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Krakow’s population may be under one million, but its MICE ambitions are decidedly large-scale—and with increasing investment in events infrastructure, the city is living up to those ambitions. Memorable MICE group experiences here can include exploring historic sites, hiking in nearby mountains, and rubbing elbows with the locals while enjoying Krakow’s thriving nightlife scene.
Krakow lures MICE groups with its blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and cosmopolitan charm
When MICE professionals are surveyed for Pro Sky’s annual Europe Destination Report, they always speak highly of event options in Central Europe. The 2017 report was no exception. Once again, cities in the region remain popular with participants because they offer a chance to experience a vibrant, unfamiliar culture without taking a lengthy flight.
This year saw especially strong interest in destinations in Poland, which was applauded for offering a budget-friendly option for groups that want to explore beyond mainstream destinations. Its culture is rich and varied enough to appeal to everyone from history buffs to hipsters. Krakow is one of the urban centers of “the new Europe,” but it retains its old-world charms. And that combination creates a unique mix of MICE-friendly outings and activities.
MICE experiences and explorations
Walk through history
Groups with an interest in Krakow’s past will find a wealth of tour opportunities. Guided walks through the city’s Old Town include stops at the last vestiges of the city’s medieval walls, the Main Market Square and St. Mary’s Basilica—home to a gothic altar created in the 15th century—and Wawel Hill, which offers views of the castle that overlooks the city.
Another facet of the city’s history reveals itself underground in the cavernous, 800-year-old Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Indeed, tourists have been exploring this underground route since the early 1800s. Chapels, workshops, and galleries have been built into the mine’s excavations, and UNESCO notes that a “substantial ensemble of statues and decorative elements sculpted into the rock salt have been preserved” in the mine.
Tours of Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter founded in the 14th century, include the Renaissance Old Synagogue, a building from Oskar Schindler’s factory complex, and locations of the film Schindler’s List. And for many MICE visitors, the somber sojourn through Auschwitz is an emotional and essential element of any visit to Poland.
Pump up your heart rate
Hardcore athletes might think that MICE stands for Muscle Intensive Cardio Exercise. For those in search of active outdoor experiences, Krakow does not disappoint. There are bike tours of the Old Town and the countryside, hiking in Ojców National Park, and seasonal hiking or skiing in the Tatra Mountains.
Another Krakow activity designed to get the adrenalin pumping is Fear Factory, a haunted house where activities build team spirit through an extreme survival experience. Teams are assigned simple tasks but must complete them in total darkness while evading a “creature from the depths of hell” who is “ready to jump at you at any time.” Bookings are available for groups of up to six people.
Group members might even feel the urge to dance as the locals do. How many will give those steps a try after attending a folk music and dance presentation performed in colorful traditional costumes? And when it’s time to relax but the local landscapes still beckon, river cruises offer a fresh perspective on the city.
Food and drink: be sure to pack your appetite!
Eating is another kind of adventure experience in any new culture
To experience traditional Polish cuisine, make a reservation at a restaurant like Pod Aniolami, which translates to English as Under the Angels. Owned by the same family since 1893, its menu includes such recommended dishes as pierogis, shashlik, and grilled salmon.
If your first taste of pierogis leaves you wanting more, perhaps your group can sign up for a class where you learn to make these meat, cheese, or potato-stuffed dumplings. And as in any global-minded city, you’ll also find international fare at restaurants that serve everything from steak to sushi and cavatelli to curry.
In addition, you can toast Krakow while participating in nighttime tasting tours that give groups a chance to sample traditional foods, Polish beers, and herb-flavored zubrówka (bison grass vodka).
Perfectly Polish hotels and meeting spaces
Nearly 30% of the city’s hotels are rated four or five stars, and accommodation choices range from globally recognized hotel chain brands to the Hotel Stary, part of the Likus chain. Located just 50 meters from the Market Square, the hotel was converted from an aristocrat’s residence, and the opulent style lives on today with touches like Italian marble baths. Amenities run literally from top to bottom: groups can gather at the rooftop bar or take the glass elevator down to the subterranean swimming pool.
Where shall we meet?
The Krakow Convention Bureau reports that more than 150 facilities in the city can accommodate meetings of one size or another. As with hotels, meeting spaces vary from architectural classics such as Krakow’s Opera House and Philharmonic Hall to sleek modern venues. The newest facilities can accommodate huge congresses and conferences as well as small and mid-sized events and were built in response to the growing demand for meeting spaces in the city.
Among the biggest and newest are EXPO Krakow and ICE Krakow, which hosts international congresses and conferences and doubles as a performing arts space. The building’s standout architectural feature: a three-level windowed foyer with sweeping views of the city and the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill. This feature assures meeting planners of a space that is a visual standout in addition to being equipped with the equipment and technology necessary to ensure a productive and successful event.
To all this, add the “plus” of Krakow’s people and vibe. DMC Poland describes it as “a vibrant city that welcomes everyone.” In addition, although much of its ancestral splendor has survived to modern times, Krakow is equally notable for the feeling of tranquility it conveys. These qualities combine with the value it delivers without requiring a budget blowout. All in all, MICE professionals will be spoiled for choice in Krakow—and groups will love the memories they take home from events held in this city.
How to reach Poland
When you’re ready to start planning for MICE travel to Krakow or elsewhere in Poland, count on the Pro Sky team’s support in creating a memorable event. When it comes down to Poland, we have more than 56 projects and 165 flights under our belt and we are always looking forward to go the extra mile for your journey. To explore our services and learn how our expertise can enhance your planning capacity contact us now