Europe is often associated with its beautiful capitals: Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Madrid. All wonderful cities which, however, overshadow cities that are just as beautiful. Krakow is one hidden gem. Not only is it a real beauty to visit and discover, it is also cheap since Poland kept its coin, the zloty: one euro is the equivalent of 4 zloty and prices are in general quite low. A museum entrance would cost from 10 to 20 zloty and eating is really convenient (you won’t pay more than 10 euro to have a complete and tasty meal!).

Located in the South of Poland, Krakow is the second biggest city in the country and it dates back to the seventh century. In 2013, it was approved as a UNESCO city of literature.

Even though it is the second biggest city in Poland, you can easily walk around. Most of the central area is called Stare Miasto that has the most beautiful squares and the famous Renaissance Cloth Hall, where you can find cloth of different colours and textiles, as well as other typical Polish souvenirs. You can visit the Saint Mary’s Basilica.

If you skirt the main square on the right, you will find the main road full of shops and cafes (a catchy one will be the “cupcake corner”) that lead you to the Wavel Castle, for centuries residence of kings of Poland, which can be visited. Worth seeing is the portrait “The lady with an ermine” by Da Vinci.

Another beautiful district of the city which is a must-to-see is Kazimierz, the old Jewish Area where you can find synagogues and the Jewish cemetery. Kazimierz hosts a great deal of Krakow history and many walking tours are organised there, which are worth joining. The most important synagogues are the Old and the New Synagogue, which have permanent expositions on Jewish families of the area and their stories with the outburst of the II World War.

Kazimierz may inspire you a blue moment because of the events it reminds us of, but you can cheer up with a lovely dinner in one of the many restaurants and pubs since it is the area of the nightlife. It is only 1.5 km far away from the city centre, but trams and taxi run all night.

In conclusion, if you go to Krakow and are inspired by the recent history it tells you about, just as if it were a history book to live rather than to read, you cannot miss a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Tours leave every day from the city centre, organised by the local tourist agencies and it costs around 25 euros. It is another must in Krakow.

Chiaro Merlino, Correspondent (Travel)