By Marta Urbaneja Lozano

When travelers are asked about the European cities they have either visited, are planning to explore, or maybe dream about, Polish destinations are not usually among the favorite ones. Nevertheless, this country hides real gems which are well worth discovering.

Fortunately, Euroculture has put Krakow on the world map for many of us. While so many things could be said about this wonderful city, from Euroculturer to Euroculturer, I am going to give you 5 reasons to choose Krakow as your first or second Euroculture University (or maybe your next holiday destination).

🡪 Krakow is one of those cities that just “don’t let us down”, as the Beatles would claim

According to legend, Krakow was founded after the defeat of a dragon, and perhaps this is why the city is immersed in a kind of mythical atmosphere. 

Picture retrieved from Unsplash, by Katarzyna Pracuch

Krakow, the former capital of Poland, was, together with Quito, the first city in the world to be declared a World Heritage Site in 1978. The city was not seriously damaged in the Second World War and as a result, its city center has been wonderfully preserved. It is home to fantastic museums and monuments, as well as Europe’s largest market square. Moreover, in the old Jewish quarter, the surviving synagogues commemorate the tragedy of the 20th century. 

While the city’s architecture and history are fascinating, Krakow has still much more to offer: it is a university and international city with a vibrant nightlife; it is surrounded by impressive and unexpected natural areas; Polish cuisine is plentiful and of excellent quality; there are many festivals, events, and parades all over the year…

Picture retrieved from Unsplash, by Mateo Fernández

In a nutshell: Krakow offers everything you may need and more.

🡪 We are students so just like Sia, “we love cheap thrills”

Despite being Poland’s second-largest city, Krakow is more affordable than most European metropolises. Although it will depend on the type of accommodation and leisure activities, a student might spend an average of €350-450 per month, sometimes even less. 

A simple overview: you can get a beer for less than 10 zlotys (€2), a full lunch for 20-40 zlotys (between 4 and 8€ approximately), or an Uber from the airport to the city center for about 40-50 zlotys (€8-10 approximately). Regarding accommodation, the average price of a student room in a shared flat is usually €200-300, expenses included. 

Travel within the country can also be quite cheap, with train tickets to cities such as Warsaw available for just €15. Similarly, you can easily find affordable travel options to other nearby European cities like Vienna or Prague.

Money-saving tips:

1) Biedronka and Kaufland are the most economical supermarkets. Nevertheless, it is always a good option to go to local markets to buy products such as fruit and vegetables at very low prices.

Picture retrieved from Unsplash, by Mateo Fernández

2) The majority of places in Krakow are within a 20-minute walk away. As long as you live in a central area or close to the university, you will not use public transport daily so it is not worth it to get a transport card. In any case, a single tramway ticket costs only 2 zlotys (€0,40). Moreover, more and more students are opting for renting or buying a bicycle to move around.

3) The university cafeteria offers delicious and inexpensive meals, so make the most of it!

🡪 We agree with Louis Armstrong: “what a wonderful world”

So-called “Eastern Europe” is a region unknown and even distrusted by many, especially in the wake of the terrible events which are currently taking place in Ukraine. “Eastern Europe” has been considered for so long as a region that is at the same time Europe and its periphery. Memories of the Cold War still divide Europeans from the West and East, being the latter so often considered less European than Western Europe. 

Thus, in the minds of many foreigners, Poland is nothing but a Communist, underdeveloped, and closed-minded country, stereotypes born in the last century which are far from reality. It only takes a couple of hours in Krakow to understand that Poland is a flourishing and dynamic country whose lifestyle and ambiance are similar to those of so many other Western European cities. And still, Krakow has a special charm that is unlike anything you have seen before.

Picture retrieved from Unsplash, by Sebastian Kurpiel

Therefore, we should look eastwards and venture into ‘the other Europe’ to discover the beauty of the unknown.

🡪 As well as Travie McCoy “we wanna be billionaires,” so we could use a good university like Jagiellonian

Jagiellonian University is the oldest institution of higher education in Poland and one of the oldest ones in Europe. Jagiellonian University attracts students, researchers, and professors from all over the world, being consistently ranked among the top universities worldwide. 

Former Euroculture students who have spent at least one semester at this university agree that seminars are dynamic, interactive, and very stimulating. Both professors and coordinators are helpful and supportive, always keen to know how Euroculture students understand the world. Moreover, the university workload is manageable, so students have the opportunity to explore the city and make the most of their time in Krakow. 

🡪 Let’s be honest: at the end of the day, like Cindy Lauper, we “just wanna have fun”

Picture retrieved from Unsplash, by Rut Miit

Krakow is an old city with a very young spirit. Thus, Euroculture students who experience this destination fall deeply in love with it. Since there are so many places and spots to visit and enjoy, last year my classmates Charlotte, Sicong, and I created this Krakow Guide as our project for Eurocompetence II. We were aiming to advise all Euroculture students who met in the city during the IP week based on our own experience: best restaurants, clubs, bars… This guide does not present the most touristic places in Krakow, but the most genuine spots in the city: it is a very special guide created by Euroculture students, for Euroculture students. Thus, I invite you to take a look to picture what life is like for young people in this beautiful Polish city.

All that remains for me to say is… CZEŚĆ! 

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