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Things to do in Krakow

Things to do in  Krakow

Welcome to Krakow

Krakow combines quaint charm with spacious grandeur. Rynek Glowny, the largest medieval market square in Europe, is reigned over by Gothic jewels such as Town Hall Tower and the Basilica of the Virgin Mary. The capital’s UNESCO-listed Old Town and Wawel Hill, crowned by the impressive Wawel Castle, lend themselves well to walking tours, while the nearby Wieliczka Salt Mine—also a World Heritage Site—makes for an excellent day-trip. If you’re a nature lover, don’t miss out on an excursion to Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains, or float down the scenic Dunajec River on a wooden raft. In the Gothic city of Czestochowa, just a couple of hours away from Krakow, you’ll find the revered religious painting, The Black Madonna. Krakow’s Jewish heritage is prominent and poignant, and history buffs will want to book a guided tour to visit essential stops including Kazimierz (the former Jewish quarter), the Oskar Schindler Museum, and the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. In contrast, Krakow’s nightlife burns bright and its historic center resonates with some of the best restaurants, bars, and clubs in Poland. An evening food tour showcases Polish cuisine and the city’s nighttime ambience, and offers ample opportunities to indulge in dumplings, sour rye soup, wild boar, and vodka.

Top 15 attractions in Krakow

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is the resting place for some 1.5 million people, as the site once served as a concentration camp and extermination site of the European Jewish community during World War II. Today, Auschwitz-Birkenau is an important historical area, allowing visitors to reflect on the monumental horrors that occurred during the genocide.More

Wieliczka Salt Mine (Kopalnia Soli)

An eerie world where everything has been carved from salt blocks, the Wieliczka Salt Mine (Kopalnia Soli) is made up of a labyrinth of tunnels, the deepest of which lies 1,075 feet (327 meters) underground. The ancient UNESCO World Heritage site is a major part of Poland's salt mining history, one of the country's most popular attractions, and one of the world's oldest salt mines, having produced table salt from the 13th century until 2007.More

Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square)

The gigantic town square of Rynek Główny (most often translated Main Market Square) is the centrepiece of Krakow’s UNESCO-listed Old Town and the largest medieval square in Europe. Dominated by the Renaissance-style Cloth Hall and flanked by colorful neoclassical buildings, the square is both an architectural landmark and the main hub of local life.More

St. Mary's Basilica (Kościól Mariacki)

This brick Gothic church in the northeast corner of Old Town’s main square (Rynek Główny, dominates the skyline at 262 feet (80 meters tall. Dating back to the 13th century, St. Mary’s Basilica (Kościól Mariacki is famous for its stunning wooden altarpiece carved by German sculptor Veit Stoss.More

Wawel Royal Castle (Zamek Wawelski)

Crowning Krakow’s Wawel Hill and adjoining Wawel Cathedral, Wawel Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of numerous Romanesque, Renaissance, Gothic, and baroque buildings, courtyards, and gardens. Dating back to the 14th century, the castle was home to many of Poland’s monarchs and is a symbol of Polish history and pride.More

Oskar Schindler's Factory (Fabryka Schindlera)

A wealthy German and Nazi Party member, Oskar Schindler bought an enamel factory in Krakow following the invasion of Poland in World War II. He saved more than 1,000 of his Jewish employees by insisting that they were vital to the workforce. Today, Oskar Schindler's Factory houses a permanent exhibition on the Nazi occupation of Krakow.More

Kazimierz (Krakow Jewish Quarter)

Krakow’s Jewish Quarter—Kazimierz—has been the heart of the city’s Jewish community since medieval times. Traces of its turbulent past remain, but today it’s reinvented itself as a thriving cultural hub, where historic synagogues and museums sit side by side with art galleries, cocktail bars, bold street art, and vintage boutiques.More

Ghetto Heroes Square (Plac Bohaterów Getta)

The poignant Ghetto Heroes Square commemorates the thousands of Krakow’s Jewish community who were forcibly moved and incarcerated within the Podgórze ghetto. Plac Zgody, a square in the heart of the ghetto, was the departure point for Jewish people boarding trains to Płaszów, Auschwitz, and other concentration camps during World War II.More

Cloth Hall (Sukiennice)

Cloth Hall (Sukiennice dates back to the Renaissance and is one of the city’s most recognizable structures. Featured prominently in Old Town’s main square (Rynek Główny, Cloth Hall was originally intended as a linen and textile marketplace for local merchants to sell and house their goods.More

Great Barbican

The Great Barbican is a 15th-century, 7-turreted bastion in Krakow that once protected the city’s main gate—St. Florian’s Gate—and the Old Town within it. One of the few remnants of Krakow’s fortifications, the barbican consists of a small museum, medieval passageways, and a courtyard that hosts summer events such as jousting and pageants.More

Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska)

The coronation site of nearly all Polish monarchs, 14th-century Wawel Cathedral is the country’s major religious site. Located on Wawel Hill next to Wawel Castle, the cathedral boasts grand artworks, chapels, a museum, the 16th-century Sigismund Bell, and tombs of Poland’s royals and patron saint, St. Stanislaus.More

Chocholow (Chocholów)

A small and idyllic village in southern Poland, close to the Tatra Mountains, Chochołów dates back to the 16th century. It is known for its traditional wooden houses, built by Polish highlanders, and the Chochołowskie Thermal Baths (Chochołowskie Termy).More

Mt. Gubalówka

Standing 3,694 feet (1,126 meters) above the southern Polish town of Zakopane, Mt. Gubalowka (Gubałówka) is one of the region’s most popular year-round attractions. Take in excellent views of the surrounding Tatra Mountains while participating in a variety of outdoor activities.More

Krakow Old Town (Kraków Stare Miasto)

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, Kraków’s Old Town (Kraków Stare Miasto or Stare Miasto w Krakowie has been the epicenter of the city’s cultural, religious, and political life since medieval times. Once completely surrounded by a 1.9-mile-long (3-kilometer-long defensive wall, Old Town is packed with history.More

St. Florian's Gate (Brama Floriańska)

Built in 1300 as part of extensive fortifications to protect against Turkish attack, St Florian’s Gate (Brama Florianska) once served as the main entrance to Krakow. It was also the starting point of the Royal Road, the route Polish royalty and nobility would follow from the city entrance to the castle. Today, it’s the only remaining gate of the original eight in the old city walls, the others having been dismantled during the nineteenth century modernization of the city.The Gothic-style stone tower stands 110 feet (33.5 meters) tall and features a decorative metal Baroque topper that was added in the seventeenth century. A bas-relief on the southern wall of the gate houses a statue of the gate’s namesake, while the north side has a stone carving of an eagle. Vendors can often be found selling art and souvenirs around the base of the gate.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Krakow

Day Trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine from Krakow including Lunch
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Auschwitz & Birkenau: Live-Guided Tour with Transportation and Hotel Pickup
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Krakow Old Town Guided Walking Tour
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Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine Guided One Day Tour
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Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine Guided One Day Tour

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Auschwitz - Birkenau Memorial Tour from Krakow
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Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum Guided Tour from Krakow
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Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum Guided Tour from Krakow

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From Krakow: Auschwitz-Birkenau Guided Tour, Pickup & Transfers
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Auschwitz & Birkenau - Fully Guided Tour from Krakow
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Auschwitz & Birkenau - Fully Guided Tour from Krakow

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Krakow Jewish Quarter Guided Walking Tour
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All about Krakow

When to visit

Krakow makes good use of its warm summer months with a stellar festival lineup. For peak culture, visit in June for Photomonth, the Krakow Film Festival, and the Summer Jazz Festival. Alternatively, December offers cheap lodging and the chance to feel festive at the traditional Christmas Market.

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A local’s pocket guide to Krakow

Artur Hadrys

Born and raised in Kraków, Artur is a Viator engineer currently living in the UK. He travels to Kraków often to see what’s changed, discover new hidden gems, and revisit his favourite spots.

The first thing you should do in Krakow is...

go to the Main Square, get an obwarzanek (famous local bagel), and then stroll down the Royal Route towards Wawel Castle.

A perfect Saturday in Krakow...

involves breakfast in the Old Town and a bike ride through Planty Park. Take a selfie with Smok Wawelski, the Wawel Castle Dragon, then get dinner and drinks in the Jewish Quarter.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Main Square. It's Europe's largest medieval market square and a bustling place full of landmarks, museums, restaurants, pubs, live music venues, and shopping opportunities.

To discover the "real" Krakow...

get a good local guide to fill you in on the countless Kraków legends, while simultaneously avoiding the many tourist traps.

For the best view of the city...

go up in the tethered hot-air balloon at Bulwar Wołyński. Alternatively, climb up one of the local mounds like Kosciuszko.

One thing people get wrong...

is not making good use of the very efficient public transportation, including the airport shuttle train.

People Also Ask

What should you not miss in Krakow?

A visit to Krakow must include a visit to the Old Town and Rynek Glowny Central Square—one of Europe’s largest medieval market squares. Browse handmade wooden goods in the cloth hall (Sukiennice), and stroll down the Royal Route towards Wawel Castle and Cathedral. Also, don’t miss Kazimierz, the city’s Jewish Quarter.

How many days do you need in Krakow?

Krakow is a perfect weekend destination. Stay in the Jewish District of Kazimierz, a treasure trove of coffee shops, cool bars, ancient synagogues, and art galleries; then spend a day exploring the historical wonders of the Old Town such as the Cloth Hall, and Saint Mary's Basilica.

Is it safe to walk around Krakow at night?

Yes, it’s safe to walk around Krakow at night, but it’s best to stick to busier well-lit areas such as the Old Town and Kazimierz. As it’s a popular bachelor party destination, sometimes drunk tourists may be gathered in groups in the main square, but they’re unlikely to bother you.

Is Auschwitz close to Krakow?

Yes, Auschwitz is roughly 42 miles (69 km) from Krakow, so it’s an ideal day-trip destination. The quickest way to get there is by taxi which takes around an hour. Alternatively, you could get the train which takes just under 2 hours, or go on organized tour with round-trip transportation included.

Is it cheap to eat out in Krakow?

Yes, Krakow is often listed as one of Europe’s cheapest cities, and you can easily find generous main courses for under US$10. For super cheap eats, go to milk bars (Bar Mleczny), which sell hearty traditional food. Also, look out for zapiekanki stands, Poland’s tasty pizza-style open baguettes.

Is Krakow good for nightlife?

Yes, Krakow has excellent nightlife options. In fact, it has one of the highest concentrations of bars and clubs per square mile in Europe. There’s something for every taste including swanky cocktail bars, techno clubs, jazz venues, atmospheric cellar bars, beer gardens, '70s music clubs, and the ever-popular vodka shot bars.


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