Essential Information on Krakow
Krakow is an historic city situated on the Vistula (Wisla) River at the foot of Wawel Hill in the south of Little Poland. It has traditionally been one of the leading scientific, cultural and artistic centres of the country, the former seat of Polish kings and national capital, and is considered by many to still be the heart of Poland, due to its history of more than a thousand years. Krakow is also a major centre of local and international tourism. After the changes in 1989 Krakow is now one of the most popular destinations not only for foreign tourists, but also for Poles.
Pocałuj mnie – mówię po polsku !
Polish is the official language of Poland. It is the main representative of the Lechitic branch of the West Slavic languages. It’s impossible to learn during one weekend, but it’s worth trying to speak the language of the lovely local ladies. (Try to say: “W Szczebrzeszynie chrzaszcz brzmi w trzcinie” a famous polish tongue twister, which means: “In [the town of] Szczebrzeszyn a beetle buzzes in the reeds” after a couple of beers.)
|Good day||Dzien dobry||Dzhen- DOB-ree|
|My name is Dave||Mam na imie Dave||Mam-na-imieu- Dave|
|One beer, please||Jedno piwo prosze||Yeed-noah peevo pro-che|
|I love you||Kocham Cie||Co- HAM-che|
Eating and Drinking with the Poles
Krakow is full of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants, and when we say “full”, we mean choca. We’ll show you the pick of the bunch.
Now onto the drinks. Being in Krakow without tasting Polish vodka is like being in London and not seeing a double-decker bus. Poles are traditional vodka-drinkers – the stuff is everywhere. You will be astonished by the head-spinning variety, from rock-bottom prices to exotic flavours, the choice is all yours. Go on a vodka tasting session with Stag Republic and you can be sure that you won’t miss out anything.
If you’re more of a beer (piwo – pee-vo) drinker, there is no need to worry. The Polish beer market is developing really fast, although wódka (vodka – voodkah) is number one tipple, Polish breweries offer strong competition to their better-known German, Dutch and Czech counterparts.
Polish food is not to be dismissed either. In Krakow the variety of cuisine available is wide – you can load up on traditional tastes, like scrumptious pierogies, bigos, golonka and sausages. Or you can go for more international flavours, French, Chinese, Spanish, and all sorts of fusion cuisine. There are also plenty of late night eats available – gyros and kebabs.
Average weather conditions in Krakow
Polish spring arrives slowly in April, bringing sunshine after a period of alternating wintry and springtime conditions. Summer extends from June to August and is generally less humid than winter. Mild showers occasionally interrupt the dry sunny weather brought by prevailing southern winds. Polish autumn is generally sunny and warm – it’s called “golden Polish autumn” because of the blaze of red, orange and golden leafs. Winter brings frequent snowfalls but relatively low total precipitation. No matter when you decide to visit Krakow there will be always a lot of to see and do – from beer gardens on the Market Square in the warm months, to all-night parties with warm beer or mulled wine in winter.
Average yearly conditions in Krakow, Poland via the BBC’s Weather Centre:
Getting around in Krakow
Almost everything of interest in Krakow can be found within a 1,200 metre radius of the city centre (Market Square). Krakow’s public transit system is cheap, and there is almost no place you can’t get to by tram or bus. A ticket costs 3.80 PLN (0.78 GBP), that’s good for one journey on the bus or tram.
But as everything is so close to the centre the easiest and most pleasant way is get around is simply to walk. If you’re roving about in groups of three or more, taxicabs are also a fast and affordable option. When you book with Stag Republic, we’ll give you the numbers of reputable, English-speaking cab companies that’ll take you where you want to go at a discount.
Show me the money
Just like Hungary and Slovakia, Poland is already a fully paid-up member of the EU. Despite that, the Polish currency is still the Zloty, and will be for a couple of years yet. One Zloty (abbreviation = PLN) equals 100 Groszy, but don’t worry too much about them. The current exchange rate is around five Zloty to one of your British Pounds. And 1.5 of your Pounds is equivalent to one frothy Polish beer.
If you come armed with Pounds or Euros, you’ll have no trouble finding somewhere to exchange them (look for the word “kantor”, that’s Polish for exchange office), but your best bet is to just bring your cashpoint card. The ATM’s all over Poland are not only convenient and easy to find, you’ll also get the best exchange rate. Moreover, if you’re using a popular credit card like American Express or VISA, you’ll have great success waving them around in restaurants or bars (just check for the relevant sticker on the door first). On all accounts, steer clear of the money changers that pester people in touristy areas and train stations – they are illegal and you may end up with much less money than you started with.
Poland is still one of the cheapest countries in the Central European region, just look at these prices:
-one beer (7 PLN = 1.44 GBP )
-one pack of Marlboro cigarettes (13 PLN = 2.67 GBP )
-decent wine (18 PLN = 3.70 GBP )
-lunch (30 PLN = 6.25 GBP)
-taxi (approx. 2.3 PLN per km = 0.47 GBP per km )
A word on tipping
Giving 10-15% to waitresses, waiters and hotel staff is a nice gesture. They won’t spit in your food or beat you up if you don’t, it’s just the done thing. You won’t miss an extra couple of quid anyway – you’re on holiday.