Krakow to Warsaw by Train

On September 10 we awoke early, packed, and headed to our final destination of Warsaw. The hotel staff  at the Krakow residence were extremely friendly and helpful during our entire stay there. They helped us get a cab from the hotel to the train station.

The cabdriver spoke English and was very friendly. We arrived at the train station and suddenly realized how extensive the train depot was. Neither of us had taken a train before, especially in a foreign country. The cabdriver went out of his way to help get us headed in the right direction by dropping us off at the correct platform. We might have gotten on the wrong train!

Even with all the signs, it was still confusing to figure out where we needed to be. Luckily we met an American couple who had traveled from Germany to Poland by train, and they helped us out.

Interior of High Speed Train

Interior of High Speed Train

Krakow Train Station

Krakow Train Station

We took a first-class, no-stop, one way train ride from Kraków to Warsaw which took about three hours. The train itself was extremely clean and very comfortable. They can get up to speed of around 125 miles an hour. In this particular train I don’t think we went past 60 or 65 mph. I would definitely use trains in Poland to go from point A to point B for long distances. You get to see a lot of the Polish countryside by taking a train.

 

View from the train

View from the train

View from the train

View from the train

We arrived in Warsaw and found it even more difficult to get out of the train station than it was to get in. It took us nearly 35 minutes to figure out exactly how to get out onto the street, the side we needed to be on.

I had been in Warsaw in 2013, but only for around four hours. I didn’t get the opportunity to see much. The view from the train station looking out over the city made it seem like I was in a metropolis. Kraków has some traffic on the streets and the is a little bit noisy at times, but Warsaw is completely the opposite. There are numerous lanes of heavy traffic, and it’s a very bustling city – extremely loud and noisy!

We grabbed a cab and took it to our hotel, the Polonia Palace, without realizing exactly how close we were to it. Looking at a map of the city, it looked like it was a ten block walk to the hotel. At this point in our trip, we were both exhausted. With the traffic that we were seeing, crossing the street with lots of luggage wasn’t an option. So we took a cab and found out it was only three blocks away. If nothing else we can say we took a cab in Warsaw. No wonder the cab drivers were laughing with each other. 🙂

Welcome to Warsaw!

Welcome to Warsaw!

Wieliczka Salt Mines

Wieliczka salt mines
Just outside of Kraków are the Wieliczka salt mines. This is another primary tourist destination for first-time visitors to Poland. Be forewarned, to walk down into the mine is not for the faint of heart.

The tour itself takes you approximately 35 km underground and takes about three hours. The initial descent down into the mine takes you down 380 stairs! Luckily there is an elevator that takes you out of the mine and this can also be used for people who can’t walk the nearly 800 to 1000 steps it takes to get to the deepest portion of the mine.

If you have any issues with claustrophobia, or don’t like tons a rock over your head this probably isn’t for you. You have the opportunity to try the different salts, from various locations as you’re walking down. There are cathedrals, statues, altars all carved out of salt throughout the mines. At the absolute bottom is the restaurant and souvenir shop.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Krakow, Poland

We spent Friday, September 4 through Wednesday, September 9 in Kraków. On some of those days we left the city with our guide Pawel, and went to some of the major tourist locations in the area.

I would love to give you a day by day synopsis of what we did in Kraków but that would be nearly impossible. In 2013 when I visited Kraków I was unable to spend much time there and knew there was alot to do. With the fiasco of our plane tickets and return date, I decided to add a few more days to our Kraków experience. I had quite an extensive list of things I wanted to see and do in Kraków, so the plane ticket mix-up actually benefited us.

Knowing a little about Kraków, I knew location was everything. I wanted to be close enough to walk to all the main tourist attractions, the main one being Main Market Square. I wanted to spend some time there. If you’ve never been to Kraków, the square itself is the focal point of the city. You could spend weeks there and never try all the restaurants that line the streets around the square.

Main Market Square

Main Market Square

I knew one place in particular that Denise would like would be the Cloth Hall. If you’re looking for souvenirs of any type, the cloth hall is the place to go.

Krakow Cloth Hall

Krakow Cloth Hall

Our hotel Kraków Residence Hotel, was about a 25-30 minute walk to the square. We did this walk at least 3 to 4 times a day. Any opportunity we could do lunch or dinner at the square in Kraków we did. By the last day we decided to try a change of pace and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant just down the street from our hotel.

The square itself is a hustling, bustling place of restaurants, vendors, musicians, break dancers, and various other forms of entertainment. One particular musician was getting a rather large following while playing in the square. He is Imad Fares and his guitar playing is amazing! ( Video1 ) ( Video2 )

There are lines of horse drawn carriage rides available around the square. They take you for quite an extensive tour around the city.

View from the carriage.

View from the carriage.

We spent the better part of one day touring and seeing the sights of Wawel Royal Castle. The tour of the castle is broken up into nine parts, and we toured six of them. Many are limited to the number of people that can go in per day at a certain time. If you’re visiting Kraków, this is your primary tourist location.

View from Tower in Krakow

View from the tower in Krakow

Wawel Royal Castle

Wawel Royal Castle

Tower outside Wawel Royal Castle

Tower outside Wawel Royal Castle

The day after we arrived in Kraków I finally got the opportunity to meet Zenon from PolishOrigins. I’d spoken with Zenon a few times during our trip, as he called to check to make sure that everything was going well with our customized tour. Zenon had been on tour with another group for the first part of our trip. He had only one day off and took the time to come to meet Denise and I for dinner. It was our first experience dining in the Jewish district of Kraków, and the food was absolutely amazing. His visit spoke volumes to us in regards to the PolishOrigins business. You don’t find many tour companies whose owners take the time to come to meet you and keep in contact with you the way he did. PolishOrigins definitely strives to make sure that your trip expectations are met and/or exceeded.

On September 5, my cousin Kazmierz and his wife came from Olesnica to meet us for lunch/dinner. Zbigniew took the time out of his day to come with us and act as our translator. We had a great time dining, talking and laughing at a very unique restaurant.

After dinner Kazmierz mentioned and old monastery The Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec that served great coffee, so we headed there. Standing by the wall looking down at the river below was a magnificent view.

View from the monastery

View from the monastery

After bidding my family farewell, we headed back to Kraków . When we arrived we noticed a long line of people waiting on the street near a building called, Lody na Starowiślnej. We asked Zbigniew what was going on there, and he replied it ice cream/yogurt. Being the curious sort, we decided to try it, and waited in line for 15 minutes. It was well worth the wait! (check out the link for their facebook page above. The photo at the top shows how long their lines usually are.)

We spent nearly five days in Kraków, and while some of those days we were off viewing other destinations, I still feel like I had enough time there. Kraków is an absolutely beautiful city and you really need like a month to take it all when. Maybe next trip. 🙂

We left Kraków on Thursday, September 10 via train and headed to our final destination of Warsaw.

2015 Poland Trip

In August 2015, my wife Denise and I took a trip to Poland. Read about our custom guided genealogy tour with PolishOrigins.com.

Welcome PolishOrigins Newsletter Viewers!
Thank you for your interest in my trip. If you need genealogy assistance in the United States or are considering a trip to Poland and need some advice, please contact me. I would be happy to assist you!
For first time travelers, view my page titled “Traveling to Poland”. This was created based on my own travel experiences. It gives you an idea of what to expect and bring for a better overall experience.

 

The streets of Tarnow, Poland.

The streets of Tarnow, Poland.