After a morning spent relaxing in our hotel room, charging up our electronics, and packing away the last few bits, we checked out of the hotel. Our luggage was stored behind the reception and we jumped into a taxi headed to Zamek Wawel.
The castle stands on the top of Wawel Hill, with a winding path of stone steps leading to the entrance. Don’t make the same mistake as we did. When you reach the top, you’ll spot a small ticket office on the right, probably with a massive queue. Walk straight past. Head to the left and across the courtyard, and you’ll see a massive building in front of you. This is the Visitor Centre. Buy your tickets here, as there is much more information available, generally shorter queues (as everyone falls into the first trap), and maps available to help you find your way.
Tickets to each exhibition have to be purchased separately, and there are a range of prices from 21 PLN to 3 PLN. Choose carefully. Your tickets will be stamped with a specific entrance time and so it’s important you don’t miss your slot. Most exhibits will let you in 5 – 10 minutes early but you can’t be late! There are also limited numbers of tickets available each day, so go in the morning if you can.
We all visited the Crown Treasury and Armoury, which seems to be the most popular. Then I left my companions at a nice restaurant and toured the State Rooms and Lost Wawel. The latter was my favourite – a chance to travel underground and visit the ruins of the castle, along with salvaged relics and old mosaic tiles.
The Dragon’s Den only costs 3 PLN (50p) per person and is definitely worth it if just for the sight of a fire-breathing dragon. After descending a very long spiral staircase, you enter a dark and gloomy cave. This is perfect for kids to spend a few moments pretending they’ve entered the dragon’s lair. Once you emerge, you’ll come face to face with the dragon himself. Every five minutes or so he’ll let out a fiery breath. Stick around and time your photo perfectly.
Or hop on a boat and enjoy a ride along the Wisla River for 20 PLN each (£3.50). This is a chance to snap some shots of Wawel Hill from a distance, or just relax from all that walking.
Our aim was to kill time until our flights, and it worked. The Castle was a last-minute choice but definitely book it into your intinerary. There’s also the Wawel Cathedral right next door. You can purchase tickets for its museum or simply admire the architecture.
We wandered back into town where we discovered a gorgeous cafe, “The Cupcake Corner”, on Ulica Grodzka off the Main Market Square. Cupcakes, ice cream, smoothies – you name it. Select up to two ice cream flavours and they’ll make you a delicious milkshake. Worth a visit for the decor alone.
And our time in Poland has come to an end. We’ve seen the sights, tasted the food, and bought the t-shirt. I’ve always embraced my Polish heritage and returning to the country reminds me what I love about it so much.
I’m glad I’ve been able to share my love with all of you.