Guide to Krakow's Best Neighbourhoods
Within its 18 districts, Kraków boasts a number of neighborhoods worth exploring. A few to check out include the locales of Kazimierz, Nowa Huta, Stare Dębniki, Stare Miasto, and Zabłocie.
Kazimierz is the Soho of Kraków. Cool and bohemian, it is known for its nightlife, boutiques, museums, and fine eating establishments (think zapiekanki), all steeped in history and culture. It is similarly a sort of city within a city, with its own unique signature, which can be broadly appreciated every evening and on weekends when trendy Cracovians make their way to the side streets of Plac Nowy. Long ago the primary marketplace of the Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz is sometimes referred to as the spiritual center of Cracovian subculture. It is important to note that Kazimierz was placed on the first UNESCO World Heritage list in 1975.
Nowa Huta is a district rich in history and culture. Settlements from the Neolithic age forward have been discovered in this region, now known as the greenest corner of Kraków, due to the abundance of parks and green areas. Built by the Soviets in 1949 as a utopian city exemplifying the notion of deliberate social engineering, Nowa Huta is one of only two planned socialist realist districts built anywhere in the world, although it never reached the Utopian status of its visionaries. Regardless, visitors interested in being transported to a different reality far from Kraków should make their way here; it is merely a tram ride away.
Stare (Old) Dębniki is located near Old Town (Stare Miasto) on the right bank of the Wisla (Vistula) River, just across from the Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral. This quiet neighborhood beckons visitors searching for a break and some fresh air; those who like to bike, hike, or rock climb will want to visit Skałki Twardowskiego, the former limestone quarry that is now a stunning nature reserve. Visitors and locals alike note that spending a night in Stare Dębniki will be less noisy than either Stare Miasto or Kazimierz, continuing the theme of quiet.
Stare Miasto (Old Town)
Stare Miasto in Kraków is one of the most famous of the old districts in Poland, and it is listed as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage list sites as well as a national historical monument. Stare Miasto Kraków boasts the largest Medieval town square of any European city. This Old Town is bisected by the Royal Road. This was the coronation route traversed by the kings of Poland, its southerly ending point being, of course, the Wawel Castle. Stare Miasto Kraków is so full of history and landmarks, travelers should make a point of visiting. A visitor’s guide retrieved from any of the information points will provide both a description of important sites as well as suggested routes to take.
As in most large, older cities, Kraków also has a post-industrial part of town that is experiencing a dynamic revitalization. Since the late 1990s, Zabłocie has been undergoing massive change and gentrification. Among remnants of old industrial buildings and factories from the WWII era, visitors will find Schindler’s Factory (a part of the Historical Museum of Kraków) and the MOCAK gallery of modern art, alongside unique post-industrial architecture. With the burgeoning number of festivals and cultural events, as well as one of the largest music clubs in Kraków (FABRYKA), Zabłocie may soon become as popular as Kazimierz.