Krakow is understated, charming and has an air of melancholy about it. You can feel the history pulsing through the small streets, decades after they were home to some of our history’s most extraordinary events.
Though I was only here for two days, Krakow left an impression on me. The main areas to explore are Stare Miasto, which translates to the Old Town, and Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter. The Old Town square is typical, yet is surrounded with a swirl of gorgeous cobblestone passageways and sits below the towering Wawel Castle. Kazimierz was the centre of Jewish life in Kraków for over 500 years, before it was destroyed during World War II. From here it fell into disrepair, but now life and energy once again breathes life and energy through its quaint streets.
To go even further into the city’s emotional past, cross the Vistula River and find Schindler’s Factory. Here you’ll get a feel for a less gentrified area.
While the history is very evident in this small city, you can tell that residents have gone through great lengths to rebuild its bones and core. As I explored this fascinating place, I of course ate as I went- below are the standouts.
Marchewka z Groszkiem
Marchewka z Groszkiem serves as the perfect entry to a couple of days in Krakow. Night number one brought me here on my own to this dark and candlelit traditional but relaxed restaurant. I chose to focus on dumplings stuffed with spinach and cheese, but the menu is full of an array of country staples like Polish soups, meat and trout variations, all worth trying at some point while visiting this country.
Vegan sushi is pure contradiction, but it absolutely worked. Right in the heart of the Jewish Quarter is the small but funky Youmiko Sushi, churning out some of the most excellent tasting sushi creations I’ve come across. The fact that all of this is done sans fish makes it all the more impressive and unique. A must do.
As would be expected, there are several Israeli restaurants to be found in Krakow. The one I went to was Hamsa, found behind the brick walls right in the center of Kazimierz. The dedication to hummus is overly apparent, maybe a bit too much so with gimmicky slogans reading “make hummus not war,” but the food is solid enough to push that aside. There is a great airiness here too making for a very enjoyable lunch backdrop.
The Polish milk bars are ex-Socialist era workers’ canteens. In their previous incarnations they were run as government-subsidised cafes where workers could get a good, nutritious and affordable meal. The first milk bar was set up in 1896, and the trend continues into present day Krakow. Milkbar Tomasza gives you a fun and interesting back in the day feel worth experiencing.
Alchemia and Forum Przestrzenie
These are two bars you should make a stop out. Alchemia is a cocktail bar reminiscent of decades past. Forum Przestrazenie gives a look into a modern and changing Krakow, set up for those looking to have some drinks in lounge chairs as the sun sets on the water’s edge.