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The architecture of the Fabric Hall impresses in the middle of the central square, with a multitude of people wandering in front of it.
#Krakow

Holidays in Krakow: What to Do and See

The Jewel of Poland
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A few words about Krakow

Poland

Krakow, a fairytale city filled with vibrancy and architecture featuring Gothic, Art Nouveau buildings, and Baroque churches, awaits your exploration.

 Begin your Krakow adventure from its central square, visit Wawel Castle, don’t miss the chance to see Auschwitz up close, and explore the Wieliczka Salt Mines. These are just some of Krakow’s top attractions that have made it Poland’s ultimate destination. 

In this article, you will learn everything about your Krakow vacation. Read on for the best things to see and do in Poland’s second-largest city and former capital.

Buildings in Poland with unique architecture.
Experience unique moments in Krakow.

Attractions in Krakow

1. Krakow's Rynek Glowny Central Square

The landmark of Krakow is none other than its central square. So, start your exploration of Krakow by visiting the heart of the Old Town, specifically, the largest medieval square in the world, Rynek Glowny. It’s listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its historical and cultural significance, and once served as the city’s central market, emphasizing trade and culture. 

In the central square, you’ll encounter some of Krakow’s top attractions, such as the Cloth Hall, the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, the Town Hall Tower, and the small church of Saint Adalbert. You can explore all of these with an experienced guide who can share the local history and legends of the city.

 

A horse adorned with red accents stands in Krakow's square.
Explore Krakow by taking a carriage ride.
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Discover Krakow from a different perspective
Do you like ghost stories? Have you heard about Krakow’s serial killers? Discover the dark secrets of Krakow on a 2-hour evening walking tour with the most experienced guide.

2. Cloth Hall (Sukiennice)

The Cloth Hall is one of the most iconic landmarks in Krakow, with its Renaissance architecture capturing your attention in the midst of the square. It’s the world’s oldest shopping center, where merchants once traded not only fabrics but also silk, leather, and spices. This trade endured for over 800 years, and this particular place was the sole location where merchants could conduct their business. 

Stepping inside the Cloth Hall, you’ll find a bustling market with a wide variety of souvenirs. On the upper floor, you can visit the National Museum of Krakow, while on the lower floor, you’ll discover the city’s Historical Museum.

The iconic landmark, Cloth Hall.
The Cloth Hall in Krakow, located in Lesser Poland, dates back to the Renaissance and is one of the most iconic buildings in the city.

3. St. Mary's Basilica

he most impressive and imposing masterpiece in Krakow’s central square is the Basilica of the Virgin Mary. Despite the damages it has endured, it dominates the central market square with its striking red bricks and twin towers, which are the symbols of Krakow. Its interior is equally impressive, featuring stained glass windows with colorful murals and a wooden altarpiece carved by the German sculptor Veit Stoss. 

Every day, from the tallest tower of the cathedral, a trumpeter plays a melody every hour, which is abruptly cut off. This tradition dates back to the Mongol invasion when a trumpeter was killed while sounding the alarm to warn the city’s residents of the attack. 

Furthermore, as you gaze at it, you’ll notice the uneven height of the two bell towers. According to legend, two brothers undertook their construction, with each building his own tower. One brother completed his tower faster and, fearing that his brother would surpass him, killed him, which is why one tower is smaller than the other today.

Tip: Climb to the top of the tallest tower and enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the city.

4. Memorial and museum Auschwitz-Birkenau

You cannot visit Krakow and not explore the Auschwitz concentration camp. Words cannot adequately describe this place. Here, you will learn about the horror of the Holocaust. However, no matter how much you’ve heard, read, or seen in films, nothing can prepare you for the emotions and shivers you will experience.

As soon as you arrive, you’ll see the sign that reads “Arbeit macht Frei” (work sets you free) and you’ll witness every part and corner of this atrocity that cost the lives of 1,100,000 people. Most of the time, you’ll find it hard to believe that all the things people went through could have actually happened, and yet they did.

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A day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau
Visit the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp of World War II on a day trip from Krakow. Learn about the tragic history of the Holocaust through a guided tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum with the most experienced guides.

5. Wieliczka Salt Mine

One of the unforgettable attractions in Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, just 15 kilometers outside the city. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest underground mining museums in the world, as well as the second oldest in Europe. There are 9 underground levels, with the depth of the mine reaching 327 meters and containing 2,040 chambers and passages stretching over 300 kilometers. However, a portion of it is open to the public, and you’ll have to descend 820 steps to explore it. You’ll find yourself 135 meters below the Earth’s surface, traversing passages, chambers, chapels, and tunnels, all entirely carved out of salt. You’ll witness where salt miners toiled for countless hours, salt chapels, underground lakes, sculptures, with the most impressive part of the Wieliczka Salt Mine being the St. Kinga’s Chapel, a cathedral entirely made of salt.

Tip: If you have claustrophobia, it’s better to avoid visiting the Vielitska salt mine.

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Guided tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mine
Visit one of the world’s largest underground mining museums with this skip-the-line ticket to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Follow the guide and learn everything about the underground world, chambers, and lakes.

6. Wawel Royal Castle

One of the most impressive attractions in Krakow is Wawel Castle, with its combination of Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo, and Romanesque architecture that will captivate you. It is located on a hill above the old town and is surrounded by walls with tall towers. This particular castle served various functions throughout the centuries. Initially, it was the royal residence, where coronations and burials took place. It also served as a barracks, military hospital, and was the seat of the monarchs. The systematic use of Wawel Castle led to the creation of multiple buildings, each distinguished by its architecture. Inside Wawel Castle, you will find Wawel Cathedral, where kings were crowned, the palace, a museum, the Dragon’s Den, chapels, and you can enjoy a meal or coffee in some of the cafés and restaurants it houses. Additionally, you’ll discover one of the most renowned art museums, featuring Renaissance artworks, sculptures, and weapons.

Tip: Save your visit to the dragon’s den for last, as it takes you outside the castle walls, and you’ll need to climb the hill again to re-enter.

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Guided tour of Wawel Castle and the Cathedral
Visit and admire the Gothic Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Wawel Castle.  Learn all about the Renaissance Polish kings and queens and the Gothic Wawel Cathedral.

7. Vistula River

After your visit to Wawel Castle, continue exploring Krakow by taking a stroll along the Vistula River at sunset and watch the landscape transform into an idyllic setting. You can take a river cruise to see the city from a different perspective. Alternatively, relax on the grass, have a picnic, and then walk along the Avenue of the Stars.
On the Vistula River, there are boats. Around the river, there unfolds a lush landscape.
Take a cruise on the Vistula River
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Cruise to Krakow’s attractions
See Krakow’s attractions from a boat his river journey is the perfect way to discover the city’s iconic sights, such as Wawel Royal Castle and Dębnicki Bridge.

8. St. Florian's Gate

Through the St. Florian’s Gate, you will discover one of the most beautiful streets in the old town, Florianska Street. There, you’ll find places to eat, drink, and buy souvenirs. Don’t forget to enter the arcades, which will lead you to beautiful restaurant courtyards.

St. Florian’s Gate was not demolished during the wars and remains the most impressive gate in Krakow, built in a Gothic style. St. Florian is the patron saint of Poland. Walking through St. Florian’s Gate, you’ll find another significant attraction in Krakow, Barbican, which serves as an observation point of the city.

Also, take a royal-like walk along Grodzka Street, which connects with Florianska Street. This is the route that kings used to take to reach Wawel Castle, where their coronation would take place at the city’s cathedral on Wawel Hill.

A tall stone gate in Krakow with red, orange, and green elements.
Walk like a king.

9. Planty Park

Take a stroll in Planty Park, which surrounds the entire old town, and find yourself amidst a lush, vibrant landscape. Enjoy leisurely walks, take in the sculptures by renowned artists, admire the bridges and small hillocks. You can also relax at a café or bar in this area.
Tall, lush green trees within a park.
Take a stroll in a lush green park in Krakow and escape the city's hustle and bustle.

10. Kazimierz

Kazimierz is the historic Jewish district of Krakow, where for 500 years this area was a separate town. After a fire broke out in the old town, all Jews were relocated there. The Jewish district in Krakow is the place where the Nazis gathered Jews before deporting them to Auschwitz.

 Walking the cobblestone streets, you will encounter vintage shops, galleries, boutiques, restaurants, underground cocktail bars, and unique graffiti on the walls, all within a lively atmosphere. Did you know that in the neighborhood of the Remuh Synagogue, specifically at 12 Josefa Street, the movie “Schindler’s List” was filmed? Visit the museum and discover the history behind the famous German businessman.

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Tour of Schindler’s Factory
Visit one of Krakow’s most important and popular museums on a tour of Schindler’s Factory and delve into the everyday lives of Krakow’s citizens during the Nazi occupation.

11. Lake Zakrzowek

During your trip to Krakow, don’t forget to visit one of the most beautiful lakes in Poland, Lake Zakrzowek. In the past, Lake Zakrzowek was a limestone quarry that gradually filled with water, leading to the decision to transform it into a lake. What makes it unique is the creation of five different pools within the lake, suitable for both adults and children, each with varying depths. You also have the opportunity to swim in the lake itself. So, relax and enjoy your time at Lake Zakrzowek.

Accommodation in Krakow

Accommodation in the Old Town of Krakow

The best area to stay in Krakow is the Old Town, known as Stare Miasto. 

Staying in the Old Town of Stare Miasto will offer you an unforgettable experience as you will be within walking distance of the city’s main attractions. You’ll be able to enjoy the vibrant nightlife, shopping in the stores, and dining in the restaurants, all within the unique picturesque landscape surrounded by Planty Park. Within a stone’s throw, you will have access to top Krakow landmarks, such as St. Mary’s Basilica, Cloth Hall, the Town Hall Tower, and the small church of St. Adalbert.

 Consider staying at the most modern hotel in the heart of Krakow’s Old Town. Campanile Cracovie  offers rooms with unique decor and includes breakfast. Within a few minutes’ walk, you will reach Krakow’s most popular landmarks. Additionally, the central train station and bus stop are nearby.

 

Accommodation in Kazimierz

Staying in the Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, in Krakow will offer you an unforgettable experience. You’ll admire works of art on the streets, have a wide variety of cafes, bars, and restaurants to choose from, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this place. Don’t forget to visit the Nowy Square, Wolnica, the Museum of Urban Engineering, and the Ethnographic Museum.

Consider staying at the INX Design Hotel in Krakow, which provides modern and clean rooms. In addition to breakfast, you can sample Polish, Thai, and American cuisine at their restaurants. Within a short distance, you’ll find Schindler’s Factory, Wawel Castle, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the Alley of Lost Souls.

Accommodation in Kleparz

Do you want to stay somewhere budget-friendly in Krakow?

The Kleparz area is the most suitable for you and is located at the beginning of the Royal Road (Droga Królewska). Similarly, Krakow’s attractions are within walking distance. Don’t forget to visit the shopping area Galeria Krakowska, the Church of St. Florian, and the Stary Kleparz market in this area.

At the Matejko Hotel, you will have a pleasant stay. You can enjoy their European-style breakfast, and you’ll be close to the Kraków Główny Railway Station, the Galeria Krakowska shopping center, and the central market square.

Book your accommodation early and secure the lowest prices

Now, you can explore Krakow with comfort and style by booking a stay at one of its wonderful hotels located within close proximity to all the attractions.

Accommodation in Krakow

A lantern glows, and in the background, you can see the beautiful buildings of Krakow.
Stay in Krakow's Old Town to have the most popular city attractions within easy reach.

Useful tips for Krakow

Here are the 4 most useful tips you should keep in mind for your trip to Krakow: 

Currency: The local currency is the Polish Złoty (PLN).

 Cards: You can use cards for payments almost everywhere if you prefer not to handle cash.

Sightseeing: It’s a good idea to book tickets for Krakow’s attractions in advance to secure the best prices

Car: If you rent a car in Krakow pay close attention to speed limits and avoid alcohol consumption. The same rules apply to electric scooters

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