Romantic Krakow

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Romantic Krakow
Whether it's a stroll along the banks of the Vistula River at sunset or an intimate meal at one of the restaurants overlooking the city's charming medieval square, Krakow is a great place to enjoy a city break with someone special.
Photo by age fotostock
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    A Stroll along the Banks of the Vistula
    The Vistula River runs south of the center of Krakow and as a result the city lacks the historic bridges you'll find in cities like Prague. The path along the riverbank does make a great place for a stroll to walk off a hearty Polish dinner and the grassy bank under the walls of Wawel is a popular spot for locals to enjoy the summer evenings. Sit back as people of all ages pass by on foot, on bikes, or on roller skates, or just stare up at the magical red-brick backdrop of Wawel.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    A Leisurely Drink in the Main Square
    There are few more inviting places for a drink in Europe than in Krakow's main square, Rynek Główny. Choose from any one of the cafés that line the perimeter and enjoy a relaxing drink. The small premium for a table in the square is worth paying for the view and the opportunity to observe the eclectic mix of locals and international visitors as they make their way across the square. A busker's guitar or saxophone can often be heard over the constant buzz of people, while an occasional passing accordion player will ask for a few złoty from the seated customers.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Browse the Shops and Galleries in Kazimierz
    In the last two decades the shops along the narrow alleys and cobbled streets of Kazimierz have attracted a variety of artists who have set up their businesses here as the neighbouhood has become Krakow's bohemian quarter. Visitors can now spend several hours happily browsing the shops along Ulica Jozefa. Galeria Szalom is a welcoming space with a bright interior and a friendly owner (and cat); the nearby Cheder Café offers Middle Eastern snacks and is decorated in a contemporary style that is unmistakably Jewish in character and feels like a relaxed library.
    Photo courtesy of the Polish National Tourist Office
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    Enjoy Many Types of Free Music
    The works of Frederick Chopin are celebrated everywhere in Poland, and in the summer months it's usually not hard to find a concert dedicated to Poland's favorite musical genius taking place in one of the open spaces of Krakow. The medieval Barbican is a popular venue for free events, while many of the restaurants around the old square bring in musicians that play both traditional and modern tunes. Throughout the year several of the city's churches host musical events while the open-air bars of Kazimierz are particularly popular with musical groups in the summer months, serenading diners with traditional Polish or Jewish folk songs.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Search for a Bargain in the Cloth Hall
    The Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) acts as the spectacular centerpiece of the market square and it's in this covered area that much of the trade in 15th-century Krakow was done. Today it's a long stretch of shops selling souvenirs to visitors from around the world. It's a great place to stroll and browse and while there is the usual selection of tacky T-shirts and plastic toys, it's not hard to look beyond these for a wide variety of handcrafted wooden gifts and skillfully embroidered items. The stalls of the Cloth Hall and nearby Old Town streets are also a popular place to pick up amber jewelry, although those tempted to buy should always obtain a certificate of authenticity before they part with any cash.
    Photo by Rossella Chiechi/age fotostock
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    A Night Exploring Kazimierz
    While Kazimierz is often busy with tour groups during the daytime, in the evening the district is filled with the chatter of locals enjoying the many outdoor bars and restaurants; those who enjoy a good night out should devote an entire evening to explore Kazimierz. Omerta, a pub with more than 25 different ales on tap, is a good place to start. The vibe is casual and it's a good place to sample a few of the notorious Polish drinking snacks, some of which are certainly an acquired taste. Nearby the Stara Zajezdnia is a converted tram terminus that now has its own microbrewery and hosts regular music events. The bars around Plac Nowy, New Square, are an ideal place to end the evening, with many offering live music until late.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Experiencing Krakow's Modern Jewish Culture
    Krakow was home to a thriving Jewish community in the early 20th century. Although the vast majority of the Jewish population was murdered in the Holocaust, the Jewish heritage of the city lives on. The Jewish Community Center in Kazimierz holds regular talks, workshops, and classes that are open to all, inviting visitors to brush up on their photography or language skills. The Galicia Jewish Museum is a good place to admire the work of local photographers recording the region's Jewish heritage—and an excuse to take a break for coffee and cake. Beit Krakow have a regular program of dance, music, and literature events that offer modern interpretations of ancient Jewish texts.
    Photo courtesy of Galicia Jewish Museum
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    Enjoy the Sunset from a Rooftop Bar
    As the number of bars in Krakow has gradually increased, the spots from which to enjoy a sunset drink have also expanded. One of the most glamorous spots is the Sky Bar on the roof of the Hotel Stary, overlooking the main square. Order a cocktail or a decadent homemade dessert and watch as the bustle of the city plays out below to the occasional tune of the unfinished bugler. For perhaps the best view head across the river to the Panorama Bar; look for the building with the prominent Jubilat sign on the riverbank and head up the elevator to the top floor for great drinks and gorgeous views over Wawel and the Old Town.
    Photo by Henryk T. Kaiser/age fotostock
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    Visit a Vodka Bar
    If you're in search of an authentic Polish night out, look no further than one of Krakow's many vodka bars. Vodka shots are typically very cheap, served with fruit juice chasers for those who prefer not to drink their spirits neat. Food consists of lard, raw herring, and raw beef, considered the perfect accompaniments to a few glasses of the hard stuff. As a foreigner in a vodka bar, conversation with local drinkers is almost guaranteed and an offer of more drinks is the most basic element of Polish hospitality; to refuse is not an option. Bania Luka offers an impressive range of potent liquors—take it slow and enjoy a memorable night out.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    The Alchemy of Late-Night Entertainment
    Krakow has seen many new venues open in recent years and now offers plenty of choices for those looking for a cozy spot to have a drink and be entertained. Alchemia in Kazimierz remains a solid bet as a place to drift toward as the evening turns to night. Wandering into Alchemia in search of a comfortable seat feels a little like walking through a series of adjoining living rooms; the alchemy theme is reflected in the strange assortment of jars and bottles in shabby cabinets and cupboards. Alchemia attracts many of Krakow's up-and-coming bands and stays open until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3 a.m. on Thursday (2 a.m. the rest of the week), so it's a good final stop for your evening on the town.
    Photo by Inger Solheim