Krakow is an old school backpacker’s trail hang out. Most overland backpackers and inter-railers end up here on their journeys around Europe, it’s such a cliched stop over, some North Americans even think it’s the capital city. Well it once was, of course, a claim that only Warszawa and Gniezno can also stake. Some travellers make Krakow their only stop in Poland. But despite my long travel adventures, until December 2015, Krakow escaped me completely – despite having visited Poland twice before (2005, 2007), this was my first time to visit this popular city.
It was about time I got in on the really touristic backpacking cities! I had pencilled Krakow in for quite a few reasons – firstly it made a good stop over point between Poznan and Lviv, and secondly, I felt it was the right time to finally see Auschwitz and thirdly, my friend Ania (from Best Break and Pavilion Days) lived here when I was there.
I stay in such a range of places these days, and normally pass by in a matter of nights. To make things harder, Krakow has tons of hostels, just so many. So where do you start? Well in this case, it was back to basics for me – it had to be! I wanted to stay in the most notorious backpacker hangout – Mosquito Hostel. Voted third best small hostel in the world, this place is based on one floor, tidy and compact with an orange feel to it. I’m so glad I chose it!
After a night train from Poznan in western Poland, I rocked up to reception, greeted by the reception staff Kornelia, Beata and later Monika. I was able to get showered and washed, get some good breakfast, a map of the city and headed out to see the city early doors. I also got myself booked in for the full day tour to Auschwitz and Birkenau – I will write about that at some point after Christmas. Here are my five favourite things about the Mosquito Hostel.
1.Half-way House Location
What I like is a hostel that makes things easy location wise. The reason the Mosquito hostel is so good is that it is half way between the train station and the old town. So just hop off your train, walk to the hostel, dump your bags off and off to explore.
The social atmosphere here is immense and though I see myself as a slightly more “mature” backpacker (if that’s possible given the crazy sh*t I’ve done) I still took time away from my laptop and lonely backpacking lifestyle to hang out with the hostel crew. We had a great night out, visiting three bars, watching a concert and drinking mulled wine and local beer.
During the evening we watched Gosia (who works in Mosquito Hostel) play a live acoustic set with her band, we visited one of Krakow’s oldest pubs in a downstairs basement and we went to a bar where beers were 4 Zlotys (80 pence). I spent three days here and have also been back to Krakow twice since. Great times.
Admittedly in my recent backpacking years I wasn’t the cool dorm buddy I used to be. I stopped just talking to every single person in the dorms. When I started out backpacking, I spoke to everyone in the hostels I stayed in. Now, I wait for them to approach me. But then again, I forgot how much I missed the idea of chatting to new people.
In my dorm I met Vincent, Loic and Magdalena and a few others. I was in a cosy 12 bed dorm – got some good sleep caught up and they have massive secure lockers which is great.
Every day and night, the hostel organises activities. Even if you are shy, this is a great chance to meet others and enjoy a great social time in Krakow. The hostel staff in the Mosquito Hostel pride themselves on being fun, energetic and outgoing. There is always something going on. It’s also close to the city centre of course, for easy access to the key sights.
5.Easy to Organise Tours
Tours to German Death Camps Auschwitz and Birkenau are available as well as trips to Zakopane and Wielitzka Salt Mine are available almost every day here. They are so easy to organise. Just get your name down in advance (a few days in advance is recommended as the buses/tours fill up quickly).
This means you save time and effort organising your tours – plus the tours from the Mosquito are the same price as you’ll get elsewhere anyway so no point looking around and wasting time on your holiday or backpacking trip! All their best tours are listed here.
As well as touring Krakow, seeing the Jewish Quarter at Kazimierz, this was also a good time for me for reunions (December 2015). I met up with Magi Kokosz, Ola Mueller in Poznan and Ania Baran in Krakow again, good times.
If all that is not enough to convince you, after you have paid for the hostel bed, you’ll be delighted to know that ALL of this stuff is free:
- FREE Linen & comfortable duvets
- FREE Yummy breakfast
- FREE Coffee and tea all day
- FREE Internet & WIFI
- FREE Huge Security lockers
- FREE Laundry
- FREE Iron And Ironing Board
- FREE Adapters & Chargers
- FREE City Maps & Guides
- FREE Walking Tours (optional tip is recommended)
- FREE Use Of Kitchen
- FREE Shisha Night
- FREE Pub Crawls
- FREE Club Invitations
- FREE Gifts On Funny Contests
- FREE Shot Night
Thanks to all the staff for making myself and countless others guests feel so welcome:
Here are the details for booking the truly awesome Mosquito Hostel in Krakow, Poland:
Rynek Kleparski 4/6
Krakow, Poland, 31-150
Website: Mosquito Hostel
Phone Numbers: + 48 660 926 190
+ 48 12 430 14 61
fax: +48 12 430 14 61
Here are a few of my videos from my time in and around Krakow: