In both Krakow and Bratislava you will find some extremely good but inexpensive hotels, and spending money also goes a lot further than in many cities.
Anyone looking for a good value city break will often find they will be choosing between a number of Eastern European cities. Cities such as Rome, Paris and Amsterdam will always be popular destinations but they tend to be fairly expensive, even during the off-peak months. Others including Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest and Prague generally all offer much better value for money, and they’re well worth visiting too!
The historic centre of Krakow is the area lying at the foot of the Royal Wawel Castle. In this area is the Main Market Square, the largest in Europe and considered to be one of the most beautiful. In the centre of the square is the elegant Sukiennice (Cloth Hall), packed with colourful booths displaying Polish specialties. Here you can buy amber jewellery, painted wooden eggs, embroidered blouses and crystal glasses.
If you venture outside the Main Market Square, you’re likely to make your way up to the Royal Wawel Castle. The castle is made up of an assortment of styles including Romanesque, Renaissance and Gothic architecture dating from around the 14th century. Also on Wawel Hill is the Cathedral which was consecrated in 1364 and is considered by many to be the most important single building in the whole of Poland.
Krakow is well known for its profusion of eateries and you will find many cafés and restaurants in the Main Market Square. There are restaurants catering for all tastes, typically merging local culinary traditions with foreign influences. Even in the Market Square you can eat an extremely good meal for a very reasonable price indeed. A visit to a cake shop is also a must – look out for the local delicacies of szarlotka apple cake and sernik cheesecake.
If you want a good value 3 star hotel it’s hard to beat the Maksymilian, a very popular choice with Cities Direct customers. This charming hotel is superbly located only about five minutes’ walk away from the Market Square.
Bratislava is one of Europe’s lesser known capital cities but, perhaps for that very reason, can offer some of the best value to be found by someone looking for an interesting city-break destination. The centre of Bratislava is charming but compact. Visitors can enjoy wandering around the streets of the old town with its charming buildings which display a range of styles, most of which have been carefully restored in recent years.
One of the main tourist sights is Bratislava Castle. Situated on a hill above the old town, the castle dominates the city of Bratislava. Visitors can walk or take a short bus ride up to the castle, which hosts temporary historical exhibitions.
Eating out in Bratislava can represent great value, although it’s often worth looking at restaurants in quieter side streets rather than in the main streets of the old town. Traditional Slovak food with its Czech and Hungarian influences is hearty and heavy on meat (especially pork), potatoes, dumplings, thick sauces and cheeses. If you like vegetables there’s always cabbage, often in the form of sauerkraut.
The 4 star Hotel Mercure Bratislava Centrum offers surprisingly good value for a central 4 star hotel. It occupies a very good central location and is often cheaper than many central 3 star hotels.
Krakow and Bratislava are two charming cities which are well worth visiting, and which certainly provide visitors with an excellent value-for-money break.