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Poland - Cracow, (Krakow), Pronounced by the locals (Kra-Kov)

Cracow tops the list of the World’s Best Cities, Cracow was rated top 5 City. See

Cracow is a city of inspiring contrasts: a rich tradition and history, a treasury of national heritage, historical architecture and art, entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List - and at the same time an open, dynamically growing, "young-at-heart" city.

Today Cracow, with its 750 thousand citizens, is the third largest Polish city. It is a scientific, educational, administrative and financial centre of the region, but also a "must" in all itineraries for tourists visiting Poland. The city is situated on a crossroads of major transport routes and is easily accessible both by air and by road. Tourism is inevitably one of the most important sectors in the city's economy and Cracow has some seven million visitors per year, and growing at a rate faster than ever in history.

Cracow is an attractive place both in daytime and "after hours". The varied cultural events and numerous opportunities of high-quality entertainment make a visit to our city the most enjoyable experience.

Watch the BBC Video of Krakow:

BBC Krakow Video


The earliest known settlement on the present site of Cracow was established on Wawel hill, and dates back to the 4th century. Legend attributes the town's establishment to the mythical ruler Krak, who built it above a cave occupied by a ravenous dragon.

Before the Polish state existed, Cracow was the capital of the tribe of Vistulans, subjugated for a short period by Great Moravia. Cracow's first appearance in historical records dates back to the 8th century, and notes that the prince of the Vistulians was baptized. The first mention of the name dates to 966, when Abraham ben Jacob mentioned it as a notable commercial centre.


The old city of Cracow (Stare Miasto) has a rich architecture, mostly Renaissance with some examples of Baroque and Gothic. Cracow's palaces, churches and mansions display a richness of color, architectural details, stained glass, paintings, sculptures, and furnishings.

Among the most notable of the city's hundreds of historic buildings are: the Royal Castle and Cathedral on Wawel Hill, where King John III Sobieski is buried; the medieval Old Town with its beautiful square; Market Square (200 meters on a side); dozens of old churches and museums; the 14th-century buildings of the Jagiellonian University; as well as Kazimierz, the historical centre of Cracow's Jewish religious and social life. The Gothic St. Mary's Church (Kosciól Mariacki, actually a basilica) stands by the market place. It was built in the 14th century and boasts a famous wooden altar carved by Wit Stwosz. Every hour, a trumpet call, the hejnal mariacki, is sounded from the church's main tower.

Cracow hosts many annual artistic events, including some of international significance, such as the festival of Short Feature Films, Biennial of Graphics, and the Jewish Culture Festival.

Nearby points of interest include the salt mine in Wieliczka, the Tatra mountains, the historic city of Czestochowa, the former concentration camp at Auschwitz, and Ojcowski National Park.


Cracow is a major centre of education. Today there are 18 university-level institutions with about 10,000 faculty and 300,000 students, and several dozen other schools of higher education. It is home to the Jagiellonian University, the first Polish university and one of the oldest and most prominent universities in Central Europe. Apart from the local population, the schools of Cracow provide education for inhabitants of the region of Southern Poland.


Cracow is considered by many to be Poland’s capital of culture. The city boasts one of the best museums in the country and a number of famous theaters. It has counted among its residents two Nobel Prize winners in literature: (Wislawa Szymborska and Czeslaw Milosz). It is also home to one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished universities. Cracow was named a European City of Culture in 2000.

Cracow by night

One may find plenty of places to drink, eat, and have a good time in Cracow. They are situated mostly in the city's historic Old Town district. Recently more trendy spots have been launched in the nearby Kazimierz quarter.

Cracow night clubs and parties.

Cracow has a lively club and party scene, some four hundred watering holes, who all get active most nights of the week.

Cracow's clubs are rather difficult to locate, even with a map, most of them are underground, some even out the back of old reins, its wise to book ahead and to secure local knoweledgable guides, such as Lifestyle Tours see have teams of great looking staff who accompany guests around the city locating the best parties. Some Cracow DJs enjoy local fame and many from other parts of Poland and abroad spin quite often in the city night spots. Live entertainment fits all tastes. Jazz remains surprisingly popular and there is no lack of places for fans of rock, modern pop, ballads, etc. Plenty of places are also available for an older audience to enjoy themselves.