Italy? Spain? That’s lame. Poland is where it’s at. Obviously, I was kidding about Italy and Spain, but seriously, please don’t overlook Krakow. It’s perfect for your first weekend trip. It’s small, but filled with thousands of years of history. It’s a completely different feel from London, but most of the people speak perfect English. The fact that it’s super cheap is just the cherry on the travel sundae.
Krakow is home to Wawel Castle, Main Market Square, and Schindler’s Factory. It’s gorgeous, and it’s small enough to walk around and see in a couple of days. Most of the attractions are in the Old Town and the rest of them are a short walk across the river.
If I were you: What to do in Krakow
1) visit Auschwitz and Birkenau
When you’re in Krakow, you’re only going to be an hour away from the town of Oswiecim—the home of the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. These camps are two of the most notorious and horrifying of the Polish camps established in WWII. Please go and take the tour. Learn about what happened. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience. Usually these tours can be arranged by your hostel or you can book them through a website like this.
2) Stay at the Mosquito Hostel.
Seriously. It is the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in. It’s a block away from old town, three blocks away from the train station, and the people who run it are amazing. I met so many awesome students traveling in Poland. The hostel served free shots and mulled wine, and then they took our whole group on a bar crawl. They gave us maps and helped in any way possible. They even organized their own tours to Auschwitz for only 100 zloty (polish currency). It sounds like a lot, but it’s only 20 pounds. Polish people are so friendly and they wanted us to have the time of our lives. Mission Accomplished.
3) Eat Perogies.
Polish ravioli. Dumplings filled with meat, potatoes, cottage cheese, or even fruit. So cheap. So good.
4) Go in the off-season.
The colder it is Krakow the less you’re going to have to deal with tourists at all the attractions. You’re really going to feel this at Auschwitz. I don’t think someone could get the same chilling effect if they had to push through throngs of people.