From important historical sites to bargain hunting, Amy Bracken discovers that Krakow has it all
Krakow is the epitome of the perfect student holiday location: cheap, lots to do and Ryanair fly there. For once, it’s not the small, lesser-used airport a few hours bus ride outside the city. You can travel from the airport to the city in about 30 minutes.
As a history student, a trip to Auschwitz concentration camp was a must. Not for the faint-hearted, there are no words to describe the experience. Admission is free, but there is an option to make a donation which your conscience will not let you avoid.
Another major tourist spot are the Salt Mines at Wieliczka. Salt has been mined here for over 900 years and the interior is immersed with religious shrines and a magnificent church, carved out of the salt as part of the subterranean museum. The two-to-three-hour tour passes by in a flash as you become engrossed in the history and sheer beauty of this truly unique museum.
Besides the wonderful and moving sights, another distinctive characteristic of Krakow was how cheap it is. I have been there twice: the first time I stayed in a hotel with bed and breakfast accommodation which worked out at about €60 per person for two nights. The second trip threw that cheap deal out the window: we got a self-catering apartment next to the famous Krakow Castle for just €14 per person each night.
From accommodation to food, Krakow never failed to disappoint. A one-course meal will cost in the region of seven to eight euro, but I would recommend (provided you have self-catering accommodation) going to Carrefour in the ‘Galeria Krakowska’, given that it provides food at Lidl-esque prices. This relatively new centre encapsulates it all: shops, restaurants and bargains, and is only a stone’s throw away from the main train station.
Of course, the burning question on students’ lips is: what about the price of alcohol? A beer will cost you in the region of €2 a pint, but be warned, it is difficult to find anything but local beers. As I was there in winter, I became addicted to mulled wine, which also worked out at around €2 and its warmth was a perfect remedy to the snow outside.
I am hoping to make trip number three to Krakow this year, and the best way I can recommend that you experience the magic of this beautiful city is to simply go there yourself.