Things to Do in Krakow

Poland’s second largest city, Krakow, located in the country’s south, is a city of legends and mythical wonders. Soon after arriving you will realise that its like Krakow has been lifted from the pages of fantasy stories.

The city’s historic centre was the first of its kind to be named a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 1978 largely because it was lucky enough to come through WWII almost untouched. This makes it the perfect place to find yourself surrounded by original Gothic and Renaissance architecture, some of the best in the world, as you wander out from the Main Market Square through the cobblestone streets of the Stare Miasto (Old Town).

There is an abundance of things to do in Kraków as well as some really interesting and thought-provoking half day trips to places just outside of the city. And because it’s not a big city, fitting in most of, or even all its key attractions can easily be achieved in just a few days.

Main Market Square

Restaurants line the Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) - Things to Do in Krakow, Poland - The Trusted Traveller

The Main Market Square, or Rynek Glowny in Polish, is Europe’s largest medieval square and is surrounded by mostly neoclassical buildings containing restaurants, bars and shops.

Throughout the year the square is used for a number of public events and festivals and you will find it full of people all year round.

The square is dominated by the The Cloth Hall in the centre and the brick St Mary’s Basilica that towers over the square.

Address: Rynek Glowny, Kraków

Cost: Free

The Cloth Hall

Krakow's Cloth Hall in the Main Market Square - Things to Do in Krakow, Poland - The Trusted Traveller

The Cloth Hall in the centre of the the Main Market Square is one of the city’s most recognisable buildings and one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture to be found in the city.

The Hall was originally used as the centre of Kraków’s medieval clothing trade but these days you will find an arcade with stalls selling locally made souvenirs and crafts on the ground floor and the Sukiennice Museum, a branch of the National Museum of Krakow, on the upper floor.

Address: Rynek Glowny, Kraków

Cost: Free for the main arcade

St Mary’s Basilica

St Mary's Basillica in the Main Market Square - Things to Do in Krakow, Poland - The Trusted Traveller

The brick St Mary’s Basilica towers over the Main Market Square with its two towers of different heights. It was originally built-in 1220 but later destroyed and re-built over time into its current form.

Its interior is quite spectacular with lots of intricate detailing and well worth a look. During summer you can climb one of the towers for spectacular views across Kraków.

Address: Rynek Glowny, Kraków

Cost: Adults 10zł, Concession 8zł, Child 5zł

Hours: 11:30-18:00 Mon to Sat, 14:00-18:00 Sun

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Typical buildings in Krakow's Kazimierz District - Things to Do in Krakow, Poland - The Trusted Traveller

The former Jewish district of Kazimierz is a great place to take in picturesque streets and Renaissance buildings. During a walk around this area (see my suggested guided walking tour below) you will come across many churches, synagogues and museums.

The deportation of Jewish people from this area by the Nazis during WWII saw the loss of the areas life and atmosphere. Luckily today, Kazimierz is thriving with life from the slow rejuvenation that has happened for many years.

While you’re in the area be sure to have a meal at one of the traditional Jewish restaurants. My recommendation is Polakowski. This tiny family run self-service style restaurant, open since 1899, serves cheap and delicious meals typical of Poland. The locals love it which means it must be great!

Address: Kazimierz district is just south the Old Town. Polakowski – ul. Miodowa, Kazimierz, Kraków

Check Out This Walking Tour!

Kazimierz Walking Tour – see historic synagogues, remnants of a real World War II ghetto, and discover why Spielberg chose Kazimierz as the set for his Academy Award-winning movie.

Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle - Things to Do in Krakow, Poland - The Trusted Traveller

A short walk south from the Main Market Square is the area of Wawel and the Wawel Castle. The palace that you see today was re-built in the 16th century in the renaissance style and is surrounded by a beautiful arcaded courtyard.

There are a number of attractions within the grounds of the Castle for you to explore with the main one being the State Rooms which served as the residence of the governor.

Similar is the Royal Private Apartments which were used by guests of the King. Both are decorated as they would have been in their time giving you an interesting glimpse into the past.

You can also visit a few exhibitions such as the Crown Treasury and Armoury, Oriental Art and The Lost Wawel, an archaeological site. Finally the best way to end your tour of Wawel Castle is to exit through the Dragon’s Den. This cave was once believed to be home to the legend of the dragon of Wawel.

Address: Wawel 5, Kraków

Cost: Unfortunately no one ticket can be purchased for all attractions in the castle. Check the website for prices for each attraction.

Hours: Hours change regularly, check the website for details.

More Information:

Check Out This Tour of Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle Guided Tour – explore the castle and its attractions with an expert local guide.

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Auschwitz-Birkenau, just outside of Krakow - Things to Do in Krakow, Poland - The Trusted Traveller

Auschwitz and Birkenau are two separate sites located roughly across the road from one another. I have taken a paragraph from Auschwitz Memorial and Museum website that sums up its history perfectly;

“At first, the German’s held Polish political prisoners in the camp. From the spring of 1942 Auschwitz became the largest site for the murder of Jews brought here under the Nazi plan for their extermination. More than 1,100,000 men, women and children lost their lives here.”

I know a lot of people are unsure about visiting a place like this where so many atrocities have occurred, it really can be very hard to handle and understand while you’re there. Despite this, I believe that visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau (or similar former concentration camps in Europe) is extremely important so we can remember the mistakes made in history and make sure that similar mistakes and atrocities are not repeated.

If you do decide to visit, prepare yourself for what you will see and learn.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is located just over one hour drive outside of Krakow and is best visited on a half or full day trip which can be done independently on public transport or on a guided tour (see my recommendation below).

Address: Stanislawy Leszczynskeij Str. No.11, Oswiecim

Cost: Entry to Auschwitz is free however joining a guided tour is priced at Adult 45zł Under 26 35zł if visiting independently. If you are visiting independently, bookings in advance are recommended as most tour sell out prior to the day.

Hours: Open 8:00 daily, closes 19:00 Jun/Jul/Aug, 18:00 Apr/May/Sept, 17:00 Mar/Oct, 16:00 Feb, 15:00 Jan/Nov and 12:00 Dec.

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Book an Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour

Auschwitz-Birkenau Tour from Krakow – the convenience of pick-up and drop-off in Krakow as well as a skip-the-line entrance with an expert guide.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine - Things to Do in Krakow, Poland - The Trusted Traveller

The Wieliczka Salt Mine has been in existence in some form or another for over 700 years and is one of the oldest salt mines in Europe.

Inside this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listed mine you will find carvings of important figures, monuments and altarpieces which have earned it historical importance.

You’re tour begins by descending into the mine via 380 odd steps (make sure you look down the small gap between the staircases at the top). Then your guide will slowly take you further into the mine via passageways, galleries and enormous chambers. One pretty gross thing a lot of visitors to the mine like to do is lick the walls to taste the salt.

Unless you have your own car, the best way to reach the mine is by organised tour from Kraków. Tours pick-up and drop-off in Krakow and run for about four hours.

Address: ul. Danilowicza 10, Wieliczka

Cost: Entry 79zł

Hours: Apr-Oct 7:30-19:30 and Nov-Mar 8:00-17:00

More Information 

Book a Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour

Half-Day Tour of Wieliczka Salt Mine – pick-up and drop-off in Krakow plus a guided tour of the mine.

Czartoryski Museum

The Czartoryski Museum was founded in Pulawy in eastern Poland in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryski and has since been moved to Kraków, via Russia and Paris due to conflict in war times.

Its impressive collection of world-class art and artefacts includes items from Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle, a fine collection of European paintings and antiques as well as an armoury and impressive jewel collection.

Princess Czartoryski had a rather odd fascination with the misery of human life and collected items like fragments from the graves of Romeo and Juliet along with ashes from El Cid and Ximena from the Cathedral of Burgos.

Address: ul. Sw Jana 19, Kraków

Cost: Adult 9zł Concession/Child 5zł – Free Sunday’s.

Hours: Closed Mon, 10:00-16:00 Tues to Sun

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Ethnographic Museum

Housed in a 14th century renaissance building in Kazimierz is the Ethnographic Museum. Inside you will find the permantent exhibition showing reconstructed interiors of traditional Polish peasant workshops and cottages, nativity scenes, folk costumes, traditional paintings and woodcarvings and exhibit of crafts.

Address: Plac Wolnica 1, Kazimierz, Kraków

Cost: Adult 13zł Concession/Child 7zł – Free Sunday’s.

Hours: Closed Mon, 10:00-19:00 Tues to Sun

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Where to Stay in Krakow

Here are three accommodation options in Krakow to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Evergreen Hostel Krakow

Mid-Range – ApartHotel Maria

Luxury – Hotel Unicus Palace

Over to you!

Which of these things to do in Kraków most interests you?

Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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46 thoughts on “Things to Do in Krakow”

    • There is a really nice water front area with parklands and walking tracks along the river plus a large forested park that separates the old town from Wawel.

      • If people are spending more than a day or two in Krakow, the infoKrakow office has amazing guidebooks (free) for the lesser Poland region, where visitors can find information about all the national parks around Krakow.

        Most of them are easy to get to by public transport, one is only an hour bike-ride out of the city and is a park with a unique church built on top of water, a castle, and several famous rock-formations characteristic of the Jurrasic Highlands.

        There is so much more to Krakow than just Auschwitz, Wieliecka, and the city center, that no one ever gets to see. For example the mounds that provide the best views of the city, the Polish countryside and bike trails 15 minutes outside the main square, and the special parks within the city that offer an old quarry filled with water, that is such a beautiful urban scene.

  1. I adored my time in Krakow- I had three days and it wasn’t quite enough! Would love to go back and visit again- I didn’t have time to see the Salt Mines and I feel like I missed out!

    • That’s great to hear Hannah. I hadn’t planned to visit the Salt Mines but everyone in our hostel was raving about how great they were so we thought why not!

  2. I studied in Krakow at the Jagiellonian University for a semester, it’s a beautiful city, and it changes with the seasons too. If you’re in the area again, definitely try to go to Zakopane too.

  3. Kazimierz was my favourite district! Full of history and quirky bars or coffeeshops! A friend of mine is living there at the moment, maybe I should take advantage of visiting her 🙂

  4. I’d love to visit Krakow some day. There’s so much fascinating history. I bet Auschwitz would be really hard to visit, but I think you’re right that’s important to see first hand the horrible things that happened so we don’t forget.

  5. There are always really cheap flights to Krakow from our local airport, but I’ve always wondered what on earth there is to do there…now I know! Really like the idea of the salt mine (but don’t think I’d lick it, eugh), and I think I’d want to visit Auschwitz out of both curiosity and respect to history. One day! Thanks for opening my eyes 🙂

  6. Poland has some really nice architecture and is definitely a must see for history buffs. I didn’t know you can visit Auschwitz for free, thanks for sharing. It is definitely on my bucket list.

  7. Great list! I think it’s very important to see such historical sites, even if they are reminders of such atrocities. We, as the human race, need to be reminded of those things so we don’t make the same mistakes.

  8. I have always been unsure about visiting Krakow because I didn’t know if there would be enough to do, This post definitely changed my mind! And the pictures are beautiful!

    • Thanks so much Valerie. I am so glad I have changed your mind. I’d love to hear from you again when you do make it there.

  9. We went to Krakow almost at the beginning of our trip and I’m not sure way we didn’t really enjoy it that much. I need to go back at some point really to give it another chance

  10. I like Poland – it may not be the first place that comes to mind for a trip to Europe. But if you love European history and archaeology, or enjoy visiting places of great spiritual and or cultural significance, there are good reasons why you should visit Poland.
    There are a lot of fascinating castles, I would recommend the last one I had a chance to visit – is Niemodlin Castle.

    • They are all great reasons to visit Poland Anastazja and I’ll definitely keep that castle in mind next time I’m in the country. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Great recommendations! I have been to Poland few times, but I only stayed in Warsaw. Krakow seems lovely, I need to go there next time too! I would also recommend Warsaw as a destination worth visiting in Poland. It is more modern than Krakow, but very diverse and charming. There are plenty of different spots and place worth going to. One of my favorite places in Warsaw is an amazing bar – Bubbles Bar in beautiful downtown. It is very cozy, casual bar with amazing champagnes and delicious food. The place is so great, that I usually spend at least few hours, if not the entire evening. I just don’t want to leave 😉

    • Thanks for the recommendation Cass. I will definitely check it out one day when I visit Warsaw.I hope you enjoy Krakow as much as I did.

  12. Hi Jen this is amazing article because this is very much Helpful. I am planning to travel Krakow in 2 Months and i needed a complete list of good place to visit which i got it from here.


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