Polish cuisine is something that most people haven’t really come across. Unless you’re from a Polish family or have been to Poland before. You’ve most likely never heard of pierogi or placki ziemniaczane to name a few dishes. This article will educate you about the amazing foods to try in Krakow.
If you’re visiting Krakow, trying these traditional Polish foods is all part of the experience. And, something you must do. We promise you won’t regret it! These hearty dishes are full of flavour and will likely leave you with a full stomach.
Traditional Polish Dishes in Krakow
Pierogi: The beloved Polish dumplings
Pierogi’s are probably one of Poland’s most famous foods. These traditional Polish dumplings can be filled with various ingredients such as meat, potatoes, cheese and even fruits. They do savoury and sweet ones, you could have a three-course meal of different types of pierogis if you really wanted!
Served either boiled or fried, these little dumplings can be found at most Polish restaurants in the city. Our favourites were mashed potato with cottage cheese, which we tried one day after visiting Auschwitz. It might sound like an unusual combination but trust me they were so good!
Placki ziemniaczane: Crispy potato pancakes
Possibly our favourite savoury dish in Krakow Placki ziemniaczane, or potato pancakes, are a popular dish in Krakow and throughout Poland. Made from grated potatoes, onions, and eggs, these thin and crispy pancakes are delicious! Most of the time they’re served with a meat sauce or a mushroom sauce. Both are seriously good, they’re quite filling and super cheap. Perfect after a long day of sightseeing.
Barszcz: The classic beetroot soup
This bold beetroot soup is a staple of Polish cuisine. Barszcz can be served hot or cold, usually with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of fresh dill. It’s a must-try in Krakow and has a tart flavour to it. It might not be for everyone but we loved it.
Bigos: Poland’s national dish, also known as hunter’s stew
Bigos, loosely translated to hunter’s stew, is a hearty Polish stew. Make from sauerkraut, fresh cabbage and various types of meat. It’s the perfect warming dish on a cold winter’s day with a glass of Polish beer. It’s rather filling though, so maybe skip the starter if you’ve not got a big appetite.
Krakow’s Signature Foods
Obwarzanek: The iconic Krakow bagel
You’ll see these street vendors selling obwarzanki all over the city. It’s estimated that 150,000 of these snacks are sold per day! These twisted rings of dough are boiled and then baked. They have a chewy and slightly crispy texture that reminded me more of a pretzel than a bagel. Most vendors have a choice of then topped with either sesame or poppy seeds. They’re really good and super cheap! They’re usually about PLN 2 (£0.40) and are really good to nibble on whilst wandering around the city.
Kielbasa: Traditional Polish sausages
Kielbasa, or Polish sausage, is a must-try when in Krakow. There are multiple varieties and are usually grilled, boiled or fried. Keep an eye out for street vendors grilling them over open flames, they’re really good with a side of mustard after a few beers.
Zapiekanka: Poland’s take on the pizza baguette
The ultimate Polish street food, Zapiekanka is half of a baguette topped with sautéed mushrooms and cheese. The baguette is then toasted in the oven until the baguette goes crispy and the cheese melts. There’s a variety of additional toppings you can get like ham, salami and even chicken.
Usually topped with ketchup these gooey, crispy treats are seriously good. My mouth is literally watering just writing this. Zapiekankas are sold all over Krakow but there are a few really good places in Plac Nowy market that sell them. Stop off and get one after a night out in Kazimierz, you won’t regret it. This really one of our favourite foods to try in Krakow!
Sweet Treats: Krakow’s Famous Desserts
Pączki: Delectable Polish doughnuts
These deep-fried round pastries are Poland’s answer to doughnuts. A must-try when in Krakow, or anywhere in Poland for that matter. There are shops selling them all over the city. The colourful window displays of these doughnuts will grab your attention and make your mouth water. Perfect with a coffee, they typically feature plum jam or custard fillings. Great with a coffee, they’re usually filled with plum jam or custard. Then topped with a sweet glaze or powdered sugar.
Sernik: Creamy Polish cheesecake
A traditional Polish cheesecake, Sernik can be found in many of Krakow’s bakeries and cafes. This creamy dessert is often flavoured with vanilla, lemon zest or raisins. If you enjoy cheesecake it’s definitely worth a try!
Kremówka: A heavenly cream-filled pastry
Also known as Napoleonka, this creamy, flaky dessert is very similar to a vanilla slice. Layers of puff pasty filled with a rich and creamy custard, dusted with powdered sugar. You can find them in most cafes and bakeries around Krakow, and they’re best enjoyed with a nice coffee.
Exploring Krakow’s Food Markets
Stary Kleparz: A historic market offering fresh produce and traditional foods
Stary Kleparz is Krakow’s oldest market. With a wide array of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and traditional Polish foods. It’s the perfect place to shop for ingredients to create your own Polish feast or simply to sample the delicious foods on offer.
Hala Targowa: A vibrant outdoor fleamarket
Located just outside the Old Town, Hala Targowa is a bustling flea market where you can find almost anything that the heart desires. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and an impressive selection of local delicacies alongside clothes, books, magazines and even war memorabilia.
Plac Nowy: The heart of Kazimierz’s street food scene
Plac Nowy is a lively square located in the historic Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz. Surrounded by bars, cafes, and food stalls. It’s the perfect spot to relax and try all the different street foods on offer. Spend an evening here, wandering in and out of the bars and getting street food favourites like zapiekanka and kielbasa whenever you get hungry.
Must-Visit Restaurants and Cafes in Krakow
Milk bars: The quintessential Polish dining experience
Milk bars, or “bar mleczny” in Polish, are budget-friendly eateries serving simple and delicious traditional Polish dishes. Dotted all over the city, these spots serve as perfect destinations for budget-friendly lunch or dinner options. The food is always good and the bill is always small, perfect for a budget explorer. No matter how long you’re staying in Krakow, make sure you visit a Milk Bar!
Traditional Polish restaurants: Authentic local cuisine in charming settings
Krakow is home to numerous restaurants serving traditional Polish cuisine. Be sure to try local favourites like pierogi, placki ziemniaczane, or barszcz while enjoying a good Polish beer! Most bars and restaurants also sell wheat beer, if you’ve never tried it make sure you do!
Cozy cafes: Relax with a cup of coffee and a delicious pastry
Krakow, like most European cities, seems to have an abundance of cosy cafes everywhere you walk. Always with a beautiful array of pastries and sandwiches and cakes on offer. They’re great to pop in for a relaxing coffee or a light breakfast.
Culinary Experiences in Krakow
Cooking classes: Learn to make traditional Polish dishes
For a truly immersive culinary experience, consider taking a cooking class in Krakow. Learning to make traditional Polish dishes like pierogi or bigos is a fun way to get an insight into the city’s food and culture. Not only that, but you’ll be able to recreate some of your favourite Polish dishes when you return home!
Vodka tasting: Discover Poland’s favourite spirit
Learn about Poland’s favourite drink with a vodka-tasting tour. These tours take you around different bars trying out local vodkas. Most people only know vodka as a very strong spirit that they enjoy only with a mixer. But, with these tours, you’ll have the opportunity to try a variety of different flavours. They’re fun and interesting and a good way to start a night out.
Food tours: A guided journey through Krakow’s culinary highlights
We love a good food tour. They’re an excellent way to not only experience a city’s culinary scene but also learn about the history behind the food. The tours will take you to various eateries around the city, helping you discover places you’d never know about as a tourist. The guides are always knowledgeable and friendly too.
From pierogi and barszcz to obwarzanki and pączki, Krakow’s cuisine is as diverse and flavorful as the city itself. People might turn up their noses at Polish cuisine but we loved it. If you’re a foodie, there’s no shortage of great foods to try in Krakow. So make sure you add a trip here to your list, we promise you won’t be disappointed.
Have you tried any of these Krakow delicacies? Do you have any other favourites to add to the list? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at email@example.com