21 July 2017

How to Travel Like a Local in Krakow

Back at the start of May I headed to Poland for the first time for a long weekend in Krakow.  Not only did we tour the city itself but we used it as a base to head further afield to explore the Wieliczka Salt Mines and Auschwitz.  As a child my parents would always go for the easiest option and pay for an organised trip rather then look into alternative transport, but I’ve found it can be just as easy, and much cheaper, to do it yourself.  My experience of public transport in Krakow was nothing but great, so I thought I’d share with you how to do it and save your money for those polish Vodkas at the bar!


Trains

When you land in Krakow you will find the train station attached to the airport, it’s well sign posted and it’s the end of the line so it couldn’t really be easier to jump on and head to the centre of Krakow.  The ticket machines on the platform have English language options and are really easy to use, they are just like the ones in the UK.  The journey to Krakow centre takes around 17 minutes and costs 9PLN (around £1.88).  The trains run frequently, even on a Sunday.  


This same trains stops not only at Krakow Main Station but carries on through to the Wieliczka Salt Mines.  We got off at the main station to drop our bags off at the Airbnb before jumping back on the same route to lead to the salt mines, which cost a further 3PLN (around £0.63) and took around 22 minutes.  All the staff speak English and the main stops are announced in english also.  One thing to note about the trains in Poland is that they are all very punctual unlike ours in the UK.  Krakow Main Station is found within the main shopping centre and is easy to locate, with plenty of cheap food and drink options near by.  The trains were nothing but comfortable and couldn't have been easier, some even have power outlets and aircon.  You can even go straight from the airport to the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the 45 minute journey will still only cost you 12.50PLN (around £2.61).


Buses

Auschwitz is a lot further away from Krakow then the Salt Mines are so this is where you will see a lot of tourists opting for organised trips which often include a guided tour, however it is completely doable on your own.  I’m going to do a separate post on the ins and outs of touring Auschwitz when you're not part of an organised tour group but getting there is really cheap and easy.  


The bus station is around the corner from the train station, once you enter the main hub you will see all bus times displayed and ticket booths, were again all the staff speak English and Polish.  A one way ticket costs 7PLN (around £1.46, seriously!) for the 90 minute journey.  We headed to our numbered stop and again everything ran exactly on time.  I was surprised when the bus pulled up, it doesn't look at all like a normal UK public bus and instead a private mini bus.  It was a really comfortable ride and again we saw some amazing countryside, the time passed really quickly.  In fact there were hardly any stops and it was a really smooth journey.  The bus stop for Auschwitz is right outside the front of the museum so you couldn’t get closer, I think this probably a more pleasant journey then if you were paying for a private tour.  


Krakow itself is totally walkable, so I found no need for transport within the city itself.  Traveling beyond Krakow using public transport is a no brainer to me, every journey we took was cheap, easy, and completely comfortable.  I don’t know how any of it would have been better if booked privately, so go the public route and explore like a local!  
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