Whilst still having EU membership, it is worth seeing all that the beautiful continent has to offer. When you think of European getaways, you may initially imagine golden Spanish beaches, quaint cobbled Italian streets, or maybe even the breath taking French alps. As incredible as all these destinations may be, Europe has so much more to offer than these typical destinations, and one such place a little less frequented by the tourist crowds is the Polish city of Krakow.

Krakow was the historical capital of Poland up until the 16th Century, and still has all the signs that it was and is the cultural and academic epicentre of Poland. Krakow also boasts the rare privilege of avoiding bombing in the Second World War, meaning that much of the city’s historical prominence is still very much in tact. The Old Town square, one of the largest medieval squares in the world, is quite a spectacle. St Mary’s Basilica, the striking cathedral in the square is one of the first things you will notice walking into the square. Built out of red brick, it is especially interesting for the fact the two towers are of such different heights and design. The Cathedral is open to the public, including the opportunity to climb to the top of the tower, providing one of the best views in the city. The second most prominent landmark in the Old Town Square is the Cloth Hall – a market hall standing in the centre of the square which is still in use today. Don’t miss the chance to wander through the hall to get a feel of the thriving merchant town Krakow once was.

Of the traditional historical city, the other landmark worth checking out is the Castle. The royal seat of Krakow, the castle has numerous exhibitions, such as the royal apartments, the armoury and the state rooms, but you do have to pay separately to take a trip around these. However, if you’d rather save your cash, the grounds are free to visit and still allow much to be explored.
It is impossible to mention Krakow without mentioning it’s significant more recent history. In the Second World War, Krakow was home to the famous factory owner Oskar Schlindler, immortalised in the film Schindler’s List. His factory is on the outskirts of the city centre and provides a fascinating exploration of Schlinder’s work in saving Jews from the Nazis, as well as the wider story of Poland during the War. Special mention must go to Bal, a café just around the corner, serving the best breakfast in Krakow.

The final stop on the tour of Krakow’s historical significant is Auschwitz concentration camp. Situated an hour’s bus ride from the city, it is a little more of a trek to reach than other destinations around Krakow, but cannot be missed. The Nazis largest extermination camp, it was the site of the death of over a million victims of the Nazi’s evil regime. A harrowing day out, but an important visit due to the significance the site has had on human history.

Krakow has a diverse and intricate history, spanning centuries, but Krakow has much more to offer than just this. The city has a thriving nightlife, with numerous hidden bars down many of the narrow alleys, alongside the larger clubs to entertain the large student population. A trip to Krakow provides all the good – from culture to nightlife to history. Maybe it is not mentioned as frequently as Berlin or Barcelona, but the city has much to offer and with only 2 years left of easy travel as an EU citizen, this is definitely one such destination to explore.

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