Hello loves! I have you missed you all while I was galavanting through Poland this past few weeks and I cant wait to share with you a snapshot or diary of what we did while in Krakow. Why Poland you might ask? Well my friend and photographer Luccia and her family go every year. I was invited to attend this December and couldn’t wait to tour the Christmas markets and peek at the medieval architecture and history. I drafted a guide to where we went, where we ate, and what I wore. Keep reading for all the details!
Travel Day to Krakow
So Krakow is not a place that you can get to nonstop from where we live and I was flying separately from the rest of the group because I booked on miles and their flight wasn’t available with my mileage carrier. It was all good though cause our flights were scheduled to depart and arrive at the same time (give or take 30 min). I flew on Austrian Airlines from Miami to Vienna and then from Vienna to Krakow. It was an overnight flight to Vienna and I was a little bit nervous about going through a layover and customs in a new city alone but Vienna airport is easy as pie. Good thing to know if you ever need to layover there. After arriving in Krakow, I was greeted on the Tarmac by a swanky BMW and a woman holding a card with my name. Luccia’s fam hooked it up!!!! I felt very VIP!
After meeting the rest of the group in the VIP lounge we headed off to our Hotel. Side note: not many airports have this service but it was amazing! They collect your bags from baggage claim for you and they process all of your customs paperwork. I sat in the lounge where they served all sorts of wines, cocktails and offered small bites for food while I waited for my bags to arrive. I’m not actually sure how Luccia’s family acquired this service but if you ever go to Krakow, it is definitely something to look into.
After the short drive into Krakow and checking into the Betmanowska Residences, which had a beautiful view of the market square (the largest one in Europe) and Christmas market, we headed downstairs to eat at the hotel restaurant. All around the market square, they have outdoor seating enclosed by glass and heaters so you can still have the luxury of eating “outside” even though it is freezing cold so this was a great treat for our first night! After dinner, we went off to bed for the next morning we had to be up bright and early.
One of the reasons that I wanted to come to Krakow was for the history. Krakow played a huge role in many sequence of events during WWII and unfortunately was a place where a lot of the Jewish and polish community were killed for their beliefs and teachings. About an hour away from Krakow is the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. I couldn’t spend time in Krakow without going to pay my respects. With two of Luccia’s family friends, we visited the remains of the camps and not only paid our respects but also learned about what life was like there. I wont go into too many details about it because it was very hard to see but I want to mention the importance and significance of seeing what had happened here. Walking though the barracks, gas chambers, and streets of the enclosed death camp, it was something that can’t be spoke about but only felt. If you are ever in Krakow, I pray you visit these camps and pay your respects. We did a tour that lasted about an 2 and 1/2 hours. The cost of this was about 150PLN (Polish Zloty) which is about $42 and included transportation. You are outside pretty much the entire time so dress accordingly if you go in the wintertime. I brought hand a foot warmers which were a lifesaver as well as my Sperry Saltwater boots that insulated well and kept my feet very warm while treking through the snow.
After arriving back to Krakow we went to dinner at Wesele in Krakow’s market square. I loved being there this time of year because of all of the Christmas decorations everywhere. I have to say one of my favorite things about Poland was the food. I have to admit that I really didn’t think I would like the food at all and I can’t tell you how wrong I was. If you like to eat, or are a foodie of any kind, you have to visit this city. I ate my way through the entire city and gained every pound gleefully.
We stopped by Cafe Camelot after walking through the market square for some mulled wine. One of my new favorite things. Oh America, we need to adapt this into our own culture. It’s too good to stay in Europe.
This was an action packed day! After a bright and early wake up, we went on a walking tour around the old city. This old city had medieval roots and architecture still in tact. We were lucky for there was still some snow on the ground from the day before so it was very picturesque.
For lunch we ate at La Campana, which was absolutely delish! I’m a sucker for Italian food and Poland had some of the best Italian food I have ever tasted! Our recommendations for restaurants were made by Father Wojtek, a friend of Luccia’s family who was also not only our tour guide but the person who hosted us the entire time in Krakow. He and three other priests are dear family friends of Luccia’s family and flew in to Miami to marry Luccia’s sister Francesca and her new husband this past spring. He had the most insanely wonderful restaurant recommendations and I feel it only fair to share them with you all.
After lunch we went to the Salt Mines, which I was really excited for. Although the Salt Mines are no longer operational we had a wonderful private tour which was really interesting. There were many man made cathedrals in the mines that took years to make and it was absolutely beautiful. It is very far down inside the mountain so it did get a little chilly at some parts but it is a must see if visiting Krakow. We paid about 840PLN for the tour which was about $60 each person.
After the Salt Mines we went to dinner which happened to be my absolute favorite dinner the entire time we were in Krakow. The place we dinned was at Florentina a few minutes from the marker square and oh my. I am still dreaming about the burrata. Not only was the atmosphere and service spectacular but the food was literally mouth watering. I believe we stayed there eating and drinking for about 3 hours… not because the food took that long but because we just couldn’t leave. It was a magical evening.
Ok guys, so I bet you all saw a lot of day 4 on my Instagram stories. The day we left for Zakopane in the snowy mountains about 3 hours outside of Krakow. We woke up bright an early and packed a small bag for a one night overnight stay and Wojtek drove us out of Krakow and into the snowy wonderland of Zakopane. Since we had a ride, we didn’t have to pay for transportation but I do know buses to go there from Krakow in case you are interested in going. I really recommend it. It is absolutely beautiful.
We were all so tired from the long day before so pretty much all of us passed out shortly into the ride. We woke up about 3/4 of the way there and oh my, it was like nothing I have ever seen. I couldn’t believe how dreamy all the snow covered pine trees were and how beautiful the snow capped peaks of the mountains looked. We decided to go to lake Morskie Oko once arriving in Zakopane. Once you reach the parking lot, there is a serious hike up the mountain to get to the lake. You can either walk or you can take the horse drawn sleigh’s a little bit past halfway up the mountain and walk the rest. Of course we took the hourse drawn sleigh lol. It was like something out of a Christmas book and was a very blogger friendly experience haha. Side note: they are real horses so they do poop and stuff during the ride and the smell is something you have to deal with but it was a really cool experience even with their not so private moments lol. The sleigh ride was about 50PLN each way, which traslates to about $14.
Once you get left off by the horses, you have to walk the rest of the way up the mountain. This is something we did not anticipate and thought we were getting a ride all the way to the top where the lake sits. Although unexpected, it was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever been on… but yes it was cold, cold, cold! I knew we would be outside a lot of the day so I came prepared. I wore, thick black tights under my thermal underwear and then leggings on top. I then had on leg warmers and thick fuzzy socks that I got from Marshalls (they’re like 3 for $4) and inserted my foot warmers into my Sperry’s boots. For my torso I wore thermal underwear, a black long sleeve top under a fur hooded vest. On top of everything I wore this coat, a huge scarf, pom hat, and hand warmers inserted into my leather gloves. It kept me pretty warm and by the time we reached the lake in about 35-45 min later and I was actually a little bit hot from all of the uphill walking in the snow. Once you get up to the lake (which was frozen over) we went to the log cabin to warm up and get a bite to eat. They had some amazing food up there. We had some sausages, sandwiches and you can’t forget about the mulled wines and warm honey beer (YUMMM). It was exactly what we needed after being outside in the cold air. While everyone continued to eat, Luccia and I went down to the lake to get some pictures of course. She wanted to walk on the lake and I was terrified but I am actually glad we did. It was kinda cool, once I was back on land of course.
After heading back down we drove to the hotel. We stayed at Aries Hotel & Spa, which was a beautiful hotel in the middle of Zakopane right off of the main road where there are tons of shops and restaurants to go to. While most of the group went to walk around the town, Luccia and I again decided photo time at the Spa!
We went to dinner at this rustic, Polish place. It had authentic Polish food and the staff was all dressed up in authentic polish costumes. There was acting and singing and lots of entertainment. I didn’t get many pictures from this place unfortunately but it was something cool to do if you enjoy entertainment at dinner.
After waking up bright and early, we headed back down the mountains back to Krakow, where unfortunately all the snow had melted. On a good note, it had warmed up a little bit so it was a nice day to get blog photos without dying from the cold air. We walked around the Christmas market and started purchasing all of our souvenirs.
After the Christmas market, we headed to the Jewish Ghetto for a private tour. We visited where the Jewish population originally lived and also were they were relocated once the German Nazi’s took over Krakow. We saw historic places, like the opening scene of Schindler’s List and the pharmacy where a lot of the jews hid and survived during the war. It again, was hard to see but I believe it is important to visit. This city had too much significance during WWII to visit it only for the beautiful architecture and food. The history should be respected and used as a reminder of how these people suffered so that it will never happen again.
For dinner, we went to this really cool place called Pod Wawelem. The restaurant was packed and reminded me of something out of a scene from Oktoberfest. There were long tables and tons of hearty Polish dishes to eat. I can’t tell you how much fun we had here. Probably because of the huge beer’s that you can order. I think one glass is actually 6 beers in one. I was determined to drink the whole thing, as were the other girls. Francesca, Luccia’s sister, knew better lol. She got a smaller cup and lived to tell the tale. The rest of us were done for. We ended up singing The Sound of Music at the top of our lungs and I’m pretty sure at one point Fancesca had to take me outside in the cold without a coat. She said it would help me not feel so sloshy. She was right. To work off all of the beer, we ended up back at Wojtek’s apartment and had a dance party that ended up being one of the most fun nights I have had in a long time.
The next day, and a little slower than usual, we headed to Wawel Castle for a private tour of the Royal palace and cathedral. A little history side note: although there is no longer Polish royalty, this castle was overtaken by Hanz Franz, the German governor, after the Nazi’s took over Krakow. He moved his entire family into the castle and lived like a king while he ridded the city of Jews. During his reign there, no Polish people were allowed in. Only Nazi soldiers and officials of the SS (Schutzstaffel) were allowed inside. Hanz Franz, a horrible man who was responsible for the mass murders of thousands of Jews, knew his history and loved the architecture and medieval nature of Krakow. He loved it so much that it was one of the only cities during the war that was never bombed. Everything is still in tact as is was. He truly believed this would be a German city and it was carful to preserve its beautiful architectural nature during the war. Unlike Warsol, the capital of Poland, which was bombed and completely destroyed, Krakow was never touched. The preservation of this city is one of the reasons it is one of the most historic cities to visit in the world. After visiting the royal palace, we visited the adjorning cathedral. I don’t have any photo’s except one because photos inside for they are prohibited.
For dinner we went to Kogel Mogel Bistro & Restaurant. Wow this place was good. Another beautifully decorated restaurant with amazing food. A must try if you visit Krakow. We sat in a private room and had a wonderful long dinner. It was magical.
Today was a free day. Having packed so much into our schedule during the first few days thehe last two days of our stay were free days for us to explore, shop, and/or rest if needed. Luccia and I went to go shoot some more outerwear content while the other girls went to visit the art museums. Here are some of the looks:
Later on we went into the college district. It reminded me a little bit of Wynwood in Miami mixed with a little bit of Austin Texas. Everything in this part of town had this rustic/hipster vibe. We ate at Miastowa and oh my, another great place to dine. It was more of a casual feel and the food was really tasty and atmosphere was really warm and cozy.
When I say a lot of what we did in Poland was eat, I’m not kidding…cause that was only lunch. We had dinner too! That night it was Agi’s birthday. She lives in Krakow as a student and is a friend of Luccia’s family. After dinner we had to go out and celebrate so we went to Huki Muki which is a bar just for shots and then headed on to Baroque for more drinks and a little snack. This place was pretty cool for it had a huge dome in the back where we sat and drank. Just don’t speak to loud it echo’s. Yes we were “those loud Americans”.
Our final day in Krakow and although it was a free day, I looked at it as another day to eat more before leaving back to the states. After waking up later than usual, we pretty much just headed to lunch after a quick walk through the Christmas markets to purchase more decorations and the like. We ate at Szara Ges, which for me won the award for the most stunning decor and atmosphere. It was breathtaking. Although I’m sure krakow is wonderful to visit any time of year, It was really special being there during the holiday season. Every restaurant and every inch of the city was decorated in Christmas lights, garland and poinsettias but this place did it just right. Another wonderful thing about this restaurant was their food presentation. Everything was like a work of art from each appetizer all the way to dessert. It’s right in the market square and easy to find if visiting. So good!
After lunch we walked to the galleria mall and did a little more shopping and oohed and ahhed at the beautiful Christmas lights on display. Since we were leaving the hotel at 4 am the next morning for the airport, we ate dinner downstairs at the hotel where we ate our first night here in Krakow.
Travel Day to Miami
After waking up bright and early (well I don’t think everyone slept lol) we headed to the airport and at that early in the morning I was grateful for the VIP lounge once again. They checked us in as we drank cappuccinos and ate light bites. After our checked luggage was sent on, we loaded up the twin BMW’s with our carry on’s and headed to to plane. It was very nice boarding first. I think the rest of the passengers were transported by bus from the terminal (*hair flip*). I felt very Beyonce lol.
I was on the same Lufthansa flight home as everyone else this time so we had a short layover in Frankfurt and then landed in Miami at about 2:45pm. After going through customs and collecting our luggage, I was very happy to see my husband waiting for me as I exited the secure area. I was very happy for all his hugs and kisses as well as for the Shake Shack burgers we collected on our way home. To top it all off were the furry twin doggie faces that greeted me with ooey gooey kisses once walking through the front door after 10 days of being away. I had a wonderful time in Poland and hope to go back one day soon but I was also very happy to be home with my little family once again. To finish off this adventure I want to give special thanks to Luccia’s family for having me on this great adventure! It was a trip I’ll never ever forget!
Thanks for stopping by!
*These photos are a collection of ones I took myself as well as by Luccia Lowenthal. There are also some included from the shared Poland photo group from other members of our trip*