How to go from Kraków to Vienna
The best an only way to travel to and from Vienna is by bus from Krakow. In the evening every night there is a bus and it take about 9 hours with no border stops. It gets into Vienna in the morning. You could also drive but this is a very cheap and fast way. Many Poles work in Vienna (Wien) for the weekend. There are Poles everywhere there. In many ways they are similar cities but really Vienna is a Baroque and linear city and Krakow is city from Ancient times has a more medieval and chaotic character.
A comparison between Krakow and Vienna
A Cracovian’s first impression after coming to Vienna is usually: “Wow, this is almost like home”. Those two towns are quite similar. What I love about Vienna the most was that despite having a skyscraper district it is a big town with a fairly small town atmosphere, just like Kraków.
Both towns have big rivers passing through them, similar architecture and downtowns. Kraków’s Main Square and Vienna’s Stephansplatz look a lot alike. Both are loaded with cafes more than any average city, too. They even have the exact same trams or at least they did a couple of years ago when I visited it last time.
They both have cultural variety, but naturally Vienna has more as it is almost twice as big as Kraków and is also the capital (which Kraków is not). You might get an impression that there are more foreigners living in the town that native Austrians, and this might be true. They are mostly Asians and Middle-East Asians, but it varies in different districts. Vienna was rated the best city to live in the world, no wonder everyone wants to live there.
Transport – how to get about town
Vienna has better public transport, no doubt about that. Besides buses and trams there is the underground that Kraków lacks. Although a lot of times it is crowded, I recommend using it, rather than buses and trams, it is faster and more convenient, especially during hot summers. There is a train coming every 2 or 3 minutes usually and you can get a monthly or a 2-week pass. No one knows why Kraków doesn’t have it, except some legendary reasons like “oh, we cannot have it because it will destroy our old buildings”. This is how the president of the town defends himself for not doing anything about it. If Vienna and Rome can have underground and not collapse, then Kraków can too. Maybe a couple of years down the road it will.
So Vienna has this “fun district” called Prater. There is an amusement park, a regular green park and a zoo. Kraków has a zoo as well, many parks but no amusement park, except a mobile one for a couple of weeks in the spring. I think this is a quite a flaw, since there are not that many other places that the whole family can enjoy. But again, maybe someday.
Kraków and Wien are the capitals of art. I’m not even going to try to name all the places to visit, but any guidebook will help you choose the things you want to see. Vienna is a lot about Mozart, not as much as Salzburg, but still. You should experience something connected to Mozart while in Austria or your visit doesn’t count. If you are not enough of a fan to go to a concert, at least eat a Mozartkugeln.
There is this American shop in Vienna that I adore as it is the only place around that sells American food. You can get thigs like Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke for instance, and that’s hard to get even at Walmart. I’ve heard of people taking pilgrimages for Cadburry chocolate, too, even though Austria’s own chocolate is probably better to be honest or at least at the same level. Either way I wish Cracow had a place that could provide me with the sweet taste of Dr Pepper every now and then. If you know one, please share.
Cost of living
Kraków is a lot cheaper, especially if you rent a place. Food costs less also, and so do theatres, museums and public transport. Any country that has the Euro as currency tends to get pricey. But it’s not too bad and if you live and work there it will not bother you at all. However, if you just visit the town as a tourist, you will have way more fun in Kraków and won’t run out of money as quick as you would in Vienna.
Let me know what you think of both cities if you have been to either or both.