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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Travel Tuesday: 5 Great One Day Trips From Kraków

Dearest travellers,

Krakow, nicely located in the Malopolskie voivodship, has plenty of places inside and around the city that can be explored alone or with friends. Trips inside the city are very popular and Krakow is one of the most visited cities in Poland, yet not many know that only a stone throw away from the city you can have one - day trips that can totally blow your mind, recharge your batteries and make you thirst for more. The one - day trips are for every taste so even if you are a lover of history or art or nature or wildlife you will find something that suits your needs. I always recommend my friends to come at least for a week and prepare for at least 2 or 3 days of outside the city trips. The public transport here is great and the railway system is getting better and better so it would be a shame not to explore more. So without any further ado, let me tel you about 5 great one - day trips that you can take from Krakow:
1. Auschwitz I and II - Auschwitz and Birkenau - usually I recommend this trip to be done by Discover Cracow as they are one of the best tour guides I have seen in Krakow. None of my friends ever said a bad word about the team and they were always extremely impressed. The trip to Auschwitz is usually done in the early morning and you are taken to Auschwitz I by bus. It is recommended that you should take only a very small carry on purse - backpacks are not allowed and you will be forced to leave it in the bus. The visiting of Auschwitz I takes about an hour and a half as you get to visit the old red brick buildings where the prisoners of war were held, the infirmary was located and also the death wall. You will get to see items that belonged to the poor souls that never got to leave this place and you will also see the only crematorium still standing - they did not get to blow this one up before the Red Army came.
After that you will have a short 15 min break, you will huddle up to the bus and it will shortly bring you to Auschwitz II - Birkenau. Probably, as I had, the shock of the magnitude of the action will hit you then. Seeing the open field as far as the eye can see, filled with wooden barracks, is a sight you will surely not forget. At the end of the train tracks, at the beginning of the forest, you will see the remains of the bigger crematorium chambers - which they managed to take down before the Red Army came.
I would say this is a half day trip but the experience leaves you so drained and questioning that I believe the rest of the day can be taken off just to have a light walk inside the town. If you choose to get there by yourself I recommend taking the daily trains to Birkenau, that run from the Main Station (Dworzec Glowny). When you get there though, I really recommend you to have a local guide to tell you the stories. It is way worth your time and money ;) 
2. Wieliczka Salt Mine - part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, part or the UNESCO Patrimonium, it is one or the most known touristic attractions, besides Auschwitz/Birkenau. You can reach it by taking the train from Dworzec Glowny Krakow train station, the bus 304 from the side of the Galeria Krakowska, the private buses that go there almost every 30 min or so, or by getting a recommended tour guide like the Discover Cracow team. 
It all depends on the time and budget that you have. It's quite a nice day - trip and it will surely relax you and fill your lungs with fresh salty air - perfect for people with lung conditions or asthma. It's a lovely place to behold and my favorite is the chapel all made out of salt and the inner lake. Now, to tell you the truth, if you are claustrophobic I don't quite recommend you the trip as you will be inside for a couple of hours, with no way out. Also when you will come back to the surface you will take a very small elevator in which you usually get packed like sardines... but it's worth it ;))
Also I would not recommend it to people who have joints issues as at the beginning there are over 300 stairs that you need to go down, in a spiral - even for a regular person it gets dizzy and your knees start to hurt... but I think there might be an elevator option for the disabled people. If you wish to explore an older, but not as well known, salt mine I really recommend you also a trip to Bochnia. Bochnia Salt Mines is even more adventure filled place as you can ride a fast train in the mine and also navigate on an inner salt lake - I have really enjoyed that and recommend it ;) plus you may like it more as it's not so crowded and popular as Wieliczka. You can get there by bus and by train and it's quite cheap! 
3. The Eagle Nest Trail - Szlak Orlich Gniazd - is one hell of a ride and might take you more than a one - day trip to enjoy it, but you don't have to visit it all... The Eagle Nest Trail is a trail of 25 medieval castles reaching from Czestochowa to Krakow. It is considered to be one of the best tourist trails in Poland, marked as number 1 on the official list of the most popular trails in the country. 
As I said,  it has 25 castles and watchtowers and it is 163 kilometres long! Of course most of the sites can be reached by bus but not all of them so I recommend a guided tour like the one from Discover Cracow or teaming up and renting a car.
One of my favourite castles in the trail is Ogrodzieniec and it is quite close to Katowice. In the summertime they have medieval fairs and reenactment fights so it is well worth ones time. You can climb the walls, visit the torture chamber museum and enjoy the view from the top. It's a great castle that is half in ruins but it's one of the best ones in the trail.
4. Pszczyna - The Jewel of Princess Daisy - is a small town in the Silesian region that should get more notice than it does now! It boasts of a Palace that is also know as "The Polish Versailles", a bison reservation, lovely parks and gardens and a small Wooden House reserve where time seems to have stand still. If you wanna learn more about this magnificent place, take a look on the top 3 things you should visit there.
View from the top of the Gubalowka Mountain :)
5. Zakopane = ZakoLove - a very crowded but lovely place in the mountains, not very far away from Krakow. If ever you are in Poland, in Krakow, it is definetely worth a day or two ;) No matter the weather the place just has a magic of its own. To be fair though, it looks the prettiest during wintertime. Of course you cannot drop a pin as there are so many people, but it is quite nice to get there and enjoy the view while eating the traditional smoked cheese ;) Read here what are my top 3 things to do in Zakopane ;)

How about you? Have you done a day trip from Krakow? What were your favourite locations? What are the 5 GREAT one-day trips that you would recommend? I would love to hear what you think of these places, if you ever visited them, or if they are on your Bucket List :)

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to travel