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How to visit Krakow for under £100 a night

by Ace Damon
More than 13 million tourists visit Krakow, Poland's former capital, each year. The map above shows your tourist hotspots

More than 13 million tourists visit Poland's old capital each year – and it's easy to understand why.

While many Polish cities were devastated during World War II, Krakow's treasures remained virtually intact.

This beautiful city, with its medieval market square and cozy atmosphere, is just over two hours by plane from the UK. Its magnificent old town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

More than 13 million tourists visit Krakow, Poland's former capital, each year. The map above shows your tourist hotspots

Where to stay

PURE Krakow Kazimierz

This elegant hotel in the historic Jewish quarter is minutes from the Old Town with pedal boats (the hotel offers free bicycle rental). Other freebies include coffee, activities like Pilates and a city tour. Rooms are high tech and equipped with tablets to control everything from lights to air conditioning. Double rooms (room only) from £ 60, breakfast £ 13, purahotel.pl.

Vienna House Easy Cracow

This recently renovated business hotel is a 20-minute walk from the city center. After a busy day of sightseeing, sit in a rocking chair in your colorful room. B&B doubles from £ 48, viennahouse.com.

Aparthotel Grodzka 21

Just steps from the market square, these 12 apartments (without kitchen facilities) in a 14th century building are elegantly furnished with antique furniture. Breakfast is served next door. B&B doubles from £ 45, apartamenty-grodzka-21.krakowhotels.net.

Venetian House Aparthotel

With a slap on Market Square, these modern apartments with small kitchens are set in a 16th-century building. Choose one up front for a beautiful view. Double rooms (room only) from £ 55, breakfast £ 8, venetian-house.com.

Where to eat

Pierogarnia Krakowiacy

Head to Pierogarnia Krakowiacy for Polish Traditional Dumplings (image)

Head to Pierogarnia Krakowiacy for Polish Traditional Dumplings (image)

Listen to traditional folk music in this cozy place decorated with antique farm equipment. Polish dumplings dominate. Try the cheese and mushrooms (3.45 €) or cherry and mascarpone cream (3.65 €). Address: 3 Mikolaja Kopernika.

Veganic

Offering tasty herbal cuisine, it sits on the grounds of an old cigarette factory. Try the bean burger with sun-dried tomatoes and sweet potato (£ 5.66), veganic.restaurant.

Chimera Salad Bar

this self-service restaurant based on a covered patio within a former print shop offers over 30 salads and hot dishes. Four items cost £ 3 and six £ 4. Bread is free, chimera.com.pl.

Klimaty Poludnia

A variety of over 80 wines is a huge part of this restaurant's appeal. Try pumpkin soup (£ 2.42) and vegetable or pork risotto (£ 6.25), klimatypoludnia.eu.

What to see and do

Explore the Old Town

Admire the two-towered St. Mary's Basilica on Krakow's Market Square

Admire the two-towered St. Mary's Basilica on Krakow's Market Square

The focal point of Krakow is the Market Square. After admiring the two-towered Basilica of Santa Maria, stroll through the impressive Cloth Hall with its ornamental façade and decorative ceiling. It is a branch of activity, with stalls selling souvenirs.

Then climb the narrow, aching steps of Town Hall Tower (£ 2, free on Mondays or free all week with the Krakow Card – see below).

Take a walk

Explore Kazimierz, the historic Jewish quarter, with its numerous galleries, bars, cafes and antique shops.

The flea market in Plac Nowy is a must. Here you will find everything from old cameras to LPs and street food. Try a 12-cm toasted baguette topped with cheese, mushrooms and tomato sauce (£ 1.20).

Head to the castle

A major attraction is the Wawel Castle and Cathedral, perched on a hill beside the Vistula, Poland's longest river.

The castle's three floors, complete with arcaded courtyard, are a good example of Renaissance architecture.

Even if you don't enter, walk to the castle walls to see the river meandering through Krakow. Admission to the cathedral is free.

A salty adventure

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is included in the first UNESCO World Heritage List and is over 170 miles long and 1,000 feet deep.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is included in the first UNESCO World Heritage List and is over 170 miles long and 1,000 feet deep.

Go beyond the city to Wieliczka Salt Mine (wieliczka-saltmine.com), ten miles southeast of Krakow. It is included in the first UNESCO World Heritage List and is over 170 miles long and 1,000 feet deep.

The highlight of the promenade is the 17th-century St Kinga Chapel, carved in rock salt.

Must see Museums

The city is full of museums, including the Polish Aviation Museum (whose exhibits include German Great War fighter jets), the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Municipal Engineering.

Don't miss Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory (Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Schindler list was filmed in the city), which was reopened in 2010 as a museum, partly telling the story of Krakow during the Nazi occupation.

Also recommended is the Rynek subway below the Cloth Hall, which features unearthed treasures from medieval times.

Many museums offer free admission on Mondays or with the Krakow Card (see below).

Communist Past

Want to find out what life was like in communist times? Get in a Fiat 126 (a socialist era car) with a guide (£ 26 for a private tour, fundacjanh.org/enha-trip) and head to Nowa Huta, built by the Communists in 1949.

Visit underground shelters and administrative offices, try a traditional dinner and study the stark architecture.

Make life easier

The Krakow Card (krakowcard.com) is a good value. It costs £ 20 for 48 hours and offers free admission to over 40 museums and attractions, plus free use of public transportation and numerous city discounts.

TRAVEL FACTS

EasyJet has returns starting at £ 58.98 (easyjet.com) The train to the city center takes about 20 minutes and costs £ 1.82. For more information about the city, visit krakow.pl.

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