Smog Masks are Essential in Kraków? I Had No Idea…

“The protective gear helps defend against the city’s dangerous air pollution — and can make a fashion statement”, according to this article written by Dimitra Kessenides for Bloomberg Businessweek. “The protective gear might lose favor once a law that bans household coal burning in the city, which faces resistance from the local coal for industry, takes effect in 2019.”

Smog Masks are Essential in Kraków? I Had No Idea…

Perhaps I did not spend enough time in Kraków to notice anyone wearing smog masks — even though I stayed overnight at the Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Airport hotel property and rode as a passenger on the clean and comfortable train from the airport to the city center in order to attempt to visit the Fabryka Emalia Oskara Schindlera, which is also known as the Schindler Museum…

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…but I also got to visit the Old Town area of Kraków; and I never would have known that the city apparently has such a dire air pollution problem.

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Nope…no smog masks were worn by anyone here.

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

There was no signs of smog here either…

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…or here.

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

October through April are supposed to be the worst months pertaining to the smog problem in Kraków.

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

I visited Kraków in April.

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

I looked high and low.

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

I saw no smog.

Kraków

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Summary

Kraków is a beautiful city to visit — more so that I expected — and if it is indeed plagued with a smog issue serious enough that some people feel compelled to wear masks to protect themselves, then I hope that the problem is resolved as quickly as possible…

…but I enjoyed the vibrant blue skies with clouds, great visibility and cool air with which I explored the city.

If you get the chance to visit Kraków, seize that opportunity — even if only to walk around the city at your leisure.

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

6 thoughts on “Smog Masks are Essential in Kraków? I Had No Idea…”

  1. Steve says:

    I visited Krakow a few years ago around September and found it as lovely as you did.

    This winter, I flew in to Krakow for a work trip to Ostrava, CZ. The moment I stepped off the plane the smell of coal burning was amazing, and the air was thick with smog. Poland doesn’t only burn coal in power plants: stoves in houses are very common, which are incredibly polluting. In your photos, based on the jackets and people sitting outside, it looks like it was pretty warm, so stoves were likely idle. (Good news is that a ban on such stoves takes effect in 2 years.)

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      There was a bit of a chill in the air when I visited Kraków, Steve; but it was probably the warmest day of my trip to Eastern Europe.

      Thank you for imparting your experience and for the additional information.

  2. Ric Garrido says:

    January 2017 in Krakow was reminiscent of early 70s Los Angeles County. The smog looked like a ground layer fog, yet if you looked directly up, then the sky looked blue. There were many bicyclists wearing smog masks. API pollution index was over 200 in some areas of Krakow. That is unhealthy.

    June 2017 was lovely in Krakow. It helps the air quality when it rains.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      My trip had been plagued by snow virtually every day of my Eastern European trip from Helsinki to Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius to Minsk to Warsaw, Ric Garrido.

      Although I did not experience snow during my visit to Kraków, I would not be surprised if the city had experienced precipitation prior to my visit.

  3. Donio says:

    My family & I have lived in Krakow, Poland for 6 months, we arrived in January. We also were somewhat unaware of the severity of smog in the city. We were in for a real shock, as some days in Jan & Feb. the pollution index was significantly higher than Beijing, China! You can see it, smell it and taste it.
    Reportedly it is worst mid-winter. Consider yourself fortunate that you missed it. Make no mistake it is a very real and serious issue. It is also a complex one to solve, requiring a lot of resources, as well as initiative & perhaps mandates.
    Aside from the life-threatening air quality during a portion of the year, Krakow is an amazing city.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is a real shame, Donio. I suppose I was quite lucky with the timing of my visit.

      Hopefully, the initiative which the city is putting in place in 2019 will help.

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