For weeks I’ve been questioning how exactly I should structure this post. I’ve spent over two weeks in Krakow, on two separate visits, and stayed in four different places (three hostels and one Airbnb). My time there was spent with a tonne of different people, from a friend from home (which you can read all about in his blog here), to two British lads that I went on to travel to Prague and Budapest with, to some crazy American girls that can drink better than most people I know.
I spent so much time in this city and have so many good things to say about it, that to be frank, the idea of writing a blog post about it was daunting to me at first. What if I forgot something? What if people didn’t want to read a chronological account of everything I did over a two and a half week time period (and really, why would they?!)?
With that in mind, I wanted to try and sum up my experiences in a way that is more accessible for you guys to read, and not too much of a pain in the ass to write.
So, without further ado, here are just some of the reasons why I fell in love with Krakow, and why I know I’ll be returning as soon as I can.
1. The People
Maybe I just got lucky, but for the entire time that I was in Krakow, I was surrounded by the most wonderful people. This is, without a doubt, down to one of the hostels I stayed at (we’ll get to that later), but I am a firm believer that the people you’re with really do make or break a place. I made some true friends in Krakow, some of which I know I’ll see again.
2. The Food
For some people, travel is about hiking. For others, it’s about museum hopping, or temple visiting. For me, it’s about food. I love nothing more than finding hole in the wall restaurants and trying things that I don’t often get the chance to back home.
Krakow was especially great for this, because not only is Polish food incredible (who doesn’t like pierogi?), but in Krakow, it’s also super affordable. When my friend Liam and I were exploring the Jewish Quarter, we found a Michelin Star restaurant that was SO cheap, it would have been rude not to spend an evening there! I stuffed my face with salmon tartar followed by succulent beef cheeks and mashed potato with asparagus, as well as a beer (or three), and all for less than £20!
I also had the best burger of my life for £4 at Moa Burger, and a three course meal (plus drink) for around £5 at Kazimierz, not to mention a gorgeous vegetarian platter at Hamsa. Heaven.
3. Greg and Tom’s Party Hostel
There are three hostels that I’ve fallen in love with on my 18 months of travel: Koh Rong Island Boys, where I worked for the best part of a year; Retox in Budapest, where I got matching tattoos with a girl and wrote an entire blog post about; and Greg and Tom’s Party Hostel in Krakow.
So what is so special about Greg and Tom’s?
First off, it attracts some bloody good people. I don’t know what it is about some hostels that just always attract a good crowd, but both times I visited Greg and Tom’s, I made some amazing friends and there was a brilliant atmosphere. I think that this is largely due to the fact that not only is Greg and Tom’s a relatively small hostel (40 beds), but it is also incredibly sociable, with everybody eating (free!) dinner together each night, before going out together on one of the nightly pub crawls, which the awesome staff take it in turns to host.
There’s also free breakfast, free snacks, free tea and coffee, and most importantly, free SHOTS.
If you go to Krakow, make sure you stay at Greg and Tom’s for an unforgettable experience.
4. The Nightlife
There are some cities where the nightlife just wasn’t for me. Some places just have no variety (Berlin, I’m looking at you). However, Krakow has something for everybody, from the quirky cocktail bars in the Jewish Quarter, to the Latin vibes at Teatro Cubano, to the sticky floors and mainstream tunes at Shakers (just in case you needed a reminder of your teenage years).
I never had a bad night out in Krakow (and I was out every night!), whether I was tucked up in Alchemia with candles and good conversation, or singing karaoke in one of the many bars I went to on the Greg and Tom’s pub crawls.
5. The Old Town
Most European cities have some sort of old town, and Krakow is no exception. Krakow is one of those cities that will really leave you speechless at its magnificent architecture and narrow cobbled streets, with churches, restaurants and pubs galore.
If you have a few days in Krakow, I highly recommend one of the free walking tours. They meet every day at 2.30pm in front of St. Mary’s Basilica, and for two and a half hours, your guide will lead you around the old town, telling you the back stories of all the statues, artwork and buildings that you pass. Walking tours are great because not only are they a great way of meeting people and becoming familiar with your surroundings, but they also teach you so much about a place in a way that Google never could.
6. Lost Soul’s Alley
They do say to leave the best until last and boy have I done that! Lost Soul’s Alley is an interactive escape room/haunted house that promises to make you the star of your own horror movie, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint.
My friend Rob and I went into this experience curious but sceptical, and after paying the £4 entry fee and listening to the safety briefing, we went on to have the scariest 30 minutes of our lives.
Lost Soul’s Alley is full of your worst nightmares, from Samara (The Ring), to clowns, chainsaws and demented guys in wheelchairs. It honestly has some of the most impressive special effects (and convincing actors!) I’ve ever seen in one of these kinds of set-ups, and when we finally made it out at the end, it took us a good while to stop trembling!
For a week after we went to Lost Soul’s Alley, we were sending people from our hostel (we definitely deserve some sort of commission) and not one came back with a negative review or told us that we had exaggerated how scary it was.
Just trust me on this.
Have you ever been to Krakow? What did you think? Did you stay at Greg and Tom’s like me or did you find somewhere even better? Let me know in the comments below!
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