Krakow shares many similarities with Prague—lavish churches, outdoor cafes, and hearty food for starters—but it's also much more accessible. The old town, or glowny rynek, is easily walkable (no need for a car, let alone public transportation). On a nice day, it's possible to walk from the central square to Wawel Castle to the river, then to the old Jewish quarter and back again without breaking a sweat. Yet somehow, it's surprisingly "undiscovered." Says Cassio da Cunha, who visited in March 2005, "The most unique aspect of the trip for me was going to a place relatively un-touristed by Americans."
Admission prices at Krakow's top tourist spots are reasonable. Tickets to the aforementioned Wawel Castle vary depending on which part of the complex you tour, but generally are around $4. Sundays bring free admission to several parts of the castle. You can also tour many of the city's other attractions for free, such as the ancient stone gates or old merchant's guild.
Expect to pay about $25 per person per night in an apartment, and upwards of $100 a night in a hotel. The same goes for food, although you'll likely be able to get by on about $20 for dinner at any of the Italian, Indian, Georgian, or Polish restaurants in the square. Inexpensive cafes fill in the gaps, where you can grab a quick kebab. If giant skewers of meat aren't your thing, try a plate of Poland's specialty: pierogies (similar to ravioli, but stuffed with cheese or potato) for about $3.
Many major airlines fly to Krakow. From New York, fares hover around $600 in the winter and $1,000 in the summer, plus taxes and fees. For more trip-planning help, try the city's official tourism site or Krakow-info.com.
NEXT >> Dubrovnik, Croatia