A mystical city full of legends, grand architecture, bohemian vibes and 20th-century tragedy, Gay Krakow today might be utterly captivating but is still found in Poland, one of the most challenging EU nations for the LGBT community.
Being gay in Poland is not easy with a socially conservative duopoly in control of legislation with the backing of the all-powerful Catholic Church who until recently wherein the grip of anti-gay hysteria and a state-sponsored campaign of LGBTQ persecution. While Krakow might be rapidly changing with an influx of Western Europeans looking for both history and nightlife, it is still very much a Catholic city where pious devotees stream in and out of churches seemingly towers over every street corner. Sadly, amidst such blatant homophobia verbal abuse and gay bashing is not unheard of.
While many ex-soviet countries have made steps towards equality, Poland – despite being a member of the European Union for fifteen years – has woefully insufficient legal protections for LGBTQ Poles. The simple fact of being alive is enough reason for criticism and attacks from a certain sector of Polish society, and the LGBT community here is fighting an increasingly uphill battle. While Warsaw is more liberal with a larger gay scene, queer takeovers and a fabulous Pride event, Krakow is still stuck in its ways with not even a Pride celebration. Needless to say, any public displays of affection are strongly advised against in Krakow.
However, as in much of Eastern Europe, the younger generation is finding their voice, and in Krakow, you can find trendy cafés and bars frequented by the LGBT community. There are also signs a shake-up is on the way, with Robert Biedron Poland’s first openly gay MP and then mayor, being viewed as a frontrunner for Poland’s presidency. We can only hope!
Attractions in Krakow
Obviously being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Krakow during the day! Krakow is a safe city, but still, all travelers should take caution in crowded areas or at night in bars with valuables.
Gay travelers in Krakow should avoid all public displays of affection as many residents are uncomfortable with LGBT culture and likely hold conservative attitudes, if not outright homophobia. LGBT Tolerance is low here, similar to Budapest or Bucharest and is a long way off more LGBT-friendly post-Soviet cities like Prague and Tallinn. Overall gay life in Krakow is discreet and traveling here requires a common-sense approach that generally ensures you have no issues exploring this otherwise beautiful city.
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Krakow
In conservative Krakow, it is very difficult to find an upscale hotel that would refuse to host gay guests. Still, some Krakow hotels are far more popular with queer travelers due to their location, design and welcoming environment, which are features here. There are currently no exclusively gay hotels in Krakow, but we frequently find the best hotels also to be the most gay-popular, and explicitly gay hotels to be grungier, less cool and less sociable when we have stayed in other cities.
Each Krakow hotel and area offer something very specific, so be sure to choose the right style and location to meet your needs. Prices are cheap compared to North American and Western European hotels (though quickly rising) and standards are high – so it’s a great place to splurge! Of course, there are also hundred’s more hotel and hostel options in Krakow if none of these suit your desired budget, facilities or area.