Why I think Krakow is the best kept eco-travel secret in Europe!

Our family visit to Poland earlier this month came about because we had the opportunity to attend the opening game of Euro 2012 (Poland versus Greece) in Warsaw. While it was a thrilling match (not just because I’m Greek and my husband is Polish) in a pretty city, I found Warsaw to be too austere for my taste and was happy to get on train south to Krakow for a different view of Polish life.

From the moment we stepped off the train in Krakow and within minutes, found ourselves walking down pedestrian-only Floriańska to the main market square (Rynek Główny), our family felt that we had just arrived in a very special place that not only had a long history – one look at the architecture alone tells this – but proud and deep cultural roots that were not going to succumb to commercialism anytime soon. That notion made my little ecotourism heart so happy!

Center Krakow Poland

Horse Carriage in Rynek Główny, Main Market Square, Krakow Poland

I don’t know if it was because there was a constant stream of musicians playing classical music or traditional Polish songs or because the preferred method of travel was by foot or horse carriage (or eco-taxi and tram) and most sites were within walking distance, but there was a genuine and friendly nature to the city that I had not experienced for a long time in Europe. Krakowiaks are delighted to discuss their legends, museum art collections, festivals, gardens and resolve in fighting back many invaders.

View Green Vacations

Green Transport in Krakow Poland

One of our favorite activities was going to the Wieliczka Salt Mine just outside Kraków. The mine, built in the 13th century, is one of the world’s oldest and the biggest attraction is the chapel that was carved out of the rock salt by the miners.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Poland

It is this sense of cultural pride and preservation that appeals to me as an ecotourism destination. The fact that accommodations, meals and family-friendly activities were quite inexpensive did not hurt either.

Every fiber of my being was abuzz and happy at finding yet another eco-destination that provided its relatively few visitors with a wonderful glimpse of its history, music, traditions and delicacies. I, for one, cannot wait to be back in Krakow one day very soon.

Krakow Main City Square

Where to Stay: We rented a lovely, sun-filled one bedroom apartment located right on Rynek Główny from AAA Krakow Apartments. Our “Venetian 15” apartment had a full kitchen, Wi-Fi, satellite television with a DVD player and plenty of space. The management was well organized, friendly and provided us with very helpful restaurant and grocery store recommendations.

Additional Travel Tip: I highly recommend checking out the See Krakow website for activity and trip suggestions. The company offers daily tours, including rafting trips, throughout the region. They are helpful and flexible with organizing reservations and you can customize the activities to your needs (i.e. take their bus to Zakopane – Tatra Mountains, stay a few days, and then take their bus back to Krakow)

3 Responses
  1. Avatar

    I found much cheaper company organizing all kind of tours, they have tickets point at Grodzka street and you can book also tours on their website at

  2. Avatar

    I fully agree! Well, I had my stay in Krakow taken care of by an excellent and professional tour operator (DiscoverCracow: ). I took a one day trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine and Nazi Concentration Camp in Auschwitz, had the airport-to-centre transfer provided, hotel pickups with my trips, etc. I will gladly return to Krakow for more attractions! And the choice of vege restaurants is ok, just like the people. Thank you for the entry!

  3. Avatar

    Yes, Krakow is a beautiful city and lovers of Prague will find Krakow equally appealing.

    For first time visitors to Poland then Krakow is the number one choice but I would still recommend other places to visit once you’ve “done Krakow”.

    The northern cities of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot are stunning and even Warsaw is nice if you have a plan….Lazienki Palace, Wilanow and the Old Town 🙂