Historical center of Krakow in sunny weather

Things to do in  Krakow

Poland, unleashed

Visiting Krakow feels both like stepping back into the Middle Ages and discovering a thoroughly modern city. Overlooking the Vistula River, it has some of the best-preserved medieval architecture in all of Europe, from the Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the spacious market square of Rynek Glowny. A tour of Wawel Royal Castle (and Wawel Hill) is a must for visitors, and a stroll through the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz is one of many things to do in Krakow. One of the city’s most unusual landmarks is the Wieliczka Salt Mine located deep underground, but if you prefer staying at ground level, enjoy the fresh air in Planty Park. Visitors can also learn about World War II and the impact of the Holocaust on local Jewish communities at the Oskar Schindler Museum, or during a day trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Top 15 attractions in Krakow

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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

Chocholow (Chocholów)

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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

Ghetto Heroes Square (Plac Bohaterów Getta)

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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)

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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

Mt. Gubalówka

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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

Great Barbican

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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)

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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

Krakow Old Town (Kraków Stare Miasto)

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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

Plac Nowy

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Lying at the heart of Jewish Krakow and today the gritty, edgy focus of the city’s subversive underground scene, Plac Nowy (literally, New Square) in Kazimierz is re-emerging from its Communist-era slump. It is a rather bleak square surrounded by once-handsome townhouses and was incorporated into the Jewish quarter in the late 17th century as its main market place; the landmark Okrąglak (Rotunda) was built around 1900 in the center of the square and it served as a kosher slaughterhouse right up until to the Nazi occupation of Krakow in 1939.Today, Plac Nowy is jumping with life once more; the daily food market morphs into a sprawling flea market at the weekends, when a young crowd pours in to snap up antiques, pre-loved clothes, Soviet memorabilia and Jewish ephemera. Butchers still operate in the Rotunda and they run a series of takeaway food hatches through which the Cracovian street food of choice, zapiekanki (baguette-shaped pizzas with a choice of toppings) are sold until the wee hours. Around the square is a burgeoning club-and-bar scene, which also stays open and buzzing until late. The Galicia Jewish Museum and several historic synagogues are close by and can be visited on sign posted walking tours of the district.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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Wieliczka Salt Mine Guided Tour with optional hotel pickup
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Wieliczka Salt Mine Guided Tour with optional hotel pickup

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Auschwitz Birkenau Guided Tour from Krakow & hotel pick-up option
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Zakopane Tour and Thermal Hot Bath Pool with Krakow Hotel Pickup
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Auschwitz and Birkenau Fully Guided Tour from Krakow
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Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine Guided One Day Tour
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From Krakow: Wieliczka Salt Mine Live Guided Group Tour
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Auschwitz Birkenau Self-Guided & Guided Tour from Krakow
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Auschwitz-Birkenau Best Value Shared Tour
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All about Krakow

When to visit

Krakow’s appeal as a quick European vacation spot makes it a popular tourist destination year-round—but especially during the peak summer season of June through August. Things to do in Krakow during summer include attending the Jewish Culture Festival (June/July); Wianki Festival (June), a celebration of the summer solstice; or the Pierogi Festival (August), a foodie festival dedicated to Poland’s iconic dumplings. For pleasant weather and fewer crowds, April, May, and September are also great months to visit.

Getting around

Its evolution from medieval town to modern city has made Krakow particularly pedestrian-friendly. Most key landmarks—such as the Town Hall Tower, St. Mary’s Basilica, and Wawel Castle—are within walking distance of each other. It takes around 20 minutes to walk from the Old Town to Kazimierz, but if you want to rest your legs, there’s an extensive tram network with around 400 stops around the city. (It’s worth seeing a different side of the city when you explore outlying areas like Nowa Huta). Look up timetables using the Jakdojade app, and buy tickets from machines at major stops or aboard.

Traveler tips

For cheap eats (or a late-night guilty pleasure) head to the roundhouse at the center of Plac Nowy in Kazimierz—a place known for the Polish toasted open sandwiches called zapiekanki. Crunchy baguettes are stacked with generous layers of ingredients, such as melty cheese, sauteed mushrooms, salami, and grilled vegetables. You can choose your own custom flavor combinations or pick from the seemingly endless menus on display at the competing kiosks.

Local Currency
Polish Zloty (PLN)
Time Zone
CET (UTC +1)
Country Code
+48
Language(s)
Polish
Attractions
81
Tours
1,437
Reviews
56,881

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.

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People Also Ask

What should you not miss in Krakow?

Krakow swelled in influence during the 12th and 13th centuries, and any trip must include a visit to its medieval Old Town and Rynek Glowny Central Square (listen out for the hourly bugle call, a tradition that goes back centuries). Browse 19th century Polish art in the Sukiennice, and stroll down the Royal Route towards Wawel Castle and Cathedral (a.k.a. Pope John Paul II’s cathedral).

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How many days do you need in Krakow?

You can experience many of the best things to do in Krakow in one weekend. 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. Afterwards, plan a separate trip to Warsaw: the capital of Poland.

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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. The city is a popular bachelor party destination, and sometimes drunk tourists gather in groups in the main square, but they’re unlikely to bother you.

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Is Auschwitz close to Krakow?

Yes, the concentration camp 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. You can also get the train which takes just under 2 hours, or go on an organized tour with round-trip transportation included.

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Is it cheap to eat out in Krakow?

Yes, Krakow is one of Europe’s cheapest cities, and it’s easy to 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.

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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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