I don’t know if any of you have ever booked a mystery trip before, but this summer I booked one for the second time. I first got tagged in a post on social media last year that promoted a lucky-dip-style holiday that would cover flights and accommodation for somewhere as far as Bali or as local as Dublin for £99. Either option sounded pretty good to me, and although I’m usually sceptical about offers like this, I was desperate for a few days away and had a very limited budget. So I thought “Why not” I’ve never been to Dublin, and I TOTALLY could end up with Bali 😜 (Wishful thinking I know)
Turns out that we ended up being whisked away to Venice for two nights, and it was absolutely incredible!! I indulged in ALL of the Italian treats, got serenaded on a gondola, drank way too many Aperol Spritz’ and took a million photos of the beautiful Venetian streets. Naturally, curiosity took over and I googled the same flight and hotel for the dates we’d been given and it turns out we saved £40 - so I was happy with that!
I always said I’d definitely do it again, and earlier this year, I spoke to my sister about where she’d like me to take her for her 18th birthday and she said “surprise me!” So having had such a great time on my mystery trip last time, I decided to book it again!
10 days later, I found out that we’d be heading to Krakow, Poland 🇵🇱 Now, if I’m completely honest, it definitely wasn’t somewhere that was near the top of my bucket list. All I knew about Krakow was Auschwitz, and as much as I would like to visit, it didn’t exactly sound like the best place to celebrate a birthday. I imagined lots of drizzly, gloomy streets, stone-faced locals and a morbid energy. I’m pleased to say that, thank goodness, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Now that I’ve been I can’t explain to you how over the MOON I am to have got this as my trip!!!
The way that the surprise trips are organised are super easy. When booking, they allow you to pick your top three choices of dates and even when they call you to announce your destination, there is flexibility there if you really aren’t interested in the choice you’ve been given (I’ve never changed my destination, but some of my friends have). Of course, like any business they want to increase the spend, so will offer you the opportunity to upgrade. I’ve never upgraded and I’ve loved both of my trips, but my cousin upgraded and paid an additional £25 for two extra nights in Portugal for Valentine’s Day! So I think the upgrades are worth it if you wanted to treat yourself.
Anyway, back to Krakow; We started exploring pretty much straight from touchdown and I instantly fell in love with the place! The buildings are gorgeous, from really cute pastel colours to quirky medieval-looking architectural buildings. We explored Old Town which was amazing, but really loved the Jewish Quarter. They’ve somehow turned a place with such an awful past into an area full of street art, independently run bars and cafes and lots of messages that hint at a positive future.
We have to talk about the foodie scene - Oh my goodness!!! The food alone would have be booking a flight back in a heartbeat!! We tried pierogi, goulash and a not-so-traditional dish of pizza with Cheetos on it (don’t knock it til you try it!!) My main complaint is that the portions were so big and we were there for such a short time that I got frustrated I couldn’t fit everything in that I wanted to eat!! 🤣😂 Better luck next time! Our trip motto was: Eat, explore, eat again!
Of course it’s not just all about that though, there’s a lot of history in Krakow and I’d encourage you to embrace it and visit as many historical sites as you can. As I mentioned, Auschwitz wasn’t on our list this time but will definitely be at the top for my next visit. We did visit Ghetto Heroes Square and it was amazing to find out about the personal belongings that have finally made their way to the family members of those lost to the concentration camps. The Salt Mines is such an amazing tour! Over 800 steps underground and we trekked through the mines 3 hours and saw only 1% of this underground maze. It costs 89 Zloty and includes a tour guide, I’d highly recommend this!
In the couple of days that we were there we did a LOT of walking around the city - It surprised me that for such a small city, there was so much to see along the way. My feet were aching at the end of each day 😫 There are trams which are super cheap - although we didn’t quite master how to operate the ticket machine. And Uber is the best great there - very cost effective and they are so extremely efficient at coming to collect you.
My top 5 favourite places -
🔸The Salt Mines
🔸 Metrum Restobistro
🔸St Mary’s Basilica
Oh go on then, one more! Mr Pancake has the most fluffy, delicious pancakes topped with enough oversized toppings to last a lifetime!!!
I booked my trip with Wowcher, but there is a slow uprising in mystery holidays with the new apps like Lucky Trip and BRB Travel. Of course, you probably could book these kind of trips yourself at a similar cost, but the element of surprise is really what makes it! I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have chosen to go to Venice or Krakow at the times I ended up going, and I’m so grateful that I did.
All in all, Krakow really took me by surprise and I’ll definitely be going back. If you’re thinking about an affordable weekend break and you‘re a bit of a foodie with an interest in history - this is a place you should definitely add to your bucket list!