Krakow, one of the most iconic cities in Poland, captivates tourists from all over the world with a mythical atmosphere and charming architecture. Legends say that the city was founded on the defeat of a dragon. While we don’t know whether or not that is true, one thing is certain – there is magic in the air in Krakow. Wawel Castle, the most famous object in Krakow, is worth the trip alone, but there is more. The picturesque Old Town ensures unforgettable moments, especially if you choose Krakow for a romantic getaway. Every architecture buff will fall in love with the soaring churches, wonderful museums and Rynek Główny, the largest market square in Europe. No less impressive is the Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, with synagogues, museums and other reminders of the tragic history of Jews in the World War II. But there is more to Krakow than the past – it’s a city that’s not afraid to blend history with modernity, as is the case with the whole of Poland. The nightclubs, restaurants and pubs all over Krakow are among the most entertaining in the whole of Europe, which makes this city such a great choice for a wonderful city break.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Krakow
Day Trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine
This day trip allows you to skip the requirement of booking individual tickets and transportation, and gets you to the sights located around the city of Krakow. The first stop is a famous concentration camp located in the city of Auschwitz, and the second stop is an old salt mine, and a guide will tell you the history of both of those places.
Krakow Evening Food Walking Tour
Taking two and a half hour of your time, this tour will showcase you the street food of Krakow as you visit the local bars and restaurants to taste some of the traditional Polish cuisines. The tour includes dishes such as traditional Polish soups, goat cheese, authentic pierogi, and even a taste of local beer and vodka.
Kazimierz Food Tour
Stroll along with a local guide who will share his knowledge of the food and history of the Kazimierz district in Krakow. The guide will help you avoid places which are known for exploiting tourists and will show you where you can get good food instead, along with a tasting of both the cuisine and the local craft beer.
Polish Home Cooking Class in Krakow
If you are interested in learning a thing or two about Polish cuisine so you can reproduce it back home, this cooking class will teach you that. A guide will first take you on a shopping trip for ingredients at the local market, and afterwards, he will show you how to prepare such famous dishes as pierogi or placki.
Lost Souls Alley
If you’re in for a spine-chilling experience, make sure to visit the famous horror house of Krakow – the Lost Souls Alley. You will be taken on a trip through professionally arranged rooms with skilled actors trying to scare you and puzzles to solve. If you decide to choose a harder difficulty level than the easiest – make sure you are really up to the task.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory Tour
This two-hour-long guided tour will allow you to travel back in time to the Second World War Krakow and get a glimpse at its history. Oskar Schindler was famous for helping to save over a thousand Jewish employees from concentration camps, and this museum will show you what he has accomplished.
Wawel Castle Guided Tour
A one-and-a-half-hour visit to the Wawel Castle which will take you along the chambers and corridors of the home of the Polish kings. Take a look at the apartments of the kings and queens by yourself, as well as at the coronation rooms and the extensive art collection at the castle’s gallery.
Krakow Private Walking Tour
With a strictly limited group size, this private walking tour will allow you to get the most personalised experience possible. A guide will answer all of your questions as he tells you the history of the town and its monuments, following sights such as Kazimierz district, the Jewish ghetto, the Wawel Castle and many more.
Traces of Jewish Culture from Krakow
This four-hour tour will showcase you some of the Jewish history and heritage in and around Krakow. Beginning in Kazimierz, the historic Jewish district of the city, you will be able to visit its traditional kosher restaurants, synagogues, and monuments, as well as the famous Jewish cemetery.
Chopin Piano Concert
Taking place at Chopin Gallery in Krakow, this concert will allow you to enjoy the music of Frederic Chopin, performed by skilled, award-winning local musicians. The ticket grants you a comfortable seat in front of the scene, allowing you to comfortably enjoy the one-hour concert of the music of this Polish composer.
Other Things to See and Do
The Old Town is a place where you are sure to spot most of the city's attractions, including churches, the largest market square in Europe, monuments and many more. While you're at it, you can also marvel at the local artisan shops and the small-time restaurants, where you can afterwards eat a traditional meal.
St Florian’s Gate
Located to the north of the Royal Route, which is a road leading to the Old Town, this gate is among the best-known ones in Poland. It’s made in a Gothic style with gorgeous towers and used to be the main entryway to the Old Town. It is the only still remaining gate of the original eight, built in the middle ages.
St Florian’s Street
Being one of the most famous streets in the city of Krakow, St Florian’s Street has become one of the most crowded tourist attractions of the main square. Not only do many shops and restaurants adorn the sides of the street, but there is also a number of gorgeous historic townhouses, painted in pastel colours.
While visiting the Old Town, you absolutely have to visit the main square of Krakow. Not only is it the largest city square of Europe with more than forty thousand square meters, but there are plenty of additional attractions placed around the square, with a flea market open during the weekends.
Once a major centre of trade in Krakow, showcasing exotic imports, the Sukiennice cloth hall nowadays is a commerce centre for local stalls. There is also an exhibition of Polish paintings and sculptures on the upper floor of the cloth hall, the admission to which is free on every Sunday of the month.
Town Hall Tower
Also located in the main square is the famous town hall tower of Krakow, built at the end of the 13th century. While this is the only remaining part of the old Town Hall, it is still worth visiting. The tours of the inside of the tower are on payment (although they are really cheap), but you can still marvel at the tower from the outside.
Adam Mickiewicz Monument
Built to commemorate the famous poetry of Adam Mickiewicz, one of the greatest Polish romantic poets of the 19th century, the monument is made out of bronze and adorns the centre of the main square. It is one of the most famous statues in Poland, so make sure to take a picture in front of it.
St Mary’s Basilica
Famous for its five-note anthem which is played every hour by a trumpeter, which used to be a member of the town guard, but is now done by active members of the fire department, the St Mary’s Basilica is an iconic gothic church located in the main square, famous for its gorgeous altar carved by Wit Stwosz.
When you’re finished sightseeing the main square of Krakow, make sure to travel in the direction of the Wawel Hill. Not only is it a great place for a tranquil walk, with lush gardens around it and the river Vistula flowing nearby, but there is also a number of monuments and attractions for you to see.
Famous for being the coronation place of Polish kings, the Wawel Cathedral is free to visit and discover for yourself. It is also known for its underground crypts, which hold the remains of many Polish kings, as well as artists. There are also the supposedly real bones of the Wawel Dragon, which are in truth fossilised bones of a whale.
You do not need a specialised guided tour to visit the Wawel Castle for yourself, as it is open to tourists for free. While it used to be the residence of Polish kings and their families, nowadays it acts as a heritage site where you can wander around its hallways and chambers, admiring the architecture.
Wawel Dragon’s Den
Legend has it that a dragon lived under the Wawel Hill. This dragon was killed by a regular shoemaker, who used a fake sheep stuffed with sulphur to kill the dragon. Nowadays, the den acts as a tourist attraction with an entrance fee of less than one euro, and you can see a bronze sculpture of the dragon which breathes real fire.
St Peter and Paul Churches
Being the oldest baroque buildings in Poland, both of the churches have free audio guides which will tell you the history of the sites. Moreover, on Thursdays an event takes place which demonstrates the longest Foucault pendulum in Poland, proving the rotation of the earth. There are also frequent concerts taking place in the churches.
St Andrew’s Church
Located at Grodzka Street, this church is not only a rare survivor of early Middle Ages architecture but it was also once used as a fortress. During attacks, the local citizens of Krakow would flee into the church to find a shelter. Moreover, the church holds remarkably well-preserved pieces of Romanesque architecture.
Corpus Christi Basilica
If you are taking a walk through the Jewish quarter of Krakow, make sure not to skip this beautiful church. While it may not look like much from the outside, the inside presents an impressive combination of Polish Gothic and Polish Baroque styles and is often regarded as the most picturesque Baroque churches in Europe.
Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University
A great place to take an afternoon stroll is the botanic garden located on the premises of the Jagiellonian University in the Old Town. Not only does the botanic garden has over five thousand species of plants, placed along three different greenhouses, but it also showcases different climates in each one.
The place where the most locals go for their afternoon walk or a bicycle ride is Planty, which is a huge park surrounding the entire Old Town. The park features a lot of lush greenery and benches to relax and spreads over an area of more than five acres with thirty smaller gardens with monuments and fountains.
If you are on a trip with your loved one, make sure to visit the Kladka Bernatka, which is a place every couple visits on their trip to Krakow. Kladka Bernatka is a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, made to commemorate a monk who contributed to the building of a hospital in Krakow. Notice the thousands of padlocks that couples left on the railway!
The New Square
Lying in the heart of the old Jewish District, Kazimierz, the New Square holds the widest collection of street food in Krakow. Many pubs and restaurants are placed around the square, while in the middle there is a round structure which holds zapiekanka bars, along with many other small-time local spots.
You do not need to climb a tower or ride an elevator to a terrace to get a nice view of the city. Situated in the Podgórze district, this hill is one of the two man-made mounds, the purpose of which is a mystery to this day, much like Stonehenge. Nevertheless, the mound provides a gorgeous view of the city and its surroundings.