updated 5/14/2007 10:59:53 AM ET 2007-05-14T14:59:53

Kraków is the cultural hub of southern Poland, and as such supports an active program of live theater, dance, classical music, and opera. The Cultural Information Center (Sw. Jana 2; tel. 012/421-77-87) is the first stop to find out what's on and seeing if tickets are available. The friendly staff can help guide you to the best events. The center for classical music is the Philharmonic Hall (Zwierzyniecka 1; tel. 012/422-43-12; box office Tues -- Sat noon-7 p.m.). The city supports several opera companies, including the very good Opera in Sowacki Theater (Pl. Sw Ducha 1; tel. 012/422-78-07; www.opera.krakow.pl).

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For drinking, dancing, and clubbing both the Old Town and Kazimierz are natural areas to start a night crawl. The Old Town caters more to tourists and students from nearby Jagellonian University; in Kazimierz the scene is more diverse and a little older, with young professionals, artists, and hipsters of all sorts attracted to some of the best clubs in central Europe.

Old Town
Ministerstwo
Emerging as probably Kraków's best venue for DJs and house music (not to mention, the essential lava lamp decor!). The action starts late and runs until dawn. Good location, just off the Main Square. Szpitalna 1. tel. 012/429-67-90. www.klubministerstwo.pl. Tues-Sat 11 p.m. - 5 a.m.

Nic Nowego
I hesitated before including this modern Irish-themed bar since it's so popular with tourists and is in every other guidebook. But if you're looking for a visitor-friendly place where English is spoken and the menu looks comforting and familiar, you could do far worse. In addition to decent cocktails and conversation, you'll find a nice array of burgers and sandwiches on the munchie menu. Breakfast is served daily, and the scrambled eggs and coffee here are probably a lot better than what your pension has planned for you. Sw. Krzyze. tel. 012/421-61-88. Mon-Fri 7 a.m. - 3 a.m.; Sat-Sun 10 a.m. - 3 a.m.

Pauza
You'll have to look around a bit for this moody little cocktail bar, which now numbers among coolest drinking spots in the city despite few clues that it's even there. Order at the bar and head for the chill-out lounge in the back. Florianska 18/3. tel. 0602/63-78-33. Daily noon-midnight.

Rdza
Another contender for best dance club in the Old Town. Choose fashionable dress to make it past the guys at the door, and then enjoy the trance, dance, and mood tunes, served up by some of the best Polish and imported DJs on offer. Attracts an early-20s to 30s crowd. Bracka 3-5. tel. 0600/39-55-41. Daily 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.

Kazimierz
Alchemia
One of the original bars/clubs to lead the Kazimierz renaissance in the late 1990s, when the former Jewish quarter morphed from a forgotten corner of Kraków to its current "party amid the past" feel. The old furniture, faded photos, and frayed carpets set a design tone that's still going strong. It's no longer the bar of the moment, but still a great place to get a feel for what Kazimierz is all about. Estery 5. tel. 012/421-22-00. Daily 9 a.m. - 4 a.m.

Les Couleurs
By day, an innocent French-themed cafe, complete with very good espresso and 1960s, arty French posters on the wall. By night, a great little bar to drop by for an after-dinner beer or cocktail. Just boisterous enough to feel lively, but still quiet enough to hear yourself talk. Estery 10. tel. 012/429-42-70. Mon-Fri 7 a.m. - 2 a.m.; Sat-Sun 9 a.m. - 2 a.m.

Moment
New and trendy; one the coolest spots these days to have a drink. Clocks on the wall to remind you of the inexorable passage of time, and encouraging you to make this your moment. Popular with the newly moneyed, postcollege crowd. Worth seeking out. Józefa 32. No phone. Daily noon - 2 a.m.

Opium
It seems like every Polish city these days has a club named Opium. This popular bar and dance club fits right in. You're not likely to find any real opium, but you will find lots of beautiful people and good cocktails. Come early to grab a coveted sofa seat, since this place fills up fast after 11pm. Jakuba 19. tel. 012/421-94-61. Sun-Thurs 4 p.m. - 1 a.m.; Fri-Sat 4 p.m.-5 a.m.

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