1. Obwarzanki are your friends
Obwarzanek are the Krakowian bagel. You can get them on virtually every street corner. And while local Poles will have a favorite stand, we think they are good just about anywhere. They only cost around 40 US cents and have toppings like poppy seeds, cheese, salt, or sesame seeds. They make a great breakfast for on the go and on the cheap.
2. Shop at local grocery stores
As always making your own food is the cheapest way to go. Poland’s grocery stores are notoriously cheap and you can find things like pierogi, chips, sandwiches, and just-add-hot-water soup for a quarter of the price that you would in an American grocery store, or many grocery stores in Europe for that matter. Biedronka and Zabka (look for the cute ladybug or the smiling frog) are smaller stores, but usually have everything from produce, to baking goods, to sim cards and just about anything in between. If you get a chance to stop at one of the larger stores like Auchan, Kaufland, or Carrefour, much like Super Targets or Walmarts in the states, you will find even cheaper prices and a larger selection of things for packed lunches or quick snacks. Carrefour has even opened smaller Express stores all over town!
3. Farmer’s Markets are great places for cheap produce!
In the warmer months, Krakow houses a great many farmers markets with fresh local produce and prices that can’t be beat. Even in the winter months you can find cabbage, and cheese, and cold-weather produce being sold at cheap prices throughout town. Check out Nowy Kleparz and Stary Kleparz in the center of town, or head out to Plac Imbramowski, which is by far the largest market with a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. For a list of all Farmer’s Markets click here.
4. Head to Koko for a cheap dinner out
One of our favorite local eats is Koko Gospado. This slightly hidden, underground restaurant just off the main square is a great place to get pierogi, Polish soup, and other traditional Polish dishes for fairly cheap, usually running about $4. Everything comes in huge portions and you are sure to never leave hungry. [And there’s now a location in Kazimierz too! On Jozefa Street, only pierogi, golabki, no alcohol.[
5. Zapiekanki are cheap and very filling
Zapiekanki are one of the most well known Polish street foods and definitely something we recommend trying at least once while in Krakow. We even featured them on our Royal Snack Route we love them so much! Running anywhere from $2-$3USD depending on the toppings you choose, these giant (and portable) French-bread pizzas are a winner for everyone. Head to Plac Nowy in Kazimierz and get one from the vendors there. You won’t be disappointed.
6. Look for the “zestaw dnia”
Many restaurants in Krakow will offer a special for lunch or dinner. This is essentially a set menu that usually includes a soup, entree, and drink for anywhere between $3-$5. Just look for the “zestaw dnia” on menus and ask what is included.
8. Shots and Snack Bars are really that cheap
All throughout Krakow you will see bars advertising beers, shots, wine etc.. for 4pln (about $1) and food for 8pln. They follow the same pattern of traditional communist style bars that serve really cheap alcohol and Polish style bar snacks. The menu above is of Pijalnia Wodki i Piwa’s wide array of shots! And for more on them and Bania Luka see our feature articles here and here.
8. Milk Bars
Finally, Milk Bars. The legendary restaurants of Communist Rule. Milk bars function like a cafeteria and have equally competitive prices. Everything here comes in large, filling portions, and you can try just about every important Polish food here. From kompot, to bigos, to szarlotka, they’ve got everything. Head down Grodzka Street just off of the main square and look for the blue sign that reads “Bar Mleczny“. What it’s lacking in atmosphere, it makes up in great prices and yummy food.