No matter where you are, the best way to learn about a city is making friends with locals. There is nothing better than listening to someone tell you about their favourite places and memories. It’s pretty amazing how they can help you avoid the tourist traps and find the coolest hidden hotspots. But, most of all, I’m starting to believe that talking to locals is the only way to truly understand a city’s unique character.
What Locals Love about Krakow
In September, I found myself visiting Krakow for the very first time. Eager to learn more about this fascinating city, full of history and mythical stories, I decided to approach a number of friendly locals to ask what they love most about living in Krakow. The result is a collection of 5 mini interviews, full of incredible advice.
Cornelia: “Krakow’s Charm is the Opposite of Warsaw”
Cornelia is a student of tourism and tour guide at Crazy Guides, showing visitors around the neighbourhoods of Krakow while explaining their communist history. When she was guiding us around the city, I asked her what she loved most about her hometown.
“What I love about Krakow is that the urban vibe is almost the opposite from the one in Warsaw. Warsaw is also a cool city with a fast-paced lifestyle and modern architecture, but I prefer the historic character of Krakau. Despite the fact that Krakow is Poland’s second city, people aren’t rushing and the centre feels cozy and compact.
Lots of neighbourhoods like Kazimierz and Podgórze are turning into up-and-coming hotspots, with food trucks, ice cream parlours, and trendy cafes. There is just a nice and chilled-out feeling to the city, partially because of the large number of students. It’s a big community, but you always feel like you belong.”
Anastasia: “Atmospheric Autumns in Krakow are the Best”
Anastasia (@anastasia_zhur on Instagram) is a photographer and blogger who captures magical moments from her life, work, and travels. She is always looking for new faces and interesting locations. Anastasia hails from Kiev, but has lived in Krakow for several years.
“Of course, I will gladly share my favourite places. My number one favourite thing about Krakow is the autumn season. Autumn in Krakow is a special time, the season is so surprisingly atmospheric. It seems to me that the absolute best time to travel to Krakow and enjoy a city trip is September.
My favorite place in the city is Plac Nowy 1, an amazing restaurant in Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter. They make incredibly tasty food from many different cuisines and the modern interior is beautiful. My other favourite hotspot is Cafe Magic (Magia Cafe Bar), which you can find in the old central square”.
Daria: “Magical Mornings and Royal Majesty”
Daria is a content marketer, food columnist, and avid traveller. She is originally from Kiev as well, but now lives in Krakow and studies marketing management at Jagiellonian University. She loves the city so much that she started the successful @krakowplaces account on Instagram, where she shares the best places in Krakow.
“I love the magical haze in the mornings and the royal majesty of the city. One of Krakow’s best features is its loyal character and acceptance of all types of human beings: everybody can feel at home. Furthermore, I love the city because of its vastness and incredible number of bridges. Then again, this vastness doesn’t make you feel like you’re lonely or lost in a big city. Walking through the tiny streets will make Krakow feel like a cozy town at the same time”.
Ewa & Mike: “We Fell in Love in Krakow”
Ewa and Mike are a Dutch-Polish couple that live in Krakow and work at Wencel Tourist, a family business. Mike is from the Netherlands, but Ewa is a true local in Krakow. When Mike was on a city trip in Krakow, the two of them met and started dating. After living together in Amsterdam for a few years, they have decided to return to Krakow and start a new chapter. Their favourite places in Krakow are linked to their first memories together.
“The thing we both love the most is the green stroke near the Wawel Royal Castle. The best place to go is the foot and bike path along the Vistula riverbank. It is such a joy to walk there during the day or night. You will often see lots of beautiful white swans on the river, combined with the view of the historic castle. For us, this is the most special place in Krakow. We go there many times for walk, as it was the place of our first date.
Most of all, what I love most about the city in general is this: Krakow is a cozy city, but still very large with a lot of space. The city has all the urban facilities you might need, but there is always a green stroke or park around the corner”.
Dennis & Romy: “You Never Have to Worry about Fake Smiles”
Finally, it’s time for the last and slightly longer interview with Dennis and Romy! This duo is a Dutch couple who have lived in Krakow for several years. After writing a travel guide about the city, they decided it was time to start a website called BezoekKrakau.nl. This is where they share their best tips about Krakow (in Dutch). I asked them to share their favourite things about living in Krakow, which they kindly did.
“First and foremost, Krakow is simply a beautiful place to live. Often, we are still amazed by the historic buildings, charming streets, and lively green spaces. The old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, never loses its magic. The summer fills up the outdoor cafe terraces, while winter makes the intimate pubs even cozier. Krakow is bursting with historic character and we keep discovering new places with stories from a turbulent past. At the same time, Krakow is a city in constant development. In the years we’ve spent living Krakow, we’ve seen so many positive changes. Buildings are being restored, public transport is improving, and bicyclists are getting more and more space to ride around (yay)!
Feeling right at home in Poland
When life starts to get too busy, there are so many fantastic places to escape to. There are parks all around the city. The Las Wolski forest has a zoo in right in the middle of it and is only 15 minutes away by bus. The Zakrzówek limestone lagoon, Ojców National Park, and the Tatra Mountains are also amazing destinations nearby Krakow.
Basically, there is too much we can tell you in a short interview. If we had to pick one thing, it’s the effortless beauty and friendly atmosphere. Polish people are kind and will do almost everything to make you feel at home. Nevertheless, they will definitely also let you know if they’re not mood. It’s hard to get used to, but you never have to worry about ‘fake smiles’.”
Want to find out more about Krakow?
I wrote this article in collaboration with Zoover. Thanks for iniviting me on this trip! If you’re a Dutch-speaker and you’re looking for travel inspiration, make sure to check out their blog. You’ll also find more useful information about activities in Krakow on this page.