Things to do in

Krakow

Awe-inspiring history, great landmarks, and impressive landscapes await at Poland’s culture capital.

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Best things to do in Krakow

On the banks of the Vistula River lies one of Europe's most awe-inspiring cities. Historic buildings and monuments abound and create the foundation upon which Poland's capital of culture stands proud. Here are its top attractions!

  • National Museum, Krakow

    1. National Museum, Krakow

    The main branch of Poland's National Museum boasts around 780,000 art objects that span throughout history. The key draw for tourists, though, is its emphasis on Polish painting.

  • Wieliczka Salt Mine

    2. Wieliczka Salt Mine

    This 13th-century Wieliczka Salt Mine was in use until 2007. The miners had to spend so much time down there that they carved Catholic statues and chapels out of the rock salt!

  • Wawel Cathedral

    3. Wawel Cathedral

    For those worshipping above ground, this sightseeing essential has been the center of Krakow's religious life since the 11th century. Pope John Paul II was ordained at the Wawel Cathedral in 1946.

  • Bieszczady Mountains

    4. Bieszczady Mountains

    Keen hikers should allow time for a day trip to the region's scenic Bieszczady Mountains. It's pronounced Bee-esh-chardy, for those unfamiliar with Polish!

  • Tatra Mountains

    5. Tatra Mountains

    Significantly higher than the Bieszczady, a far tougher climb is rewarded with breathtaking views. We'd advise against taking Tatras' notoriously dangerous Orla Perć trail though!

  • Main Square, Krakow

    6. Main Square, Krakow

    Want to cover the main sights of Krakow in a day? Start your tour in the Old Town. The Krakow Main Square alone hosts Cloth Hall, the Town Hall Tower, and the Statue of Adam Mickiewicz.

  • Wawel

    7. Wawel

    The magnificent fortress Wawel was the seat of the medieval Polish monarchy, but its fascinating history predates even then by quite a bit. Its oldest buildings date back to 970AD!

Frequently asked questions about Krakow

What top attractions are a must-see in Krakow?

Planning Your Visit

  • How many days?

    Krakow offers plenty to see and do, with some extremely appealing day trip options beyond its borders. Book your stay for at least 4 or 5 days.

  • Where to stay?

    If you're only in town for a couple of days, booking a hotel in the Old Town or nearby Kazimierz will place you conveniently by Krakow's main sights. However, for visitors looking to keep their distance from the tourist district, Zwierzyniec might be the best place to stay. It's certainly the greenest!

  • How much money to bring?

    Krakow is not expensive. Even if you only ate in the Old Town you could do all meals and drinks for as little as $30-40 a day. Match that amount for tours and attraction tickets (more for day trips). It's worth checking to see if you'll get a better exchange rate on your currency there, rather than before you leave. Also, don't be persuaded to start a tab in any bars you're not familiar with and check prices first!

Good to know

  • Language
    Polish
  • Currency
    Polish złoty (zł)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+01:00)
  • Country Code
    +48
  • Best time to visit
    Spring and fall are the best times to visit, when temperatures are mild and tourist crowds are at a minimum!

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Krakow

Hi! My name is Sam and I’m the blogger behind Check Out Sam. Krakow is one of my favorite places in Europe, because it’s so incredibly diverse and different to most other cities of this continent. To help you plan your trip to Krakow, I’ve listed some valuable tips to get the most out of your city break.

What should I do on my first trip to Krakow?

Go marvel at some of the most beautiful sights of this city straight away by walking to Rynek Główny. This huge square is surrounded by picturesque buildings such as the famous Sukiennice and the stunning St. Mary's Basilica (make sure to go inside too!). There are plenty of great restaurants in this area as well. People watching is yet another thing you should do here!

What are some hidden gems to see in Krakow?

A little bit out of the city center you can find the Kościuszko Mound. If it wasn't surrounded by a ramparts-like wall, you would perhaps think it's just a (very random) hill dominating the landscape, but of course that's not the case! This monument was built by the Polish people to honor Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish nationalist who was very much against foreign powers taking over his beloved country. People from all over Poland started adding dirt from their towns, villages and cities and added it to the ever growing mound. Nowadays, tourists can climb this unique attraction and get stunning views over the city. On sunny days you can even see the Tatra mountains!

How much time should I spend in Krakow?

Krakow is not a big city, so you can easily see it in one full day. However, I would advice to at least take two days to fully experience it. If you also want to visit the Auschwitz concentration camps, I would add at least half a day. The same goes for the Wieliczka Salt Mines. There are plenty of tours available who combine these two sights near Krakow, so if you don't want to stress about getting to either of these places this might be something for you.

What food is Krakow known for?

From all the cities that I have visited, Krakow had some of the best food that I've ever had. It's cheap, delicious and at the end you always get offered a shot of Polish vodka. Make sure to try Pierogi (dumplings) filled with anything from fruits to meat. If you like meats, there's also plenty of options for your taste buds!

What is the best way to get around Krakow?

Walk or rent a bike if you are short in time. If you want to visit Auschwitz or Wieliczka, you can do so with public transportation (bus) or with the help of a guided tour.

What are the best months to visit Krakow?

During summer, it can get quite warm in Krakow but almost never too hot. The city feels a bit more crowded because of the nice temperatures, but it never gets out of hand. Also worth mentioning: in Augusts there's a pierogi festival! I personally really liked autumn in Krakow too. The temperatures can get quite cold, but most crowds stay away and the colorful trees make this fairytale like city even more stunning.

What is neighborhood Miasto known for?

Stay in Kazimierz for food, nightlife and (jewish) history. If you want to be located centrally I would suggest Stare Miasto. Here you'll find a bit of everything. It's close to most attractions and also has great nightlife and plenty of great restaurants nearby.

What are the best neighborhoods for food? 

You can find great food all over the city, but I would recommend the Kazimierz neighborhood for the best food. Especially if you want to try out the local cuisine. Not that fond of the heavy Polish dishes? No worries! There are enough other options too (steakhouse, Italian, Lebanese, Thai, ...)

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping? 

Krakow is not really a shopping destination, but you do have some streets and shopping centers which every shopaholic will love. Near the Rynek Glówny (main square) you can find Florianska. This is where you'll find a nice mix of boutiques and souvenir stores. If you're only looking for the latter, I would recommend to head to the Cloth Hall situated on the main square itself.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Krakow?

I would suggest to stay in the picturesque old center of Krakow. That way you're close to all the action and never far away from a good restaurant or a cosy bar. Stick to the areas that I've already mentioned before: Kazimierz and Stare Miasto. They are -in my humble opinion- the absolute best to fully enjoy your stay.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Krakow?

The Wieliczka mines are a fun activity for both younger and older people. Descend into these old salt mines near Krakow and discover the interesting history and stunning sights so deep down. There's even a cathedral completely made out of salt crystals that you'll visit here during a guided tour!

What is the best thing to do in Krakow for solo travelers?

Book a (combined) tour to Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mines. It's a great way to learn more about the surroundings of Krakow and its history, but also a good way to meet like-minded people. Especially during or after your visit to Auschwitz, it can be nice to talk to someone (guide or other visitors) and let out your thoughts and feelings.

What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Krakow? 

If you don't mind being en route for a couple of hours (one to three), head to the Tatra Mountains or make a stop in beautiful Zakopane. There is plenty of stunning scenery and lots of (challenging) hikes that you can do here.

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What people are saying about Krakow

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 78,212 reviews

Great tour guide at both the salt mines and Auschwitz. Be ready to walk! Lots of stairs and walking. Very cool tour, highly recommend.

Friendly, knowledgeable, spent all the needed time to answer our questions. Recommnend to future english travellers

This is a must to go and it was perfectly organized from the local travel operator. Fantastic!!!

It was good. Would have been greatly improved for me with English speakers on the raft.

Very helpful guides! The driver was super nice and he picked us from our apartment!