Autumn is the last useful season to visit Auschwitz. A few weeks later, the rigid temperatures can make this excursion a mission impossible. However, Krakow has much more to offer! In the month of November, one of the most important festivities in the country is celebrated: the Independence Day. Read on and find out what to do in autumn.
1. Join the Independence Day Celebrations
November 11th is celebrated as Independence Day, a very important date for the Polish people. In 1918 and after the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany, Poland regained its independence after 123 years! In this long century, the country had literally disappeared from the map and was divided between three foreign powers: the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and the German Empire.
Unfortunately, the recurrence could be celebrated very rarely because the country was taken over by Germany in 1939 and then came under the Soviet yoke. The Poles had to wait for the fall of the Berlin Wall to celebrate it again!
For these reasons, Independence Day is deeply felt. On this date, a mass is celebrated in the morning in the Wawel Cathedral and, once it is over, a military parade leaves Wawel Hill, walks along the Royal Road (Droga Królewska), crosses Florianska Street and ends at Matejko Square. The army band accompanies the infantry platoons and mounted troops. In the evening, the crowd gathers at the Market Square (Rynek Główny) to sing some patriotic songs.
2. Enjoy the magic of foliage
In autumn, the leaves turn red, yellow and orange turning every park into a magical place. Krakow has some green areas where you can admire the phenomenon. Read on, in the list below I list the must-see destinations:
- Zakrzowek, a park a short distance from the center. It is characterized by the blue lake that occupies the hollow of an old stone quarry. It is very popular with the locals who come here for a barbecue or a walk in the woods surrounding the pond (Salezjańska 19). To get here from the center, you can simply take the streetcar (line 52, stop Poczta Główna).
- Planty, a green ring surrounding Krakow. At the end of the 18th century, the old city walls were demolished and the space once occupied by the walls was gradually transformed into a garden. In autumn, there is nothing better than strolling among the English gardens and Belle Époque buildings.
- Jagiellonian University Botanical Garden (Mikołaja Kopernika 27), the oldest in Poland. To escape the cold, you can see the tropical spices that grow in their greenhouses. For more info, I recommend you to consult its official website.
- Wolski, a forest that extends over some hills. It is located 8 km from the old town and has marked trails for hikers and cyclists. There is also a trail for horseback riding and a cross-country skiing track. In addition to the trees, with a little luck you will see deer, badgers, foxes and other wildlife. If you are interested in this one, I recommend reading the post about the best hikes from Krakow.
3. Pick mushrooms in the forests around Krakow
Poland is famous for its mushrooms to the point that its most famous epic poem, "Pan Tadeusz", contains a famous mushroom picking scene. However, this practice is much older and revives every year in one season: autumn.
Starting in the second half of October, the people of Krakow leave early in the morning to reach the forests surrounding the city early. Mushrooms taste better if you cook them on the day of picking, which is why it is so important to sift through the undergrowth without too many people around.
In Krakow, you can taste some tasty mushroom recipes at Pod Aniołami, a restaurant housed in a 13th century building that for more than three hundred years was the residence of Krakow's goldsmiths.
In autumn, the chefs recommend two specialties: boletus soup with noodles and white mushroom soup with noodles. In both recipes, the mushrooms used by the chefs have been picked in the Gorce National Park.
4. Participate in the largest literary festival in Central Europe
The Conrad Festival is the most important literary event in the city. The event owes its name to Józef Teodor Konrad, better known as Joseph Conrad. The author of "Heart of Darkness" was born in Berdyczów (then part of the Russian Empire) on December 3, 1857 into a family that was involved with the Polish nationalist movement.
Orphaned at an early age, he had to leave the country and ended up enlisting on a ship in Marseilles. This event changed his life as it motivated him to write adventure novels.
After his death, the Cracovians paid tribute to them by instituting a festival in his honor. The purpose of the kermesse is to present the most important works of world literature and to hold artistic and social discussions. Polish and international writers participate in this event, which each year investigates a specific theme. On the last day, the Conrad Prize (a statuette in the form of a telescope) is awarded to the author of the best first prose work.
5. Follow your literary journey at the Book Fair
The Krakow Book Fair is held on the same dates as the festival. During these days, the Polish city is an ideal destination for all those who are passionate about novels.
The event is held at Expo Krakow (9 Galicyjska Street) and brings together publishers, authors, translators and literature enthusiasts. The venue is located on the outskirts of the city but it is very easy to get here. You can take the bus (lines 174 and 178) or the streetcar (lines 1, 14 and 22).
6. Experience the tradition of All Saints' Day
In Poland, Halloween is overshadowed by celebrations of All Saints' Day (Dzień Wszystkich Świętych, November 1) and All Souls' Day (Dzień Zaduszny, November 2). On these dates, Polish families gather to clean the graves of relatives, leave wreaths of flowers and light a few candles.
The result is very evocative and it is worth going to a cemetery to understand this page of the local culture. This activity should be done with due respect but, if you have this in mind, you will have no problem.
In Krakow, I recommend you to visit the Rakowicki Cemetery, the largest and most important cemetery in the city. The cemetery is located at 26 Rakowiecka Street and covers an area of 43 hectares. It is famous for its sepulchral art and for housing the tombs of some of the country's renowned personalities.
In one area, there are also the graves of British soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Rhine. The brochure at the entrance will explain the most important information. Don't worry, there is an English version.
To get here from the center, you can take the streetcar (line 2 from Teatr Bagatela) and get off at the last stop (Cmentarz Rakowicki). If you like these visits, I recommend you to read the post about the best churches in Krakow.
7. Listen to gospel music
Did you know that gospel and Krakow are linked by a double thread? The genre derives from the songs that black slaves used to sing in the southern plantations of the United States. In the thirties of the last century, this music experienced a boom in America and gradually spread to other parts of the world.
Since 2006, it has found a niche in the Polish city that every autumn hosts the 7xGospel, a curious and undoubtedly interesting festival. The events are usually held in the concert hall Kärcher Hala (Aleja Marszałka Ferdynanda Focha 40) which is located a stone's throw from the Błonia Meadow, a very coveted area in the summer months in Krakow.
8. Take a break in a traditional tea shop
Herbaciarnia Czajownia is a must for tea lovers and a warm place to warm up after a walk. The establishment is located in Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter and is characterized by its cozy atmosphere that invites you to spend some time within its walls. It has a good Wi-Fi connection, so it is not uncommon to see freelancers and digital nomads.
If you have a real passion for tea, you will find a wide variety of fragrances. In the list below you will find the most peculiar ones:
- Bai Mao Houe, a white tea originating from the Taimu Mountains in Fujian Province, China. Also known as "White Monkey", it is characterized by its strong grassy aroma.
- Darjeeling, a black tea grown on the slopes of the Himalayas. Like Champagne, this variety can also be grown only in a single area.
- Gyokuro, a Japanese green tea with a high level of antioxidants. Its sweet fragrance underlines the vegetal notes.
- Chi Tse Bing Cha, a tea from southern China that is often given as a wedding gift.
- Yogi Masala Chai, a blend of honey, ginger, cardamom, white pepper, anise, cloves and other spices.
9. Listen to the best pianists in Europe
The International Piano Festival is the only cultural event in Krakow that is entirely dedicated to music. According to the organizers themselves, this kermesse aims to invite the world's piano elite to the city.
To ensure high quality standards, artists who have competed in international competitions in Warsaw (Frederic Chopin), Fort Worth (Van Cliburn) and Moscow (Tchaikovsky) take part in the event. The festival is held in several venues in the city. If once you leave you want to continue listening to music, I recommend the Harris Bar (Rynek Główny 28), an establishment that has hosted big names in international jazz.
10. Be captivated by musical contaminations
Another musical kermesse in Krakow is the Sacrum Profanum Festival, which combines the masterpieces of classical music with jazz and other genres. The first edition was held in 2003 and in a few years it has become an unmissable event for lovers of artistic contaminations. Normally, the event arrives in the city between the end of September and the first half of October. The concerts are hosted in various venues:
- Congress Palace (Marii Konopnickiej 17).
- Łaźnia Nowa Theater ( O
siedle Szkolne 25)
- Florianka Hall (Sereno Fenn'a 15)
The influx of tourists in Krakow in autumn
The inhabitants of Krakow often call autumn "Zlota Polska Jesień", which translates as "Poland's golden autumn". At this time, the trees turn orange and red and the temperatures hardly reach the negative peaks of winter. Therefore, visiting Krakow in autumn is the ideal! If you want to have more info, I recommend you to read the post 10 tips for traveling to Krakow.
Prices in Krakow in autumn
If you are looking for a cheap getaway, Krakow is your ideal destination. At this time of year, you can book a hotel room or a tourist house at more than affordable prices. In addition, during autumn, the city does not welcome a large number of tourists so you can visit the main attractions without large crowds of tourists.