A Student’s Review of Krakow

Krakow, the 2nd largest city in Poland has a population of roughly 762,508 people and on the 2nd of January 2020, it gained two more. Since I was on a tight student budget, I booked a reasonably priced Airbnb and the cheapest flight I possibly could. Flights for two people and Airbnb set me back an eye watering £422 but split between two people this was not completely extortionate for a city break.

Traveling to Krakow from Manchester airport took approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. This flew by (pun intended) as Easyjet supplied a wonderful deal which offered two beers for £5. With the blink of an eye and £30 later we had landed before we knew it. 

The first port of call for most tourists visiting Krakow is Old Town. Located on Old Town square (it was more of a rectangle) are an abundance of restaurants and bars, all of which have enticing names such as ‘Spaghetti’. Naturally, ‘Spaghetti’ was where we had our first meal of the trip. 

Krakow Old Town

Spaghetti had a large menu and for only 60zl (roughly £12) we managed to get a beer and a very generous amount of Spaghetti each. Overall, the food was average but for £6 each it would be silly to have any real complaints. From what we experienced, most restaurants on the square are similar in both price and quality. That being said, Krakow is very well priced. For a few 50zl notes you can have an entire night out including a meal and drinks. 

Speaking of drinks, Polish larger is delicious. The average price for a 0.5l glass of the sweet nectar was 9zl (£1.80) and in some bars it could be as low as 6zl. Students and cheap beer, a dangerous combination. Many of the bars in Krakow are the same, they offer the exact same menu with a few zloty’s difference here and there. Ironically, the most unique bar in Old Town is a British pub called “Bull pub”. The interior looked like a rejected set from EastEnders and it was entirely populated by British holiday makers. The icing on the cake for Bull Pub is that they offer Karaoke every single night. I know this sounds like something from a nightmare, but Bull Pub was exceptionally charming and with the constant hum of ‘Come on Eileen’ in the background, made for a memorable night. 

It would be a shame to visit Krakow and not attend a Vodka bar. For 5zl you receive 40ml of one of the hundreds of flavours of vodka and that’s it. No mixer for us soft Brits to ease the pain of drinking ‘fire water’. When the temperature is -6 Celsius, like it was during my trip, any warms is greatly appreciated.

Krakow is not just a destination to get drunk, in fact Krakow was named the European Capital of Culture by the EU in 2000 and it’s easy to see why. The streets are lined with beautiful architecture and the cobble roads lead to something exciting. Most notably, Wawel castle. Situated upon a hill overlooking Krakow sits the 13th century UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the castle are several tours, most of which cost 10zl. However, it is exceptionally busy, and tours can be crowded. Tours of the dragon’s den, a cavern beneath the castle, run in the summer months and is by far the most interesting tour. Dragon’s den was once home to the Wawel dragon, the same dragon you will notice displayed everywhere in Krakow. 

Wawel Castle

Roughly 70km outside of Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centres. If I had to recommend one must-do tour, it would be this one. For £35 you receive transport to and from the camp as well as entry and guided tours. It is unimaginable the scale of what happened in these camps but the museum has millions of possessions of the victims which allows you to visualise the sheer scale of the genocide. Auschwitz-Birkenau is a horrible place to visit but it is imperative people do visit so that we do not forget what happened. If you are thinking of going to Krakow, I hope you put Auschwitz-Birkenau on your list of tours. 

Entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krakow is a rare place that fulfils both the needs of partygoers and culture buffs. From Bull pub and vodka bars to historical tours and humbling experiences, Krakow has it all.

Concourse is Keele University’s independent student-run publication and has a long history of promoting student journalism. Having been established in 1964, Concourse has become an important part of the university and has been read by generations of Keelites.

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