There are lots of reasons to visit Krakow, and we like it the best during the summer. This is when festivals enliven the streets and residents and tourists alike flock to the impressive artificial beach. Read on to find out what else this southern Polish city has in store for you during the warmer months.
What better way to kick off the summer season than with a party? This annual event in June is one of the largest celebrations in the city, and celebrates the summer solstice. If you’re lucky enough to be there during it, you’ll see beautiful handmade wreaths floating down the Vistula River and dazzling firework displays. You might even bump into the odd celebrity maybe – Jamiroquai and Wyclef Jean have performed at past events.
Jewish Culture Festival
Image copyright of Pawel Loj
Every year the streets of former Jewish district, Kazimierz, are animated by traditional Klezmer music and a tangible sense of cultural pride. Visitors come from far and wide to hear bands playing, listen to lectures, sample some Jewish dishes and generally have a good time. In 2016 it happens from 25th June – 3rd July.
International Street Theatre Festival
Image copyright of De Visu
Immersing yourself in the arts won’t be difficult when the International Street Theatre Festival takes to the streets in July. During the celebration, performances from international troupes take place at random spots across Krakow. You never know, you may find yourself in the middle of one.
Crossroads Festival of Traditional Music
Musicians from across the globe perform an eclectic mixture of songs during this folk festival in July. Whether it’s Congolese fusion punk or non-genre specific South American music you’re into, head down to this hugely diverse folk music festival and you’re bound to hear something to get you dancing.
Love sun? Love carbs? How about a celebration that combines the two? At the Pierogi festival in August, there will be stalls of Polish dumplings filled with various ingredients: cheese, meat, chocolate – you name it, they (probably) make it. Obviously you don’t have to go to the festival to try this tasty Polish staple, but it seems like a pretty good excuse to us.
The Great Outdoors
You may not associate Krakow with white sand and palm trees, but like many other inhabitants of cities not blessed with a coastal location, the people of Krakow have brought the beach to them by laying down 10,000m²-worth of sand onto the banks of the Vistula River.
Plaza Krakow claims to be the largest city beach in Europe, and you can swim in the adjacent swimming pool on top of a barge. And just to set it apart from the rest, there’s also bar where you can take in a bit of culture with a series of exhibitions on display.
Image copyright of Łukasz Hejnak
Boasting almost 50 parks and gardens, Krakow has plenty of places to enjoy the sun. Head to the 1,020-acre Las Wolski Forest on the 143 bus for an afternoon of picnicking, rambling or wildlife watching. There’s also a zoo, castle and monastery here – well there’s more than enough space to fit them all!
Swimming pools and lakes
Image copyright of annaspies
Swimming is a great way to cool off and fit some exercise into your trip, and there are lots of places to do it in Krakow. Lidos like Clepardia are popular, but for something a bit more atmospheric, visit Bagry Lagoon, which is on the southern edge of the city. The reservoir is home to a few of beaches and the cleanliness of the water is monitored regularly. Swimming is permitted from June to August. You can also do some water sports like kayaking, canoeing or sailing.
Another option is the Kryspinow Lagoon. It’s a little further out of the city, but slightly more popular due to its manicured artificial beaches (four altogether), playgrounds and water sport facilities. Ever wanted to try zorbing? Now’s your chance. Got a hankering for a ropes course? No problem. This place has it. And when you get thirsty, there are two traditional Polish drinking holes to where you can get merry.
Al fresco dining
There are plenty of options for outdoor dining throughout Krakow, but you’ll find the highest concentration of restaurants and cafes with outside space in the Old Town’s main square. The square is constantly buzzing with tourists so its a great spot to people watch under the shelter of a parasol (with a pierogi dumpling or 10).