Things to Do in Krakow in 4 Days

With four days in Krakow you will have plenty of time to get to know the city in depth and the Auschwitz concentration camp. I give you all the details to optimize your time.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

9 min read

Things to Do in Krakow in 4 Days

Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral in Krakow | ©Naval S

Although 4 days in Krakow are not many, they are enough to enjoy the most magical places that the city (and its surroundings) has to offer. However, it's normal that you don't know which places are the must-sees, and which ones you don't mind leaving behind.

But you've come to the right place because I want to tell you about one of the most complete ways to get to know in a few days this Polish city that, in its time, was the capital of the country.

Day 1: Get acquainted with the city

Krakow Market Square| ©Francisco Anzola
Krakow Market Square| ©Francisco Anzola

Krakow is a medieval jewel and any long weekend in this city must start at the Market Square. From there you can easily reach the main monuments - are you ready, let's discover the best of Krakow!

Start your vacation with a traditional breakfast

Are you familiar with Polish breakfast? In the northern European country, the first meal of the day is also the most important one, so much so that at 11:00 they usually have a second one.

Locals usually start the day with a slice of bread with kielbasa (a flavored sausage), scrambled eggs or quark cheese with radishes. Hard-boiled eggs and herring may complete the menu.

Many establishments on the Market Square offer a traditional breakfast:

  • Smakolyki (28 Straszewskiego Street).
  • Dynia: particularly recommended for the warmer months as it has a nice garden (Krupnicza Street 20).
  • Moment Resto Bar & Music: recommended if you are staying in the Kazimierz district (Estery Street 22).

Stroll through the old town

Until the 16th century, Krakow was the capital of Poland. King Sigmund III Vasa moved his court to Warsaw, but could not take with him the splendid buildings that make up the city center.

This area is very compact and can easily be visited on foot alone or on a tour of the old town. On your tour, you will see a number of fascinating monuments:

  • Market Square (Rynek Główny): one of the largest squares in Europe. It is surrounded by colorful houses while in the center rises one of the symbols of the city, the Cloth Exchange, an ancient market that has retained its commercial vocation.
  • Floriańska Street (ulica Floriańska): one of the most prestigious shopping streets in the country. It is part of the Royal Route, an old route that goes all the way to Wawel Hill.
  • Wawel Hill: a mound overlooking the city. Here is the cathedral, Krakow Castle and a large cave where, according to legend, lived a dragon that tormented the locals.
  • St. Mary's Basilica (Kościół Mariacki): the main church of the Old Town easily distinguished by its asymmetrical towers.
  • Barbican: one of the best preserved medieval fortifications in Europe. It was built to control the nearby St. Florian's Gate.

Book a tour of the old town

Relax in the greenery of the Planty Park

Touring Planty Park in Summer| ©Soon Keat Ong
Touring Planty Park in Summer| ©Soon Keat Ong

After visiting the Barbican, you will only have to walk a few meters to reach Planty Park, a green ring that surrounds the city- no other city in Poland can boast such a beautiful place!

This urban garden was born at the beginning of the 20th century, when the city authorities decided to convert the city walls into a place of leisure.

Today, Planty Park is divided into eight gardens that stretch for about 4 km.

End the day with a well-deserved dinner

To appease your hunger, there is nothing better than some good ribs. In Krakow, if you want to taste this dish you have to head towards Plac Dominikański 2. Here you will find the Rzeźnia restaurant, a place for inveterate carnivores.

If you don't feel like eating ribs, you can opt for Polish tartar or Buffalo-style chicken wings. At Rzeźnia, the portions are very generous and you can pair them with a few shots of local vodka. No work tomorrow, right?

And if you feel like something more special, you can kill two birds with one stone by having dinner while enjoying a Polish folklore show at a mythical city restaurant in the center of Krakow. Your choice!

Book a folklore show with dinner in Krakow

Day 2: immerse yourself in a magical place

Salt Mine Extraction Gallery| ©Aleksandr Zykov
Salt Mine Extraction Gallery| ©Aleksandr Zykov

After seeing the old town, you can dedicate yourself to an excursion that will take you down to the center of the earth. Naturally, we are talking about a trip to the Wieliczka salt mine, a magical place just a few kilometers from Krakow.

Spend a morning at the Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka salt mine is located about 15 km from Krakow and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

The mine was opened in the 14th century and its development is largely due to the efforts of King Casimir III the Great who granted many privileges to the miners and founded a hospital to cure them.

This magical place has a depth of 327 meters and is crossed by a network of chambers and galleries dotted with sculpted figures. Here is a brief list of its most famous attractions that you can visit on an excursion to the Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow:

  • St. Kinga's Chapel: the flagship of the mine. This place of worship was carved by two visionary brothers over 30 years of work.
  • Weimar Chamber: the biggest attraction is its tiny illuminated lake.
  • St. Anthony's Chapel: a baroque monument carved out of a block of green salt. It is decorated with figures of saints and features a pulpit carved entirely of salt.
  • Gołuchowski Chamber and its station: during the 19th century, miners used a subway railroad and the station was located in this very environment.
  • Spalone Chamber: the most "explosive" place in Wieliczka. Salt men with long sticks in their hands recall the workers who risked their lives the most, the burners. Their task was to burn the methane before its concentration caused an explosion.

Book an excursion to the Wieliczka Salt Mines

Stroll through Kazimierz district

Jewish Museum of Galicia| ©Zygmunt Put
Jewish Museum of Galicia| ©Zygmunt Put

In the 15th century, Jews were expelled from Krakow and eventually moved to this district. Before World War II, about 60,000 Jews lived here and were engaged in every trade, from catering to handicrafts.

But in 1941, the Germans came to the city and drove the inhabitants out of their homes. The Jews ended up living in the Podgórze quarter or in the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps.

After the conflict, Kazimierz fell into oblivion and only in the 1990s did it return to its former glory, so you can now take a tour of the Jewish quarter to get to know it. Today, the former Jewish ghetto is Krakow's most vibrant neighborhood. The past comes alive in the synagogues and at night, the streets come alive thanks to its rich entertainment offer:

Book a tour of the Jewish quarter of Krakow

Treat yourself in a traditional restaurant

Inside the Czarna Kaczka Restaurant| ©Kirsten E
Inside the Czarna Kaczka Restaurant| ©Kirsten E

Among the restaurants linked to tradition, the Czarna Kaczka deserves a special mention. Its name means "the black duck" and, as you can imagine, it specializes in this type of meat. Here you can taste:

  • Cracovian roast duck with horseradish and mushroom sauce.
  • Magret of duck in red wine accompanied by red cabbage and dried plum dumplings.
  • Freshwater fish such as trout fried in butter or pike-perch fillet.
  • Vegetarian dishes including excellent potato pancakes.

But if you feel like making the most of your visit to the Jewish quarter, you can sample its dishes and soak up its culture on a gastronomic tour of Kazimierz.

Book a gastronomic tour of the Jewish Quarter

Day 3: Get out of town to see the worst legacy of World War II

Watchtower at Auschwitz concentration camp.| ©bipolars polaroids
Watchtower at Auschwitz concentration camp.| ©bipolars polaroids

Auschwitz-Birkenau is a memorial to human cruelty. Having four days, I recommend you to visit this sadly famous place.

Visit the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp

This concentration camp claimed the lives of 1.1 million people. As World War II was about to end, the Nazi authorities attempted to destroy the evidence of the genocide, but fortunately, the liberation of the camp in January 1945 prevented the process from taking place.

After the conflict, the Polish government decided to restore Auschwitz-Birkenau as a memorial and museum. Since 1979, the lager is a Unesco World Heritage Site and receives more than 2 million tourists every year.

Visiting Auschwitz from Krakow is possible, but it is tantamount to reliving a horrific page of contemporary history. However, knowledge is awareness.

Book a tour to Auschwitz

Return to Krakow for lunch

Entrance to Pierogarnia Station| ©Andy Hill
Entrance to Pierogarnia Station| ©Andy Hill

Auschwitz-Birkenau is very large and much of your time will be spent walking through barracks and open fields. Although the place will make you feel a knot in your stomach, when you return to Krakow you might be hungry. A good way to satisfy it is with some pierogi, the quintessential Polish comfort food.

There are dozens of specialized places and two of the most appreciated are:

  • Pierogarnia Station: uses the recipe of Ula (the owners' aunt) and has eight establishments both in the center and on the outskirts of Krakow.
  • Robimy Pierogi: a food truck in the Kazimierz district (Dajwór Street 21) ideal if you do not feel like sitting down and prefer to take some pierogi to go. Their dumplings are handmade according to traditional recipes.

Enjoy a pleasant boat ride

After such a challenging day, a relaxing activity is ideal. As you well know, the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship (Małopolska) is bathed by the Vistula, a river that rises in the Carpathian Mountains and flows into the Baltic Sea. And on a cruise on the Vistula River you can admire buildings and monuments from a different perspective.

Cruises depart from Krakow's river port (bulwar Czerwieński) and last about an hour. There are several types of boats available depending on the season and/or time of day, and most tours have audio guides.

Book a cruise on the Vistula River

Day 4: Last shopping

Touring Sukiennice| ©Jennifer Boyer
Touring Sukiennice| ©Jennifer Boyer

On the last day you can spend the last shopping and original experiences - make the most of every last minute!

Buy some souvenirs at the Cloth Market

A vacation cannot be considered complete without a few little trophies and the ideal place to do this is the Lonja de los Paños.

Underneath this majestic building there are dozens of food, craft and souvenir stalls. We have prepared a small list of the most typical souvenirs of Krakow:

  • Amber jewelry: Krakow was an important stage of the Amber Route, a trade route that started at the Baltic Sea. The prices are surprisingly competitive at the Cloth Market.
  • Regional costumes
  • Hand-carvedchess sets: in Poland there is a peculiar hexagonal version that you will hardly see elsewhere.
  • Wicker objects
  • Żubrówka: the excellent local vodka recognizable by the bison on its coat of arms.
  • Ceramics.
  • Obwarzanek krakowski: a braided bread that resembles a bagel.

Stroll through the courtyard of the Collegium Maius

Interior of the Collegium Maius| ©Allie Caulfield
Interior of the Collegium Maius| ©Allie Caulfield

It is the oldest university building in Krakow. Built in the 15th century, the building is famous for the clock in the courtyard. Every two hours, between 09:00 and 17:00, wooden figures appear and parade accompanied by traditional music.

If you feel like it, you can visit the Jagiellonian University Museum, which houses a collection of astronomical and astrological instruments dating from the second half of the 15th century.

End your long weekend with a unique experience

After dinner, you can bid farewell to the Polish city with a bit of adrenaline: axe-throwing. It has become a real discipline, so much so that there are professional leagues, while the international championship has been broadcasted by ESPN.

In Krakow, the place to go is Axe Nation. You'll find it at 46 Grodzka Street, not far from the Church of St. Peter and Paul and the Archaeological Museum.

However, if you feel like something even more adventurous, you can book a shooting range experience in Krakow. However, in this case you will have to do the activity before dinner, as it is just outside the city.

Book a shooting range experience in Krakow