I’m sure that when you think about the weather in Poland, you’re not thinking this: clear blue skies 30 degrees Celsius or blinding sunshine. It’s probably more along the lines of “endless winters, gray post-communist landscape, snow, snow, snow”, right? Because of this, you might not be prepared for what’s to come when you step off the plane on a June morning in Kraków.
Since you’ve probably never associated Poland with the words summer, it may come as a shock to you when getting off the plane and being hit with the hot summer air.
But fear not! Our team has gone above and beyond to compile this handy guide to making the most out of your impromptu tropical holiday. Even if you’d left your shorts at home.
Below you’ll find 5 surefire ways of cooling off even on the hottest of days of summer in Krakow.
#1 Go to the beach ( yes, the beach! )
Yes, everything is alright with your reading comprehension, and it’s not a misspelling mishap on our part. There is, in fact, a beach in Kraków. Even though the city itself is located about six hundred kilometers away from the Baltic sea, there are plenty of spots in the area where you can take a dip if the temperature soars above 25 degrees, and thus summer in Krakow becomes unbearable.
Bagry beach – the most popular spot amongst locals who want to feel some sand between their toes – is just 15 minutes away from the city center by tram or bus, but be aware of the fact that during the weekend it’s going to be absolutely packed.
If you’re not about that beach life but would still enjoy a swim, another popular spot is Lake Zakrzówek – a former quarry that was filled up with water and quickly became a favorite of both residents and tourists. It’s a beautiful place if you’d like to relax in natural settings – its white cliffs will promptly transport you to the Croatian coastline.
To the adventurers amongst you, we highly recommend Kryspinów – a village located just on the western border of the city, which is best accessible by car, but significantly less crowded than the two spots mentioned above.
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#2 Chill by the Vistula river
Spring and summer in Krakow are the best times to visit for a couple of reasons, but one of the most important ones is the fact that the city has an abundance of excellent beer gardens and outdoor restaurants. They are great for when you grow weary of your action-packed days of sightseeing and partying.
Some of the best venues are located on both banks of the Vistula river, a great place to relax and engage in some quality people-watching. You can have a picnic by the castle and watch the sunset, or if you’re the bar type, enjoy a few pints in Forum – an abandoned socialist hotel turned into a bar, restaurant, club, and all-around art space (and FYI – their breakfasts are great for the post-Kraków bar crawl hangover).
On the other side of the river, closer to the Jewish quarter and the historic Jewish ghetto Podgórze, you’ll find Barka – and keep an eye out for food festivals that happen there around once a month. Spots like that are strewn all around the city, and a glass of prosecco on the riverbanks has proven to be the best reprieve on an unbearably hot day – we’ve tested it ourselves.
#3 Try artisanal ice cream
Is “ice cream” the first thing that pops into your mind when you think Poland? Probably not, right? Even though this country is not a gelato giant like Italy, artisanal ice cream has been a big thing for the past few years.
If you’re in desperate need of some cooling off, we’d definitely recommend hitting the Jewish quarter for a few scoops of frozen goodness. One of the most popular ice cream parlors is Good Lood in the middle of Plac Nowy and Plac Wolnica. Beware of the queues – it’s so good that people are willing to wait for well over an hour just to get some ice cream! With a short list of home-made flavors, two of which change every single day so you’ll never get the same cone twice, it has quickly won over the people of Kraków.
If you’re closer to the square and don’t fancy a trek to Kazimierz in the sweltering heat, a good one is Donizetti located just off Floriańska street, and their scoops are also to die for.
#4 A little day drinking never hurt nobody
You know what place stays cold no matter how unbearable it gets outside? Basements. And no, we’re not saying that because we’re actually a team of serial killers. We’re saying it because pretty much 90% of bars in Kraków are located in actual basements.
So why not grab your friends and have a little daytime bar crawl of your own to prepare yourselves for what’s about to come at night?
Once again, the Jewish quarter takes the lead when it comes to bars, although you might hear more English than Polish around you. If you aim for the less touristy experience, head over the bridge to Podgórze, where most Cracovian hipsters have relocated. Even though it’s become more and more touristy in recent years, Kazimierz still has a lot to offer, and its charm is still undeniable. Cool spots to cool off in? Entropia, Alchemia, Eszeweria, and Hevre all spring to mind, so hit them up for a choice of cocktails and craft beer.
#5 wait until nightfall
That’s right! If summer in Krakow is too much for you to handle, and you don’t feel like dragging your sore feet through the cobbled streets of Old Town, there’s only one piece of advice that we’ve got left to give: just wait until the sun goes down.
The city’s nightlife is at its best during these short summer nights (just make sure not to get into a fight on Szewska and avoid vomit on the sidewalk) – but you’ll probably be walking in zig-zags anyway, so you should be fine. All the best clubs in Kraków are located within walking distance from the square. So if you sunburn easily, hate crowds, and would rather get drunk – your best bet while in town is the Krakow bar crawl or The Krakow Boat Party .
Let’s be honest – you didn’t come here to go to the salt mines, did you?