Relocation

Location Guide: Kraków

Welcome to Kraków, Poland

Kraków is the second largest city in Poland and a true delight to behold. We advise you to take any preconceptions you might have about Eastern Europe and Poland and throw them away before you hop on the plane, because Krakow has the weather and the sights to rival some of the greatest European cities, and with the incredibly low cost of living, it might just surpass them.

The city is blessed with dozens of natural gardens, parks and forests, along with more than 10 Universities or Academic Institutions with close to 170,000 students enrolled each year. 60% of the population are under 45, making Kraków a fun and vibrant city. Approximately 760,000 people live in and around the city including 24,000 multi linguists. Interestingly, Krakow has a ratio of 2 girls to every guy, perhaps making it an ideal city to work in for any male job seekers!

As it is southern Poland the temperature is a little warmer than the northern regions.  We visited in April and the temperature was mid 20’s. On our most recent visit in early September, it was blisteringly warm for the three days we were there. Nothing but absolute sunshine, with temperatures barely below 25 Celsius, it was absolutely gorgeous! Be prepared for snow in Winter, when we travelled in November 2013 it was crisp and snow came around January time. 

Cost of living wise, Krakow is a very cheap city. A three course meal would cost you around eight or nine euro, and drinks in bars are incredibly cheap, a fantastic night could be had on only about 50 Zloty, which is around 12 euro, and we’re not talking scrimping on drinks. The young population in the city means that the night life is busy and wild, and the cobblestone streets in the city centre are filled with people day and night. The city centre feels very safe, with a constant police presence, plenty of tourists around, and well lit, rustic streets.

Krakow has great public transport systems with cheap train and taxi services around the city. Travelling further afield can be challenging though and we’d recommend not driving in this city if you can avoid it, but the city is so compact that if you live close to the centre you’ll never need to travel too far.

The city also has a bustling, culturally diverse nightlife, with a large array of attractions after dark. The Night of Theatre, The Night of Jazz, and the Night of Poetry are all established annual attractions that offer night time entertainment mixed in with a hefty dose of culture. There is also the Coke Live Music Festival, the Audio Art Festival, the Kraków Film Festival, and a wide range of other events covering everything from military bands to soup, Jewish culture and street theatre. In fact, there are more than 100 festivals in Krakow every year.

For those who might prefer their night life to be just a tad more energetic, Kraków has no shortage of bars or restaurants. If you believe urban legend, then Kraków has the highest density of bars in the world. Hundreds of bars can be found stretching from the Old Town to Kazimierz and beyond in cellars and courtyards. When the sun in shining in the summer in Kraków, the bars and restaurants spill out into the stone streets, ancient architecture crowding around candlelight tables as the night gets under way.

Working in Kraków

The working conditions in Poland are fairly standard compared with mainland Europe, normal working hours would be between 8-4 or 9-5, across 40 hours per week. Employees are entitled to at least 20 paid annual leave days, or 26 days if they have worked for more than 10 years. The tax rate averages around 18% and it increases if the salary is over a certain threshold (into Managerial salary levels). The local currency is Polish Złoty with minimum wage per month around 1298.18 zł (€315) which should give you an idea of how cheap the cost of living can be.

In most Polish companies (excluding banks and consulting firms) the dress code is towards casual and conservative. If you work in an international company it is a given that you would wear a business suit/business attire. Major industries in Poland are Automotive, Manufacturing, Food Processing, Chemical, Banking, Construction and Telecommunications, Sales Reps and other skilled workers. Call centres/BPO’s are one of the fastest growing sectors in the Kraków area with around 125,000 people in this sector and quickly rising.

Polish is spoken by 98% of the population with English and German being the other two commonly used languages, English is more used within business, professional and academic communities and the younger generation, German would be used by the older generation.

Living in Kraków

There is a wide variety of properties to rent across the cities four distinct quarters, with many older buildings having been refurbished for apartment living. There are also many new builds, located above the various Galeria’s in the city centre, offering modern, comfortable living in the city centre, with easy access to the bars, shops and restaurants. As you move further from the city centre, the property prices drop and you tend to get more space for your money.

Kraków has an eclectic line up of festivals, covering everything from the Coke Live Music Festival, to the Street Theatre Festival, a Jewish Culture Festival, and even an International Soup Festival. Comprehensive information on each of the festivals can be found on the Kraków Festival website.

Kraków Festival

The city has no shortage of bars and party venues, and most restaurants and cafes have seats outside in the summer to enjoy the sunshine in the beautiful square. Every hour at the church, a bell chimes, and a small tune is played by a man on a trumpet at the top of the tower, you can see him hanging out of the window! It’s a strange, beautiful rustic touch to a city that feels like it’s always straddling the line between old and new. Even in Winter, the interiors of bars and restaurants are cavernous but cosy, ancient buildings with high ceilings filled with comfortable sofas, and all the modern conventions.

Kazimierz is the Jewish Quarter in the city, only around ten minutes on foot from the main square, this is known by the locals as the Hipster Quarter. Here, the bars are even more eclectic, and a young and unique crowd rubs shoulders with older, artistic types in strange little candlelit bars. The revellers often spill into the streets but it never feels like trouble is on it’s way. We spent a long night walking from bar to bar with a friend who’d relocated to the city from Belfast (after moving there from France!) and we toured from bar to bar, soaking up the atmosphere and having a drink or two (or twenty).

 Arriving back to our hotel at 5am with a kebab in hand and the sun coming up ended an incredible night, and never for a moment did the night quiet down, there was always a healthy crowd on the streets. Krakow rarely sleeps, and even in the depths of Winter, you’ll see intrepid locals struggling through the snow. Leave that to them, while you enjoy a delicious cup of coffee in one of the toasty cafes.

Speaking of kebabs once more, Krakow has some delicious local food, and a fantastic range of restaurants offering international cuisine. The spots near the square close to the tourist spots will sting you a bit on price, but if you’re willing to walk just a little bit further there’s a range of fantastic restaurants to sample. Our intern had probably the best cheeseburger of his life in a beautiful little restaurant with an open air garden. It was chased with a beer mojito, a unique and refreshing drink, and a perfect treat after a long day of exploring in the sunshine.

A cheeseburger isn’t particularly adventurous, we know, but the Polish cuisine is a delight to sample as well. While it can be a bit daunting at first, having no idea of what is what, it’s best to just take a chance and try something new. We went to an all night traditional cafeteria where you simply lifted a plate and loaded it up with whatever you wanted from the counter, paying for the weight at the end. An absolute mountain of Polish delicacies came to little more than a handful of euro and it felt like enough food to feed us for a week.

Street food is excellent in Krakow as well. There are roughly a thousand kebab vendors on every street, but they’re well worth sampling if you fancy dinner on the move. You get an incredible, delectable kebab with a sizeable portion for a price that you won’t believe at first. We recommend asking for everything on it, and if they ask if you want it hot, make it hot, just be prepared to sweat.

The city centre has a lot of green spaces, with various small parks running the length of the cities’ heart. You can stroll from a street of bars and shops and turn a corner and find yourself face to face with a beautiful space, complete with a river, fountains and plenty of trees. In the summer, the park is filled with joggers, dog walkers, and beautiful couples enjoying the wonderful weather. It’s a lovely, laid back part of the city and marks it out as the perfect place for someone who finds that living in the heart of the city tends to mean they miss out on some precious greenery.

The John Paul II International Airport is the second largest in the country, providing direct access to national and international flights with many cities worldwide and is only 11 miles from the city centre, easily reached by train, taxi, or free bus. An extensive rail network across the city allows comfortable and convenient travel. Warsaw is only 2 and a half hours away, and Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Budapest can all be reached in a matter of hours, perfect for a day trip and a chance to explore let another new city.

The city also has a busy bus network across the city centre and outlying towns and cities. The main railway station is located just outside the Old town district and is well served throughout the city and suburban Kraków. This would be the most convenient option for arrivals from the international and domestic airport, and ticket prices are extremely reasonable.

Restaurants

The greatest concentration of restaurants is in the heart of the Old Town, where there are cuisines to cater to all tastes. Kazimierz is the best place to go for a tipple, but it also boasts Jewish restaurants, as well as the best Indian food in the city. Kraków also hosts a wide variety of international cuisine, and menus in English are available at most places. Almost all of the waiting and bar staff across the city speak English, and often German too.

There are a wide variety of restaurants spread across the city, with something for every taste and mood. Here’s a few of the best:

Bars

Kraków has a wide range of fantastic bars, with a good blend of quiet venues for a relaxed drink, as well as a bustling club scene for when you fancy going a bit wild.

Massolit is an unusual place, a eclectic mix of cafe, bar, and book shop, a quiet and quirky place, perfect to relax with a good book and a coffee, or something stronger.

A first floor bar in a city mostly concerned with drinking in cellars and on the ground floor, Pauza has a young crowd and a great layout, with regular concerts.

For something a bit more familiar, the Hard Rock Cafe in Kraków is worth a visit.

A classy restaurant and cocktail bar, Baroque looks the part and has the drinks to match.

Clubs

Kraków has a variety of clubs that play a range of music.

The Average Cost of Living in Kraków

Restaurants

Average

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant

16.00 zł (€3.88)

Meal for 2 with 3 courses, mid range restaurant

90.00 zł (€21.84)

Combo meal at McDonalds, etc.

16.00 zł (€3.88)

Drinks 

                        Average

Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught) 

                        7.00 zł (€1.70)

Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)

                        8.00 zł (€1.94)

Vodka, single shot (depending on brand)

                        5.00 to 20.00 zł

                        (€1.21 to €4.85)

Wine (10 cl glass, depending on brand)

                        12 zł (€2.91)

Cappuccino

                         7.00 zł (€1.70)

Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle)

                         2.50 zł (€0.61)

Water (0.33 litre bottle)

                         2.79 zł (€0.68)

Transport

                                                                             Average

One way ticket 

                                                                             3.60 zł (€0.87)

Monthly Pass

                                                                             92.00 zł (€22.32)

Taxi Start 

                                                                             6.00 zł (€1.46)

Taxi 1km 

                                                                             2.00 zł (€0.49)

Petrol (1 litre)

                                                                             5.51 zł (€5.51)

Sports and Leisure

                                                Average

Fitness club/gym, monthly fee

                                               115  zł (€27.90)

Tennis court rent (1 hour) 

                                                38  zł (€9.22)

Adult cinema ticket

                                                20  zł (€4.85)

Monthly Rent and Living Costs

                         Average

Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre

                         1,450 zł (€351)

Apartment (1 bedroom) outside city 

                         1,040  zł (€253)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre

                         2,850  zł (€691)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside city

                         2,005  zł (€486)

Utilities (electricity, heating, water etc.

for small apartment)

                         572  zł (€138)

Useful Links

To see a guided video tour of some of the greatest sights in the city, watch this Kraków In Your Pocket guide.

 Here’s an on foot tour of the city.

 For further information on property and renting.

Useful tourism websites.

Health Care in Poland.

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