....is a small and rather pleasant place. There's been a lot of new building, I think, and it shows.
There are several cafes and restaurants landside in which you can occupy yourself pleasantly enough whilst waiting for check-in, two of which have tables outside (the whole airport is non-smoking, so that's your only choice if you want to have a cigarette). Prices, as in all airports, are a bit higher than elsewhere but not too steep, and the food is adequate. There aren't many check-in desks, so the area can get pretty crowded.
For non-Schengen flights (e.g. to the UK) there's a couple of (very) small shops and a place to buy coffee etc. There are also toilets at the non-Schengen gates which is a great improvement on my first visit in 2006!
Security is as tight as it is at all European airports so do allow plenty of time to get through. Almost all passengers are bussed to and from the planes (even if walking would take less than a minute) .
The gates used for non-Schengen carriers can be very cramped if several flights are departing around the same time. Even so, it's best to go through security and passport control as soon as you have checked-in. Queues can be very long indeed and it is tedious having to stand around. At least once you are though border control you can sit down, have a coffee and/or read (even if means sitting on the floor!).
There are good connections from the airport to Krakow itself: buses from just outside the terminal and a direct train service roughly hourly, with free shuttle buses from the station to the terminal even though it takes less than 5 minutes to walk.
Krakow is easily accesed by air. The airport is situated on the western edge of town and is well served by buses and trains if you don't have your own transport. The train journey to the main station takes 16 min and will cost 7 or 8 Pln depending on if you buy the ticket from a machine or an attendant respectively.
The bus ride costs 3 Pln per person. You need an extra ticket for luggage. There are two different lines taking you to the city centre or the main station. (The main station is about 500 metres from the Old Town Square.)
I went to Krakow from Bergamo (IT) by airplane. I flew with Ryanair. As most of you know this is a company that offer budget flights.
The airport in Krakow is named John Paul II International Airport. It's located in Balice which is some 15 km from Krakow. It isn't a big airport, but has all the facilities one needs.
Outside the airport there is a free of charge shuttle bus that takes you to a special train to the main train station in Krakow. You can buy your ticket from a machine or from the personnel on the train.
The airport is small. The advantage is that on arrival you have not to wait a long time to get your luggage and no formalities for Schengen passengers.
The disadvantage is at the departure of the T1 terminal international flights.
First when looking at the departures board you will find your flight and the gate but not necessarily your check-in desk nr. You might have to wait and there are nearly no seats. There are check-in desks on the left nr. 1 - 19 but also straight forward nr. 20 - 33 (Brussels Airlines is usually in that area).
After that passengers flying to Schengen countries pass through the safety control on the 1st floor. This is managed by armed military and is in direct contact with the departure lounge at Gates No. 6-8.
If you expect to find here a restaurant forget it. There is just a bar with coffee and beer and few sandwiches, when any left, and 3 small standing tables. Furthermore there are two shops with alcohols, cigarettes and perfumes.
Outside, on the street, there is a bar-restaurant with tables so that next time I will first check in, get out again to that bar-restaurant, and after eating enter again the airport to pass through safety control and join my gate.
By taxi it takes about 30 minutes to reach the centre of Krakow when there are no road works or traffic jams. Price about 75 Pln.
Krakow has its own airport (named after Pope John Paul II) that has service to and from a number of European cities. For Americans trying to reach Krakow, LOT has direct flights from New York and Chicago under a code/share with United.
As I started with my planning of my Poland trip (in November 2004), I just wanted to visit Warsaw and Krakow.
After a short search, I found a cheap flight to Poland, with AirPolonia, which was flying from Charleroi - Belgium.
The price for the return flight (Charleroi - Krakow - Charleroi) was 92 euro . . . . Cheap, he
But then a dark Sunday in December (6th of December 2004), AirPolonia suddenly stopped flying. Passengers with a departure before end of March could change their ticket for a light to Poland with Wizz Air. As I was going in May, that did not count for me.
Several mails towards AirPolonia stayed unanswered. So I really thought that I had lost my money. So I launched my question on the travel forum of this great site, and och yes there came an answer. Great member Adam_UK gave me the tip to try to get my money back via my Credit Card Company (Visa).
I followed his advice and wrote a letter to Visa, explaining that I had paid for a service I would never receive, and wonder och wonder, 3 weeks later the paid sum was back on my account. (Thank You, Adam_UK)
So now I could look for a new flight. And now I booked a LOT flight.
I gave this trip to my boyfriend for his birthday. We flew from Amsterdam with SkyEurope, a new no frills slovakian/hungarian airline. A single ticket will only cost you € 25,- ex taxes. These airlines are known for delays and we had to experience that unfortunatelly since we left Amsterdam 1 hour later and arrived back in Amsterdam also 1 hour late.... but hey, you can't complain for that price and both flights were pleasant so i will fly with them again as soon as i need/can.
1. If you are looking for the cheapest airfare to Krakow DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME, check first airfare on the LOT Polish Airline page: www.lot.com - believe me, it's probably always the cheapest, especially flights from the USA.
Note: the cheapest airfares on www.lot.com are available in 18 countries, not at all dates and number of cheap tickets is limited, if they are sold out you will find higher prices.
2. First check if it is possible to book/buy a ticket in your country (18 countries on the list of processing countries), if not check the prices from the country nearest you and go to point 5;
3. Check promotions for your country;
4. Build your itinery.
If the price is higher:
- change the date of departure/arrival (usually better prices are on Tue-Thu),
- choose another flights (avoid other airlines then AA- American Airlines marked as Code-share and LO-LOT Polish Airlines, avoid other cities for stopover then Chicago, New York and Toronto, but often you can choose other cities without increase the final price),
- avoid stopovers longer then 24 hours (but often you may have at least 1 additional stopover even longer without increase the final price) .
5. If you can't find your destination or need more info call the nearest to you LOT Polish Airline Office - check the transportation tips in my Poland page.
MORE about LOT Polish airlines in my Poland page (transportation tips).
If travelling by public transport into Krakow from its Balice airport you have the options of bus or train (or of course taxi if you feel flush). Bus is handy if your hotel is on one of the bus routes and so you can get almost door-to-door but otherwise the train is the simplest, and fastest, option to get into the city centre.
The arrival station is Krakow Glowny which is about a 5 minute walk from the main square and everything is well signposted.
The airport's train station is about 200 metres from the arrivals hall. Trains run every 30 minutes during the day with a journey time of about 18 minutes and the one-way fare (at the time of writing) is 7 PLN. There's a freebie connecting shuttle bus from just outside arrivals for those with luggage (or of course if you just don't fancy the walk).
On my first visit the trains were really retro, the fare was 4 PLN (ticket was hand-written) and the journey only took 15 minutes. Nowadays the trains are chicly modern. The tickets (which you can buy on the train) are hand-held computer-printed and cost almost twice the price but oddly the journey now takes an extra three minutes!!
We'll I suppose that's progress LOL ;)
Link below has all the info.
Although there are several direct flights from London to Krakow, including budget airline Ryanair, I chose to fly with Lot (the Polish national carrier) via Warsaw. Why? Because the departure time was far more convenient, and because I could fly from Heathrow which is only 20 minutes from my house. And although the flight was dearer, this was balanced by not having to spend so much on getting to the airport, and (had I taken a cheap early flight from Luton or Stanstead) not having to stay near the airport on the previous night.
I booked my flights with Expedia. They do make a small charge for this (about £4) but in my opinion it is worth paying as you get more flexibility than if booking directly with an airline. For instance, on this occasion I flew back with a different airline and on a different route – via Frankfurt with Lufthansa.
Travelling via Warsaw also gave me the opportunity to meet up for a pre-pre-pre-meeting with Mariel (marielexoteria) and Patrick (Tripack). I found the airport to be clean, quiet and efficient, and Mariel and I even had time for a coffee and chat before the Krakow flight. This flight was more than half empty so the three of us were able to sit together and make inroads into Patrick’s bag of Toblerones ;-)
Frankfurt Airport though was very different. Last time I made a connection there I had too little time and was only able to dash through on my way to the gate. This time I had nearly three hours to fill and discovered that having too much time there is as bad as having too little! The only seats I could find were in expensive cafés (4€ for a single espresso!) and there was a distinct lack of information about gates. Still, Lufthansa were as efficient as Lot had been and on the whole I was happy with my choice of flights and routes.
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