With a recorded history that dates back to the seventh century, Krakow is a city with many stories to tell, attracting visitors for both business and pleasure. Sitting on the scenic Vistula River, Poland’s second-largest city, home to more than 760,000, functioned as a capital, a duchy and a kingdom over the course of its long history. In the 21st century it has emerged as a financial and business hub.
The heart of the southern Polish city lies in the Rynek Glowny, one of the largest medieval main squares in Europe, stretching 10 acres. Constructed during the 13th century, this center of business and city life sits near Wawel Castle, once the site of royal power. As they did in the Middle Ages, locals and visitors gather in the Rynek Glowny to shop, dine and conduct business.
As one of Europe’s most centrally located cities, Krakow proves a popular destination for overseas businesspeople, with more than 1,900 of its companies owned at least partly by foreigners. Visitors from the United States, member states of the European Union and NATO don’t need visas to enter Poland. For those not up on their Polish, German and English are widely spoken, and residents dealing with visitors are usually fluent in both, making for few linguistic problems.
Though lacking a subway system, Krakow offers an extensive public transportation network, including a web of buses, trams and minibuses. Taxis are also widely available and relatively inexpensive. The city’s historic center, easily navigable by foot, also offers unique alternatives such as rickshaws and horse-drawn buggies.
For the business traveler, the city presents a variety of meeting and event spaces, including EXPO Krakow with two large halls, an auditorium that accommodates up to 5,000 people and a number of meeting rooms; and ICE Krakow, a massive conference center slated to open before the end of this year with three main halls, a multifunctional exhibition hall, conference halls with moveable walls and a three-floor foyer with views of the majestic Wawel Castle. With a convenient location approximately four miles from the main train station and downtown, EXPO Krakow gives visitors the chance to make full use of their stay in Krakow and spend time out of the boardroom exploring the Rynek Glowny.
Nestled in the business and cultural heart of the city, the 5-star Radisson Blu Hotel, Krakow serves as an ideal base for business travelers and a great spot to entertain. Start your morning right with a super breakfast buffet in a friendly and stylish environment at Solfez, open 6:30–10 a.m. Monday through Friday and 6:30–11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. For lunch and dinner meetings, Milk & Co serves regional and international specialties daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m. and features an impressive Surf & Turf Buffet with a different selection of fresh fish and seafood from European fish markets 6–11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Plan informal after-hours business get-togethers at the hotel’s Salt & Co, serving small bites and a variety of cocktails, wines and beers until 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and midnight Saturday and Sunday. The unique venue, featuring salt-embedded tiles to reflect the region’s salt-mining history, can also be reserved for private banquets and small events.
The 5-star Sheraton Krakow Hotel, offering eight meeting rooms, is also an excellent choice for entertaining, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in the Olive Restaurant’s glass-roof atrium. The hotel’s rooftop terrace, boasting a retractable roof, offers drinks, snacks and tapas while the hotel’s sports bar, SomePlace Else, features international and Tex-Mex cuisine. Be sure to sample vodkas from around the world served in glasses made of ice in Qube Vodka Bar & Café.
If you’re looking to impress, the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers space for up to 600 guests in unique salt scenery more than 1,000 feet below ground. The elegant Bonerowski Palace, dating back to the 13th century and part of a restored UNESCO World Heritage site, provides an additional notable venue with historical panache. It features conference rooms for up to 120 delegates and views of the Rynek Glowny, or opt for the VJC Versace Diamond Room bathed in the light of Swarovski crystals, ideal for small meetings.
Visitors can find a number of venues serving traditional Polish dishes as well as international cuisine in restaurants both aboveground and in cellars in and around the Rynek Glowny for reasonable prices, ranging from $15 for lunch and $25 for dinners. The old-fashioned Kogel Mogel is a unique spot for cozy business meetings, offering a taste of the past with a newspaper menu featuring ironic Communist dishes and advice from “The Party”; guests are invited to address the attentive waiters as “comrade.”
Any business partner will be delighted to be taken to lunch or dinner at Wierzynek, one of the oldest upscale restaurants in Europe, with a grand history and interior dating back to the 14th century. Serving traditional Polish cuisine such as veal shank with Polish potato dumplings in a medieval setting with ornate décor, period art and frescoes, Wierzynek has hosted distinguished heads of state and celebrities during its extensive history. Open daily 1–11 p.m., the formal restaurant also offers a nice break from typical dining in underground cellars, with a prime location aboveground in the Rynek Glowny.
When the occasion calls for drinks or you’re looking for a nightcap, toast (Na zdorowie!) to a successful deal at the Wódka Cafe Bar. It pours more than 100 different varieties of vodka, including unique flavors such as hazelnut and mint alongside traditional Żubrówka bison grass vodka — a Polish vodka distilled from rye that was once a favorite drink of the country’s nobility.
If time allows for a morning or afternoon outside the boardroom, get a glimpse into the city’s long and complex history at the Rynek Underground, a permanent exhibition opened in 2010 below the Rynek Glowny that allows visitors to not only see the origins of the ancient city but also touch and walk on them.
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