Krakow Tourism Information
Krakow is a "classic medieval city" where castles, defence walls, towers and market squares come to meet 21st century modern polish life. The city is full of interesting churches, actually over 130 of them across the city, but if you don't have much time, the main ones are close by the main square, (Plac Mariacki), where also, you can indulge in the traditional polish cuisine and sample wines and craft beers.
Krakow is a beautiful city which, luckily, has been saved from war attacks and destruction over many decades, this also adds to the interest of artistic styles and architecture. Visiting Krakow is a trip back in time, a tale of many stories and historic events which took place in the city. Buildings, churches and streets can tell a very dark history, joining a tour is an excellent idea to get to know more about Krakow and it's heritage. Alternatively, walk and stroll along the city and meet it's friendly people, who are always happy to welcome tourists in a city which each time is getting more and more popular to visit!
Krakow features all 4 seasons, with winter and summer being the most noticeable. Spring and autumn are still apparent, but the weather is mild and short lived, giving away for either the heat or the cold.
The summer climate in Krakow is when the city is at its busiest and the very peak of the tourist season falls between July and August. Summer highs in Krakow can be anywhere between 25°C and 33°C, with sporadic heat waves, although in most cases daytime temperatures average 24°C.
The best time to visit Krakow, and escape the crowds when it is a little quieter, spring or early summer (April to June) or September and October) is a good time to consider, when the flowers are fresh and the climate is still warming up, with daytime temperatures averaging around 22°C.The autumn climate in Krakow is also favourable and this brief season stays relatively mild, and attractive fall colours in the surrounding areas of countryside.
December and January are the coldest months in Krakow, with daytime temperatures of 5°C often feeling colder due to strong winter winds.
The city of Krakow offers great transportation options, although most of the city is walkable, you will find easy connections thanks to a modern infrastructure of busses, trains and trams. When arriving from or to the airport, you can take the train or the bus from/to the main railway station. Price is 9 Pln one way, either by bus or train (train trip is faster though and within 20 min).
When in the city, Krakow doesn't have a metro system, but offers trams and busses. You can opt for short time tickets 20, 40 or 60 min or for a longer period of stay you can buy 24/48/72 hours tickets. Remember to validate your tickets after boarding a bus or tram. For more information on the Krakow transport check and visit it's official Transportation page. Below you can find the download button for the city's transport maps.
Krakow is Poland's second largest city, and was a former capital of the country, before it was elected that Warsaw will take the title of capital. However, Krakow is still considered a "capital of culture" where true medieval influence and a mix of architecture styles make it a very popular choice for travellers. Wawel Castle is a major drawcard, while the Old Town contains soaring churches, impressive museums and the vast Rynek Główny, Europe’s largest market square. In the former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, remnant synagogues reflect the tragedy of the 20th century, just as its lively squares and backstreets symbolise the renewal of the 21st. Here and throughout the Old Town you will find hundreds of restaurants, bars and clubs offering authentic polish cuisine, as well as foreign.
However, there’s more to the former royal capital than history and nightlife. As you walk through the Old Town, you’ll sometimes find yourself surprised by the harmony of a quiet back street, the safety of it's streets at night and it's open parks and walks along the river are just a few things which keep you close to nature. Whether you stay within the city of visit the outskirts there is plenty to see. Below you will find the main highlights:
- Wawel Castle: is a castle residency located in central Kraków. Built at the request of King Casimir III the Great. It consists of a number of structures situated around the Italian-styled main courtyard. The castle, being one of the largest in Poland, represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country. In 1978 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Castle is now one of the country’s premier art museums. Established in 1930, the museum encompasses ten curatorial departments responsible for collections of paintings, including an important collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, prints, sculpture, textiles, Augustus tapestry collection, goldsmith’s work, arms and armor, ceramics, porcelain, and period furniture. The castle does not charge to visit the grounds, but you need to pay to get inside any other building for museums or expositions. Fees vary from 18 to 30 Pln depending what you want to see. For more information on the castle's visit Wawel.krakow.pl/en for times and ticket prices.
- The Krakow Dragon: Krakow's symbol is naturally the Dragon! If you make some official tours you will be hearing all the exciting, mystical and adventure tales of beasts and princes that surround the founding of Poland’s southern city. After your visit to the castle, head to the base of the Wawel Hill, where a deep cave is said to have once been the lair of the formidable Smok Wawelski, the dragon himself! And just to prove it, the statue outside even breathes fire!
- Sukiennice: named by many, as the world’s oldest shopping centre, the Sukiennice has stood in the middle of the Krakow Market Square for centuries. Step inside to see the bustling souvenir stalls and their mounds of interesting folk trinkets, or stay outside to wonder at the handsome Renaissance architecture. Try to find items of the medieval era, like a knife, which was once used as punishment for those disobeying public order in the middle ages!
- St Mary’s Basilica: The redbrick façade and great twin spires of St Mary’s Basilica have become symbols of the city of Krakow. Looming high over the Market Square, they were first raised in the 14th century, have weathered Mongol invasions, and still host the hourly trumpet call, the Hejnał Mariacki. This is performed daily at every hour of the day and night! Make sure to spot the man with his trumped and listen to the nice melody for just under a minute.
- Planty Park: The green Planty Park surrounds the whole area of Krakow’s historic Old Town. Pathways weave this way and that past sculptures and fountains, while locals walk their dogs and cafes can be found around the sidewalks. It’s filled with life in the summer and a winter wonderland during the colder months.
- St Florian's Gate: It marks the start of the so-called Royal Route. Pass through and note the buskers that play everything from highlander folk to Dylan-esque country in the echoing tunnel, before heading into the Old Town via Florianska Street.
✔️Tip: It is here that most tours meet to start the official tours and Free Walking Tours in Krakow. For more info visit Free Walking Tour Krakow
- Florianska Street: Cutting through the very heart of the northern half of the Old Town district, the bustling street hosts everything from craft beer bars to souvenir emporiums to vodka tasting shops. It’s one of the main attractions for shopping and eating in Krakow.
- The Jewish Quarter: Set within walking distance of the Old Town, the historic Jewish Quarter of Krakow was once a separate city in its own right. Today, it’s totally subsumed into the fabric of the town, but still retains a unique culture and vibe with its crumbling tenement blocks, great synagogues and places of cool bohemian beer bars and snack stalls doted around the area.
Feeling hungry? We can recommend you a Polish restaurant which promises to give you a great taste of Polish Cuisine and at the same time served by friendly staff and set in a great atmosphere with indoors or outdoor comfortable seating. Szalone Widelce restaurant is only a short distance from St Florian's Gate in the heart of the Old Town.
You will find a great variety of Polish dishes, including the famous Pierogi dumplings. If you feel like a light salad to something more hearty they have a great menu of meat dishes, fish, soups, menu for kids and delicious appetisers and desserts! Find out more about the menu below! If you are looking for a quick snack and beer or come for lunch or dinner you won't be disappointed with this restaurant, offering reasonable prices, tasty quality food, good portions and great warm friendly service!
Dark, emotional, moving, and sobering in the extreme, there’s really nowhere in Europe quite like Auschwitz-Birkenau. It remains one of the top activities to do in Krakow, offering an informative and sensitive insight into the horrors of the Holocaust and the destruction brought by the Nazis on the Jews and minorities of the continent. The memorial and museum are around an hour from the city centre. You can travel by train, bus or private tours which organise trips from Krakow.
If you are travelling by yourself, despite being cheaper, you will need to make more connections. Taking early busses and trains are often crowded. Busses are more direct, but not all stop close to the museum entrance so make sure you ask before booking. Trains are more comfortable, but the station of Oświęcim (for Auschwitz) is located between the two concentration camps. You can then take local busses 24/29 to the Auschwitz I museum, and from there, you can take shuttles to Auschwitz II.
To book local transport in Poland, please visit this website: e-podroznik.pl
It can be hard to distinguish between bars, cafes, night clubs and restaurants with many fulfilling all four definitions in one. Like the majority of bars and cafes, after-hours dancing and drinking usually take place underground in Krakow’s many medieval cellars. Dance clubs and live music are a big part of social life in Krakow, with most bars hosting regular jazz nights or other local and international gigs popping up specially at the weekend. Krakow is a rather good place for students, so lots of cheap bars can be found not directly in the city centre.
The shopping in Old Town Krakow offers tourists the chance to purchase a huge array of Polish gifts and souvenirs. Many people choose to purchase some of Krakow's truly exceptional crystal glassware, although with so much available and often large price differences, you may like to shop around a little first before you decide what to buy.
The shopping scene in Krakow also features a series of leading department stores, where it is often possible to purchase some of Poland's highly acclaimed Krosno glassware, along with books, ceramics, clothing, jewellery and paintings.
Sadly, due to the influx of more Western-style shops, the local Polish arts and crafts stores are slowly declining in numbers, although they have by no means disappeared.
The best place to go for truly local shopping is The Cloth Hall, (in Polish "Sukiennice"), built in the 14th century, was formerly Krakow's international trade centre. After a century, before being destroyed by a fire, the hall saw its glory days and sold a variety of exotic imports - such as leather, spices and silk - from the East. Located right in the middle of the Market Square, this icon of the city was remodelled in the Renaissance style and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. Nowadays, the Cloth Hall hosts a number of souvenirs and handicrafts shops, on the ground floor, and the 19 Century Polish Art Gallery, on the first floor.
For contemporary shopping, one of the main streets for clothes shopping is Florianska Street, and a number of large shopping malls stocking international brands have appeared in the city, like Galeria Plaza or Bonarka City Center.
Krakow offers a big variation in accommodation now a days, classic Hotels, have more competition, thanks to new chains and independent hotels which fight for a market share. The city in general is not expensive, and this translates into cheaper night rates at hotels. For normal Hotels,expect to pay around €30 to €40 per night. Hostels in the city centre are also very cheap at €25 per night for private rooms. If you want to stay in the outside city , prices will be much cheaper but always look for nearby transportation for easy access. Airbnb is also popular now in Poland as well as longer stays in apartments via Booking.com
Krakow is well situated in Poland to make it your base city and travel around making day trips to other cities or towns. If you are only visiting Krakow, to see the city comfortably you will probably need around 3 nights including one day tour to Auschwitz. However for those wishing to learn more, there is a lot of culture and places to visit like churches, museums and galleries, which need more time, so 5 nights would be still more recommended.
Krakow Photo Slide 📷