Free walking tours in Krakow
Free walking tours have mushroomed in
Krakow since the official abolition of any professional requirements
for tourist guides in Poland in 2014. Since anybody may show a
tourist group around the town, it has become a job popular with
foreigners living in Krakow–as far as we know there are no free
tours in Polish–as well as students in their spare time. But
whatever the guides of free tours lack in the knowledge of the city
and of the sights or in their language skills (or both) they usually
make up for with their friendliness and even enthusiasm in many
cases. There are licensed guides active in Krakow, who have passed
vocational exams and boast their own professional association, but
they shun the business of free tours. If you are very fortunate,
however, you may happen to join a free tour led by a qualified guide
desperate enough to settle for gratuities rather than seek a fee for
Krakow free tours in practice.
To put first things first, please
remember that the term “free tour” doesn’t mean you aren’t expected
to pay. There is no fixed fee but the guides await gratuity payment.
The “free tours” is a model of business not charity for tourists.
The amount a tourist is supposed to pay for a “free tour” depends on
his/her overall satisfaction but it should be proportional to the
length of the tour, its attractiveness, the quality of provided
information, language skills, etc. Fifty zlotys (PLN) seems a decent
fee for a well-executed two-hour walking tour. Regular tour
operators usually charge more but they provide a certified guide,
their tours are longer and more attractive than an average “free
tour”, and the price often includes museum tickets and the cost of
transport by car or minibus.
A “free tour” may be booked online (and
sometimes even paid for in advance!) but in the high season, namely
mid-April through mid-October, the guides await customers next to
Brama Florianska gate tower and the nearby Barbakan (barbican)
practically any time between 10 am and 4 pm although bad weather may
drive away most of them.
Typically, a “free tour” party is led across the Old Town to the
Wawel Hill and then back to the Jagiellonian University’s Collegium
Novum and Collegium Maius with a couple of other sights close by. It
may last as little as an hour or as long as three hours, entirely on
foot, and one shouldn’t expect entering any buildings. Some guides
take their parties to the former Jewish quarter in Kazimierz
district. And a few more enterprising operators offer “free tours”
of other popular Krakow attractions such as Schindler’s Factory.
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