Some 60 km south west of Krakow is Oswiecim, home to the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. They have been preserved as a memorial to the horrors that took place there, and the surviving prison blocks are now a museum. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wieliczka Salt Mine, in the small town of Wieliczka 12 km south east of Krakow is an immense system of underground tunnels and mine workings. There is a museum down there and an awe-inspiring giant underground chapel with elaborate religious carvings in the salt by the miners and even chandeliers made purely from salt crystals.
Tyniec, about 15 km west of Krakow centre along the Vistula, is an 11th century Benedictine monastery perched atop a rocky crag. The Benedictine monks have become extremely proficient at producing a vast range of gastronomic delicacies, based on their traditional recipes. You can take a leisurely guided boat trip from Wawel to Tyniec, stopping there for an hour and then returning. It’s also a popular destination for unfit cyclists, as there’s dead flat dedicated cycle path (nearly) all the way.
To the north of Krakow lies Ojcow National Park, which features beautiful scenery, plunging gorges and dramatic castles clinging to cliff edges.
Other popular destinations in Malopolska include Tarnow (reputedly the hottest place in Poland with average summer temperatures of 30ºC and mild winters), Nowy Sacz, which features the second largest rynek or market square in Poland after Krakow’s, and Wadowice, birthplace of the late Pope John Paul II and now a pilgrimage destination.
St. Peter & Paul's Church
"If at some point you don't ask yourself, 'What have I gotten myself into?' then you're not doing it right" - Roland Gau