Legend holds that, when Krakow’s founders erected the city’s walls in the thirteenth century, an old wise woman prophesized, “Some day, these walls will come down. The grass will be green, the flowers will blossom, the trees will grow, and yours will be territory hallowed by the fleet of foot.”
True story. Really.
And the old woman’s predictions came to be, because Krakow is a surprisingly good place to run. Except for the cobblestones on Market Square (Rynek Glówny) and a few of the streets that squirt from the historic center, this town is all asphalt, has wide sidewalks, and all things considered, is decent running territory. The Old Town is encircled by a shady, tree-lined garden called the Planty. Running this ring from one end to the other makes for a perfect workout. If you get to the end of the route and are ready for more, a bike path stretches in either direction along the Vistula River. It offers entertaining views of Krakow’s pedestrian life and beautiful vistas of the city’s opposite banks.
- Pedestrians: Just because Krakow has some good places to run doesn’t mean that it has a great running culture. This is one town where people don’t really run, are not expecting runners, and don’t quite know how to react when they see them. Some will scream and dart out of your path, others will move directly into your line of travel, while still others could care less that you are running and will make no attempt to get out of your way. For that reason, unless you want to work on lateral fast-twitch movements and agility exercises, the best time to run is the morning before people are out.
- Trams: Krakow has a good network of above-ground trams that run through the city. Some are old, clunky, almost comical throwbacks to the Soviet era, but others are sleek, modern, stealth models that will sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention. Tracks cross the Planty at several points, and also run alongside most of the major streets. Remember to look both ways for all modes of transportation before you cross.
- Drunk English Blokes: Unfortunately, Krakow is no longer an undiscovered destination, and its preliminary pilgrims are loud men from the UK looking for a new place to drink beer, watch football, and make crude comments to female joggers. For that reason, BTG recommends wearing headphones when you run, regardless of whether you normally listen to music.
Did you know? That legend about the lady? Yeah, not true. We totally made that up.