Krakow markets are darn good fun. Bustling with life and energy, they have long been a meeting place for the locals. They’re also packed with interesting stuff to shop through, whether that means piles of juicy apples from south Poland or bubbling jars of fermented cucumber ready to match with a pierogi plate.
Truth is some Krakow markets have been going for centuries. In fact, the town made its name as a major terminus of the Old Silk Road from East Asia, and then became a huge salt-trading hub within Europe. Bazaars are in the blood here…
Nowy Kleparz caps off the top end of Dluga Street a short walk away from its namesake and more venerable brother, Stary Kleparz (see below). It’s a vibrant mix of tailor shops and flower stalls that’s pretty good fun to explore. There are good bargains on flower bouquets and fruit, while the street food promises a sampling of traditional Poland – think sour gherkins and smoky sheep’s cheese with a dollop of cranberry.
Stary Kleparz is now encompassed by the uber-busy ring roads that fill in around the northern side of the Old Town. This one actually hit its heyday during the years of Communist rule in Poland, when it was known as a place to go for bargaining for rare and contraband goods. You won’t have to do that these days, but you can look forward to a glimpse of an authentic and historic Krakow market. It’s covered, so good in the snow or the rain. The paths are narrow but bustling with life. They’re fringed by ironmongers and soap sellers but also loads of fresh fruit and veg, butcher stalls, and fishmongers. Most people see this as the quintessential old-school foodstuff bazaar in the city.
Plac Nowy Flea Market
The Plac Nowy Flea Market is now the go-to flea bazaar in Krakow. It takes place every day of the week and brings a real hodgepodge of sellers to bear to the heart of the Kazimierz area. We’re talking a proper menagerie of goods up for grabs. One moment you’ll be sifting through dog-eared tomes of Ukrainian poetry, the next you’ll be looking for rare vinyl in a stack of dusty records from the 1960s. There’s a big showing of old-school military paraphernalia and trinkets, though we’ve been told much of it is of dubious origin. Turn up early and you might also catch the pigeon seller – one seriously strange Krakow sight.
Sukiennice (The Cloth Hall)
The Sukiennice stands tall on the UNESCO-tagged Main Square of Krakow. It’s been there since the 12th century or something ridiculous, when it was known as a trading place of rare silks fresh off the Old Silk Road. Today, it’s been transformed into arguably the premier souvenir market of the city, replete with places that sell traditional Polish dress and hand-carved Christmas baubles. Okay, so the prices are high, but this is the sort of place you want to go to find those classic forget-me-nots.
Plac na Stawach
Plac na Stawach is smack dab in the quiet neighborhood that bridges the gap between the Blonia meadows and the Vistula River. You’re looking at about 5-10 minutes’ walking from the western edge of the old town to get here. What awaits is a charming little Polish square that’s packed with fruit and veg sellers. The summer is the best time to drop in as most of the bazaar is uncovered. That’s also when you get the freshest fruit on sale, along with the most fragrant herb and flower selections. There are some local milk bars in the surrounding Salwator area to enjoy once you’re done too.
Market Ekosfera Mateczny
This weekend market is a little out of the usual tourist parts of Krakow town but it’s a great way to get a feel for the more local vibes of the city. It’s all about showcasing farm-grown produce from the surrounding Malopolska region. You’ll find stalls bursting with stacks of tomatoes when they’re in season, plus oodles of pickled goods (make sure you get some of those sour gherkins) and sellers of smoked cheeses from nearby Zakopane. It’s not on for long – just a couple of hours on a Saturday morning starting at around 8am. Get in early to make sure you find the bulk of the vendors open.
Plac Imbramowski is a real feast for the senses. It’s not on the usual tourist circuit of Krakow markets. About 10 minutes’ tram or bus ride from the Old Town, it’s housed in a huge, covered complex that spans more than 300 meters from end to end. Within, you’ll find rows and rows of half-permanent shops selling any foodstuff you can think of, from piles of freshly laid chicken eggs to baked rye bread with poppy seeds to Polish cheeses. There are also a couple of niche delicatessens that do imported goods from Italy, Spain, and France. It’s worth the trip just for the people watching if you ask us though.