This is my first travel post for Wanderlicious! My previous posts have mainly focused on plant-based eats in Madrid, which I will still continue to post about, but I’ve decided to incorporate my travels around Spain and beyond in this blog, one veggie bite at a time. I hope you enjoy!
Today I’m extremely excited to share my solo travel adventure from a recent getaway to Krakow, Poland’s cultural capital of culture. Surprisingly, I found Krakow’s herbivore scene to be a vegetarian foodie’s wonderland. Who knew? Still dreaming of those stodgy cheese and potato perogies. Top that off with a cozy atmosphere, a charming city center, warm people, great prices, well-preserved historic buildings and a city with a story to tell, and you’ve got a place that needs to be on your bucket-list. If you can’t tell, I’m now a Krakow fangirl.
Oh, Poland. Forgive me for overlooking you all of these years. Let me explain, I’m a Colombian-Iranian Texan that has had a very long love affair with Spain. I seek the sun and warm places, I’m drawn to adventures that include the visible remnants and influences of the Middle East all along the Mediterranean, I’m just a sucker for olive trees, the sea, romance languages, and my caramel colored people. Quite the opposite of what you could offer. It wasn’t fair to judge you based on my preferences nor was it fair to discount you based on my underwhelming experience in a not-to-be-named neighboring country. Thankfully after a little coaxing from a friend, a Ryanair deal, another long holiday weekend in Spain, and the growing need to witness a horrific part of history, I finally made my way to you. So of all the things you couldn’t offer you quickly captivated my heart with what you could, and in abundance…your culture (and food!).
Airport to Center – It’s a quick 20 min ride from the airport to the city’s central train station Kraków Główny Station. Follow the signs in the airport that lead to the train platform. You can purchase a train ticket on the platform by cash or card (8 PLN*). Bonus: free wi-fi and power outlets during your ride. Official Info and Time Table
Depending on where you stay and how cold it is I’d suggest just grabbing a cab from Główny Station to your accommodation. Krakow is pretty inexpensive so go ahead and splurge on a taxi.
*The currency in Poland is the Zloty, often abbreviated to zl or PLN.
Where to Stay
Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter – Confession. I’m a bit obsessed with Jewish culture and the diaspora. My heart beats a little faster around the visible strings that tie places, a people and time together, all around the world. My eyes sparkled as I walked the streets of this neighborhood admiring the relics of its Jewish past. In the 1930’s Krakow was home to 50,000 + Jews, most of whom lived here in the Kazimierz neighborhood. After World War II, that number dropped to just 2,000, those that survived the Holocaust. Many of the historic sites still stand as much of this area has not changed in the past 75 years. A revival to restore and preserve the Jewish culture that once flourished here allows you to connect with what once was. This was by far my favorite part of Krakow. Also, if you saw Schindler’s List, you’ll be walking the streets where Spielberg filmed the movie.
In addition to its rich history, this neighborhood is home to cafés, bars, and restaurants; antique shops and art galleries. Plenty to do, see and discover.
Another memorable part of my trip was my accommodation. I just happened to stumble upon this gem online: the Krakowsky Apartment. It’s a cute, clean, cozy, and affordable Bohemian nook to keep warm and lie your head down in comfort in the Kazimierz district. The pics online don’t do it justice. Take my word for it and book it! Perfect for 1-2 people (it can sleep up to 4 with the pull out couch).
*downstairs doorbell wasn’t working when I was there so make sure to call the owner when you arrive to buzz you up*
Where to Eat
Where: plac Wolnica 7
Price: 5€ /22 PLN max for a main dish
What to expect: The opportunity to check out some traditional Polish food, vegetarian or vegan style. Pierogies (Polish/Russian dumplings) and Bigos (hunter’s stew).
What else?: I didn’t have a chance to check out their vegan breakfast. Try it and let me know! Cafe Mlynek is also a bed and breakfast.
Where: Starowiślna 6
Area: 5 min walk from Stare Miasto (Old Town)
Price: 3-5€ / 13-22 PLN
What to expect: Do you remember what it was like to eat a kebab? I do, and I’m not ashamed to say that I remember loving it. Well, now you can have one again, guilt and gross out factor free. Made from tofu.
What else?: Add the peanut sauce to your kebab. They’ve also got vegan hotdogs. Skip the smoothie.
Where: Dolnych Młynów 10
Area: 10 min walk from Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square)
Price: 3.50-6€ / 15-26 PLN for a main dish
What to expect: An upscale vegetarian/vegan restaurant serving traditional Polish dishes + a variety of international food.
What else?: They’ve got a full bar and an outdoor garden.
Where: Slawkowska 8
Area: Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square)
Price: 3-4€ / 13-17 PLN
What to expect: A variety of veggie burgers made from tofu, seitan, millet, chickpeas, and vegetables.
What else?: Lots of sauces to choose from. Good burgers, not amazing but they do the job.
Where: plac Jana Matejki 2
Area: 7 min walk from both Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) and Kraków Główny Station (Central Railway Station)
Price: 3-4.50€ / 13-19 PLN
What to expect: A cozy atmosphere, delicious food, and generous portions. This place is a well-oiled machine.
What else?: Order and pick-up at the counter. There is no table service. Try the Vegetable Cakes. Limited vegan options.
Where: Józefa 20
Price: 3.50€ / 15 PLN for the dumplings
What to expect: A cozy meat-eaters restaurant but I’ve added it to the list because their Russian Dumplings (vegetarian) are to die for. Great service and the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or to have a nice dinner with someone special…who may not be meatless.
What else?: Book a table, this place fills up fast.
What to See
If you’re in Krakow then you should really take some time out to visit and pay your respects to those that suffered at the horrors of humanity. It’s sad, somber and difficult, but necessary.
You can book a guided tour or just go on your own. I recommend visiting on your own. The site is well labeled and you can experience the grounds at your own pace if you are on your own. I suggest getting there before all the tours arrive, before 10:00 am. Entry is free, but you still need to book a ticket. To get there take the bus (minivan) from the Dworzec Autobusowy (Main bus Station), which is next to Kraków Główny Station (Central Railway Station). Transportation: 90 min/14 PLN.
Convinced by the 7,000+ reviews, “must-sees”, and intriguing pictures of an underground salt cathedral on Tripadvisor, I decided to take half a day to check out one of the world’s oldest salt mines. For me it was underwhelming and I’d say, missable. A 2.5 hour tour that seemed to drag on and ended with an additional 30 min journey up and out of the mine. One of the few times I’ve felt the fear of claustrophobia take over. Maybe salt mines are your thing, so if you wanna check it out you can get there by train, bus, or minivan. But you’ve been warned. ;). 3 hours/84 PLN
I used to be allergic to tour groups, preferring to avoid the masses and discover my surroundings on my own with my Lonely Planet guide tucked under my arm. But age, lack of time, and 20 years of experience have turned me onto the benefits of free walking tours. They’re the perfect way to quickly orient yourself with a city and fast-track your learning. Needless to say, I enjoyed this walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. 2.5 hours/donation based
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check this one out but I hear it’s a must if you’re interested in Jewish life in Krakow before and leading up to the Holocaust. They seem to do a fantastic job at demonstrating the historical context of the time in an interactive way. 21 PLN
Main Market Square (Rynek Główny)
This is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe, dating back to the 1200’s. If you’re doing Krakow right, there is no way you’ll miss this square.
A 14th century gothic church located right off the Main Market Square. Stick around to enjoy the traditional trumpet call, dating back to the medieval period. Every hour on the hour a trumpeter rings the church bell and starts playing from the Basilica’s left tower. Read more about the current trumpet player, Michał Kołton, a third generation trumpeter who took over from his dad in 2006. 10 PLN
Perched on a hill south of the old town is Wawel Castle, now a museum, and the national jewel of Krakow. I only had time to catch a glimpse of the magnificent Castle grounds and the stunning views of the city below. This is Krakow’s top tourist attraction with plenty to see, so set some time aside and plan appropriately. There are 5 separate sections of the Castle grounds and each section requires it’s own ticket. Click here for prices.