Kraków’s popularity as both a holiday and expat destination has grown considerably over the last few decades. Thanks to increasing numbers of multinational corporations choosing to base their operations in the city, Kraków's expat population is on the rise. This, in turn, has contributed to increasing the levels of development and cultural diversity in the city.
Expats moving to Kraków will be in for a treat when it comes to ways in which to spend their free time. Whether looking to indulge in fine food, dance the night away or explore the beautiful Polish mountain regions, Kraków offers an eclectic range of lifestyle activities.
Shopping in Kraków
Within Poland, Kraków is seen as the top shopping destination. Here, shoppers will not only find a wide range of modern goods and international brand names, but they’ll also be able to get great local produce at reasonable prices.
Galeria Krakowska is one of the most popular shopping areas in Kraków. It boasts a wide range of high street stores and exclusive boutiques and is conveniently located close to the Main Market Square. The more sedate Galeria Kazimiex is another great shopping spot located on the riverbank in the Jewish district of Kraków. It is home to a host of fashion boutiques, quaint bookshops and cosy cafes.
For a novel and quirky shopping experience, head to Hala Targowa. Away from the typical tourist trail, this is a favourite among the locals. At this unique flea market, shoppers can lose hours browsing through old books, antiques and art.
Eating out in Kraków
Kraków has a charming cafe culture. Expats will find plenty of quaint coffee spots hidden underground or in a nook of a historic building.
While the city may not be quite as eclectic as more established European expat destinations, new arrivals will find a restaurant scene that is rapidly developing to keep pace with the increasingly multicultural nature of Kraków’s population. Beyond the hearty Polish cuisine, expats will find a range of international restaurants serving up Italian, French, Indian, Chinese and Mexican dishes.
Head to one of Kraków’s ‘milk bars’ where diners can experience authentic Polish fare at a bargain.
Nightlife and entertainment in Kraków
Kraków is a university city and is seen by the locals as the party capital of Poland. Expats won’t be disappointed when it comes to evening entertainment.
Main Market Square comes to life in the evenings, with almost every historical building boasting some sort of pub, restaurant or club. Cellar-based venues are particularly unique to Kraków and well worth exploring.
Kazimierz is a great option for those who are after something low-key. This is where expats should venture to discover the Bohemian side of life in Kraków. Live music venues, craft breweries and street food eateries are an alternative entertainment experience.
Sports and outdoor activities in Kraków
With parks on every corner, Kraków is a green city and expats will find plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors, at least in the summer months. That said, even when the weather isn’t great, Kraków's residents can still be seen enjoying a stroll along Planty or by the Vistula River. Kosciuszko Mound is a great spot where one can enjoy some beautiful city views.
When the city life begins to take its toll, expats can head to the Tatra Mountains, as Kraków is a mere two-hour drive from Zakopane. This area is a hiker’s paradise, and in the winter it presents perfect conditions for skiing at a fraction of the price often associated with other skiing hotspots in Europe.
►To learn about transport in the city, see Getting Around in Kraków
"My top favourite places I take everyone are:
- Main Square with the Sukiennice and the 19th Century Art Museum (2nd floor). If you love paintings and sculptures, this museum is a must!
- Collegium Maius, part of the Jagiellonian University. If you also go inside the museum, you will see a real Oscar and Nobel Prize.
- Wawel Castle. Did you know that there is an energy chakra there?
- Schindler's Museum is an absolute must for the history buffs! Each room is unique (including the floor) and it tells the story of the occupation from 1939 to 1945. Make sure you book for about 2 hours at least. On my first go I stayed there for 4 hours!!!
- Krakus or Piłsudski Mound has the best views in Krakow. Trust me!"
Learn more about Anda, a Romanian expat, and her move to Krakow.
Are you an expat living in Krakow?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Krakow. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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