Be careful when you ask for a cocktail in Kraków: you may get a fruity drink made with ice cream and yoghurt – and no alcohol. But the western European definition is widely understood and, despite the Polish tradition of drinking vodka neat, simple cocktails are available in most bars.
With the huge production volumes of vodka in Poland and the exchange rate, it is possible to pick up a decent mixed drink for a few złoty. At the funky Café Pozytywka in Bożego Ciała street in the Kazimierz district, the Absolut-branded list offered cocktails for as little as £2.
Bars and restaurants are dotted around the Rynek Główny central square in the heart of the walled old town, with some cool café-bars on the side streets such as the cute antique-feel Café Camelot which also specialises in teas and desserts. In the street ul. Mikolajska is the newly reopened branch of Poland’s Paparazzi chain of bars specialising in cocktails, while ul. Florianska is home to the stylish but hard-to-find Pauza. For late-night music, check out the cavernous basement club Prozak in Plac Dominikanski.
The Hoxton Square of Kraków is around Plac Nowy in Kazimierz, east of the historic Wawel Hill castle and cathedral. Around a small market square is a cluster of cool bars, such as Alchemia (pictured) with its candle-lit antique furniture and live music, and Singer Café, another antique-filled bar whose name reflects the sewing machines on the tables.
Off the square, the friendly Moment Café has an eclectic design ranging from 60s retro to a varied collection of clocks. The cocktails were good and, unusually for Kraków, there was a decent wine list – outside of the restaurants and a few bars, it is best to stick to beer and spirits as wine is not often drunk in bars.