“ Swimming Pool in Krakow, Poland. „
Basen AGH, Krakow.
Basen AGH is one of the swimming pools here in Krakow. It is open to the public and according to my students, it is the best swimming pool in the city. I disagree with them and I will explain why you simply shouldn't bother with this pool if you come to visit Krakow this summer.
Basen AGH is located in the student area of Krakow, near the AGH University. From the city centre it is around 15 minutes on the bus followed by a 5 minute walk.
There are quite a few car parking areas at Basen AGH, as it is surrounded by student accommodation, however I have never seen many places available so if you do come by car then you may need to park further away and walk.
Entrance & Reception Area
The first time we visited AGH we actually had trouble locating the Entrance as it is on what I would call the back of the building, away from the road used to access the pool and a bit of a mission to walk all the way around the building.
As you walk through the entrance into the reception area there are 2 reception desks, one to the left and one to the right. On the two occasions we have visited this pool there has been either no queue or a very short queue so we haven't had to wait long. The staff on the reception desk are about as friendly as the staff get, in other words, not very friendly! We asked for two adults swimming for one hour. First bad point, the sessions are timed here and you need to pay by the minute for any time you exceed! The lady served us and gave us our wrist bands which keep track of how long we have left. As we had never been to AGH we asked where the changing rooms were and she literally just pointed without even so much as glancing away from her computer screen.
Next to the desk on the right you will also see an area where you need to change your shoes and wear flip flops on your feet as no outdoor shoes are allowed beyond reception. Once you have changed your shoes you can put them in a carrier bag provided and hand them with your coat to a member of staff who will then give you a piece of plastic which looks like a bottle opener. It is important you keep this safe as you will need it to get your coat and shoes back.
Also in the reception area is a shop selling all sorts of swimming costumes and accessories such as goggles, caps and floats. I had a quick look at the shop and its prices and within only a few seconds I could see that they are very over-priced sometimes by as much as 50% compared to the shops in the city centre!
From the reception area you will go through a glass door leading to the changing areas. The female changing is the first door on the left and the male area is further along the corridor.
The female changing area is a reasonable size room with few small cubicles for changing, if you have children with you then you may struggle to fit in one of these cubicles. There is also a communal area for changing and lots of lockers. The lockers have numbers which correspond with your time wristband and holding the wristband against the digital reader on the wall will open your locker door.
There are toilets which are kept spotlessly clean and showers which are also of a good standard.
In the corridor which leads to the changing rooms there are quite a few hairdryers, which are free to use, but being as you are on limited time you may not wish to use your time drying your hair! Plus, if the weather is nice like it is at the moment your hair will dry in no time!
The first time we visited AGH we didn't actually get as far as the pools as a lifeguard stopped us to ask why we were not wearing swimming caps. We explained that we did not have them and he quite rudely told us that we were not allowed to swim without a cap as it was a matter of hygiene. To a point I can accept this, especially when he explained, in a little less rude manner, that they used to have a lot of problems with hair blocking the drains so they introduced this rule. However, when I looked around the pool and saw that this rule only seemed to extend to adults I thought it a little unfair as children have hair too, and often longer hair than adults, so I thought it should be the same rule for all or not at all! But either way, this lifeguard refused to let us into the pool without a cap. He did tell us that we could purchase one from the shop if we wanted, but this would have involved getting changed, going to reception, making an overpriced purchase and then changing back to get in the pool, all time consuming when you could end up paying by the minute for any extra time!
Had we known about the caps rule we would have either bought them before our trip or gone swimming elsewhere. There was nothing advertised anywhere in the reception or even in the changing rooms stating in any language, not even Polish, that you must wear a cap and the pool doesn't have any kind of 'spares' facility to lend them to people who may have forgotten theirs or, like us, didn't know about this rule. However, for our second visit, we only went back as we were determined to see if this really was the best pool in the city, we had invested in a couple of swimming caps and were ready to go. I must say, I now have a dislike of swimming caps, having never worn one before I found them to be rather uncomfortable and look... well... weird!
There are three pools at Basen AGH. The smaller pool is heated slightly and has a couple of jet streams and fountains and numerous balls and floats for kids to play with. I'm not sure of the exact depth of this pool but I am 5ft 1 and I stood in the deepest part of it and it came to just above my waist. I like this pool as it is warmer, but it is over-run with children and the pool is a little to small for me to enjoy a proper swim in, but it is nice to warm up in.
The other 2 pools at Basen AGH are both 25 metres in length and neither of them are heated, in fact quite the opposite, they feel like they have had a lot of ice poured in them and they are actually freezing cold to the point that it really takes your breath away! Both pools are separated into lanes for simply swimming up and down, while I appreciate that this may be great for strong swimmers and exercise, I personally like to occasionally stand around in the middle of the pool or sometimes just lie on my back and float aimlessly to relax and having both of the main pools sectioned into lanes makes it impossible to do this as I would always be in someone's way!
After the whole swimming cap fiasco I would be expecting the pools to be kept spotlessly clean, however on both of our visits to this pool I have seen many a floating plaster or hair bobble and while the poolside floors seem clean, there are patches on the bottom of the actual pools which feel rather slimy!
AGH also has a sauna, which you don't need to wear a cap to use, this is what we did the first time we visited. The sauna was clean and lovely and warm. This is possibly the nicest experience of the whole place!
In the area where the small pool is there is a small overcrowded jacuzzi, which looked quite nice but we didn't get chance to go in as it was constantly full. Also in this area is a large blue slide, I did go on this slide but found even with my shortness and lightweight I still had to push myself along as the water flow was not strong enough. The plunge pool at the end of the slide is also not very long or deep and while I had no problems with this, I did see a few small children come flying out the end heading straight for the wall at the end of the plunge pool... all I can say is 'its only a matter of time...'
The whole area from the reception area right through to the pool is all on the same level with no steps, so quite wheelchair user friendly with enough space to manoeuvre around.
Prices & Opening Times
Basen AGH is open 7 days a week from 6am until midnight, with last admission at 11:15pm.
The prices at AGH are reasonable and depending on what day and time you go will depend on the price you will pay. Adults and children cost the same with peak times being the most expensive at 14zl (zloty), this is approximately just over £2.20 for a 60 minute session. Any minutes over this initial 60 you will be charged an extra 0.20zl.
Overall I cannot recommend Basen AGH to you. I have been here twice, the first time was the swimming cap fiasco where I got as far as the sauna, and the second time we actually got to swim. I can honestly say I wont be visiting this pool again. I found the staff to be very rude, in both English and Polish, I went with a Polish person so she confirmed this rudeness for me. They have pool rules which they don't advertise but expect you to follow and the pools themselves are not enjoyable to swim in due to the freezing water and slimy floors!
Thanks for reading :)