Get your bearings on Plac Nowy, the main square at the heart of the enthralling and culture-packed Kazimierz district.
Plac Nowy is the place to begin your explorations of Kazimierz, the old Jewish Quarter of Krakow. It’s the gatehring point of the area’s main bars and eateries, and all roads lead out from here, some to the nightlife areas of Jozefa, others to food courts hidden away in the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood. It’s a must if you ask us and this guide has all you need to know…
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What’s in this guide to Plac Nowy
What is Plac Nowy, exactly?
Plac Nowy, or New Square, is a square located in the district of Kazimierz in Krakow. It’s one of the most important and vibrant locations in the city. The square is surrounded by various cafes, pubs, and antique shops. It also plays host to regular flea markets where you can find a wide array of items ranging from vintage clothes to second-hand books and antiques. In recent years, it has become a hub of nightlife as well, with many people gathering there to socialize, eat.
This guide has all you need to know…
Where is Plac Nowy?
Plac Nowy is the beating heart of Kazimierz, the district that sits immediately to the south of the Old Town. And we don’t just say that because it’s home to most of the best bars and eateries here. We say it because the Plac is geographically in the center of the action, almost equidistance walking from the river, the border with the Old Town, and the sides of Kazimierz to the east and west.
How to get to Plac Nowy?
Most people will walk. The reason is that Plac Nowy itself is now almost completely pedestrianised. Plus, it’s easy to get here from anywhere in Kazimierz (in literally a matter of minutes) and anywhere in the Old Town (in like 10-15 minutes).
Alternatively, just open Uber and hail a ride there. Every driver will know exactly where you want to go and be able to drop you on one of the side streets that leads to Plac Nowy.
Trams do stop nearby. The 18 will take you to Krakowska Street, which is the closest at just one block west of Plac Nowy. The 50 leads to Miodowa, which is about three minutes’ walk to the east.
The history of Plac Nowy
Plac Nowy was established in the early 19th century when the area underwent urbanization. The square’s most distinctive feature is the round building in its center, known as “Okraglak” or the rotunda. The rotunda was originally a ritual slaughterhouse for poultry, and each quarter of the round building was assigned to a different butcher.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Plac Nowy became a bustling marketplace and a significant point of social and economic life in the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. The square was damaged during World War II and the Holocaust, which deeply affected the Jewish community of Kraków.
After the war, the Kazimierz district, including Plac Nowy, fell into disrepair and was neglected during the communist era. It was not until the fall of communism in the 1990s that the area began to be revitalized. Steven Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List”, shot in the district in 1993, drew international attention to Kazimierz and its historical significance.
Today, Plac Nowy is a vibrant spot for locals and tourists, known for its food stalls serving ‘zapiekanki’ (a type of Polish street food), its flea market, and its lively night scene (more on that below!).
Things to do on Plac Nowy
There’s loads to do here, mostly in the way of gritty cafes, late-night bars, and people watching. Some of the highlights for us would be…
- Bowling Plac Nowy 1 – Get underground into this subterranean bowling alley. It’s an odd little venue that’s at once dingy and retro-cool. Friday nights demand pre-booking. There’s a bar in there and it stays open until midnight.
- Plac Nowy Flea Market – The early hours of weekends see one fo the city’s most iconic flea markets set up on the square. It’s an interesting and ramshackle mix of sellers. Some tout wartime memrobilia. Others have original 60s vinyls. There’s even a guy that sells live pigeons. Yea, dodge him if you can!
- Zapiekanki – Plac Nowy is known as the home of the Polish street food that is Zapiekanki. It’s the best place to sample it, with about 12 individual vendors offering thier versions from the round building in the middle of the square.
- Party – There’s no two ways about it, Plac Nowy is a party mecca. We have recs on some of the best places to head when darkness closes in below…
The best bars on Plac Nowy
Plac Nowy is one of the top places to party in the city. You cannot go wrong coming here. Some of the spots you certainly should have on the drinking itinerary include…
- Alchemia – As its name suggests, this bar is a mystical potion of eclectic charm and timeless allure. As you push open its antiquated doors, you step into a bygone era. A medley of vintage paraphernalia greets you, offering a touch of historical allure to your night out. The soft, flickering candlelight casts dancing shadows on the ancient brick walls, while the earthy smell of the old wood and the distinctive aroma of draft beer wafts through the air, making Alchemia an experience you can feel with all your senses.
- Kochanka – A shot bar with real attitude, Kochanka is the current (2023) haunt of choice on the square. It goes late, is always packed, and offers a no-messing round of shots and beers.
- Singer – Furnished with sewing machines on every table, the bar is a hat tip to the many Jewish tailors who once lived in the area. This one gets WILD later on, with dancing on the bar to Balkan jazz.
- Entropia – An artsy bar with a small downstairs and smoky upstairs, this one’s been a classic for some time. It’s great for a mid-lash beer or 10 because there’s always an interesting crowd about and you can people watch in the summer months from the seats out front.
Where to eat on Plac Nowy
- The Rotunda – In the heart of the square, you’ll find a round building known as the Rotunda, home to multiple food stalls. No visit to Plac Nowy is complete without trying a “Zapiekanka”. This open-faced sandwich, toasted and topped with mushrooms, cheese, and a choice of other ingredients, is a beloved Polish street food. The stalls are mostly identical, but many people swear by Endzior for their zapiekanki.
- Plac Nowy 1 – This restaurant and bar has a more refined menu than most other places in the square, serving a combination of Polish and international dishes. Their outdoor seating area is a great place to people-watch and soak in the ambiance of the bustling square. They also open early for breakfast – get the goats cheese omlete. It’s yummy.
- Alchemia – We’ve already waxed lyrical about this one but they do food as well as parties. Come in the day and you can dine on sharing platters of hummus and falafel, get haloumi burgers, and more.