KRAKOW - GETTING AROUND
Most of the important sights are located in the area called the Old Town (Stare Miasto in Polish), which is about two-thirds of a mile from the Barbican in Planty Park to the north to the outskirts of Wawel Cathedral in the south. From west to east, at its largest point the Old Town is less than a half-mile wide. The streets of Old Town (and the Jewish area of Kazimierz) are designed in a grid pattern, making it easy to walk about and find landmarks.By tram and train
The extensive tram system in Krakow is managed by MPK (Miejskie Przedsiebiorstwo Komunikacyjne). There are 22 tram lines, plus two that run only during the summer and three that only run in the late night hours (11 p.m. to 4 a.m.). Krakow and its immediate suburbs can all be reached by tram, except the Old Town, which is tram-free. Five stations stop at all directions around the Old Town`s boundary in Planty Park. Tickets can be bought at tram stops and from many tram drivers, and are priced at under 10 zl with trip options priced by timed intervals (60 minutes, 90 minutes, two hours). Trams run every five minutes on popular routes and during peak times, and at least twice per hour during the daytime.
Polish State Railways (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe, or `PKP`) is the company which runs the vast majority of railways and stations in Poland. Trains that stop at Krakow Glowny railway station, north of Planty Park, are not just local trains that serve the Malopolska region, but high-speed trains that travel to Warsaw and even outside Poland. Trains are more suited for day trips in the region. For more information, visit www.rozklad-pkp.pl/en.
Krakow`s exhaustive bus system, which consists of over 200 routes, is also run by MPK. A handful of routes only run during the summer months, and still approximately 20 others run overnight seven days a week (11 p.m. to 4 a.m.). These buses reach Krakow, its environs, and much of Malopolska. Tickets are priced by zone and can be purchased at any bus station, either from a staffed window or kiosk. Look to spend approximately 10 zl for most trips.
Taxis can be seen everywhere in Krakow, and they are a reliable way of getting to destinations fast in the Old Town and Kazimierz. A crackdown on unlicensed taxis removed quite a few grifters from the roads, but there are still a few out there. To make sure your taxi is licensed, pick one up from the bus stand on the rooftop parking deck of Krakow Glowny railway station, or call a cab directly. Popular taxi companies in Krakow include Radio Taxi Barbakan (www.taxi.barbakan.krakow.pl/en/index.html) and Mega Taxi (www.megataxi.pl). Beginning fares are priced at under 20 zl and each mile traveled will add about 5 zl to the total.
Note: Like in many cities, some taxi drivers may take advantage of tourists, particularly ones who cannot speak Polish. Research the distance between your location and your destination and have an idea of what a rough fare should be. Feel free to argue for a reduction in the fare if necessary before leaving. It is required by law for taxi drivers to give you a receipt if you request one, so don`t be too shy to ask.
Biking in Krakow tends to be reserved for cycling enthusiasts and not for tourists or the `just for fun` set. Drivers in the Krakow area are not particularly receptive to cyclists, as they take space on already congested and narrow roads. Bike rental shops tend to close completely during the city`s low season, which makes it even harder to navigate the city by bike. If you do want to try it out, Cool Tour Company (www.cooltourcompany.com) is open year-round and offers bike rentals in the 50 zl per day range.
We do not recommended using a rental car to navigate central Krakow, including the Old Town and Kazimierz. Only one public parking lot is open in the Old Town, and only a couple exist in Kazimierz. Dozens fan out past Planty Park (including a few around Krakow Glowny railway station), with rates ranging from 5 to 20 zl per hour, but that`s as close as you will be able to park your car (at least a half-mile away from many sights). Our recommendation is to take the bus and tram while getting around Krakow.