Are you planning a trip to Krakow in November? I have very good news, although the weather is not always good, this is a month when, in addition to the things to do on any trip to Krakow, there are many cultural events, such as music and film festivals, but also many other traditional celebrations.
In the penultimate month of the year, the Polish city comes alive. However, you'll have to be prepared for the cold weather and organise your diary well, because you won't want to miss anything. Let me tell you more about all the things to do in Krakow in November.
1. Skiing on the newly opened slopes in Zakopane
Want to combine the more touristy side of Krakow with a more sporty one? In November the ski slopes start to open, and the Zakopane ski slopes in particular are about two hours from the city, so you can make a day trip out of Kraków.
If you're more of a snowboarder than a skier, Zakopane's slopes will also welcome you. It's generally an area that's more than suitable for winter sports, but I'd particularly recommend the Białka tatrzańsk resort, which is also open until almost 10pm - perfect for one last spectacular night run!
Do you need to travel with all your ski equipment? Not at all! Prices in Zakopane's ski resorts are low compared to those in other cities, so for around €40 you can get access to the slopes and ski clothes.
2. Visit a cemetery on All Saints' Day
Did you think that celebrations around death and ghosts end with Halloween? Well no, All Saints' Day (1 November) is almost as important, and more traditional, for Poles, who use the day to visit cemeteries and fill them with candles and flowers. It's a somewhat mournful celebration, but just as beautiful, so keep that in mind if you're visiting a cemetery to see this holiday.
Flowers, candles and traditions on All Saints' Day
Poland is a country with deep-rooted Christian traditions, so it is most common for people to be buried underground and with gravestones. That's why on All Saints' Day you'll find the cemeteries more crowded and decorated than ever, with thousands of traditional 'znicze' candles. In fact, families go to great lengths to create original candles and floral decorations.
Night visit to the cemetery
As you can imagine, the thousands of lit candles create a beautiful scene as night falls - never has a cemetery been less scary! If you're feeling chilly (November nights in Kraków can get close to freezing), you can take a night tour of one of the city's cemeteries, such as the Rakowicki Cemetery, which is one of the best known for housing the graves of Polish cultural luminaries.
It is also a good day to get to know the mysteries of the city first-hand with the ghost tour, one of the best tours in Krakow, a walking tour of the city where you will learn about the mysteries and legends hidden in its streets.
3. Shelter from the cold and rain on a visit to the Mines
If you are going to Krakow in November, you should be aware that it is likely to be rainy and cold on some of the days of your trip. At such times, my advice is to take a full-day trip to the Wieliczka Mines which, being underground, are protected from the weather.
To descend into these mines is to enter a hidden but very valuable world, as salt has been extracted from them for years and they also contain important works of art in the form of chapels and liturgical decorations (many of them made with salt).
To get the most out of your visit and to make Krakow, even when driving, worthwhile, I recommend booking an organised tour with a guide. The mines are full of passages, galleries, monuments and secrets that you won't be able to fully understand without someone specialised in the subject explaining them to you. In addition, transport to and from the city is also included, which is much more convenient.
4. Celebrate Polish National Independence Day
How much do you know about the history of Poland? You may be familiar with the fact that on 11 November 1918 Poland gained its independence after hundreds of years of its territory being divided and its people punished for their culture or language. If your trip to Krakow coincides with this celebration, pack some red and white, the colours of the Polish flag, and join one of the marches organised on that day.
Independence Day is a time to remember the courage and conviction of several Polish soldiers and politicians who put an end to 123 years of domination by other countries and empires. As Krakow is one of the most important cities in Poland, military parades and public demonstrations are organised every year, but the celebration also reaches into homes in the form of traditional meals.
Taking advantage of the fact that 11 November is a day to bring out the Polish spirit, I recommend going to a typical Kraków restaurant, where the dish of the day will probably be goose with apples and herbs, very traditional on this date, and for dessert a croissant filled with almonds, sultanas, walnuts and orange.
5. Tell your fortune on St. Andrew's Day
On the night of 29-30 November magic (and a bit of witchcraft) will fill the streets of Krakow. Why? Because it is St. Andrew's Day, when Poles perform a ritual with wax and water to make omens and omens.
The culture of this country has many traditions of this kind, as they believe in the power of predictions. Even if you are not so convinced, I recommend you join this tradition and perhaps return from Krakow with a much clearer future.
Although St Andrew's Day is on 30 November, it is the night before, the 29th, when the omens are made. There are different ways of trying to predict the future, but the most common is to pour hot wax through the keyhole into a container of cold water to create a wax figure.
Don't think that this ends here, as you then have to take the small sculpture and, by projecting light on it, see what shadow it creates; this silhouette can then be interpreted to guess what tomorrow holds for us.
6. Stroll through Kraków to the rhythm of the Autumn Jazz Festival
Kraków is a jazz city, so twice a year, once in November, a jazz festival is held here. Even if you've never shown much interest in jazz, it's a great opportunity to appreciate the improvisational art that makes this music so unique.
Still in autumn, the Autumn Jazz Festival in November brings together musicians from all over the world, as it has an international character, and in particular it is held in Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter of Kraków. It is clear that, jazz or not, this area is a must-see during your trip to the Polish city, so I recommend you take the opportunity of the festival to add some rhythm to your walk.
Without a doubt, Kazimierz is an idyllic setting for the Autumn Jazz Festival. Creativity runs through its streets, which are also full of vintage shops and alternative bars where you can enjoy a good cocktail after attending one of the festival's concerts.
7. Kick off Christmas with the opening of the Kraków Christmas market
I know, I start to get in the Christmas spirit in November too. The good news is that Krakow's big Christmas market opens its doors in the last week of November, so you'll be spoilt for choice when it's a little less crowded and you'll be able to do some initial shopping.
Krakow is a beautiful city and when Christmas starts to arrive, it becomes even more magical, something you'll especially enjoy if you're in Krakow with children. This is something you'll feel as soon as the Christmas market opens, with many stalls selling handmade decorations and gifts, but also traditional food and drinks to warm you up (and I don't just mean hot chocolate, because the high proof vodka cuts the cold).
The market is located in Kraków's central Market Square, so you'll find it hard to resist stopping by. My advice is to make the most of it; Kraków at Christmas time tends to fill up with tourists, especially in December, so November is the ideal time to start the festive season without the crowds.
8. Warm up with a warm beer
Don't hold your breath, but there is one drink that is very typical of winter in Kraków and that is warm beer. It may seem like something you don't want to try at first, but when you're having a cold November evening in Kraków, you'll be grateful to go to a bar and have a glass of warm beer. It's not unusual; in fact it's quite a traditional drink, especially among young people.
If you go to Kraków in November you will see that with the first cold days in the city, the bars start serving warm beer. Don't think that it's just microwaved, because Grzane Piwo, as it's called in Polish, also contains ginger, cinnamon, cloves and other spices. All in all, a delicious cocktail that will warm you up quickly. Be careful, drink it slowly to savour it and so that it doesn't go to your head too quickly.
9. Discover alternative Poland at the Audio Art Festival
Kraków may seem traditional to you when you arrive, with its low houses and cobbled streets, but it also has a very alternative and avant-garde side. If you don't believe me, you have to go to the Audio Art Festival, which every November fills the city with postmodernist, experimental and multidisciplinary art.
Every November, the Kraków Audio Art Festival welcomes artists from all over the world who want to exhibit their creations, which often mix visual art with sounds. What can you expect? Installations, concerts and performances in which artists create sound on the spot thanks to technology, becoming composer and performer at the same time.
Most of the events take place in the city's concert halls and cinemas, and admission to some of them is free, so take this opportunity to get to know the hipster side of Kraków.
10. Discover a different kind of cinema at the International Film Festival Etiuda&Anima
Do you like art? Then you're in luck if you're going to Kraków in November, because during the last days of the month the Etiuda&Anima film festival is held, which gives visibility to the film creations of students, independent producers and artists from all over the world. In addition to workshops and talks, this festival, which has been held since 1994, also features two competitions.
The two names of the festival, Etiuda and Anima, refer to the two prizes. Etiuda is a competition for students submitting feature films and documentaries, while Anima is a competition dedicated to animated films.
This is the oldest film festival in Poland. During the festival, Kraków is filled with art and art-house films, especially animated films that are not widely available, so if you're a fan of this kind of art, you'll want to pay the festival a visit. Tickets are quite affordable (around €15 for general admission and €5 for film passes), so it's well worth a visit.
What are the temperatures like in Krakow in November?
I'll tell you one thing: be prepared for the cold. November brings cold temperatures to Kraków, so you'll need to pack warm clothes to withstand lows of almost 0°C (32°F). On the other hand, rainfall is quite frequent (it rains about half the days of the month), so remember to pack a good waterproof coat and several layers - you'll need them!
Knowing the weather forecast for November, you may be wondering if it's really the best time to go to Krakow, but I can assure you that if you're prepared, you'll be able to handle the cold. Evenings are even colder, so make the most of the daylight hours (about 8-9 hours) to visit the city and, when the sun goes down, pop into a bar for a hot chocolate.
What should I pack for my trip to Krakow in November?
Average temperatures in Krakow during November are around 5ºC. One of my tips for travelling to Krakow is to pack wisely and logically, packing clothes that allow you to wear several layers during the trip (e.g. thermal T-shirts, jumpers and fleece jackets or windbreakers).
Of course, don't forget your heaviest coat at home; if it's waterproof, all the better, as it tends to rain for half the month. I don't recommend an umbrella, as it's uncomfortable (especially if you're going to be walking into places or if it's windy) and if you need one, you can buy one there. What you should pack in your suitcase are gloves, a hat and good, warm shoes that allow you to walk comfortably.
Are you all set to go to Krakow in November? Don't forget to let me know what you think of all the plans I've suggested.