Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, tourists, weekend visitors and backpackers, we believe that you will already be overwhelmed with Krakow’s historical and architectural legacy. You may even have felt the "love at first sight" wandering the old streets or watching the world go by untroubled from the terraces of innumerable cafes or maybe right after having a bowl of typical polish pierogi or zurek soup! It is, however, not the end.
There is more to Kraków than museums and chapels, and you would not be doing it justice if you didn’t commit yourself to a few lost nights exploring the countless bars and clubs. As evening falls and the sky turns from blue to black those denizens of the night make their appearance to be eventually swallowed up by the many pubs and clubs that open for the night. Don’t forget that the Old Town district claims to have more bars per square metre than anywhere else in the world, and on some occasions it really does feels like one big party. Ah, and bear in mind that for every drinking spot you find at street level, there is probably another in the basement, and a club upstairs. This density of drinking holes is not at all apparent on the surface, the number of bars hidden away dwarfs those visible from the street, sometimes you can hear music seeping tantalizingly from an underground vent but with no obvious evidence of an entrance nearby… you’re going to be in need of a pub-crawl-guide, so find out what’s hot in the town and let our night tour roll!
Tour no 1 for backpackers and all young (in age and spirit) should begin with a little warm up in a place where we can all sit together and just have a few drinks or pints, enjoy the music and absorb the atmosphere.
One such place is Klub Poselski on Poselska st.9 where a spirit of friendship & a good atmosphere pervades.. Tucked away, just a few steps from the crowds on Grodzka st. the music, is an eclectic blend including blues, jazz and chill out. Big round tables, couches, Persian carpets on the floor, black & white photos, a beautiful ceiling, prints from Paris’s naught Toulouse Lautrec line the walls, deep red walls and plenty of candles combine to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. All kinds of people come together just to have a great time - many good spirited young people. We could stay here till dawn, but it’s just the beginning.
During the summer time, though not only then of course, we should not forget to visit at least 3 places which offer a chilled out atmosphere in their beautiful courtyard gardens. The first one belongs to Krzsztofory on Szczepanska 2 st. Don`t try to pronounce the name, just enter and enjoy the historical courtyard arranged into a magical, stylish garden. Candles on the ground, a fountain, columns and some unusual garden furniture make this place a real "Magic Garden".
Another unique place, where you can see that the owners have arranged a secondary outdoor bar is Budda Bar on the Rynek Glowny 6. A newly renovated courtyard with plants all around, couches and even a big swing, the chill out grooves will simply wrap around you and you’ll feel the Zen. A magical experience, a great hangout, chilled and comfy, lovely cocktails and drinks. A summer highlight.
Need more outdoor chilling out? Absolutely! Next stop is nomen omen Chillout in the courtyard at Jana st.15. This is a "must be place". No neighbours around, so it’s DJ’s spinning, crowds and boozing into the late night. Many tables, many people, a lively spot it’s also a club indoors. Trendy and popular amongst young people, often artists and musicians so any kind of extravaganza always welcome.
Next step is Pauza on Florianska 18 and without a local guide you might not be able to find this place by yourself - even though it’s one of the most famous spots in town. There’s no sign outside, so follow this: you enter the gate, passage and then turn left and up the wide wooden stairs. The more attentive visitor can find the word "paradise" written under each step, a stairs to paradise..? It’s usually very crowded, so it’s best to be early to find a place on one of the low lounge seating sofas.
Walls are usually decorated with changing photo exhibitions - always good and interesting ones here. Long bar adorned with fancy flowers in a glass vase on it. Cool lighting, a real working fireplace - invaluable during winter time, and always interesting new sounds in the background. Ask for a krupnik (honey vodka) with lemon, oranges, cloves, cinnamon and… you may stay here forever.
We`re leaving Pauza, but not going far away - just next door and this time going downstairs, guided by a the aroma of good incense and we’re in Swieta Krowa ( The Holy Cow). Oriental rooms, packed with comfortable furnishings and curious arrangements, like big hanging aquarium with little Buddha inside, illuminated by the numerous candles…One of the absolutely nicest of Krakow`s cellar bars. Try one of their magic drinks - "Two mists Valley" - Malibu Coconut liqueur on the bottom, a slice of orange in the middle and a melon taste drink on the top…sounds great , tastes even better J
The last place where all comes after certain - quite late-hour is a bar called Piekny Pies ( Beautiful Dog ) on sw.Jana 18 st. This place is run by artists and that’s reflected in everything in this hippie place; from frequenters to minimalist furnishing- well mostly, as one guest said, that axe hovering above the bar is unlikely to conform to EU safety standards. It’s great and the really good music is at the discretion the individuals behind the bar. It’s rammed most nights, locals but also many foreigners. The lack of a dance floor doesn’t deter from wild dancing, and besides there’s always the table tops J.
Right now a few clues for those who would like to separate from the pub crawling group in order to dance a little bit.
Again, Krakow`s club scene is rich and attractive. The first one to recommend would be Prozac on Dominikanski Square 6- it`s like a Roxy Club in Prague, no matter how many other clubs are on the market Prozak remains the best. Descend the stairs by the kebab shop, don’t be scared of the gorilla like doorman, smile and you`re in. Take a moment to explore the place; it’s a warren of underground rooms, corridors, levels, and stairs. Three dance floors - each with different music. There’s always top DJ`s playing, mainly house music, new jazz, break, funk, old school. Famous for many Polish supermodel look-a-like girls.
Next place is also located in a medieval dungeon and it`s Cien on sw. Jana 15.
There’s a door selection so it’s a must-be place for those that like to dress up before they get down. Packed full of gorgeous blondes- yes we’re in Poland, there is some lovely décor too, and plenty of attractive seating to take advantage of whilst you plan your mode of attack. Cien is a Krakow institution, playing mainly house, and electro tunes.
Another club is on Szpitalna 38 and it’s Midgard. Does the symbol - dragon- proclaim its fight for the leadership on the Krakow club scene? Quite possible, and Midgard has a sizeable advantage, it’s the largest club. It’s new but has already managed to give a few really good and media-lauded parties with top Europe DJ`s playing. Plenty of exposed brickwork, red and crimson and cold steel are the main motives.."all halloween orange and chimney reds.."
Wielopole st.15 is a house for 3 great places which should be highly recommended. Located in a little-explored area west of the Old Town, this bar has something of the flavour of the hip east Berlin hangouts of yesteryear. Lubu Dubu on the first floor on the right is a home for crazy parties with music from 60, 70, 80`s.Lot`s of gadgets and installations from those "good old times", a student favourite. Fantastic dancing and singing together, 'til the wee hours. Next door is Caryca Club where famous DJ`s are calling and asking if there’s a free date for them to play. Caryca is simply trendy and always very packed. It’s the only place where you can find a cloth hanger with some weird theatre stuff on it - want to try it on? Feel free…that’s the spirit and the idea. Brocade on the walls, a series of bulldogs on the walls - an Andy Warhol inspiration? Fantastic big lampshade made of thousands of pink beads and a portrait of a Caryca (Czaritza) -patron of the place majestically looking over the crazy, joyful crowd.
Go upstairs and enjoy over 300 square meters of space in one of Krakow's best gay-friendly spots - Kitsch. The décor is outrageous, furry, fruity and eccentric! Two dance floors, one with all the latest top hits playing and the other with a more sophisticated DJ playing house music. Both guarantee an excellent party and dancing till dawn.
Tired? Not yet? Time for an after party. When all the other clubs have closed the best place would be club Roentgen on Szczepanski Square 3. Relatively small, noisy and rather dark, it is a place for tough ones. A little bit scruffy, and occasionally dodgy, but definitely has its own fame and character.
Tour no 2, for those who have left their 20`s behind them. You will not be disappointed, Krakow was always known for it’s affection toward entertainment for all ages and tastes.
We all know that jazz is good, but do we know where to listen to good live jazz and enjoy a place with many senses (palate, sight, sound) at the same time? There is one but you’ll have to really use your nose to find this one - just follow the long narrow alleyway and here it is Cieplarnia on Bracka st 15. The owner is an artist with very good taste. The place is neat, clean, very comfortable and warm. Excellent live jazz concerts and always good classic jazz music in the background. Good menu - fondue, soups, salads and more. Enjoy your time.
In a close by neighbourhood, on the Old Town Square there is a cellar which is home to the cult Pod Baranami Cabaret Company since 1956. The artistic spirit of it’s eccentric, unhampered and multi talented artist and founder Piotr Skrzynecki is still there, Every Saturday there is a play, it doesn’t really matter that it is mainly in Polish when the best Krakow`s artist are playing and singing and acting for you. And you are listening, laughing and enjoying the informal and magical atmosphere. A never - to -be-forgotten evening. The time stops here in speechless admiration.
Time vehicle no 2 is Jama Michalika on Florianska 45. This café has been in business since 1895 while its present décor dates back to 1908. This place was immortalised by patrons who frequented it at the turn of the century. The greatest artists, actors from the period known as Mloda Polska (Young Poland), used to gather here for a talk and amusement over a cup of coffee or absinthe. Here in 1905 they also created the legendary cabaret Zielony Balonik (Little Green Balloon) The picturesque café seems to keep the time frozen since the days when the 20th century was young and rebellious.
It’s high time to change the époque and the interior and enjoy some high jinks in a former Prince’s Palace just north of the Main Market Square. Stalowe Magnolie (Steel Magnolias) on sw.Jana 15st is something of an institution in this town. Live music is guaranteed every night of the week, with smooth local and international bands. Blues, Soul and Jazz are popular flavors, with a bit of classic rock thrown in for good measure. It’s actually one of the highest rated live music clubs in Poland. Add to this the secret bar at the back (a gloriously decadent affair with velvet beds and shades of the goodly Gustav Klimt) and you've got the makings of a memorable night out.
A very similar climate is to be found in Piano Rouge on Marquet Square 46. Piano Rouge looks like it is all ready to play the main interior role in The Tales from One Thousand Nights. Gold glitter brocade sparkles on the medieval masonry, and faux baroque furniture fills every corner, exotic tempting lamps and a sense of luxury, enjoyment, frolicking, flirting and a lustful promise is in the air. The club has the feel of a sort of modern day Moulin Rouge, and there's a princely assortment of cigars, malts and other agreeable vices. Live piano music and jazz performances and delicious gourmet food.
Tour no 3 Kazimierz.
Kazimierz is known as the old Jewish district which has been home to Krakow`s Jews for over 500 years. It has changed a lot during the last 10 years from an empty area to a kind of a restaurant, café and bar district. And it has a unique and one and only atmosphere, it’s like a separate city in a town.
It’s highly recommended to explore Kazimierz by yourself, but a few places cannot be missed.
Singer Pub on Estery st. 22 has antique Singer sewing machines on the tables, dusty windows, oriental rugs and big mirrors on the walls. A rather dark place, very socialable, with an intellectual and artistic clientele, though not stiff! A spirit of immortal French Bohema lives here. Organized and frequently spontaneous concerts and dancing on tables is permitted. Always very good music ( from Pedro Almodovar`s movies, Jewish, gipsy, Tom Waits and Frank Sinatra). [This place even gets a listing in the UK good pub guide!]
Alchemia Pub on Estery 5 is a real cultural institution and classic Kazimierz at its best. Each room has its own name and characteristic decoration. You can sit in Hell, Purgatory, Alchemy or in the Kitchen which is entered through a stylish wardrobe. The Hell’s floor is made of sandstone from the 600-year old flooring of the St.Catherine Church in Kazimierz, while one wall is covered with burnt boards from a local barracks. Alchemia - where dancing on the tables in the early hours in a fog of smoke, surrounded by countless burning candles seems simply the most natural thing in the world. Unmissable.
There is also a cellar where there is a place for frequent and always very good live concerts and theatre plays, movies and other cultural events.
Flower Power on Nowa st.3 is a first break away from the typical gloomy and smoky and candle lit Kazimierz. It’s big, light and airy with large leather sofas. That’s not all - just enter the last room, covered with rugs and carpets and pillows and poufs…take your shoes off and have a hookah!Home made Arabic eco delights….pickled lemon over lamb & humus piled portions that will add hair to your beard!! Or apple pie & cheese cake..? Lots of choice to drink with earth wines at down to earth prices. Very friendly and open with a great atmosphere. Dancing? No problem, spontaneous and on the bar even.
Viva la France! Welcome to Le Couleurs Café on Estery 10. A place with walls papered floor to ceiling with posters from French movies, and copies of Le Monde and the Paris Match available. French music, French croissants and a famous place for a late night meeting with friends.
Eszeweria on Jozefa 9 is a great place for a date. Old, unique and poetic in style with subtle lightning and sounds. The bar is made up of antique sideboard, there are three cozy rooms and an out door summer garden. You will find fresh flowers and black and white photos on the walls. A very inimitable and tasty place.
Mleczarnia on Meiselsa st is another typical Kazimierz Bar. Dark red walls, weird and numerous old photos on the walls, candles on the round antique tables covered with lace table cloths. Music like the place - a little bit weird, like from an old record possibly from old 78 records judging from the crackles…. A fire place in the corner…perfect for a date or meeting a friend.