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Image courtesy of Jarosław Pocztarski

Krakow a cool destination for the young

by Adriana Mendez

Visit Eastern’s Europe newest bohemian capital before it´s tainted by capitalism.

In my determination to get out of London for the Easter break, I checked out many destinations. My only requirements were: it had to be somewhere cool, cheap and cultural.

By cool I had in mind somewhere full of life and excitement (during the day and night), since I was travelling by myself, I could not afford to be bored.

By cheap, do I really need to explain why? And finally I wanted to go somewhere not very touristy. A place where I had not been before, yet full of history and culture.

That is how I came across Krakow, which according to the Travel section of the New York Times was the first choice for young people.

Immediately I checked out the low cost airlines and found a return ticket from Easy Jet for £127.

I did not do much research on the city before leaving, since I wanted to be surprised. With excitement and no expectations I headed towards one of the most fascinating cities I have encountered.

The lifestyle, people and towns

The first thing that struck me about Krakow is its artistic atmosphere. Artists from all over the world found in the heart of this historical city a source of inspiration.

“As soon as I got here I knew I wanted to stay. It is inspiring and everyone is friendly”, said Andrea Cattaneo, an Italian musician.

“I came from Milan three years ago, now I speak Polish and know most of the artists that live here. We gather at night and play music,” he added as he continued on his bike, a very popular method of transportation.

Since Krakow is a small and easily walkable city, the best way to get to know it is simply by walking around and you will find interesting cafes, restaurants, galleries, museums and churches.

The Old Town Market Square, which is the largest in Europe, is dominated by the St Mary's Basilica and the Cloth Hall. It reminded me of San Marcos Plaza in Venice.

The visit to the Wawel Castle is also mandatory. It is high on a hill and offers an incredible view of both the city and the river.

You can't miss Kazimiers, the old Jewish district. Its labyrinthine streets treasure old synagogues and churches from the 14 th century as well as modern bars and restaurants.

The night life is no less exciting. Bars and clubs which appear nondescript by day are suddenly full of life at night. You can have a beer or vodka for less than £2.

According to, the Old Town district has more bars per square meter than anywhere else in the world.

The prices are amazing. I stayed at the Greg and Tom hostel, which besides being rated as one of the best in the world has a really cool atmosphere. I paid €10 for a bed each night, including breakfast and dinner!

Before it's too late

Krakow still holds the magical enchantment of an ex- communist city that has not been conquered by capitalism.

Unlike Prague and Budapest, which have been over spoilt by excess tourism, it has managed to keep its fascination more undiscovered.

But the word is spreading. More and more flights are going to Krakow and a huge shopping mall close to the station is starting to 'ruin' the city.

Unfortunately, like happened with Prague, Krakow will soon be filled with Starbucks and 5 star hotels.

Prices will rise and the artists and intellectuals will move somewhere else, followed by the inevitable capitalism capable of destroying every city's charm in the name of business.

go: arts, entertainment & travel