Auschwitz Concentration Camp
The Holocaust’s most significant historical sites, the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, are located just over an hour from the city center of Krakow. Over 1 million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz, as well as many thousands of Poles, gypsies, and other persecuted groups.
Take a half day guided tour to both concentration camps and walk beneath the wrought iron gates, with the ironic admonition that “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes you free), and into the vast guarded complexes where so much suffering occurred. It is an emotional visit, but at the same time a necessary reminder of the evil mankind is still capable of exercising.
Wieliczka Salt Mines
As one of the most popular excursions from Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mines are a must visit. Located in the town of Wieliczka, roughly half an hour from Krakow, the mines are a result of centuries of work by miners.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a visit to the mines is a fascinating experience. Explore mine shafts, cavernous chambers, and underground saline lakes, all spread out over nine different levels reaching a depth of over 1000 feet. You will see the beautiful carvings and statues the miners hewn into the salty rocks, including a visit to the cavern containing the famous Kinga Salt Chapel, a spectacle of human craft work.
Leave behind the cobbled lanes and picturesque colored buildings of Krakow’s Old Town and head to Nowa Huta, one of the finest examples of deliberate social engineering on earth.
This sometimes grand, sometimes rather ugly, concrete suburb of Krakow was designed by the Soviet Union as a model proletarian city. Visit Nowa Huta and explore the more attractive parts of the town including the Central Square and Rose Avenue while getting a small taste of life under Communism
A trip to Zakopane is perfect for those with an adventurous soul. Sat beneath the High Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is a popular escape for skiers, snowboarders, hikers and climbers alike.
Visit for breathtaking views of the Polish countryside, an opportunity to visit the highlanders’ cottages and a thrilling ride on a cable car to the top of the Tatra Mountains. From the summit you can enjoy the most amazing views of the surrounding peaks.
Jasná Gora Monastery in Czestochowa is the home of a painting of the Black Madonna which is known for many miracles. The monastery dates back to the 14th century, but it became Poland’s most famous religious site during the wars against Sweden in the 17th century.
It was here that after an unrelenting string of battle field defeats, the monastery held out against overwhelming odds and defeated a besieging Swedish force, turning the course of the war. Ever since that point, the monastery and the Black Madonna have reminded Poles of their ability to maintain their faith and nationhood despite the most arduous of trials and tribulations.