This article was written by resident Roamaroo writer, Keith Bohan.
In Ireland, there’s an expression that means ‘to have fun’. And often, an Irish visitor to the States will find themselves in hot water by naively using this Irish colloquialism to a baffled American.
The phrase is to ‘have the craic’ (pronounced ‘crack’).
‘Craic’ means anything from fun to news, based on the context. And if you’re said to be ‘craiced’ (pronounced ‘cracked’), well, that just means you’re insane— but in the good way.
For obvious reasons, having craic in Ireland is the polar opposite to having crack in America, so you can understand why I didn’t lead with my original, alliterative title for this article:
Having Craic in Krakow.
So, after that little lesson in Hiberno-English for context, let us take a trip around Poland’s vibrant capital city, in search of… fun.
On Your Bike.
As bike-friendly cities go, Krakow is right up there. Bike lanes are plentiful and public bike banks are visible on every second corner. The princely sum of 24 PLN gives you access to these bikes for an entire month.
That’s less than $6.50. Ah, I love this city.
I highly recommend downloading the accompanying free app. It will tell you where the nearest bike bank is, so you can drop off and pick up bikes to suit your plans. Speaking of which:
Strolling, strolling… Strolling on the river.
The city of Krakow grew up around the magnificent Vistula, Poland’s longest and largest river. From sunup to sundown, the banks are abuzz with locals and visitors— a paradise for people-watching.
There are fishermen, joggers, tourists, sunbathers, people partying on the boats, people meditating on the benches… You name it.
My favorite thing to do in Krakow is to pack a picnic, pick up a bottle of Prosecco or Lambrusco, and cycle along the Vistula’s long promenade with my wife. Once we’ve pedalled up an appetite, we drop off our two-wheeled steeds, throw out a blanket, and get to chowing down.
The best bar in Krakow, bar none.
As the evening wears on, you have a few options: You could call it a night. You could grab some ice cream at Krakow’s favorite spot, Good Lood. You could have a drink on one of the Boat Bars docked along the Vistula. Or you could pop into Krakow’s most unique bar, Eszeweria.
I was just kidding about Option Number One.
Eszeweria is as fun as it is difficult to pronounce. Nestled deep in Krakow’s Jewish quarter, and just a 5-minute amble from your riverside picnic spot, this cosy, bohemian bar is full of nooks, crannies, trees, hammocks, outdoor couches, candles, tea, and alcohol.
The patrons are as remarkable as the distinctive decor. People of all ages and walks of life trickle in and out casually: Some holding a book under their arm, some holding hands with their date, some just eager to get their hands on a beer.
For some reason, all these assorted characters and furnishings create an atmosphere perfect for drinking in. Said the Irish man.
Street Bread > Street Cred
After enjoying however many drinks you deem acceptable here, the best part of the night
is just around the corner. Zapiekanka is a popular Polish street food that has gained a near iconic status in Krakow.
It consists of a half baguette—or a full one; who’s counting?— with an almost infinite number of toppings to choose from. Your zapiekanka is then covered in cheese (obviously) and heated, before being generously festooned with the sauce(s) of your choice.
It’s delicious, traditional, and—as always—crazy affordable.
Plac Nowy (Nowy Square) is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Eszeweria. The Square features what is known as ‘The Roundhouse’, a conjoined circle of street food vendors, each offering their own version of zapiekanka.
I recommend doing a full circle of the Roundhouse to see which street eaters seem the most overjoyed before deciding on your vendor. Whoever you pick, you’ll be a happy, carbed up camper.
Maybe Extend Your Trip?
In truth, it is difficult to scratch the surface of Krakow. It has so much to offer just in terms of food alone, before you even get down to the culture and history. The city is so easy to navigate that you’ll feel like you were born and raised here after a couple of days.
And, again, it’s so affordable that you can do everything that tickles your fancy without burning a hole in your pocket. All that’s left to do is get yourself to Poland to have some good times, ‘have the craic’, but most importantly:
Have the zapiekanka.