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Living in Krakow for Digital Nomads: The MEGA Guide (2023)

Living in Krakow for Digital Nomads: The MEGA Guide (2023)

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This guest post was written by Asia Kaczmarczyk, a serial digital nomad and expert in everything related to Krakow, Poland (see bio below).

Krakow is hailed as the cultural capital of Poland, and let me tell you — it’s a city not to be missed. 

Krakow digital nomads can enjoy an enthralling UNESCO Old Town, rock the night away in underground jazz bars, and soak in one of the most eclectic cafe cultures this side of Vienna.

I’ve been living in Krakow on and off for the last decade. It just keeps pulling me back. 

After three uber-fun years in the city back in 2013, I returned in 2022 to find Krakow firmly established as one of the top digital nomad hubs in Central Europe. 

Here’s my insider guide for remote workers heading to the fabled Polish City of Kings.

My Krakow digital nomad experience

The reason I keep returning to Krakow is that it fizzes with energy and life. 

I’ve never found it difficult to meet new people here. Just head out to one of the iconic 4/8 bars (where beer costs just a smidgen over $1) and you’ll be chatting with new mates in no time — an Aussie backpacker here, a Polish student there. 

I’m also fond of the upcoming hipster quarters of Kazimierz and Podgorze. 

They sit away from the touristy core of the town to the south and offer fantastic craft beer outlets and roastery coffee joints — all knitted together by leafy boulevards along the Vistula River.

TL;DR Living in Krakow pros and cons

Pros

✔️ Poland is still cheap AF compared to Western Europe.
✔️ UNESCO heritage center.
✔️ The mountains (Zakopane) are close.
✔️ Excellent nightlife.
✔️ Bargain rental rates.

Cons

❌ Pollution, especially in winter (the worst thing about Krakow by far).
❌ Nowhere near the sea.
❌ It’s getting more expensive each year (but so is the rest of the world).
❌ Packed with tourists in the peak season.

What type of nomads will like Krakow: Krakow is tailor-made to the social nomad. There’s nightlife every single evening, along with bars for casual drinks galore. It’s small enough to have a relatively tight-knit expat community, making it easy to find a solid group of friends.

What type of nomads should avoid Krakow: Being 13 hours from the Mediterranean and 9 hours from the Baltic, Krakow is not the place for surfers and beach lovers. It’s also probably a bit lively for older nomads who aren’t looking for all-night parties on the weekend.

Living in Krakow for a month: How much does it cost?

First, let’s cover the “official” cost of living data from Numbeo. This data can be hit and miss depending on your lifestyle, so I’ll also share my own numbers. 

Prices are in Polish zloty (PLN), and since exchange rates are constantly changing, it’s best to use Google to convert into your currency using today’s rates. 

Monthly Krakow cost of living (Numbeo)

Rent for 1-bedroom apartment in city center:2,750.97 PLN
Basic monthly utilities (heating, cooling, etc.):840 PLN
Internet:61 PLN
Meal at inexpensive restaurant:35 PLN
Domestic beer (0.5 L):13 PLN
Public transport ticket: 6 PLN
Gym membership: 121.12 PLN

How much our life in Krakow costs

Rent: I paid just over 600 GBP (roughly $715 USD) on a monthly Airbnb. There are still huge discounts if you go for long-term stays in this city, something that’s not always the case across Europe. 

I only look for apartments within walking distance of the city center, specifically the area of Kazimierz, which are the priciest in the town. Most in this price range are one-bedroom upper-floor pads with a balcony and air conditioning.

Internet/data: Internet is included in the cost of my flat. Before living in this apartment, I paid around 35 PLN (about $7) a month for a decent connection. 

Mobile internet is often more reliable, though. I have a PLAY SIM card, and it adds mobile data whenever I top it up — 50 PLN adds roughly 2GB. Other digital nomad hotspot devices work as well. 

Food: I am a serial Uber Eats orderer in Krakow, mainly because of the sheer variety of what’s on the menu. Ordering and eating out here isn’t all that much more expensive than cooking yourself. 

A pizza will set you back around 25-30 PLN (no more than $6) and that’s for a proper badass Neapolitan one. Even sushi and Japanese food isn’t that bad at about $10 a dish. Overall, I’d say I spend no more than $20 a day on food.

Transportation: Paying more for an Airbnb within walking distance of either the Old Town or Kazimierz (the two central districts) means you can basically walk everywhere. 

If it’s cold or wet or you CBA (“Can’t Be Arsed” for all you American English speakers out there — word of the day!), then a tram ride costs just 3.20 PLN (70 cents) for 20 minutes. That’s enough to take you all over the heart of the town.

Health: I prefer to exercise outside in Krakow. It’s free and there are awesome running paths around the Vistula River. I’ve visited a local pool once or twice for a swim, which was 20 PLN ($4) for a 90-minute entry — plenty to do my usual 3k. 

Many people I know have a gym membership here through their corporate jobs. If you want to pay on your own, you’re looking at about 150 PLN/month ($30).

As far as healthcare goes, it’s always a good idea to protect yourself with travel insurance which you can get for as little as $1.61 per day

That said, everyone has different needs when it comes to health insurance, so it’s a good idea to compare all the best travel insurance plans before pulling the trigger on anything. 

Entertainment: Partying is the main thing to do in Krakow for fun. The nightlife is awesome and cheap — I spend an average of 100 PLN a night on booze. Some student nights still sell beer for 3 PLN (66 cents) a pop! Most clubs don’t charge entry (the ones that do aren’t worth it).

This should all give you a good starting point for expected expenses. But if you want more help creating your digital nomad budget, grab this free download:

Best time for nomads to visit Krakow

I usually time my visits to the K (as I like to call it) for either side of the summer. Believe it or not, August can be too hot in southern Poland. 

It’s usually a nice 60-70 F in the day in May or September, and the holiday crowds haven’t flocked across just yet. 

Autumn is particularly nice. The locals call it the Golden Polish autumn, and it’s when the trees in the many local parks turn a lovely yellow. 

Winter is my least favorite time in Krakow. Yes, you have nice skiing in the nearby Tatra Mountains around Zakopane. But the pollution sucks in the cold weather as more people burn coal to heat their homes.

Best places to live in Krakow for digital nomads

Most people head straight for the Old Town in Krakow. That’s the famous UNESCO site in the heart of the town. 

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s beautiful and well-connected to the whole city. But it’s also always busy and can be ridiculously so during the peak summer months. 

IMO, there are two better areas within walking distance…

The first is Kazimierz

This is the hipster hub numero uno of Krakow. It’s a dedicated nightlife district, with more bars and clubs than you can shake your shot of vodka at. 

The best advice I can give is to look for a flat that’s either near the riverbanks on the southern edge of Kazimierz, or in the less-busy streets on its western end, past Krakowska Street. They are much, much quieter.

The second great option is over the river in Podgorze.

Many people moved here recently because the rents are cheaper and there’s more of a local dining and bar scene. 

Try to stay within a street or two of the river, since that’s the prettiest and oldest part of the neighborhood.

How to find digital nomad accommodation in Krakow

Airbnb remains my go-to in Krakow. 

The constantly growing number of properties on the platform has kept prices relatively low and quality high. 

I also like that most owners offer a handsome discount on long-term lets. It’s normal to save 15% or more for monthly stays. 

If you want to find a more permanent flat, check out Krakow Expats and Foreigners Krakow on Facebook. 

Here you can find contracts as short as six months without the hassle of going through an agency, which will certainly cost you more.

For even more tips on finding a place to stay as a digital nomad, check out this video:

Surprisingly, there’s still no official co-living space in Krakow despite its growing popularity as a digital nomad destination in Central Europe. 

Best places to work remotely from Krakow

I like to mix up my days in Krakow. 

If it’s nice, I’ll head to a spot with a half al fresco area. If it’s not, I’ll often stay in the flat. 

There’s not much of a co-working scene here, but rather a fantastic array of cafes that suit all styles. 

Most are VERY used to nomads setting up with the laptop, so don’t worry about annoying the staff by setting up shop for a few hours.

Best Krakow co-working spaces

OffOffice Coworking

OffOffice is a student favorite given its proximity to AGH university to the east of the old town. It’s not as fancy as Cluster but a bit more down to earth. They charge around 7 PLN per hour.

CLUSTER Pl. Inwalidów, Biuro Serwisowane & Coworking

Cluster is a chain of co-working spaces that reminds me a bit of the original WeWork spots. They are well-designed and Scandi-chic throughout. This outlet is down the end of Karmelicka Street, about 10 minute’s walk from the Old Town. You can hotdesk from 50 PLN per day.

Office&Coworking Zamkowa 2a

Give yourself a view of the UNESCO-tagged Wawel Castle from this co-working space. It’s just over the river from the Old Town and covers all the basics. They charge monthly, with packages starting at 500 PLN.

Best CITY cafes for work

Mak Bakery

Mak is on the ground floor of the PURO hotel in Kazimierz. It’s an artisan bakery turned coffee joint — a natural favorite for nomads thanks to its long sharing tables with plugs. They also have a rare garden space, also with plugs!

BonJour Cava

This Krakow-only chain of cafes has grown from one to three locations in the last five years. The one on Krakowska street is our favorite since it’s rarely busy and is perfect for people-watching. The coffee is okay, but the lunches are filling and healthy. I’ve sat and worked here for long periods and never had an issue.

Cytat Café

Cytat Café is a coffee lover’s dream. There are plenty of spaces to open up the laptop, but be sure to get in early because it’s no secret in the nomad community in Krakow. 

Krakow digital nomad community

Krakow isn’t really built around a digital nomad community as such. It’s more about the overall international community. 

Instead of digital nomads with location-independent jobs, many foreigners move here to work in the ever-growing array of corporations (Google, Lufthansa, etc.) that have set up shop in the last 20 years. 

To tap into that, there’s one go-to Facebook group — Krakow Expats. 

If you can sift through the mulch and the sales ads there, then it’s easy to reach out and make new pals.

The other option is to simply head to Bania Luka. It’s a bar known as a gathering point for the nomad and backpacker crowd. 

After a couple of cheap drinks there, making buddies might just be easier than finishing a sentence!

Krakow nightlife

Krakow has a ridiculous nightlife scene. From moody jazz joints to pumping EDM clubs that go on all night long, you won’t be short on options. There are too many places to list here — that deserves an entire guide on its own — but my personal favs include:

  • Entropia – A corner bar in Kazimierz that has a cracking cocktail list.
  • Alchemia – A top spot for big beers and underground music. 
  • Szpitalna 1 – Go here if all else is closed. It’s an electronic club under the Old Town. Great people. 

Things to do in Krakow

From historical sites to pumping nightlife quarters, Krakow has plenty to keep a whole host of different visitors happy. 

Here’s a look at the things to do in Krakow you don’t wanna miss:

  • Old Town – The Krakow Old Town is a UNESCO site and the heart of the ancient city, complete with cobbled streets and Europe’s largest medieval square.
  • Kazimierz – The bar and dining quarter of Kazimierz is not to be missed.
  • Auschwitz – The haunting site of Auschwitz is only an hour from Krakow — a museum-turned-monument in remembrance of the darkest moments of WWII.
  • Wieliczka Salt Mine – Another UNESCO site near Krakow, dug underground through medieval salt mines and home to a complete cathedral carved out of salt rock.
  • Zakopane – Zakopane is an awesome mountain town and the gateway to the best skiing and hiking in Poland, only two hours by bus from Krakow.
  • Rynek Underground Museum – The best museum in town, taking you beneath the main square to see where the city stood 700 years back!
  • Planty – This park surrounds the whole of the Old Town. It’s a people-watching mecca in the summer.
  • Party – I think Krakow has the best nightlife in Europe, and the stats say there are more bars per square meter than any other town in Europe.
  • Karma Coffee – This is a haven for real coffee buffs, a roastery cafe with fantastic brews.
  • Podgorze – Visit the nascent hipster area on the south side of the river for cool tattoo parlors and wine bars. 
  • Wawel Castle – You can’t miss this medieval fortress and the interiors showcase grand courtrooms used by Poland’s erstwhile kings and queens.

How to get to Krakow

Krakow has the second-busiest international airport in Poland: The Kraków John Paul II International Airport. 

It’s on the western side of the city, reachable in 20 minutes by direct train to the central station. 

Today, flights head there from all over the EU, and even one or two long-haul connections. 

If you’re looking for cheap flights, check out this video:

It’s also possible to come on the train, thanks to overnight connections to Vienna and Budapest. All other arrivals are likely to be on buses or by car.

Getting around Krakow

Krakow is eminently walkable as long as you stay in the central part of town — the Kazimierz-Old Town belt. 

For getting elsewhere, you can make use of the award-winning public transit system that interlinks all the buses and trams in one ticketing system. 

Generally speaking, trams are best for more central areas while buses take you out to the suburbs.

Taxis have gotten pricier in recent years but are still good value. You can use Uber or an official taxi app. You’re looking at about 20 PLN ($4) to go from Kazimierz to the Old Town.

Other handy tips for Krakow digital nomads

Essential words

Hello: Czesc
How are you?: Jak się masz
Thank you: Dziękuję
Goodbye: Czesc
Bathroom: Lazienka
How much?: Ile?
Yes: Tak
No: Nie

Yummy foods

Pierogi. Dumplings packed with cream cheese and potato, topped with fried onions. 

Zapiekanki. A Krakow special, these half pizza breads are served on the square in Kazimierz. They are the best drinking food.

Zurek. A warming sour soup with egg and ham in it, perfect in the cold Krakow winter.

Staying safe

Krakow is generally safe, but there have been issues with muggings and even stabbings late at night. 

My advice is to avoid confrontation at all costs and avoid wandering the streets alone after dark. Power in numbers. 

If you’re concerned about safety, the five tips in this video will help (that apply to any destination):

In the winter, I got caught off guard by the extreme cold of Krakow. It was well past sub-zero, and I only had one jacket. Pack and prep accordingly if you’re coming between December and February, the coldest months of all.

Pollution is also a worry for some, especially during winter. If you suffer from asthma or other breathing difficulties, a good mask that sorts out 2.5 pollution particles is a good idea.

Living in Krakow as an expat

Since Poland joined the EU back in 2004, EU citizens are free to move to the country without much hassle. Just register within three months of settling, and sign up with the local municipal office. 

Other nationalities need to prove they have some form of work, which typically involves sponsorship from a person in Poland. There aren’t currently any digital nomad visas on offer here yet.

Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
Travel Planning Resources - Everything you need to plan your trip on one convenient page.
Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
Skyscanner - Find cheap flights.
Trusted House Sitters - Take care of pets in exchange for free (sometimes luxury) accommodation.
Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Anytime Mailbox - Virtual mail service that can handle your mail while you’re away.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).

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