Krakow is mostly famous for its amazing sites like Wawel Castle, the Old Town and the former Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz. Tourists who come to Krakow head straight for these places, which is no surprise given they’re all on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites. But for those of you who’ve already been to those places and are looking for something new, we’ve put together another list of Krakow’s “musts”, this time for experiences visitors.
The Secrets of Nowa Huta
Krakow Sightseeing in Nowa Huta is a completely different experience from walking the streets of the Old Town but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for lovers of history and architecture. Nowa Huta was designed by a team of architects to be a separate city from Krakow that fulfilled the goals of socialist-realist architecture and the creation of ideal spaces for the “workers”. A walk among the monumental structures surrounced the central square of Nowa Huta or the massive steelworks makes a huge impression. Socialist-realist architecture attempted to combine the achievements of modernism with historical elements taken from various epochs and when we look at Nowa Huta objectively, the result is truly remarkable. In an area like Nowa Huta, a local Krakow guide can make a tremendous difference in what you see and learn while you’re there. Guides can share stories about the hardships and absurdities of life in Nowa Huta during the Peoples Republic of Poland. Don’t forget that a trip to the Arka Pana church is a standard part of any tour to Nowa Huta since it was a symbol of resistance against the Communist powers and the freedom of the religious community. There is a museum dedicated to documenting life under Communism at the “Swiatowid” building and one of its most interesting exhibits shows life in an underground network of more than 200 bunkers found below the earth in Nowa Huta.
Lovers of art and history can also find something that satisfies both passions at the Cysterian and Benedictine Abbeys.
You may have heard of the conflict long ago between white and red monks. Your guide can fill you in on the details as you make your way around the amazing grounds of both the Cysterian and Benedictine Abbeys that are just inside the city limits of Krakow.
The Cysterian Abbey in the Mogila district was one of several that existed near Krakow in the Middle Ages. The Cysterians were brought here by Bishop Iwon Odrowąż in the first part of the 13th century. Visitors to the monastery today can see Renaissance frescos as well as the wooden Church of St. Barthlomew and its 15th century Gothic construction.
At the other end of Krakow, you’ll find the Benedictine Abbey at Tyniec, the oldest working monastery in Poland. Guests in Tyniec can view the church, Romanesque crypts, the monastery and an exceptional museum. A great extra for any trip to Tyniec is the amazing views you can enjoy. The Abbey is picturesquely situated on the banks of the Vistula river, high atop a rocky cliff. You can also get to Tyniec by boat from the center of Krakow.
Outside of the city – Auschwitz Tours
How about a few suggestions for getting outside of the city? The Salt Mines in nearby Wieliczka are world famous and millions of tourists visit each year. The Auschwitz Museum is also within an easy commute. Take a look at our website for details about Aushwitz Tours and Wieliczka salt mine Tour.
Here are a few more ideas that are less well known.
A trip to another site on UNESCO’s list is only about an hour away at the sanctuary at Kalwaria Zebrzydowskie. The unique 17th century chapel is decorated with a imitation of the topography of Jerusalem. The famous Easter Passion Play attracts huge crowds of pilgrims every year and it is a place of beauty and peaceful reflection. Just down the road is another lovely spot, Lanckorona, home of 19th century wooden churches and a charming main square. A walk around its streets is truly a journey through time.
If it’s natural beauty you’re looking for, don’t forget that Ojcow National Park is very close by. Bike and hiking trails criss-cross this amazing landscape and offer breathtaking views. While there, you can visit both the ruins of a castle from the Middle Ages and explore the interior of the Renaissance castle of Pieskowa Skala. Complete your stay with trips through caves, valleys and past unique rock formations. Your guide can also get you to any number of examples of wood architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Sound good? This is just the beginning! Learn more about all there is to see and do off the beaten path in Krakow at http://guide-krakow.com/auschwitz-tours/. While you’re there, you can see just how easy and affordable it is to hire a local Krakow guide to help you get the most out of your stay in Krakow and see more the sites that make this such an amazing city!