Whether it’s a grimy dive that echoes with Tom Waits and mistuned trumpets or a shadowy metal bar with disconcerting murals on the walls, this selection of alternative clubs in Krakow is sure to get you riding the city’s wave of wild nights and early mornings.

Szpitalna 1

The heir apparent of famed and much-eulogised Rozrywki, Szpitalna 1 now brandishes the baton of underground electro better than any other club in Krakow. Spread out over a series of subterranean rooms just a short jaunt from the Market Square, this one’s exposed-brick caverns and smoke-filled spaces are packed with students and locals and travellers alike on the weekends, all pumped up on more LFO to filter cut-off than you can shake one of the in-house homemade cocktails at. And even if it’s not a night of deep bass you’re after, the smattering of quieter seating areas, ad hoc beer pong sessions and chatty vibes that abound here mean there’s always something to enjoy.

Szpitalna 1, 33-332 Kraków, 12 430 66 61

Jazz Rock Café

It might be the scrawled murals of dead babies on the walls that keep the crowds of tourists from lingering at this underground basement bar on Sławkowska for too long, or perhaps it’s the hidden entranceway set behind the ATM machine. Who knows? Nonetheless, Jazz Rock remains one of Krakow’s truly off-the-beaten-track partying spots, complete with a backing track of Iron Maiden meets Black Rebel Motorcycle Club meets Bowie (occasionally Bowie). Once in, patrons can opt to drink away the evening in the smoky bar room, or pay a tad extra for entry into the main space. Either way, expect full-force metal, hard-hitting drink combos and some… shall we say interesting locals to mix with?

Sławkowska 12, 31-014 Kraków, 514 909 907

Carpe Diem

Krakow’s branch of this ubiquitous Polish chain club makes two appearances in the city, both between the cobblestone streets of the Old Town centre. Set underground and adorned with leather-clad sofas and the occasional rusting shell of a Harley Davidson, these interesting, off-beat rock bars are a fine choice for alternative types looking to keep their distance from the city’s doof doof dives. Those heading in can expect daily drinks specials, along with a cocktail of tunes that ranges from Springsteen to Drowning Pool. There are also dedicated underground smoking areas at both locations and some interesting mezzanine and booth seating for a dash of privacy.

Sławkowska 6A, 30-962 Kraków, 601 484 847




Piekny Pies

A cocktail of hipster charm and beatnik grime, this long-living legend of the Krakow nightlife scene has had more than one manifestation, moving to its current position in the depths of Kazimierz after a long stint in the midst of the bustling Old Town. Today, this nocturnal night-cap of a club belts out a medley of grunge and punk and jazz for patrons until the early hours, making it the perfect place to round off a night in the Jewish Quarter and a fine addition to the line-up of sleepless joints on Bożego Ciała. Patrons will find the current location sprawled over two separate rooms, with the jam-packed dance floor to the back and the bar out front. If you’re in search of alternative clubs in Krakow, it’s simply a must!

Bożego Ciała 9, 33-332 Kraków

Alternatywy

Where better than a club called Alternative when it comes to seeking out alternative clubs in Krakow? Set deep below the surface of Krakow’s Old Town heart, Alternatywy is a classic subterranean dive with a labyrinth of hidden rooms, smoky seating areas and bars. Popular with pub crawlers, alternatives, students and unashamed hedonists alike, the dancefloor here comes courtesy of circa 1986, via 60s garage, via 90s grunge. That makes for one eclectic line-up of tunes to grace the backroom areas, where clusters of locals can usually be spotted through the haze of cigarette smoke shooting multi-coloured vodkas. More recently, Alternatywy became popular for touting some of the cheapest beers in the city, with jars of Okocim going for around just 3 PLN a pop on certain nights!

Mały Rynek 4, 31-041 Kraków, 12 422 16 67


If you’ve got another selection of alternative clubs in Krakow to throw in the mix, we’d sure love to hear about it in the comments below – we know there are oodles hiding in this smoky, Gothic city of uber-hedonism.