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Must try Krakow foods and drink items – What food is Krakow famous for

Published on: February 3rd, 2019 at 6:44 am

If you’re anything like me then one of the first questions you will probably want to be answered when travelling to a new city, country or continent is the following. What is the must try food and drink items? Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe your partner or a travel companion is always on the lookout for that next tasty treat. Well if your heading to Krakow I have found the meals in Krakow that I think are must try Krakow foods and drink items. Some are street food, some are best discovered during a Krakow food tour and others are just simply the local refreshment of choice.

The best food in Krakow Poland and where to try them in the city

When I visit a new country I try and do what the locals do as much as possible, I love finding the best street food, cheap local restaurants and must try gems of each destination so the foods mentioned below are a mixture of these three things. I also try and do the same with the accommodation I stay in and the way I transport around a country, city or region.

Find the best prices on accommodation in Krakow.

In my opinion, this all adds to my overall experience in each place that I’m lucky enough to see. It doesn’t always mean that I enjoy all aspects but for me, it is an important part of why I travel, to begin with. If you’re looking for some suggestions on what to do with your time in Krakow you can find a list of must-do activities and sights to visit on this blog along with a guide on how to see Krakow in 72 hours. For now, let’s dive into the must try Krakow foods and drink items and find out what they are and the best places to eat in Kraków.

Get a list of the most popular activities to do in Krakow, some will need booking well in advance to avoid missing out.

What to expect when ordering Polish food

Before just going and trying the restaurants or street food in Krakow old town you should have an understanding of exactly what Polish Food is and what meals in Krakow are typical. Poland has had a rich and decorated history that has been well documented, many of the things to do in Krakow, centre around this.

Poland shares some of its borders with the Czech Republic and Slovakia so it is no coincidence that as such the areas share a lot of similarities with their cuisine. Along with these two neighbouring countries, the must try Krakow foods have also had large influences from countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary and even further abroad destinations of Italy and France.

The meals in Krakow are considered heavy and hearty and are rich in their use of fats such as butter, eggs, milk and cream. This is mostly due to the climate that Poland faces throughout the year, many long cold winters days are endured. The must try Krakow foods consist mainly of large portions of meat such as chicken, beef and pork accompanied by a large variety of hearty vegetables and spices or herbs.

What food is Krakow famous for?

Depending on who you ask will determine the answer when it comes to asking what food is Krakow famous for but there is some clear stand out favourites that locals love and tourists should seek to find. 

Some of the famous Polish Food that you will undoubtedly come across when in Krakow includes pierogies, zapiekanka, oscypek, obwarzanek, Polish Beer, Vodka, Kielbasa, Ziemniaczane, Paczki, Bigos, Zalewajka, barszcz, buraczki, Golabki, kompot, goulash and Racuchy.

You are probably now thinking, great job Brodie, I’ll look out for these strange and unusual names but what the heck are they, Correct? Well, let’s dive into my favourite must try Krakow foods and drink items a little more and discover what they are and where to find them. There are some great options for street food in Krakow but you need to know where to look.

Must try Krakow foods and drink items and where to eat in Krakow

Below I have listed a combination of the must try Krakow foods I think any tourist should be on the lookout for plus where to find the best food in Krakow for each item. The list includes a selection of sweet treats like paczki, as well as warm soup options, hearty winter Polish food favourites and quick and easy grab and go options for street food in Krakow when you have no time to stop. It also has a couple of tasty drink options as well, one is kid-friendly and the others are just for adults. I’ve tried to list the cheapest places to eat in Krakow where possible as it’s always nice to eat well for a good price.


What is a Pierogi

These doughy goodies are a very traditional delight found all over Krakow. They are typically filled with either savoury or sweet produce like potato (Ruskie), sweet cheese, meat, mushrooms and cabbage, strawberries or plums. They are then cooked in boiling water or steamed before being topped with butter, sour cream, fried onions or any combination of the 3. You can also skip the toppings and enjoy them as they are.

Pierogies are a great snack when walking the streets of Krakow
A meal of mixed Pierogies will be a great first meal when you arrive in Krakow

Nowadays, a little like the zapiekanka, which is also featured later on in this list, the fillings you can find are almost endless. If you look around you will find all sorts of weird and wonderful fillings to try anywhere from chocolate to liver. Do yourself a favour and begin at the original flavours before branching out into something a little more daring or unconventional.

Where can you get a good Pierogi

For a good pierogi, you have a couple of choices in my opinion. If you are heading home from a late-night out then a traditional feed of pierogies is almost the equivalent to a traditional kebab. A late-night 24-hour pierogi shop can be found called Przypiecek, it is located in on the outskirts of the main square of Krakow.

Other locations worth trying also are Przystanek Pierogarnia and also some of the stalls that sell street food in Krakow old town.

Przypiecek location is Sławkowska 32, 31-014 Kraków, Poland

Przystanek Pierogarnia is 3W2G+VQ Kraków, Poland


What is a zapiekanka

This dish is something you will find all over the city, it’s one of the most popular meals in Krakow. In my opinion, there are some good places and some not so good ones dotted around street food stalls in Krakow old town. The good ones come loaded with the freshest of vegetables, plenty of meat, if you want meat and sauce dripping onto your fingers as you try to eat it. 

The traditional way a Zapiekanka is served is an open baguette which is cut in half lengthways topped with sautéed mushrooms and cheese then grilled before being applied with a rich homemade tomato sauce. It is the perfect option on the way home after a great night sampling one too many Wiśniówka’s, a local vodka, which I mention soon.

A Zapiekanka that I ate when I was in Krakow,, Poland
This is not a traditional Zapiekanka but it is one that I enjoyed while in Krakow.

Nowadays, however, the humble Zapiekanka comes with almost any combination of flavoured toppings you can think of.

Where can you get a good zapiekanka

Without a doubt, the best place to sample the traditional or not so traditional variations to this must try Krakow foods is at the street food vendors at Plac Nowy. Leaving without going here and sampling one or 2 of these would be a huge mistake.

Finding the best street food in Krakow often means you need to venture just outside the main touristy area or main square, try and avoid, if possible, the stores that are trying to cash in on the tourist interest.

Get your zapiekanka from Plac Nowy


What is an Oscypek

Basically, this simple yet satisfying member of my must try Krakow foods list is a smoked cheese, yet nothing about an Oscypek and the process of making it is simple. There are strict guidelines and rules that need to be adhered to for the final product to be recognised as a traditional and legit Oscypek.

The first rule is that at least 60% of the product must be made from sheep’s milk for it to be classified as an Oscypek. This can only be produced between the months of late April and early October. Why? Because this is the period that the sheep will be feeding on the freshest and greenest mountain grass. This correct sheep’s milk, which is salted, is then combined with just the right amount of cow’s milk. It’s then turned into curdled cottage cheese and rinsed multiple times with boiling hot water before then being placed into a wooden mould and left to cure with a smoking process. They are finally ready to eat after being grilled at a restaurant or street food market.

Simple right?

an Oscypek is one of my must try Krakow foods when visiting
A lot of things have to be done right to call this an Oscypek but when it is they are a tasty snack especially when you have a sauce of cranberries with it

The end product results in a salty, smoky and somewhat chewy cheese that might take some getting used to. The real winner for most tourists comes when the combination of a cranberry type sauce is accompanied by the Oscypek. The salty, smoky and sweet flavour is heaven for the taste buds.

Where can you get a good Oscypek

Honestly, the best place to get a plate of these must try Krakow foods is actually in Zakopane, a small but delightful town in the Polish Tatra mountains. This is where this common street food in Krakow was born.

If you don’t fancy making the 250km round trip just for a salty cheese treat then look for these in any of the street food stalls, local fairs and city markets operating throughout Krakow


What is an Obwarzanek

Sometimes simple is best right? Well, that could be said for our next nominee on the must try Krakow foods and drink items list. Basically, if you are familiar with a pretzel or a bagel then you are all over this Polish treat.

An obwarzanek is a bread that is braided and designed into a ring shape. It is then firstly boiled before having either salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or a combination of all sprinkled over the top. It is then finally baked before being ready to eat.

The outside has a beautiful crunchy layer to it before you are exposed to the soft delicate inside that is both a little sweet and chewy. No dipping sauce or spread is required for this traditional Polish food found in Krakow.

Where can you get a good Obwarzanek

Again this treat is a favourite that is served in almost every street cart around Krakow. They were first made as a treat to the king back in the 15th century but nowadays the people of Krakow enjoy them as a mid-afternoon snack.

An obwarzanek is best sourced from the from the vendors offering street food in Krakow

Polish Beer

What is a Polish Beer

Poland is Europe’s third-largest beer producer and it undoubtedly produces some good ones. Brands worth looking out for include Żywiec, Okocim and Tyskie. These are the most popular of the beers produced. Like everywhere now though many microbreweries are also appearing in the city of Krakow.

Beer is still generally regarded as an alcoholic drink that is behind that of vodka in Krakow. I found a few beers helped me though before starting to taste test the Wiśniówka vodka and assisted with me staying up later than I would have if I was solely drinking vodka as the locals do, my drinking talent is nowhere near the Polish peoples.

A cold Polish beer tastes great with the Polish food in Krakow
A cold Polish beer is a perfect companion to the delicious meals in Krakow

Where can you get a good Polish Beer

A good local brewery that has a nice reputation is called Ursa Maior. It is a brewery that offers taste testing and the chance to learn how the beers are produced in the area. A cool feature about this brewery is that it’s 100% solar power run, friendly for the environment but not my head the next day.

Head to Ursa Maior and sample one of their beers while in Krakow.


What is a Kielbasa

This is one of the simplest meals in Krakow to answer. It is a sausage made from almost any meat option, usually either pork, beef, turkey, lamb, chicken or veal. The word is loosely translated from the Hebrew word kol basar which means “all kinds of meat”. The result of all these meats and a few selected and secret herbs and spices is a delicious and flavoursome sausage. It is cooked over a hot plate or grill and absorbs plenty of smoky flavour throughout this process.

When enjoying a kielbasa you will usually have an accompanying bread roll, a selection of dipping sauces (mustard and tomato), some fried onion and a juicy pickle.

These sausages are actually one of the most traditional food items served at a traditional Polish wedding.

Where can you get a good Kielbasa

The first-ever street food in Krakow was, in fact, the team that runs the iconic blue food van called Nyska. This was the first food truck recorded in Poland and the duo of old blokes have been grilling delicious kielbasa for the past 25 plus years. You will find them at their location every evening except Sunday’s, after all, we all deserve a well-earnt break.

The other well-known place to find this must-try Krakow food is in the same square as I mentioned previously for the zapiekanka. Just head to Plac Nowy.


What is a Ziemniaczane

This is another simple yet tasty member I want to feature throughout this must try Krakow foods and drink items blog. It could actually be the simplest of the lot yet something that was so good. The easiest and most correct way to explain what a ziemniaczane is is actually to call it a potato pancake because that’s exactly what it is.

A ziemniaczane will be a flat round shaped treat of grated potato that is shallow fried and served to you with a dollop of sour cream. You can also get them served with a variate of different sauces if you desire such as apple sauce or simply sprinkled with some sugar.

Warning these can become addictive and trying just one or two can be a real hard task.

ziemniaczane are a street food in Krakow you should sample
I prefer ziemniaczane natural while others like them with apple sauce or a sprinkle of sugar. Have you tried them?

Where can you get a good Ziemniaczane

A place that is often referred to as one of the most famous places to grab one of these meals in Krakow is called U Babci Maliny. It is a family-run restaurant that prides itself on delivering traditional and quality Polish food.

Find U Babci Maliny and remember it’s usually best to book ahead here if possible.


What is a Paczki

A paczki is another of the real delights you can enjoy while enjoying the tourist life in Krakow, Poland. It’s similar to a round glazed doughnut when looking at it from the outside. It will most likely be covered in a small amount of icing sugar as well. On the inside, you will be greeted with what could be a surprise centre, although not now because I’m about to spoil the party.

The centre will be a filling of either strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry or apple. To ensure the doughnuts are not an oily soggy mess after they get fried the Krakow secret ingredient is to add a small but effective amount of alcoholic spirit to the dough before frying. Trust the Polish to figure that secret out.

A paczki is a delightful snack to to find at the vendors selling street food in Krakow old town
If you happen to find a paczki fresh from being dusted with icing sugar they are a great snack

These incredible treats have been around since the 17th century and traditionally eaten around a holiday period but luckily for us, they are found in many locations in Krakow throughout the entire year.

Where can you get a good Paczki

The general opinion of both tourists but more importantly locals alike is that Gorace Paczki produces the most amazing selection of Paczki found in Krakow.

You can also expect to find these throughout a variety of stalls selling street food in Krakow. Just head to some of the usual places like the main square, city markets etc…


What is a Bigos

This one is sort of a stand back and see what you have in the kitchen and add it sort of dish. The result is a perfect winter stew. It generally has lots of cabbage/sauerkraut, meat and sausage that has generally been leftover from a previous meal and any vegetables like mushrooms and onions. Add to this garlic, bay leaves, seasoning of salt and pepper and bingo you have the basis of a Bigos stew. The stew is then left to simmer for as long as desired before being served hot. Perfect comfort food for those cold Polish days.

Where can you get a good Bigos

A traditional favourite place to try this Polish treat is Polskie Smaki. It is a small but charming restaurant with an incredible price to go with some outstanding meal options. The Bigos is one such dish I highly recommend trying from here.

Find this restaurant inside the main city centre of Krakow.

Bigos is a popular Polish food and something you will enjoy on a Krakow food tour


What is a Zalewajka

This is the first of two traditional soup dishes I have included on this list. It is a soup made mainly from potato that also uses sourdough bread to assist bring out the flavours of the soup. This gives it the unique Zalewajka taste you will recognize when sampling it.

It’s a perfect hearty dish to enjoy when the weather is cold and miserable outside. The soup can be accompanied by pieces of kielbasa, Polish sausage that we have already previously mentioned as one of the must try Krakow foods, or dried mushrooms. Sometimes you can even find it with both.

Where can you get a good Zalewajka

I only tried this once but the place I tried it at is regarded as one of the better places in Krakow for this particular Polish food. It also has the next mentioned soup as well, that was great, and also supplied fantastic Ziemniaczane, potato pancakes. The restaurant I’m talking about is called Zalewajka. If you want to cross a couple of these must try Krakow foods and drink items off your list in one go then I’d suggest a visit to here.

Head to Zalewajka and find a menu featuring some of these must-try Krakow foods.


What is a Barszcz

This is the second of the soup varieties I have featured on this list. It is a soup that is made from beetroots and is served warm. It’s a slight twist on the more commonly known cold beet soup served in and throughout Russia.

A serving of Barszcz is common in Krakow
Barszcz was one of my least favourite Polish foods I ate in Krakow

It is a slightly sour soup that is a deep red colour when it arrives at your table. Not one of my favourite meals in Krakow but traditional none the less.

Where can you get a good Barszcz

I would suggest heading to the above restaurant mentioned to sample this soup as well.


What is a Buraczki

Buraczki is nothing more than a side dish that will be found alongside one of these more substantial main meal options. It is again a beetroot dominated dish that is mixed with seasoning, balsamic vinegar and served warm. If you enjoy beetroot dishes this side dish is a great choice to have with a meaty meal like Bigos.

Where can you get a good Buraczki

This is a dish I think you should just order at any restaurant where you are trying a main meal. I wouldn’t go out of your way to find a place known for this dish as it’s a side only.

A typical side dish that will accompany must try Krakow foods and drink items is Buraczki. A dish made with beetroot


What is a Golabki

Golabki is a dish that is known all throughout eastern Europe countries and not just Poland. It is a rolled treat not too dissimilar to a large spring roll but instead of being pastry the outside is made of boiled cabbage leaves (I know not that exciting yet). On the inside, you will be greeted with the star of the dish which will either consist of minced pork or beef mixed with finely chopped and sauteed onions and a type of grain like rice or barley. Of course, this is seasoned and made to taste divine.

The rolls can quite often come with a tomato type sauce poured over the top as well. They have the name Golabki as this translates to a pigeon, which is the similar shape they form when being cooked. Don’t worry you’re not eating a pigeon or anything that tastes like it, I promise.

Golabki is another of Poland’s famous dishes that are traditional to find during special events such as weddings.

Where can you get a good Golabki

You can opt to go a couple of different ways with this dish, either eat at a restaurant and pay a little more or choose to keep to a budget and try the same dish for half the price. Both are good options and produce quality golabki.

The restaurant option is Jarema, a place known to produce many quality local Polish treats.

A cafeteria or milkbar type design that sells all the must-try Krakow foods at a great price is Polskie Smaki.


What is a Kompot

Kompot is a drink for all ages to try while in Krakow. It’s non-alcoholic and made from a variety of different fruits. It can be served warm or cold depending on the season in Poland at the time of your visit.

The fruits such as apple, pears, cherries, strawberries, peaches, apricots and many others are combined in a large pot with water, sugar or raisins and cooked. During the winter period when the kompot is enjoyed mainly warm it is also common to find some spices mixed with the drink. The spices most commonly used include cinnamon or vanilla.

This is a drink that is traditionally served at dinner time in Krakow and Polish homes.

Where can you get a good Kompot

You will find a serving of kompot available at many of the markets in Krakow old town. They are prepared for you and ready to just grab and go. If you are looking for a break to rest your tired feet after a busy day being a tourist then head to a local milkbar and relax. A great milkbar to try is called Milkbar Tomasza.


What is a Racuchy

This is the last of the must try Krakow foods and coincidently one of the best… As the old saying goes keep the best to last. A racuchy is a pancake on steroids sent from the angels above. It is made from the traditional pancake and crepe ingredients like flour, milk, eggs, a dash of salt, sugar and a rising agent like yeast but it’s the inside that makes these racuchy’s feature on this must-try Krakow foods and drink items blog.

The most common of these fillings are apple slices but other variations do exist. Almost any fruit could be used as the filling in fact and banana is actually another popular choice, although I absolutely HATE banana so I wouldn’t know what that tastes like. They can even come served as a savoury option with potato inside, a good option if you have eaten enough sweet things while in Krakow.

A racuchy will be shallow fried and served either plain, sprinkled with sugar or dusted in powdered sugar.

Where can you get a good Racuchy

A really nice and traditional place to get these tasty treats from is called Miód Malina Restaurant. It is also possible to eat these as street food in Krakow at many of the markets of the old town and surrounding areas.

A racuchy filled with apple is an amazing Polish food dish


What is a Vodka

I know I have probably just insulted you with the above heading, what is vodka. I’m sorry but I wanted to keep to the same process as I have with the other 16 previously mentioned must try Krakow foods and drink items. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist like that.

Rounding out the list of Krakow foods and drink items you must try is Wiśniówka, maybe I should have used that as the heading. It’s without a doubt, the most popular flavoured vodka found in Krakow. It is cherry flavoured and dangerously easy to drink. Even better still it is extremely wallet-friendly, just not the next morning friendly. You will find young (young but old enough to drink) and old alike enjoying this while you are in Krakow.

Handy hint: if you find it too sweet for your liking then request a dash of grapefruit juice added to the shot. It’s common and even some of the locals do it. Really good.

Where can you get a good Vodka

Krakow has a selection of many amazing pubs and also it’s fair share of pretty ordinary ones. I have listed three places I really enjoyed, all are a little different and have their own style so click on the link and decide which is best for you. I think the most fun bars in Krakow are Propaganda, Le Scandale and Alchemia.

Top Tip: If you’re interested in just trying the vodka once and not to keen on partying or paying for one then head to Staropolskie Trunki. It’s a local alcohol shop that is now famous to many tourists as it allows FREE tastings for all the drinks. Who doesn’t love a free drink right?

There is my list of the must try Krakow foods and drink items. I have tried to include not only what food is Krakow famous for but also the important follow up questions that I’m sure you all would have had. Now you know where to eat in Krakow, the Best places to eat in Kraków and also the cheapest Places to Eat in Krakow.

Krakow food tour

The above is a pretty long and exhausting list if you want to roam around the city and look for them all yourself. Maybe you are only in Krakow for a short period and want to try as many of the must try Krakow foods as you can without losing too much of your tourist time, something I completely understand.

If that’s the case a great option is to complete a Krakow food tour. There are many that operate throughout the city and I have listed four below. You will get to taste many of the foods I’ve mentioned above in a short but entertaining atmosphere. Watching other people’s faces when they try a dish for the first time makes for some funny moments as well.

Who is a Krakow Food Tour best for?

A Krakow food tour is best for the people that are just interested in tasting some of the famous meals in Krakow without necessarily being worried about finding the best places to eat in.

Things to do in Krakow

If you’re looking for some great activities to do in Krakow then I have put together a list of my favourite. It includes some of the well known touristy activities as well as some really great choices that many don’t think to do. Find out what you must see in Krakow and avoid being disappointed you didn’t know about it before your trip-

Krakow is a city that has so much history and at times pain. It is a place that is perfect for a long weekend escape as you can complete many activities in a short period if you have planned ahead. I have a guide on how to see Krakow in 72 hours if you’re someone completing a trip on limited time.

Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use

Book Your Flight

Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.

Book Your Accommodation

This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.

My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?

As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.

I also have a couple of great blogs that share quick and easy ways to save money on flights or accommodation. Take a look and save some cash on your next trip.

The Best Place To Book Your Tours

If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.

They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.

Other posts that might interest you:

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What to expect when ordering Polish food

Krakow foods have also had large influences from countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary and even further abroad destinations of Italy and France. Meals in Krakow are considered heavy and hearty and are rich in their use of fats such as butter, eggs, milk and cream.

What food is Krakow famous for?

Polish Food that you will undoubtedly come across when in Krakow includes pierogies, zapiekanka, oscypek, obwarzanek, Polish Beer, Vodka, Kielbasa, Ziemniaczane, Paczki, Bigos, Zalewajka, barszcz, buraczki, Golabki, kompot, goulash and Racuchy.

What is Pierogi?

These doughy goodies are a very traditional delight found all over Krakow. They are typically filled with either savoury or sweet produce like potato (Ruskie), sweet cheese, meat, mushrooms and cabbage, strawberries or plums. They are then cooked in boiling water or steamed before being topped with butter, sour cream, fried onions or any combination of the 3.

What is a zapiekanka?

The traditional way a Zapiekanka is served is an open baguette which is cut in half lengthways topped with sautéed mushrooms and cheese then grilled before being applied with a rich homemade tomato sauce.

Who is a Krakow Food Tour best for?

A Krakow food tour is best for the people that are just interested in tasting some of the famous meals in Krakow without necessarily being worried about finding the best places to eat in. { visibility: hidden; }{ display: none; }

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Last Updated on: February 20th, 2020 at 10:08 am


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