cheap – super cheap. And that makes every mouthful taste even better. In Krakow you’ll find the usual international favourites like Italian and French food, but if you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of places to delve into Polish cuisine. Highlights include pierogis, savoury dumplings filled with anything from mushrooms to pork. Polish stews are a fabulous option for the chilly traveller to indulge in at lunchtime. There’s also groats – a grain that can be cooked in many ways to be served as a side. Groats were the basis of most diets until the 19th century, when grains gave way to potatoes and wheat. Be sure to sip on the local tipple while in the city – vodka! There’s a whole bar dedicated to the stuff, aptly named Wodka Bar, but you may have to hang around for a little while to find yourself a perch. The bar is tiny and can get really busy, especially during weekends, so be patient and order yourself one of the hundreds of flavoured vodkas while you wait.

 

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Shopping 4/5

Visit the main square by night – the building that takes centre stage and lights up the entire square is the Cloth Hall, AKA Europe’s oldest shopping mall! Dating back to the 14th century, the hall once sold silk, leather, lace and exotic exports from around the world. Today the Cloth Hall is home to countless stall holders and offers up novelty items, souvenirs and pottery among many other trinkets. This is also a great place to pick up some amber jewellery, a precious stone that the city is famous for!

 

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Elsewhere in the city you’ll also be able to find all of your favourite high street stores in one place – Galeria Krakowska – which is also connected to the main train station, making for a convenient stop on your way back to the airport.
The main square is mostly filled with restaurants, but take a road leading away from the square and you are sure to find plenty of places to spend your pennies and purchase a present or two for a loved one to return home with.

Lack of Crowds 5/5

This is an area that Krakow excels in, while there are a few stag and hen dos that you’ll inevitably bump into over any given weekend, the crowds haven’t quite made it to Krakow yet. Preferring to opt for the likes of Prague, Budapest and Vienna for a boozy Eastern European escape, the masses discount Krakow, due to its less famous nature. Fortunately this means that you can get into almost any restaurant you turn up at, plus you’ll have invaluable bragging rights when everyone realises how great the city is, allowing you to say one of the most satisfying sentences in the English language: ‘I told you so’.

 

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While larger groups still visit for a quick weekend away, it means that the days on either side of the weekend are quieter. Incorporating a Monday or a Friday into your trip is always a great way to enjoy the city with fewer crowds. In this case Monday is the favoured option for us as you can make the most of Sunday night too, when the party people have dissipated. Plus you can skip the Monday morning blues!

Value for Money 5/5

For us, this is the big one. There’s nothing quite like a cheap city break – everything is so much more satisfying and enjoyable when you work out the exchange rate and, consequently, how little you are spending! Poland does not use the Euro, their currency is zloty. So don’t be fooled by the seemingly high prices, the exchange rate is about 20p per 1 zloty. A 70 zloty fillet steak would cost you just 14 British pounds. You can buy a pint of beer for less than a pound, and two train tickets from the airport to the main town will cost about £1.40. That’s for TWO people! If you are just planning on staying in the city, and aren’t planning a shopping spree, £200 is more than enough to see two people through the weekend, you might even be able to squeeze in a trip to the salt mines if you are savvy!

 

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About Polly
Polly

At dealchecker, Polly is writing up the fabulous deals that get sent out to our subscribers and checking that you are getting the best bang for your buck. When she's not writing about travel, she's out doing it - whether its somewhere different in the UK, or jetting off somewhere a little further!

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