At the beginning of September I decided to book my first solo trip to Europe, after waiting for what seemed like forever, for the world to open up. Once I’d had my second COVID vaccination I decided that now was the time for me to take the plunge and book my first solo trip.
I chose Krakow because I have many friends that are Polish and they happened to be travelling there themselves in the middle of September which was the perfect timing for me. They kindly drove me to the airport with them, we got the same flight and off I went.
My flight to Krakow was at 8:45am from London Luton costing only £18 plus £7.50 for checked baggage. Super cheap! I took a 40L backpack with me but because I didn’t know when I would be coming home I had to bring more than 100ml of liquids with me which is why I had to check my bag in.
We landed In Krakow at midday (+1 hour time difference to the UK) and waited for the 208 bus to take us into the main bus station in Krakow. We booked the 1 trip or 60 minutes ticket which cost 6 złoty which is about £1.20, it took around 45 mins to get from Krakow airport to the main bus station in Krakow centre.
We then walked about 10 minutes to my friends apartment they had booked for the night, checked them in and then walked 5 minutes to my hostel in the middle of the city. I stayed at Greg and Toms Beer Hostel which was recommended to me by multiple other solo travellers. It’s considered the party hostel of Krakow. It cost me £8 per night for a 10 bed dorm and included free breakfast, free dinner and free beer between 9-10pm. They organise pub crawls every night for around £10 and you get free entry to 4/5 different clubs and free drinks when you’re there too. You get free earplugs when you check in as well, so don’t worry about the noise!
Once I was checked in me and my friends went and got some food at a local cafe, we had Rosòł (noodle soup) and Schabowe (chicken in breadcrumbs with either salad or cabbage). In Poland they are big beer drinkers and they don’t have many cider options available so it is quite common for them to add a flavoured syrup into the beer to make it tastier, especially common for girls. So I had this too. I then went back to my hostel showered, got ready and walked back to my friends apartment for pre-drinks with their friends from Krakow and then went on a night out to a couple of bars and clubs in the city. The clubs in Krakow, in my opinion, are a completely different vibe to those in the UK, they have a lot of English songs playing alongside classic polish ones too. Compared to the UK’s rave type dancing, the polish are big dancers with a lot of spinning and swaying around the dance floor. I did get swept around the dance floor by a few polish men which was quite fun!
After a long lay in and recovery from the night before, I took a walk round the city square with a lovely girl from my hostel dorm room all the way up to Wawel castle and walked around the outskirts of that. You can pay to have a tour of the inside of the castle but I didn’t want to spend too much money.
We then grabbed some vegan kebabs which were super good quality. Then we walked back to our hostel and I chilled in the common room for an hour or so with other people from the hostel. Then me and a lovely Israeli guy went to a restaurant he recommended to get my favourite polish food Zapiekanki! The whole meal was 19 złoty which is about £3.50.
It was called fast noodles and pizza and was a 2 minute walk from my hostel. I had “the royal” zapiekanki which is basically a baguette with cheese, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, chicken and bacon. Best Zapiekanki I’ve had (sorry Karolina). I then just went back to the hostel and chilled out for a bit before dinner at 9pm (which I didn‘t eat much of because of my big meal beforehand).
I booked a guided tour of Auschwitz through get your guide for about £27. The tour lasted 8 hours and included a pick up and drop off from Krakow. My tour started at 10:45 and the pick up point was about a 15 minute walk from my hostel. The journey to Auschwitz from Krakow is about an hour and a half.
The tour begins in Auschwitz 1 and lasts about an hour and a half. You visit loads of different blocks and see piles of shoes, luggage, gas canisters and hair. It’s very intense and very incomprehensible. There are very few words for what you see and so I don’t want to write too much about it as I feel as though you need to experience it for yourself in order to fully understand just how horrific these concentration camps were. I will include a few photos I took of the exterior but I will be keeping photos from inside the buildings private out of respect.
I headed up to the castle in the morning by myself as I wanted to get some photos there that I didn't manage to get on Day 1. The best way I've found, if you feel uncomfortable asking strangers to take photos of you, is to just sit and wait for a couple to take photos of each other and then go up and ask if they want one together. Once you have taken theirs you can ask them if they could take a few photos of you. I have never asked and had them say no.
After walking round the palace grounds I headed round the back to Smok Wawelski, the statue of the dragon that breathes real fire. There is an old legend in Krakow about a dragon who lived in a cave beneath Wawel hill. No one could vanquish the monster until a young shoemaker outsmarted the dragon by stuffing an animal with sulphur and pitch and put it in front of the dragons cave. The dragon proceeded to eat the ram and felt a burning in his throat to which he tried to stop by drinking from the river, however because you cannot extinguish burning sulphur with water, the gases produced fires and the beast exploded. To celebrate the victory, the people of King Krak's town created this sculpture of the dragon.
I then headed back to the hostel to have a rest before I headed towards the Jewish quarter but I met a girl I was out with the night before and invited her and her friends to come with me, so we headed there straight away. We wondered around the vintage market, got a kebab and sat and chatted for a while. We were shown some interesting cafes and old pubs along the way and then headed towards the love lock bridge.
It started to rain shortly after this photo so we headed back to the hostel for dinner and that was the end of my first solo trip to Krakow, I met the most lovely and interesting people and had the most fun I've had in ages, If you're thinking of booking your first trip and going alone, I couldn't recommend doing it more. You're never alone, you make friends wherever you go. I met a guy in Krakow, Lee on the far left in the photo above, he was planning on doing the same route as me so you will be hearing about him a lot in the future blogs as we travelled a lot together. We met on my second day staying at the hostel in krakow and ended up travelling the next 4 weeks together.
Other photos from my trip