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Krakow: Polish pleasures in a magical year-round city break

From shopping to Christmas markets and its central square, Krakow is a super city for a flying break, says John Masterson

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When they built the square in Krakow they certainly knew how to build one and there are quirky shops, bars and restaurants nearby

When they built the square in Krakow they certainly knew how to build one and there are quirky shops, bars and restaurants nearby

Dumplings

Dumplings

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

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When they built the square in Krakow they certainly knew how to build one and there are quirky shops, bars and restaurants nearby

There are beautiful cities that have been around for a long time and the founding fathers had the good taste to leave a large square in the middle. A city with a real centre tends to live and breathe.

There may have been cattle in it years ago. Or horses. But today it is a meeting place for people. When they built the square in Krakow they certainly knew how to build a square. On my first day in this magical city it is filled with a wonderful Christmas market. I could have decided not to sample the mulled wine at €5 a hit but that would have been a big mistake. I could have decided to postpone the Camembert and bacon with cranberry sauce from the next stall but why?

I had barely emptied my case when I hit the town. I flew Ryanair and the airport is about a 30-minute taxi to the centre. My hotel, the Ascot, was absolutely ideal and just a leisurely walk to the square. My taxi driver practiced his English on me all the way from the airport. In return I got a good account of Polish politics, history, and his family life. A fair exchange. Poland joined the EU in 2004 but it does not use the euro. It is easy to change to Zlotys. Just divide the prices by four and you won't be far wrong.