Krakow is one of the must-visit cities in Poland, as it has so much to offer! If you’re visiting Krakow or just interested in learning more about it, then check out these 23 amazing Krakow facts you NEED to know!
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Why visit Krakow?
Why visit Krakow? You should visit Krakow if you want to experience a mix of historical, medieval architecture, affordable places to eat and drink, a wide selection of shops and there are plenty of experiences to do.
Krakow is located in southern Poland, about an hour away from Czechia and Slovakia. There is an airport called John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport, which has a wide range of budget airlines and legacy airlines, such as Poland’s national airline LOT, which flies and departs from there.
It is also located near to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, so many tourists stay here before visiting as there are lots of connections there, such as by bus, train or tours that include private transport. Additionally, Schindler’s factory is also located in Krakow, which many people are interested in visiting due to his vital efforts to help save as many Jewish people as he could during World War 2.
Things to do in Krakow :
If you’re visiting Krakow, then these fantastic things to do in Krakow might interest you:
- Wieliczka Salt Mine – The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most incredible things to see in the whole of Poland. It is located just outside of Krakow and is suitable for everyone to enjoy. Make sure to keep your phone charged for all the photos you will take!
- Krakow to Auschwitz Birkenau – This Krakow to Auschwitz Birkenau Tour is ideal if you want to visit and learn about one of history’s biggest atrocities. You will have your own guide who will tell you about everything that unfortunately happened in the camp, and it includes transport also.
- Krakow Zakopane Day Trip – Spend the day exploring Zakopane, and finish it off with a fabulous hot springs experience at the same time. You will feel totally at ease on this tour and will enjoy the beautiful views Zakopane has to offer.
- Krakow Sightseeing Cruise – Float down Poland’s beautiful Vistula River as you take in the sights that Krakow has to offer. This cruise is perfect for those who would like to see Krakow from a different angle, and there’s even a live commentary, so you know exactly what you’re looking at!
23 Krakow Facts you NEED to know!
Here are the best 23 Krakow facts that you need to know when visiting Krakow:
1. People who live in Krakow are known as Cracovians. Some famous people that are associated with Krakow are: Pope John Paul II, Roman Polanski and Andrzej Duda.
2. The Nazis wanted to turn Krakow into a completely Germanised city during the war. After they removed the Jewish people and the Polish people, they renamed a lot of locations and streets in the German language, and they also produced a lot of propaganda which tried to portray it as a historically German city.
3. If you want to immerse yourself in nature, then Planty Park is the best-known park in Krakow. It was established between 1822 and 1830 in place of the old city walls, which sectioned off the Old Town by greenery. There are also smaller gardens filled with statues, which make it very scenic to view. It’s the perfect place to relax in the summer and have a picnic!
4. The city is served by John Paul II International Airport, which is the second busiest airport in Poland. It’s the airport that most people living in Southern-Eastern Poland use, and had 8 million passengers use it in 2019! What’s more, is that it was originally used as a military base until 1968.
5. Krakow has a zoo called Zoo Krakow – or Ogród Zoologiczny w Krakowie in Polish. At the zoo, there are plenty of animals to see and learn about, such as elephants, penguins, sloths, lemurs and much more. You can be the judge if it’s better than Warsaw Zoo!
6. In Polish, Krakow means “Krak’s (town)”. This originated from the legendary founder of Kraków and a ruler of the tribe of Lechitians.
7. Krakow is only about a 3 hour drive from Warsaw, or 2 hours on the train – which is one of the cheapest ways to travel to each city! It is also just about 1 hour away from Katowice by car, and around 50 minutes by train, with tickets costing around 10zl (£2).
8. Krakow has a lot of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture to admire. Some of the most popular buildings which feature these styles of architecture are: Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle, which overlook the Vistula, St. Mary’s Basilica, Saints Peter and Paul Church.
9. In 1978 UNESCO approved the first ever sites for its new World Heritage List, and the Old Town was included on that list, which is one of the best Krakow facts to know if you’re interested in history and love to visit UNESCO sites!
10. After Germany invaded Poland at the start of World War 2, the Nazis created the Distrikt Krakau (Kraków District) to become the capital of Germany’s General Government. Sadly, most of the Jewish people who were living in Kraków were made to move into Krakow Ghetto. A lot of the people from the Krakow Ghetto were sent to Auschwitz and to other Nazi concentration camps like Płaszów. Surprisingly, Krakow didn’t suffer from any major bombing.
11. Krakow and a lot of the area that surrounds it, unfortunately, suffer from Europe’s dirtiest air pollution. This is because of the smog that is produced there, which is mainly caused by burning coal for heating in winter, and the factories that are located there.
12. The second-heaviest bell in Poland is located in Wawel Cathedral. It requires 12 bell ringers in total to swing it! The bell is called the Royal Sigismund Bell and was made in 1520. It weighs around 13 tonnes and is rung on special occasions and days of Polish national importance. The legend attached to the bell is that if you touch it when nobody is watching, it will bring love to lonely people – which is one of the sweetest Krakow facts!
13. Krakow is 327 square kilometres big in total. It stretches for 18 kilometres from the North to the South and 31 kilometres from the West to the East. In comparison, Warsaw is 517.2 square kilometres big. Krakow is also a great city to visit if you love cycling, as there are plenty of cycling trails to explore!
14. One of the best Krakow facts if you love nature is that there are about 40 parks in Krakow, which make it the perfect place to visit if you’d like a mix of city life and nature, as you won’t have to go far to find it!
15. The University of Krakow was founded in 1364, which makes it the second oldest university in central Europe – whereas Oxford is the second oldest university in the world. Out of the 750,000 people who live in Krakow, around 200,000 of them are students, which is one of the best Krakow facts to know if you’re thinking of studying there.
16. The city hosted the World Youth Day in July 2016. World Youth Day is an event which is for young people held by the Catholic church after it was initiated by Pope John Paul II – who was from nearby Krakow.
17. In 2013, Krakow was officially approved as a UNESCO City of Literature. This is because Krakow has an extensive history when it comes to literature, and today it still has so much to offer. For instance, there are lots of literary scholarships and awards awarded in Krakow, as well as lots of libraries and plenty of book publishers based there.
18. Krakow was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596, which is one of the most interesting Krakow facts if you’re interested in the history of Poland and how it evolved as a country over time.
19. If you’re eagle eyed, then try to spot the knife which hangs on a piece of rope on the wall of the cloth hall in the market square! The legend surrounding it is that a man killed his own brother with that knife when he realised the tower his brother built was taller than his own – talk about jealousy! Today, the knife still hangs there as a symbol and as a reminder to be humble.
20. The official name of the city is the Royal Capital City of Krakow – although Poland doesn’t have a royal family anymore.
21. Some people believe that Wawel Hill is where one of the seven Earth Chakras lies. Therefore, it gained in popularity during the mid-20th century as people would travel to feel the strong spiritual energy that it emitted. If you visit, you’ll see a lot of people touching the wall to try and feel the energy!
22. Krakow is known as the city of churches. There are over 140 churches in total!
23. In the summer time, Krakow has an artificial beach that lies on the banks of the Vistula River. It’s a great place to relax for a few hours, especially as Krakow is around 6 hours away from the sea!
Is Krakow Safe? Krakow Facts About Safety:
Is Krakow safe? If you are planning a visit, this might be one of the most important Krakow facts to know, especially if you’re worried about safety. Poland is placed 22nd in the ranking of worldwide safety provided by OECD. It is one of the remaining three European countries that have not been affected by organised armed attacks in the 21st century.
Krakow also has very low crime levels, especially when comparing other cities in Poland, and crime in Krakow has dropped by 9%. This makes Krakow a great place to visit if you’re a solo traveller or if you just want to visit a city where you can feel almost completely at ease.
Of course, just because crime in Krakow is low, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of your surroundings. Always use common sense and keep your eyes open for any scams or untrustworthy people.
Cracow or Krakow?
Is it Cracow or Krakow? Until the 1990s, Cracow was the most common spelling in English, however, the spelling of Krakow is now more widely used. Krakow is pronounced as “Krak-ov” – as remember that the letter ‘w’ is pronounced as a ‘v’ in Polish! It’s also actually spelt Kraków.
Kraków is best known for its rich history, such as the castle – as well as all of its amazing bars and restaurants.
Kraków is unique for being the largest medieval market square in Europe! So if you’re interested in medieval history, definitely give it a visit!
Kraków is home to plenty of different animals, such as red deer, wild boar, fox, and weasels.
Kraków dates back to the 7th century, making it one of the oldest cities in Poland.
Yes, most of the people speak English in Kraków.
In 2019, the population of Krakow was 766,683 people living there!
23 Amazing Krakow Facts You NEED To Know – Conclusion!
Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ve learnt about some very interesting Krakow facts! Which Krakow facts were your favourite? Are there any Krakow facts that aren’t on this list but you think they deserve to be on here? Feel free to contact me if you need any help or advice. If you’d like to read some similar posts, then have a look at these:
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- 10 Ways to Spend One Week in Krakow, Poland
- Everything You NEED to Know About Wieliczka Salt Mine & Review
- Energylandia Theme Park, Poland – 10 Major Things You Need to Know
- Interrail – Everything You Need To Know!
- 10 Fantastic Reasons to Visit Katowice, Poland!