Krakow is not your typical Polish town. Set in the southern part of the country, which is close to the Czech border, Krakow is known for its gorgeous medieval buildings, as well as for having Europe’s largest market square, which is steps away from a 14th century gothic church. Compared to Warsaw, which is a hub of art, culture and nightlife, Krakow is more quaint and picturesque.
But that’s not to say Krakow is a snore. In fact, it’s full of hidden treasures, and one of its best-kept secrets is its bevvy of secondhand stores.
On Jozefa street, there is the not-to-miss store called Vintage Classics, which specializes in costume jewellery, unusual hats, vintage wedding gowns and a display cabinet with purses. The owners also sells their own label called The Great Pretenders, which imitates looks from the 1940s to the 1960s. All Great Pretenders pieces are made from recycled fabrics.
For a chic vintage boutique with a younger vibe, head over to Miodowa street, which is home to Vintage Look. There is always a surprise on the racks, but take heed: the selection features mostly womenswear.
Vanilla is a women’s clothing store with two locations in the city, featuring selections from H&M and Calvin Klein to Miu Miu and Dior — and even rare finds, like vintage Dolce & Gabbana perfumes. A five-minute walk away is Galerie Ars Antiqua, which is more of a jam-packed antiques store with a wide variety of housewares. There is wooden furniture, oil paintings, chunky jewellery and porcelain teacups from the 1920s. If you’re practical — and good with a sewing machine — keep walking down the street to find Fabryka Defektu, a clothing outlet filled with defective clothing from sports brands that range from Puma to Adidas — many of which are damaged in such small ways, they’re almost invisible.
Artus94 is a giant vintage store featuring a wide range of clothing, whether it’s dresses from the 1960s to parka coats, inside of a giant warehouse. Look out for the big pink sign out front. One can literally spend hours here, as some items are piled into boxes to dig through. Some items are sold by the pound, while other pieces are priced individually. Their accessories range from turquoise stone bracelets to vintage cosmetic mirrors and teapots. Bonus: It’s open until 8 p.m. in a city where most shops close around 6 p.m.
Art Cherubino is an angel-inspired art shop, so expect to see the walls painted in heavenly clouds, or spot a giant wooden angel out front. Alongside the knick knacks, there are handmade crafts from local artists, whether its wooden figurines to stained glass sun catchers and handmade porcelain figurines, which are a fun alternative to touristy souvenirs.
Set in the heart of the old town of Krakow, the Antykwariat i Wypożyczalnia Książek is a must-see. This classic location adds to the region’s medieval charm. The walls are lined — from floor to ceiling — in books, magazines and paintings. One of the oldest antique dealers in Poland, shoppers can borrow books here like a library. Luckily, there’s Café Rio across the street, which is a great place to dig into an old book with a cup of java.
Last but not least, Biga is a second-hand clothing chain with dozens of locations across Poland, including five in Krakow. It’s also a tad famous, as Rihanna is rumoured to have been spotted shopping here.
Ready to shop? G Adventures can get you there. Check out our small group tours to Poland here.