Krakow is, above all, art, architecture and history. But it is also an interesting destination in terms of gastronomy. Poland is a country with good agricultural products and, although its cuisine can be described as totally European, it has elements that are curious and unexpected for anyone more accustomed to Spanish cuisine.
Visiting Krakow can be an unbeatable way to get into Polish gastronomy. If this is one of your plans, this article will be useful. I have analyzed all the gastronomic options in the city to bring you the most interesting and the most representative ones. I wanted that, through them, you can not only fill your stomach but also learn more about the country.
1. Gastronomic route through the markets of Krakow
There are two exceptional markets in Krakow: the one located in the Market Square and the Stary Keplarz. The first one is very oriented to tourists, although it has interesting Polish gastronomic and handicraft products; the second one has a more local approach. Here's what you can find in each...
Let's start at the beginning: the Cloth Market. It is located on the Market Square and, with its 40,000 square meters, is one of the cores of urban life in Krakow. It is, in fact, a must-see and must-do in Krakow.
Inside the Cloth Market you will find a wide variety of stalls with typical Polish products. Of course, it has a strong tourist orientation, so you will find the most typical, such as, for example, vodka, sweets like gingerbread cookies and the famous Wedel chocolate. However, it is very worthwhile.
Moreover, it is an opportunity to broaden your tourist experience, especially because there are many things to see and do in the Krakow Market. For a more traditional experience I suggest a hop over to the next market.
Stary Keplarz Market
Stary Keplarz Market is an open-air market. It is just 700 meters from the center, so it can be a great option to extend your gastronomic route. In this market, as I say, more of a focus on typical products, you can find:
- Typical cheeses
In addition, there is also a place for handicrafts and it is also an opportunity to eat in Krakow, since there are a variety of restaurants. If you want more options to eat, here is more information about the best places to eat in Krakow. If your plan is to eat at Stary Keplarz, perfect; just remember that it is open on Wednesdays from 06:00 to 18:00 hours.
Just a tip: these markets are especially active and abundant at Christmas, when food and craft stalls also proliferate around them. Nothing better than dropping by them if you visit Krakow at that time. For other plans to do at that time of year I leave here more details about what to do in Krakow at Christmas.
Practical information about the tours
If you are up for this activity, there are several tours available. Each one may have specific variations, but in essence they offer the following:
- Guided tour of the markets
- Information about the different products
- Anecdotes and stories about Polish gastronomy and culture
- Tastings of Polish products
- Prices start at 30 €.
- Duration: 2 to 4 hours
The meeting point may vary, although it is always the same Market Square. There are also tours that can also pick you up at your hotel, you will have to confirm this point in the specific activity you are interested in hiring.
2. Hebrew and Polish cuisine tour in Kazimierz
Krakow has historically been one of the cities with the largest Hebrew population in Europe. This, of course, has been reflected in its gastronomic offer. Although in this dynamic neighborhood there are restaurants for all tastes. There are tours that will give you an insight into what Kazimierz has to offer in terms of cuisine.
Practical information about this activity
Here are the general characteristics of the tours that take you into the gastronomy of Kazimierz:
- They are structured through visits and tastings
- They have a specialized guide
- The number of tastings ranges from 10 to 15 (depending on the tour)
- Available from 70 €
- Duration: between 3 and 5 hours
The good thing is that most of these tours allow free cancellation. And since you are in the Jewish quarter, I advise you to make the most of it and take a walk around. Need some ideas? Here's all the information on what to see and do in Krakow's Jewish Quarter.
3. Polish home cooking tour
Are you interested in approaching Polish gastronomy from a homemade perspective? Poland has several very traditional and tasty dishes. Perhaps the most famous are Polish goulash, makrela (smoked mackerel) and pierogi (a kind of dumpling stuffed with potato and cottage cheese). Dare to try this gastronomy with one of the many tours available.
Practical information about these tours
There are tours that will show you the traditional cuisine of the country. The best thing is that they have a strong explanatory component, since they are designed so that you can learn more about Polish culture through its food. They often offer the following:
- Tour through the center of Krakow.
- Stopover to taste representative Polish dishes
- Accompaniment by a specialized guide
- Dishes, liqueurs and also desserts are included
- Prices from 80 €.
- Duration: between 2 and 4 hours
I advise you to take a good look at each of them, since some of them offer a pick-up service at the hotel or at predefined points.
4. An original option: a gastronomic bike tour
If you are in the mood for a dynamic and immersive alternative, nothing better than to take a peck around Krakow by bike. These original tours will take you to different places throughout the city, not just the center, to taste the best Polish specialties.
Of course, I recommend that you hire this tour especially if you visit Krakow in good weather. In winter you may be surprised by snowfall or freezing temperatures, which could ruin your experience. However, it will be because of seasonal plans! Here you can find out what to see and do in Krakow in winter.
Practical information about gastronomic bike tours
gastronomic bike tours
If you are interested in experiencing this kind of activity, here are the services they usually offer:
- English-speaking guide (other languages on request).
- Tour around Krakow: from the center to more distant neighborhoods
- Tastings of up to 10 dishes
- Available from 50 €.
- Duration: about 3 hours
This is a very interesting tour. The best thing is that with it you can get into off-the-beaten-path areas of Krakow because the bike will offer you greater mobility possibilities. Of course, the bike is not included in the tour.
5. Wine tasting at the Kresy winery
Kresy is the name of a traditional winery located 20 km from Krakow. A perfect place to learn about the preparation of wines and visit beautiful vineyards. In addition, the scenic experience is of the first order. Although Poland is a basically flat country, the vegetal and floral charm of its landscapes is very remarkable.
If you dare to experience this gastronomic, scenic and cultural activity, the tours available will reveal the following:
- Tasting and sampling of typical products.
- Explanations about Polish culture and gastronomy
- Transportation from Krakow (almost always included in the price)
- Available from 90 €.
- Duration: about 3 hours
I do recommend that you check if the tour you hire includes an English guide. They will explain the winemaking process, as well as different Polish cultural and gastronomic aspects. If you are not fluent in English, you should make sure that it is available in Spanish so that you don't miss anything.
Also, it can be a good idea to continue exploring the surroundings of the city. Here are some ideas related to what to see and do around Krakow.
6. Wieliczka vineyard tour
And, if you plan to leave Krakow, I recommend you to drop by the Wieliczka vineyards. There you can enjoy a tour with wine tasting, besides having the opportunity to contemplate the landscape of the country. No doubt a good complement if you make one of the many excursions to the Wieliczka Salt Mines. In fact, planning both activities on the same day can be optimal in terms of time.
Want to visit these vineyards? Here is all the relevant information you need to know to determine what your experience will be like. The tours that will take you into this area offer the following:
- Tastings of local wines
- Explanations on how the wines are made
- Transportation from Krakow (very common)
- Available from 90 €.
- Duration: about 3 hours
7. Beer tour
Poland is a very beer country. In fact, they have several types of beers that you can try almost anywhere. The most famous are:
As you can see, a repertoire of beers that is well worth a thorough tasting of the best places where they are served.
about these routes
There are, of course, tours to get to know Polish beers better. They usually offer the following:
- A tour of selected breweries
- A selection of popular, regional and craft beers.
- Specialized English-speaking guide
- Possible pick-up at the hotel or at predefined meeting points (depending on the tour)
- Available from 80 €
- Duration: between 2 and 4 hours
What I do advise you to do is to check carefully if the tour you are interested in has Spanish speaking guides. This is usually the norm but it is worth making sure before booking.
8. Vodka tour
We continue with the drinks, this time with an option suitable for the most hardened: vodka. Although it is usually thought to be a drink almost exclusively from Russia, the truth is that Poland stands out for being a great producer of this alcohol. So why not try it for a total immersion in Polish culture? There are several tours at your disposal that will show you the best brands.
First of all, I want to tell you that, despite their name, these are not tours where everything is based on drinking vodka. In fact, they usually include snacks, tastings and water. Because not everyone has the same resistance to the high alcohol content of this drink. In short, this is what this kind of tours offer you:
- City tour tasting various types of vodka.
- Specialized guide
- Information about Polish traditions and folklore
- Available from 60 €.
- Duration: about 2 hours
Depending on which one you choose, you can be picked up at your hotel or at meeting points in the center of Krakow. If you are visiting Krakow with children, this plan may not suit your situation very well. However, don't worry, there are plenty of things to do. You can discover them in this article about what to see in Krakow with kids.
9. Milk pubs
Funny name, isn't it? Well, it is a type of place that can give you one of the most authentic gastronomic experiences. Basically because they are old canteens from the communist era, which offered the workers dishes for cheap prices. These dishes were heavily based on vegetables and dairy products (hence the curious name).
Just two things to note. There are authentic milk bars, still run and frequented by full-blooded Poles. A perfect choice if you opt for the authentic, but consider the language barrier. Then there are other milk bars with a more touristy approach. You will understand you perfectly and read the menu in English, but the experience may be marred by a certain "guiri" atmosphere.
If you feel like delving into the Krakow of milk bars, first I advise you to take into account some basic information that may condition your visit:
- They usually close between 15:00 and 19:00, so they are not so suitable for dinner.
- They are characterized by their low price, although in the tourist ones it can be higher.
- The average price of the menu starts at 6 €.
- In the traditional ones you will find a 100% Polish environment (i.e. menus may not be in English).
So that you can make a visit according to what you are looking for (something more Polish or more touristy), I show you some types of milk bars that suit each typology:
- Bar Mleczny Centralny: If you want something really authentic, this is your place. You will have to go to the Nowa Huta neighborhood, a district from the communist era. In short: total immersion. Mind you, it closes at 7pm, so it won't be a viable option for dinner.
- Milkbar Tomasza: As you can tell by its name, it is a milk bar clearly oriented to tourists, so you will be served in perfect English. It is located in the historic center and closes at 20:00 hours.
10. And for dessert... a little bit of candy
Not everything in Polish gastronomy is meat, soup and beet. It is a country, as you can see, also very pastry-loving. If you want to try its sweetest specialties, you can do it in one of its many bakeries that you will find especially in the center of the city. Although I advise you to do so by visiting one of its cafes or stores specializing in sweets and desserts. Their assortment is impressive and you can try all kinds of sweets, not only Polish.
Here is some information you should know if you have decided to make a sweet route through Krakow.
- Most establishments are located in the center of the city.
- They are often establishments that serve as cafeterias, so they are ideal for a lunch or snack.
- They are usually open from 07:00 in the morning until 16:00 or 17:00.
- Prices are usually affordable: a coffee with sweets can be enjoyed from 4 €.
If you are attracted by the option but don't know where to start, I bring you some of the most popular places to try Polish pastries. They are the following:
- Cukiernia: A place to try not only Polish sweets but many others - even profiteroles!
- Lajkonik Piekarnia: Especially suitable for tasting the typical Polish doughnuts and the famous pretzel, also very common in Krakow.
- Chimney Cake Bakery: I recommend it if you want to try the famous "chimney cake". A sweet originally Hungarian but, like other gastronomic elements of that part of Europe, is made in several countries with their own variations.
With this delicious dessert I end this article. Now you will be ready to get all the gastronomic juice to Krakow. Just choose menu, route and... enjoy!