Pokémon Go is 2016's biggest game. Everyone is playing it! I decided to see how handy it was (if at all!) to go sightseeing using ONLY Pokemon Go.
Want to go straight to the photos and story of exploring Kraków? Scroll down. First, a little explaination of Pokemon Go. If you know about Pokemon Go, you can skip the next few sections!
Have you been hiding from the world in the last two weeks, and Pokemon Go is a bit confusing? Click the button below to read an explanation about Pokemon Go!Show Pokemon Go Explaination
The in-game world of Pokémon Go is based on the real world. It uses an in-game map that has roads, rivers, hills, and buildings that match the real world.
As explained above, the in-game map is filled with many PokéStops (hopefully small sightseeing opportunities!) and Pokemon Gyms. So, in theory, you can just use the in-game map (with real streets), walk around and visit each of the PokeStops / Pokemon Gyms and you should see all the main tourist sights! Plus, you get to play Pokemon!
I arrived by coach (after a long 10 hour journey...!) at Kraków (Poland's 2nd biggest city) coach station. I wanted to see how easy it was to use only use Pokémon Go to sightsee - using only the in-game map.
I was hoping that the main tourist attractions would be Pokémon Gyms. So my basic aim was to head for Pokémon Gyms (easy to spot on the map), and if there were not any Pokémon Gyms then I was going to head to areas full of PokéStops were.
No pokemon at the coach station or shopping mall
So I had just started my journey. Previously I had played a little bit with Pokemon Go (enough to select what colour/team to go with, for the Pokemon Gyms), but I hadn't really played much.
But this little adventure is about sightseeing with Pokemon, and not really so much about the game itself!
The Kraków coach station (MDA) is next to the main train station and a huge shopping mall. I forgot to take photos in the shopping mall, but there is one Pokemon Gym as I first entered it. I didn't spend much time in the mall though, as shopping malls are not interesting for me, and it looked like all the PokeStops and Gyms were further away.
So I headed in the general direction of where I could see lots of PokeStops and a Pokemon Gym - you can just about see a smaller gym in the background: that was what I was heading to (which was roughly in the direction of the main square).
So after leaving the shopping mall I just followed the in-game map towards a bunch of PokeStops and the PokeGym you could see in the distance in the previous screenshot.
Thanks to the PokeStops, I soon found myself at the first tourist hotspot, on Rynek Kleparski.
You can just about see the Pokemon Gym (the 'Barbican') in the background of these photos
The Barbican (a Pokemon Gym) is a fortified outpost once connected to the city walls.
It is on the end of a busy street in Old Town (Floriańska street - see below).
It was built in 1498, and is the best preserved of only 3 remaining similar fortified outposts in Europe! The walls are 3 meters thick!
Back when it was first built, it served as a checkpoint for all who entered the city.
But nowadays it also serves as a Pokemon Gym! I tried battling the Pokemon there, but at level 6 I was too weak!
So far sightseeing with Pokemon Go is looking promising! Why waste money on guidebooks when you have a Pokedex and Pokemon Go map...?
So after attempting to fight the Pokemon Gym at the Barbican (and failing), I carried on walking towards more PokeStops and (in the distance) more Pokemon Gyms.
This lead me under Florian's Gate (another PokeStop and an area FULL of tourists!). This part of Kraków is really nice, if a little bit touristy!
There are loads of shops selling tourist tshirts, magnets and so on. But the area feels really old, with lots of cool backstreets around here.
While walking down Floriańska street, there were plenty of PokeStops (I took a few screenshots...)
You can see the big St. Mary's Church down the end of Floriańska street.
Pokemon Go led me to the main square - the heart of the city of Kraków. It has a Pokemon Gym in the middle of it (in the 'cloth hall'). There are actually quite a lot of PokeStops in this area (especially when you include the backstreets in this area).
I was surprised that the big St. Mary's Church (it is huge!) on one of the corners of the Main Square wasn't a Pokemon Gym. Every tourist that comes to Kraków has to see the huge church! But Pokemon Go did lead me to walk past it, so I didn't miss it.
Every hour (even all through the night!) someone plays a tune on the trumpet from the big St. Mary's Church towers. If you time it right, you can see him through one of the windows in one of the towers of the church. I didn't time it right, so check out this video I found on YouTube to see what I mean.
After checking this area out, I carried on towards the majority of the PokeSpots (in the direction of the river).
(There were actually loads more PokeStops in this area, I wish I had actually taken more photos here...)
Although there were quite a few PokeStops around the main square (after all, it is the center of this city!), I also wanted to use Pokemon Go to take me to less common places. So, on the map it looked like lots of PokeStops were south of the main square.
So I started to leave the main square, in search of PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms!
Saints Peter and Paul Church
As I said at the start, I hadn't really played Pokemon Go for very long. So when I saw a PokeStop with a lure (which attracts more Pokemon to catch) on the map, obviously I had to check it out ;)
It was near to Saints Peter and Paul Church (see photos in next section below) - a beautiful looking church on Grodzka street.
It dates back to 1597, and it is much bigger than the photos make it look!
(The PokeStop wasn't actually on the church though - it was in the statue (2nd photo below - click the gif video option to see the location))
After walking past Saints Peter and Paul Church (and a few other PokeStops on the same street) and following more PokeStops we arrived near the castle.
I looked on the map in Pokemon Go, but there were more PokeStops further on (away from the castle) in an area of Kraków called Kazimierz.
So I decided to head on where the PokeStops were, and walked towards Kazimierz.
(Screenshot shows the castle having a few PokeStops there, but there were more in the other direction away from the castle)
Not entirely sure what this PokeStop is about, but I believe that 'Kamienica' refers to the type of building. Using Pokemon Go will get you to check out lots of interesting buildings and features you would never even take a second look at.
So I carried on walking towards PokeStops, and this lead me to an area in Kazimierz.
Kazimierz is very different than Old Town. In the Old Town area (where the main square, Barbican and so on from the start of this Pokemon Go sightseeing tour) everything is pristine. In Kazimierz it can be a bit more grubby. But it is still a really nice (and completely safe) area, with lots of backstreets with tiny shops, bars and restaurants to explore.
And most importantly for today - it is full of PokeStops!
Thanks to the PokeStops, I came across the Museum of Municipal Engineering in Kraków - a municipal museum that was created in 1998 in the old tram terminal.
This was another neat find - I could have easily carried on walking straight and would have completely ignored this area.
It is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue that originally dates back to 1407.
This part of Krakow (with quite a lot of PokeStops) has really cool backstreets, and lots of pubs.
It is definitely a city that is fun to get lost in. But with Pokemon Go you don't need to get lost - you can follow the PokeStops!
I didn't screenshot any PokeStops here, but there were quite a few in this area. But I was heading to an area with a few more...
Still walking around the same part of Kazimierz.
The pub sign - Eszeweria - in the third photo is the entrance to a popular and cozy pub. If you are in Krakow you should check it out! It gets really busy at weekends though.
It really is a fun part of town to wander in, every wall has something different on it. And Pokemon Go knows about them all!
There are two main drinking/nightlife areas in Kraków. The first was Old Town (which I walked through at the start). The second major area is this square and surrounding areas. This square is called 'Plac Nowy' ('New Square').
In the middle of the square they sell famous zapiekanki.
Plac Nowy is a PokeStop. This is where you should buy those zapiekanki!
They also often have small markets here - as you can see.
I went at around midday, so they were selling a bit of fruit and mostly clothes and accessories.
Still exploring the areas around Plac Nowy, going from one PokeStop to the next!
I'd spent a bit of time in this area, so now I searched for more PokeStops. I found a direction to walk to - it ended up being a big main road.
I checked out the PokeStops on the way (they were mostly things on building walls).
I'd been walking for quite a while at this stage, following the direction of PokeStops.
I saw on the map (in Pokemon Go) that the river was close - and there were quite a few PokeStops dotted between me and the river. So I decided to head that way, selecting a route based on covering as many PokeStops as I could along the way!
Trams were quite frequent along this road. In Kraków you pay for the time on the tram. 20 minutes is 2.80 zloty (0.60 euro, $0.70), 40 minutes is 3.40 zloty. You can change as many times as you want between trams/busses as long as your ticket hasn't run out of minutes!
You just have to remember to 'stamp' (validate) you ticket on the machine after buying it.
Another PokeStop that I passed was this plaque (see photo below).
I wish that Pokemon Go could provide some information about each PokeStop. At the time, I didn't have a clue who this 'Adolfa Grossa' was.
But according to Wikipedia Adolf Gross was born in 1862 in Kraków. He was a Jewish lawyer and a local government activist.
The story of Dżok is quite interesting. In 1992 an elderly man was walking his dog, Dżok. The man had a heart attack, and died in the ambulance ride to the hospital. Dżok, the dog, was just left behind.
Dżok started to wander around the area, not understanding what happened to his owner. Now a stray dog without an owner, Dżok would always return back to the same point. Dog shelters were called to collect him, but he always escaped. Soon locals started to recognise the dog that was always in the same place - and sometimes they started to feed him. He was a regular sight at Grunwaldzkie Roundabout, and apparently people went there just to see this poor little dog.
Now there is a monument to the dog (which is now a PokeStop!), very close to where the dog waited for over a year waiting for its owner. For more information (it is quite interesting) check out this page
Without Pokemon Go I wouldn't have noticed this monument, and wouldn't have Googled it to see what it was about.
Today's weather wasn't great! A storm was coming. But on a nice hot summer day this river area is a really lovely area to hang out.
There are several big boats that are permanently docked here that operate as bars or restaurants. Great for summer weather!
Along the route towards the base of the Wawel Castle is Krakow's own 'Walk of Fame'. There are quite a lot of celebrities here (both international stars and of course Polish stars).
(Pictured left is Celine Dion's plaque, below is Micael Jackson's one)
The next stop was a Pokemon Gym, at the base of the Castle.
One of the legends of Kraków is that of the Wawel Dragon.
Basically the legend says that a big green dragon lives under the castle. At that location they have a metal sculpture that shoots fire out of its mouth every minute or two.
Pokemon Go led me here, as it is now a Pokemon Gym. From the photo you can see it was busy here - but I don't think this was for the Pokemon Gym! It is just a big tourist attraction.
The big walls you can see in the background belong to the Wawel Castle.
(Having trouble seeing the dragon in the pictures? Click the small photos to see a bigger version. Sorry, the sun wasn't out when I took these pics!)
Now that we were a short distance from the castle area there were less PokeStops (and no Pokemon Gyms nearby!). But this area is nice, right next to the river. There are lots of swans (and even more ducks) in the river, lots of grass to sit on.
BTW, recognise this area from this famous viral video where someone on a Swegway falls down a hill? It happened near here!
The weather was unfortunately arriving, so this called an end to my Pokemon Go sightseeing tour! Just had to catch a couple of Pokemon first...
A storm started to arrive, so I headed for some shelter and turned Pokemon Go off!
Overall it seems that as long you have battery, an internet connection and Pokemon Go, you can use it for sightseeing in a city!
Of course there are quite a few disadvantages:
But it will take you to things you would never notice even if you had the biggest
Pokestops are all over cities, and they cover major sights that everyone knows about (famous squares, famous statues, churches, etc), but there are also lots and lots of smaller things. Like a little plaque or a interesting part of a building. I can guarantee (I bet you my first Pikachu!) that if you use Pokemon Go in your home city, it will point out loads of new things you never knew about (or never knew the correct name of it).
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