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Krakow Travel Guide

Planning

Getting Here and Around

Air Travel

Although many people fly into Warsaw from the U.S., there are direct air connections on LOT, the Polish airline, between Kraków and Chicago, Newark, and New York (JFK) several times weekly, and the city can be reached by direct flight from most major (and some minor) European cities. With the arrival of low-cost airlines to Kraków, the number of flights is on the increase. EURO-LOT flies several times daily between Kraków and Warsaw (40 minutes), while Direct Fly offers a nonstop connection to Gdańsk (75 minutes). Many other airlines offer daily or at least regularly scheduled service within Europe. LOT's Kraków office is open weekdays 9–6, Saturday 9–3. Many airlines have offices at the airport. Tickets for low-cost airlines are best bought online, and booked well in advance for the best prices.

Airports and Transfers

The Pope John Paul II Kraków–Balice Airport, 11 km (7 miles) west of the city, is the region's only airport. In spring and fall, fog can cause frustrating delays.

In summer 2006, a fast train connection finally opened between Balice Airport and Kraków's main railway station. The train stops some 200 meters from the airline terminal; from there you can walk or use the airport shuttle bus, free of charge. The train runs approximately every 40 minutes, the journey takes about 15 minutes, and the tickets (surprisingly expensive at zł 20 one way) can be bought on board.

Buses 208 and 292 run between the airport and the main station via the city center. The basic fare is zł 3.40 (as the airport is in "zone II") with an extra charge for luggage. Tickets can be bought from a machine, at newspaper kiosks at the terminal, or from the driver (when buying from the driver, there is a surcharge). Taxis are available from outside the terminal, and the fare into the city center is approximately zł 60.

Bus Travel

Express bus service to Kraków runs regularly to and from most Polish cities. Most buses arrive at the main PKS station, located to the east of the railway station. From here you can transfer to buses headed for other destinations in the region.

Car Travel

A car will not be of much use to you in Kraków, since most of the Old Town is closed to traffic and distances between major sights are short. Elsewhere in the city, traffic jams are frequent and parking space insufficient, therefore an automobile may be a bit of a liability. A car will be useful if you set out to explore the region; but even then it is a good idea to consider a train or a bus first. You can approach Kraków either on the E77 highway (from Warsaw and north) or via the E40 (from the area around Katowice). Use the parking facilities at your hotel or one of the attended municipal parking garages (try plac Szczepański or plac świętego Ducha). On the whole, parking space in Kraków is rather scarce and expensive—between zł 5 and zł 10 per hour.

Taxi Travel

There is no shortage of taxis in Kraków, and there are several taxi ranks just outside the Platy Ring—for instance, on plac Szczepański, plac Wszystkich Świętych, or on Sławkowska Street. It is okay to hail a taxi in the street, and it will stop if it is free, but that would be unusual—most people either dial a cab or walk to the taxi rank. Phone rates are slightly cheaper than street rates, and it is definitely cheaper to take a taxi belonging to a reputable radio taxi company than a private taxi. Radio taxi companies are listed below.

Train Travel

Nonstop express trains from Warsaw take less than three hours and run throughout the day. All trains arrive at Kraków Główny Station, the city's main railway station, on the edge of the Old Town.

Essentials

Tour Options

All major hotels will arrange tours of the city as well as surrounding attractions. There are many choices, so it is a good idea to shop around a little. Some standard tours may be just a little bland, so consider alternative options: a bike tour. There are plenty of smaller operators who provide well-informed, friendly guide services for both individuals and groups.

Visitor Information

InfoKraków (formerly the Cultural Information Center) is open daily 9–7. To check the transportation schedules and purchase air, train, and bus tickets, head to Orbis, which is open weekdays 9–5 and Saturday 9–2. The Tourist Information Point, in the Planty, between the main railway station and Słowacki Theater, is open weekdays 8–8, weekends 9–5.

Contacts

InfoKraków (ul. św. Jana 2 012/421–77–87 www.en.infokrakow.pl/).

InfoKraków (Powiśle 11, Stare Miasto, Kraków, 31-101. 048/513–099–688. www.infokrakow.pl. pl. Wszystkich Świętych 2, 31-004. 012/616–18–86. www.infokrakow.pl.)

Tourist Information Point (ul. Szpitalna 25, Kraków. 012/432–01–10 or 012/432–00–60.)

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