Meet a top Showaround local - Maja from Kraków
1. To start with, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am an architect working part time, and after hours I’m writing my PhD in that field. I also used to teach English for a bit while I was still studying.
I have many different hobbies but the main ones are watching movies and reading books. I also enjoy going to the theater and opera a lot. In fact before the pandemic I used to travel quite a bit around Europe not only to sightsee but also to see my favorite opera singers perform live.
2. Tell us about your favorite place in Kraków. What is special about it?
It’s not a very original answer but I do LOVE the Wawel Castle. When I was a child my dad would take me there for a walk almost every day so it has a special place in my heart. The best time to go there is early morning, when there’s no one there. It’s a truly magical place.
3. What’s one thing that visitors can find surprising when coming to Kraków for the first time?
That during summer it gets HOT! I still encounter people believing the stereotype of cold Poland. The other thing that surprises tourists is churches around every corner.
4. If you had to choose a song that gives off the vibe of Kraków, what song would it be?
1995 “Bracka” by Grzegorz Turnau. It actually mentions Kraków and the title is the name of one of the streets. But it conveys the vibe of the city so perfectly that there can be no other choice. Perfect mix of melancholy and jazzy energy.
5. What’s the one place that you would definitely recommend every traveler to check out?
Definitely one of the Mounds. Either Kościuszki or Kraka. First of all the view is amazing!
Also they are outside of the city center so you can see the more ‘real’ parts of the city. Sometimes when we walk through Podgórze (on the way from Kraka Mound) or Salwator (located on the same hill as Kościuszki Mound) we’re the only tourists there. It’s quite refreshing.
6. On the other hand, is there a popular tourist place that you would actually recommend travelers to skip?
The Royal Route. It’s the most important street in the city, so I’m not saying skip it completely, but I would recommend seeing the important bits and then turning into one of the side streets. So for example see the St. Florians Gate, but then take Szpitalna Street to get to the Main Market Square. Each street has examples of beautiful architecture, and you’ll be able to experience it while not pushing your way through a crowd.
7. Finish these sentences about Kraków:
- I’ve had the tastiest coffee at … my friend’s place ;). And commercially at Cafe Camelot.
- The best place to grab lunch is the restaurant “Morskie Oko”. In the evening’s it’s hard to get a table, so a spontaneous lunch there is the best. It serves southern Polish food, and it’s almost as good as my Grandma used to make ;)
- On weekends I love spending my time at one of the cool places at Szczepański Square. I have a soft spot for Scandale Royal and Betel. And they’re close to the park surrounding the Old Town – Planty. So I can have a nice long walk too.
- The best spot for pictures/selfies would be anywhere you turn. Jagiellońska street is great if you’d like to have a small photoshoot. It’s one of the most magical streets in the Old Town.
- If I wanted to relax, I would go to any one of the Parks. Krakowski Park is a nice place to sit on a bench and relax in the middle of the city. And Park Jordana with the nearby Błonia are also a cool spot to have a long relaxing walk.
- The best time to visit Kraków is September. It’s not too hot and it’s less crowded than the summer. Although each season has something special. December has snow and Christmas markets so it can also be a nice experience.
8. How did you discover Showaround?
By chance. I was scrolling through Facebook one day and suddenly an ad popped up. At the time I was a student so I had some free time, so I thought ‘Why not?’. And clicking that add was one of the best decisions of my life.
9. Tell us about your best Showaround experience.
I’ve had so many great experiences showing people around that it’s hard to just pick one! But the best ones are the ones that connect me with cool people from around the world in such a way that we stay in touch for years after.
So some time ago I was booked to show around a guy from the US. The minute we met something clicked. Same sense of humour, same interest about the history and culture. The tour was more like friends hanging out, but we’ve still covered most of the important historical and architectural spots, tried some local food and even Polish wine. It was an intense 12 hours. Later he came to Kraków again so we could cover also the less visited parts of Kraków. At this point I can call him my friend (and he was even one of the guests at my birthday party).
10. Do you have any tips for other locals who are just starting out?
So many! First of all have a list of various places you’d recommend. Best café, best pub, interesting spot outside of the city center etc.
Whenever you can, learn new things about your city. Always have a ‘fun fact’ at hand. But also don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’. We can’t know everything, and when people ask new questions it’s the best way to learn.
And don’t forget to have fun! I always want to make the tour as enjoyable as possible. Take a beer break in between visiting churches and monuments. Or sit down in a park to rest for a few minutes.
And last but not least. Always ask the tourist what they are most interested in seeing and doing and plan the tour accordingly. ☺
Book a tour with Maja.