The main shopping areas are around the Rynek Gówny in the Old Town, the Royal Route leading to Wawel Castle, and the former Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. While Warsaw may be better for high fashion and Gdansk better for amber, there's no shortage of things to buy in Kraków. Traditional gifts include carved wooden boxes and chess sets, lace, traditional Polish clothing, vodka, chocolates, and yes, amber.
Art & Antiques
Kraków is crammed with art, antiques, and junk shops. Most of the better stores are concentrated in the Old Town along the streets that radiate from the main square, especially Sw. Jana. Poke your nose in at the ancient books, maps, and old postcards at Stefan Kaminski (Sw. Jana 3; tel. 12/422-39-65). Sawkowska Street also has a nice grouping of art and antiques stores. Atest (Sawkowska 14; tel. 12/421-95-19) is one of the best. For some unusual modern Polish painting and sculpture, stop by Galeria AG (Dominikanski 2; tel. 12/429-51-78; www.galeriaag.art.pl).
Kazimierz has emerged as a second shopping mecca; here, the emphasis understandably is on Judaica, but the little streets are filled with shops selling everything from trendy art and design to out-and-out junk. Antyki Józefa (Kupa 3; tel. 12/422-01-27) is typical for Kazimierz, an antique store offering both genuine antiques and junk, but it's not always easy to tell one from the other.
Books, Prints & Maps
For English-language books, Kraków is blessed with at least two treasures. The first is undeniably Massolit Books (Felicjanek 4; tel. 12/432-41-50; www.massolit.com), easily one of the best new and used English bookshops in Europe. Massolit is especially strong on Polish authors in translation but has thousands of titles under all conceivable categories (plus a very cute cafe and a quiet, contemplative ambience highly conducive to reading and thinking). The other is Austeria in Kazimierz (Józefa 38; tel. 12/430-68-89), next to the High Synagogue. Here you'll find dozens of titles on Judaica, Polish history, and the Holocaust, as well as some incredibly beautiful photographs, posters, CDs, and reproductions of old maps. Empik (Rynek Gówny 5; tel. 12/429-41-62; www.empik.com) is a kind of Polish version of Borders or Barnes and Noble, with huge shelves filled with (mostly Polish) books, but also a good selection of magazines (including some English titles), CDs, and DVDs. Cracow Poster Gallery (Stolarska 8/10; tel. 12/421-26-40; www.cracowpostergallery.com) is one-stop shopping for vintage film and exhibition posters, an art form Poles are known for around the world.
Gourmet Food & Vodka
Kraków is a good place to scout out exclusive bottles of Polish vodka. Two stores stand out: Szambelan (Goebia 2; tel. 12/628-70-93; www.szambelan.com.pl) and F. H. Herbert (Grodzka 59; no phone). Szambelan is best known for its exotic bottle shapes, but both stores carry a nice range of the best straight and flavored vodkas, as well as an excellent selection of wines and other beverages. Krakowski Kredens (Grodzka 7; tel. 12/423-81-59; www.krakowskikredens.pl) is a relative newcomer in the food segment, offering beautifully wrapped and packaged jams, jellies, teas, fruit syrups, and chocolates, as well as a huge deli case of mouthwatering sausages and cheeses. Come here to grab a gift food set or a picnic lunch. Ciasteczka z Krakowa (Sw. Tomasza 21; tel. 12/423-22-27) specializes in homemade cookies, cakes, and chocolates, all wrapped up in fancy boxes. No discussion of Polish food shops would be complete without mentioning Wawel Chocolates (Rynek Gówny 33; tel. 12/423-12-47; www.wawel-sklep.com.pl), where mouth-watering pralines, fruit-filled chocolates, and nuts are sold by the gram and packaged in cute little boxes.
Galeria Kazimierz (Podgórska 34; tel. 12/433-01-01; www.galeriakazimierz.pl) is an upscale shopping mall within easy walking distance of the Plac Nowy in Kazimierz. It boasts more than 130 boutiques, shops, stores, and cafes of all kinds. Handy if you need to pick up something you forgot at home.
Traditional Handicrafts & Jewelry
For classic Polish souvenirs, including handicrafts, woodcarving, and (naturally) amber, first try the stalls at the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) in the middle of the Rynek Gówny. Hidden among the "Poland" T-shirts and mass-produced icons, you'll find some beautifully carved wood and amber chess sets, as well as locally produced cloth, lace, and leather goods. Galeria Ora (Sw. Anny 3/1a; tel. 12/426-89-20; www.galeria-ora.com) is a cut above the average amber place, with a group of young jewelry designers working with more contemporary settings. For amber, amber, and more amber, check out Boruni (www.boruni.pl), with shops in the Sukiennice (tel. 12/430-24-01), at Kanonicza 22 (tel. 12/422-36-96), and Grodzka 60 (tel. 12/428-50-86), for high-quality, eye-catching stones in contemporary and traditional settings.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.