Krakow – Cheap Alcohol, Stags & Hens
Krakow home to cheap alcohol and favoured haunt of the hen/stag do……now you’re either frantically searching the budget airlines for the next flight out or you’re just about to click onto another page…….if it’s the former on you go, you’ll have a great time…. If it’s the latter and you’re still here…well there is more to Krakow than the aforementioned cheap booze and pre matrimony celebrations and if you want, you can completely avoid all groups donning tiaras, veils and those ‘we’re so funny, no-one else has thought of doing this’ printed tee-shirts.
Where to Stay in Krakow
Now temptation might say stay around the Old Town Square and you’ll certainly find loads of bars along with loads of other tourists and higher prices. If you’re determined to stay here, don’t say we didn’t warn you and remember to bring your earplugs to drown out the combined sound of brides to be singing “I Will Survive” and the pleading of grooms to be freed from the handcuffs securing them to historic monuments.
FLS recommends staying in the Kazimierz area which is the former Jewish District and sits between the Old Town and the Wisla River. Here you’ll still find loads of bars and restaurants right on your doorstep but you’ll see less of the big groups of tourists and you’ll pay less for a night out. We’d suggest not staying south of the river unless you get an amazing deal on accommodation, when we ventured across there were few places to eat and drink and it was much more of a residential type area.
Travelling around Krakow
Krakow is a pretty compact place and if you’ve followed our advice to stay in the Kazimierz area you’re still only a twenty-minute walk to the Old Town area. But if your feet need a rest and you fancy seeing a little of Krakow whilst sitting down then grabbing a tram is a great option. Tickets within the central area are valid for time periods rather than for the stop you’re heading towards so the 24 or 48-hour ticket is an easy way to hop on/hop of whenever you like for just 15 zloty/24 zloty. As a Brucie Bonus you can use the buses as well on the same ticket (see Wikipedia if you’re too young to remember quality TV programming or if you want to deny that you ever watched Bruce Forsyth in action on Play Your Cards Right).
Most stops have a ticket machine so you can purchase before you get on board and there is the option to have instructions in English (unlike the ones in Frankfurt where I had to accost a local to help me work out what to do and ensure I didn’t purchase a one-way first class ticket to Kathmandu). When you get on the tram just put your ticket in the machine and then the time purchased begins to countdown. Don’t be tempted to be a skinflint and not bother with the ticket, Inspectors come on-board frequently to check tickets and then after handing over a wad of zloty you’ll be looking at a quiet night in watching the Polish version of Strictly Come Dancing… now are you convinced to buy a ticket?
Eating Out in Krakow
So I’m going to assume that you’re still following our advice and you’re searching for something to eat in the Kazimierz district.
If you’re looking something to fill up on or line your stomach or soak up the alcohol already consumed, then you need to head to Plac Nowy (New Square) for this is the home of the best zapiekanki in Poland. Zapiekanki is essentially a French bread pizza though that makes it sound like some crappy cardboard tasting lump of carbohydrate which languishes in the bottom of the freezer until you’re really desperate the day before payday. This is no such beast, imagine a 35cm chunk of the freshest French bread, smothered in the toppings of your choice, finished off with a range of sauces and all yours for under £1.00 if you go for the cheapest variety.
Now I know the one in the photo looks like your neighbour’s cat has just vomited but the Hawaiian combo with chipotle sauce tasted so good that cat vomit or not it was amazing. If you’re still trying to work out how to pronounce it, you’ll find translated menus on the wall for the linguistically challenged Brits.
While you’re in the square look for the longest queue and that’s going to be the one for the ice creams. Pay at the first window and then move down to the second to make your selection. Flavour choices seemed to change every day that we were there, not that we would indulge in such a calorie-laden, fat fest of a treat on consecutive days… who are we kidding? This is FLS after all, enjoy and indulge!
And now to the local speciality of Pierogi. Imagine a dough of water and flour that’s then made into little parcels stuffed with meat, cheese or sweet ingredients and that’s your Pierogi. Our recommendation is that if you want to try this delicacy go to a decent restaurant, if you ignore us you’ll find yourself chewing on something which has the texture of discarded condoms left to fester for a few weeks. It’s your choice –
If you’re vege and even FLS has been known to extol the virtues of an occasional meat-free meal then one restaurant stood out from the crowd – Glonojad which can be found just north of the Old Square and opposite the Grunwald Monument. Offering true FLS servings you are not going to go hungry here. Don’t leave it too late though as there isn’t an endless supply of everything on the menu and when we arrived just after 2pm several items had sold out.
At 14 Polish Zloty that’s just under £3.00 for this plate of food, so it’s no surprise really how busy this place can get.
FLS Tip – Orders are handwritten in a book and then you go take your seat until your food and drinks are ready. Make sure you give the staff your name so that they can call that out rather than your food choice unless of course, you know your placuszki z ziemniaków from your Naleśnik ze szpinakiem.
Drinking in Krakow
There’s no problem in finding somewhere to drink in Krakow. If you’re expecting the total rip off as experienced in other countries where sitting in a bar near any remotely popular tourist spot, doubles the price, it’s not going to happen here. More expensive than the bars further out? Sure, but still not the having your pants pulled down experience of London or Venice.
If for some reason you’re not partaking in alcohol, apparently some folk don’t, then flavoured lemonade seems to be the craze. Purely for the purposes of this article, I tried this concoction complete with a stick of frozen rhubarb. On a warm day it was perfect but don’t chew frozen rhubarb sticks, it wasn’t good.
FLS Final Thoughts on Krakow
Get there while it lasts…. even our taxi driver bemoaned that changes underway, the increasing prices and over commercialism. It’s a tough one as the prices are still pretty amazing compared to the UK (but that doesn’t take too much does it) and we can see what that would attract the alcohol fests which were much in view in the busier tourist areas. But you can take just a street back and you’ll find some amazing food and drink at even better prices and without a tiara and veil in sight.