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KRAKOW FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Krakow Airport, officially John Paul II International Airport Krakow-Balice (IATA code KRK), seven miles west of Krakow`s Old Town, is the main point of entry for tourists flying into Krakow and neighboring parts of southern Poland. It is the second-busiest airport in the country after Warsaw`s Frederic Chopin Airport. Many airlines use this airport as a hub, such as easyJet and Ryanair.

A rail line connects Krakow Airport railway station with Krakow Glowny railway station. Krakow Airport station is located next to Krakow Airport`s passengers terminal. One-way tickets from the airport to Krakow Glowny are priced at under 10 zl. The trip takes less than half an hour, with at least one train traveling hourly from the airport between 5 a.m. and midnight seven days a week. Tickets can be bought at the airport passenger terminal or at the airport train station.

Two Krakow city bus lines (208 and 252) run a route between Krakow Airport`s passenger terminal and Krakow Glowny railway station. The buses depart at least once an hour between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m seven days a week, and the trip takes less than 30 minutes. Tickets are in the neighborhood of 5 zl and can be bought upon boarding. One night route (902) runs once per hour for late flights every night (11 p.m. to 4 a.m.).

Krakow Airport Taxi has a monopoly on taxi transport from Krakow Airport, and their black late-model sedans wait outside the passenger terminal. Expect to pay between 70-100 zl to get into the Old Town and to most parts of Krakow. For more information, visit www.krktaxi.pl/en.

Car rental companies are well-represented at Krakow Airport, with Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Express, Hertz, Enterprise, Panek and Sixt all doing business from the airport. Rental costs will be in the neighborhood of 100-150 zl a day for a mid-sized to large-sized automobile.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Krakow Glowny train station is located directly northeast of Krakow`s Old Town, making it very close to many important sights. Across from Krakow Glowny railway station is Bosacka Street, where there is a bus station. Next to the station, there is a Krakow Fast Tram stop. Two extra tram stops are located in front of the Galeria Krakowska shopping center. Tickets for the tram cost less than 10 zl and can be bought from a ticket center or, if none is available, from the tram driver directly.

There is also a taxi stand located on the rooftop parking garage above the platforms on level one.

How do I get around Krakow using the train and the tram system?

Polish State Railways (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe, or `PKP`) is the company which runs the vast majority of railways and stations in Poland. Trains that stop at Krakow Glowny railway station are not just local trains that serve the Malopolska region, but high-speed trains that travel to Warsaw and even outside Poland. For more information, visit www.rozklad-pkp.pl/en.

The extensive tram system is managed by MPK (Miejskie Przedsiêbiorstwo Komunikacyjne). There are 22 tram lines, plus two that run only during the summer and three that only run in the late night hours (11 p.m. to 4 a.m.). Krakow and its immediate suburbs can all be reached by tram, except the Old Town, which is tram-free. Five stations stop at all directions around the Old Town`s boundary in Planty Park. Tickets can be bought at tram stops and from many tram drivers, and are priced at under 10 zl with trip options priced by timed intervals (60 minutes, 90 minutes, two hours). Trams run every five minutes on popular routes and during peak times, and at least twice per hour during the daytime.

How do I get around the city using other public transportation?

MPK also runs Krakow`s exhaustive bus system, which consists of over 200 routes, some of which only run during the summer months, and still approximately 20 others run overnight (11 p.m. to 4 a.m.). These buses reach Krakow, its environs, and much of Malopolska. Tickets are priced by zone and can be purchased at any bus station, either from a staffed window or kiosk. Look to spend approximately 10 zl for most trips.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

It is still not recommended to hail a taxi off the street in Krakow, even though the number of unauthorized taxis operated by unscrupulous grifters has dropped dramatically over the past ten years. If you are out and about, there is a taxi stand located on the rooftop parking garage at Krakow Glowny railway station. Otherwise, call a taxi yourself. Popular local companies include Radio Taxi Barbakan (www.taxi.barbakan.krakow.pl/en/index.html) and Mega Taxi (www.megataxi.pl). Fares from the Old Town and Kazimierz should start below 20 zl and will increase approximately 5 zl for each mile traveled.

Note: Like in many cities, some taxi drivers may take advantage of tourists, particularly ones who cannot speak Polish. Research the distance between your location and your destination and have an idea of what a rough fare should be. Feel free to argue for a reduction in the fare if necessary before leaving. It is required by law for taxi drivers to give you a receipt if you request one, so don`t be too shy to ask.

I will have a car in Krakow. Where can I park?

In short: Away from many attractions. Only one public parking lot is open in the Old Town, and only a couple exist in Kazimierz. Dozens fan out past Planty Park (including a few around Krakow Glowny railway station), with rates ranging from 5 to 20 zl per hour. Our recommendation is to take the bus and tram while getting around Krakow.

Is Krakow a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Krakow has a reputation for safety. It is one of the safest metropolitan areas in Poland, a country that is already safer than many of its European neighbors. Common-sense precautions still need to be taken on your trip, however: Keep your wits about you and always look like you know where you are going, even when you may not, so there is no possibility for petty thieves to take advantage of you. Be sure to keep your valuables on your person at all times, and never keep all of your money in one place; split up your cash into various pockets in your clothes.

Are there long lines at the museums? Does it make sense to buy a museum pass?

The peak of high season (July and August) will see long queues at a number of attractions, such as The Cloth Hall and Wawel Cathedral. Hour-long waits are not common, but possible. If you visit during the peak summer months, arrive at your desired landmark when it opens (usually 9 or 10 a.m.) or the hour before it closes (usually 4 or 5 p.m.). Waits are nonexistent during shoulder seasons (April-May, September-October) and low season (November-March).

While the KrakowCard (www.krakowcard.com) cannot help with long lines, the purchase of a three-day pass (approx. 100 zl) grants the cardholder free admission to over 40 city sights, including the most popular attractions.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Poland is the zloty (abbreviated zl). U.S. dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for zlotys upon arrival. Currency exchange desks (kantor in Polish) and ATMs can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

I don't speak Polish. Will many people speak English?

Once upon a time, Poland (and Krakow in particular) had an `English drought` of sorts: the few people who did speak English left the country to work in the UK, Canada and the U.S. Now, there are lots of English speakers across Poland, including in Krakow, where the municipal council curried favor with English-speaking tourists by asking museums to affix a sticker to their front windows which said `Please come in. We do speak English.`

The most recent European Union language survey says that 33% of Polish adults can speak English at a conversational level or better, a rate higher than in other Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

Do keep in mind that English may be spoken at your hotel and in tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Polish dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10. To ask someone if they speak English, say `Czy mowisz po angielsku?` (chi moo-vish po ang-gyel-skoo?).

Are there any basic Polish customs I should be aware of before arriving in Krakow?

If you are invited to a Polish person`s home, it is customary to bring a gift, but not an expensive one. Pastries, wine and flowers are fine, but not even-numbered flowers (some superstitious Poles say such a gift invites bad luck or even death!). White and red flowers are also not recommended as gifts, as they are associated with death. Give a more elaborate gift for a name day (feast days of Catholic saints) than a birthday. Turning down a toast is considered bad form; alcohol is served in small glasses and it is customary to finish at least one glass.

What time do Poles usually eat? Do I need to make reservations to fancy restaurants in advance?

Supper (Kolacja), usually taken in the 8 or 9 o`clock hour, is a lot lighter than the mid-afternoon dinner (obiad). Informal affairs usually revolve around hot or cold sandwiches, or a simple dish with a main entrée of meat, a big piece of bread, and some form of potato. A dinner party will be more formal and will be served in courses, including a soup, salad, appetizer and dessert.

Most upscale restaurants do require a reservation, and depeding on the restaurant, may require booking weeks or even months in advance. Krakow is one of only two Michelin-starred Polish foodie cities and scores of restaurants are just waiting for you to try them out.

Note: Anti-smoking laws in Poland prohibit smoking in restaurants and nightclubs unless there is a separate, ventilated `smoking room` on the premises.

What are the best areas for shopping?

If you're looking for Cracovian or Polish handicrafts and souvenirs, visit the open-air markets of the Old Town and Kazimierz. Definitely scour The Cloth Hall in Main Square for antiques, artwork, glass and lacework, as well as Sienna Street about a block away. The state-of-the-art Galeria Krakowska is located across the street from Krakow Glowny railway station, and it boasts nearly 300 specialty shops, among other amenities.

Where can I rent a bicycle in Krakow?

We don`t recommend biking in Krakow due to the small roads (particularly closer to the city center) and the thousands of local drivers who are not very friendly to cyclists and don`t want them on their roads. Many bike rental companies in Krakow close between November and March; the city`s largest company, Cool Tour Company (www.cooltourcompany.com) is open year-round and offers bike rentals in the 50 zl per day range.

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Prices were accurate at the time we posted them. Sample prices were for a specific travel date and specific departure airport, as indicated. Your prices will vary according to departure cities and travel dates. We do not control prices (airlines and hotel reservation systems do). Prices may change dynamically and at times significantly numerous times during any given day.
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