Krakow is the cultural, artistic, and academic center of Poland and in 2002 was named the European Capital of Culture. Its cultural heritage draws around seven million visitors to the city each year, and expatriates living in Krakow will be pleased to hear that there is plenty to do all year round. Krakow is home to a number of museums and art galleries, including the National Art Collection, The National Museum, and The Gallery of the 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice.
The main historical attraction in the city center is the Main Market Square, which dates back to the 13th century and is home to the famous St. Mary's Basilica. Wawel Castle, Wieliczka Salt Mine, and Ojców National Park & Castle are also major tourist attractions. Krakow is also home to a range of performing arts institutions that put on shows throughout the year, including Opera Krakowska and Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra; the Krakow Film Festival and the Jewish Culture Festival are also major events.
Expatriates working and living in Krakow will be entitled to use the public healthcare system as long as they paying their mandatory state healthcare contributions. Although the public system is adequate, it is not of the same standard as many Western European and American nations, and there can be long waiting times for treatment. However, many of the doctors and staff do speak English.
As it is a major city, it has better public healthcare facilities and more doctors than rural areas, which is good news for expatriates living in Krakow. Due to the low quality of the public system, many expatriates take out private healthcare insurance when they are living in Krakow, as the standard of care and the quality of the facilities is similar to that of more economically developed countries. The private healthcare facilities in Krakow include LUX MED, Medicover, Enel-Med, and Optus.
Expatriates living in Krakow will be pleased to know that Poland's public school system is one of the best in Europe, and was recently ranked as 10th best in the world by the Pearson/Economist Intelligence Unit and the Programme for International Student Assessment, scoring higher than the OECD average. Compulsory education starts at the age of five or six, and lasts for nine years, after which children can choose to continue their education or enter the workforce.
Despite its excellent public school system, many expatriates living in Krakow choose to send their children to an international school, where they will be taught in English. There are a number of these in the city, including The International School of Krakow and the Open Future International School. Krakow is a major center for higher education in Poland, and there are 24 universities and colleges in the city, the most notable of which is Jagiellonian University, the oldest university in Poland.