It’s Faraway Friday! A few years ago, I got to experience beautiful Krakow, Poland, on a solo trip around Eastern Europe. To this day, it remains one of my favorite cities. Contemplating your next trip? Put Krakow on your list–here are 10 reasons why!
10. The Pastries
There is just something about European pastries. They’re delicious, light, buttery, yum! Whether they’re filled, frosted, or both, you have to try some. Poppyseed filling is a very traditional Eastern European treat, so choose poopyseed!
9. The Salt Mines
I had a Polish professor in college named Dr. Ablamowicz, and she insisted that I needed to visit the Salt Mines. It really was a very interesting, cultural experience! It really gave new meaning to the saying “back to the old salt mines.” Not only are there huge sculptures there, the salt mines were a major part of the economy for many years.
If you’ve never had a pierogi, you’re missing out! They can be sweet, savory, or even a little bit of both. So whether you prefer them filled with cheese, potatoes, onions, beef, or poppyseed covered with sweet sauce, there’s a pierogi for you! For more about Polish food, check out What I Ate in Poland!
7. The History
OK, so Europe has lots of castles. But for this American girl, I still get excited to see a real one! Check out Wawel Castle–I love the castle walls, the tools, the grand rooms, and the details, including “the Pukers,” pictured below. I love seeing the castle walls and city gates. People living within the city walls really did depend on the lookouts stationed there day and night!
6. Oskar Schindler’s Factory
Speaking of history, you can tour the actual factory where Oskar Schindler employed and evacuated hundreds of Jews. It’s now a museum that tells the story of Schindler and his major operation. It was both fascinating and chilling just to be there and see the artifacts in the rooms where so many lives were saved and changed forever.
I did not visit Auschwitz while I was in Krakow, and if I have a regret from my travels, it’s that I didn’t go when I had the opportunity. It was not something I wanted to do on a rainy day, especially since I was by myself, but if I had it to do over again, I’d go. That is a reason to visit Krakow.
4. The Jewish History Tour
I took a Jewish history tour, and it was one of the most interesting and enlightening things I’ve ever done. I didn’t even realize it before I visited, but Auschwitz Concentration Camp is not far from Krakow (see above). That is one of the reasons Krakow is so well preserved–the Nazis would not bomb it because of its proximity to this huge concentration camp. The tour was sobering, especially on an overcast day, but it was well worth the time to be in the midst of such world-changing history.
3. Old Town Krakow
Old Town Krakow is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved old towns in the world. In fact, it was named one of the first two UNESCO World Heritage sites along with Quito, Ecuador. Since Krakow’s founding in the 7th century, it has survived fires, uprisings, epidemics, and two world wars. It is worth seeing and taking time to marvel at it all!
2. The Bugler’s Tower in St. Mary’s Cathedral
Every hour, on the hour, a bugler plays from St. Mary’s tower. He plays from all four cardinal directions so everyone in the old city can hear. Be sure to listen for him!
1. The Fire-breathing Dragon!
It’s true! Krakow has its own fire-breathing dragon, right down by the river, guarding the city! And he really does spout fire throughout the day. I finally got some blue skies on my last day there, just in time for this fire-breathing shot!
Are you inspired to visit beautiful Krakow, Poland? I recommend it!