Cracow's nightlife hub is still Rynek Glowny, with its pavement cafés popular for starting off the evening. Later on, distinctions between cafés, bars and clubs blur as cosy cellar bars become party zones with sweaty dancefloors. The best places are often found down inconspicuous stairs or hidden in courtyards. Live music tends to be rock or jazz, but there are occasionally more offbeat shows.
Beyond the Old Town, the district of Kazimierz is a little hipper, and is a great bet for anyone looking for a stag-free zone. Don't rule out Cracow's high culture for entertainment either. Given its size, the city's cultural life is superb, even for non-Polish speakers. The comprehensive monthly magazine Karnet (www.karnet.krakow.pl), available at tourist offices, lists virtually every event in the city.
Bars in Cracow
Alchemia is the place to party in Kazimierz. In a nod to Narnia, revellers walk through wardrobes to get between rooms, while the antique furniture, melted candles and rock music make for a grungy atmosphere. This being Krakow, there's also a nod to jazz – Alchemia hosts a jazz festival throughout the autumn. Staff can be a bit to cool for school, but the arty crowd is friendly enough. Consider visiting during the day when Alchemia is a café – its vodka-spiked hot chocolate is to die for.Address: Kazimierz, ulica Estery 5, Cracow, 31 056
Telephone: +48 12 421 2200.
Antycafe is one of the hippest hangouts in Cracow. Industrial in style, this watering hole boasts two bars (one is for smokers) and sells a myriad of local beers and vodkas. The atmosphere is trendy and slightly off-kilter (Antycafe's website alone looks like a trailer to a spooky art film), but Poles are good at managing this sort of thing without being pretentious. There are occasional gigs on here too, so if you like the atmosphere, keep an eye out for what's coming up.Address: Old Town, ulica Slawkowska 12, Cracow, 31 014
Telephone: +48 506 481 888.
If you fancy a fun night's drinking but want something less raucous than a full on club, Domówka Café's board games and craft beers might be a good choice. This Kazimierz bar has a homey atmosphere (the name means "little house") with slouchy sofas, kitschy flock wallpaper and a wood burning stove making it all pleasantly cosy. Pick a game from the house "menu" (many are international favourites and in English) and spend a night downing some of the café's unusual fruit beers.Address: Kazimierz, ulica Miodowa 3, Cracow, 31 055
Telephone: +48 7943 30303.
Clubs in Cracow
There's an industrial edge to Fabryka (the name means factory) located out of town in an area that is fast becoming an overflow district for Kazimierz hipsters. Run by the people behind Alchemia, this former cosmetics factory has a broad music policy with a focus on underground dance. During the week there are also film screenings and live music events, while on Saturday the place stays open until 0400.Address: Podgórze, Zabłocie 23, Cracow, 30 701
Telephone: +48 530 053 551.
One of the hipper venues in the Old Town, Pauza is an art gallery, bar, cinema and nightclub that keeps the tourists at arm's length by not putting up an official signboard – look out instead for the yellow "Internet" sign and walk down the passageway. Beneath the upstairs bar and gallery is a cellar dancefloor playing techno and electronica to a cool, largely local crowd. The music policy varies quite a bit, however, so check out the website before you head down.Address: Old Town, Stolarska 5/3 Pasaż Bielaka I piętro, Cracow, 31 043
Telephone: +48 608 601 522.
The elegant styling of the 'music box' might appear to be at odds with the bohemian vibe in Kazimierz, but this lively joint is popular thanks to its easy-going ambiance, classic dance music and discount drinks. Customers are mainly local, quietly on the hip side and dressed down, not up. Cocktails are a reasonably priced and a popular draw – the mojitos are particularly good.Address: Kazimierz, ulica Bozego Ciala 12, Cracow, 31 059
Telephone: +48 12 430 6482.
Live music in Cracow
Jazz Club U Muniaka
Jazz is hugely popular in Cracow, and arguably the best venue to listen to it is Jazz Club U Muniaka. The brainchild of saxophonist Janusz Muniak, it's one of the best-known jazz outlets in Poland and has live music every day. Concerts take place in an atmospheric barrel-vaulted cellar. Given the central location, visitors make up a lot of the crowd in high season, but the seriousness with which jazz is treated here is still totally undiluted.Address: Old Town, ulica Florianska 3, Cracow,
Telephone: +48 12 423 1205.
Klub Piękny Pies
This late night haunt (it's open until 5am on weekends) is always packed, and plays a soundtrack of classic rock, indie and new wave; on weekends live concerts and DJ performances take place in the cellar downstairs, where there's room for spontaneous dancing. The name translates to "pretty dog", and the place has pretty much become an institution in Cracow.Address: , ul.Bożego Ciała 9, Cracow, 31 059
Purveyors of fine jazz music and expensive drinks, the vaulted basement den at Stalowe Magnolie (named after the film Steel Magnolias) is slick, sexy and has a whiff of exclusivity about it. While the jazz music played here is serious, there's a certain see and be seen quality to the place, so dress sharp, enjoy the vintage opulence and allow its beautiful bar staff to keep the booze flowing.Address: Old Town, ulica Swietego Jana 15, Cracow, 31 017
Telephone: +48 12 422 8472.