Because of its strategic position and its size (larger than the UK or Italy), Poland has – unfortunately – been throughout history the center of attention of European empires who fought to increase their sphere of influence, at the expense of this country. Today, Poland is a nation with a rich cultural inheritance and history, of which bits and pieces can be found at some of its most famous local flea markets.
Antique and flea markets throughout Poland offers a wealth of cheap deals for hardcore collectors, world travelers, and would-be treasure hunters weary of department stores that sell the same mass-produced products.
In Kraków, the best antiques, second-hand jumble, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs can be found in Kazimierz, the city’s old Jewish district. The Saturday flea market is held in Plac Nowy and the Sunday flea market takes place in the Hala Targowa (Market Hall) on ul Grzegórzecka. And if your Polish is a little bit rusty, go with a local or come prepared with a pad of paper and a pen to haggle for the best price!
Plac Targowy Unitard Flea Market
Locally known as the “Plac Targowy Unitarg” or “Halą Targową” (Market Hall in English), the square Fair on Grzegórzki is famed as the biggest and best flea market in Krakow. Located north-east of the Jewish quarter and ten-minute away on foot from the main square, it is known to all residents of the city from the youngest to the oldest and gathers every weekend crowds of people – students, enthusiasts, seasoned antique dealers, and tourists.
A food market during the week, the Plac Targowy Unitarg / Halą Targową becomes every Sunday from 6 a.m., a sprawling full-blown flea market of old world antiques, war memorabilia, Russian watches, Russian cameras, pirated DVD’s, vinyl records, paintings, antique furniture, computer parts, wood wagon wheels, old books, religious souvenirs & icons, vintage clothing, stolen bikes and pretty much anything you can dream of at a pretty affordable price.
People in Krakow tend to say that “if you can’t find something in a store, you will likely find it at the Hala”. This explains why each trip to this place is an exciting adventure, and why so many people flock to this flea market every Sunday.
It is strongly advised to show up early at the Hala Targowa flea market (remember that “the early bird gets the worm”) as Sunday is undoubtedly the best, but also the craziest day of the week. Also, most merchants show up there shortly after dawn and start packing up between 15:00 and sunset. You’ll have to race against a ticking clock! But that’s a tiny price to pay to bring back an authentic piece of Polish history…
Where: ul. Grzegórzecka 1 31-532 Kraków Poland When: Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (food market and junk) and Saturday – Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (flea market on Sunday) Website: unitarg.krakow.pl
Plac Nowy Flea Market
Born in 1808, the Plac Nowy flea market has ever since been going strong. Every day from 7 a.m. until early afternoon, more than 300 merchants gather around the central rotunda – a former slaughterhouse – to sell fresh produce, wild critters, rabbits & pigeons (Tuesday and Friday morning), old clothes (Saturdays), as well as sweets and random rubbish.
However it’s on Saturdays that things get interesting (antiques wise), as hundreds of old-time green market stalls are deployed on the market area to showcase an assortment of antiques, Soviet-era memorabilia, worn-out weapons and army uniforms, old household appliances, vintage jewelry, clothing, vintage cameras, books, and even some hard-to-find porcelain figures and ceramics.
Plac Nowy Flea Market Krakow Copyright Bauke Karel
Plac Nowy Flea Market Krakow Copyright Martin Stelbrink
Plac Nowy Flea Market Krakow Copyright Stephanie
And after strolling the flea market, do not miss the opportunity to take a break at one of the many Bohemian cafés and food outlets that ring Plac Nowy, and which dispense the traditional zapiekanka, a baguette with various toppings. Most places on Pac Nowy are really cheap and even the expensive restaurants will do a two-course meal with drinks for two people for about 80 Zloties ($20 US). Last but not least, for the most adventurous or the nightcrawlers, Plac Nowy turns into one of the best drinking destinations in town in the evenings, lined with atmospheric bars where travelers can enjoy a glass of the local Okocim or Zywiec beer, or a shot of Polish vodka.
Where: Plac Nowy, Krakow’s Jewish Quarter When: Monday – Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (flea market on Saturday morning) Web: placnowy.pl
Photo copyright (featured image): Lisa Skorpion – Wawel castle from St. Mary’s church tower