Despite not being the capital of Poland, Krakow is one of the most visited cities in the country due to its importance during the twentieth century and its enormous historical legacy during the Second World War. In addition, its architecture and aesthetics have made it one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
If you have always wanted to visit Krakow and its emblematic places such as Auswitch or the Salt Mines, then I am going to propose a 7-day itinerary through Krakow so that you do not miss anything of this incredible city.
1. Day Tour the old town of Krakow
You have a week ahead of you to get to know Krakow. That is why on this first day one of the best panoramas is for you to get a taste of the city by getting to know its Old Town and starting to soak up the atmosphere.
Krakow's Old Town is not only undeniably beautiful, but it also contains some of the oldest buildings as it was one of the few areas that survived World War II. I suggest a tour of its main attractions and a tasty lunch to sample Polish cuisine.
Built in 1498, this ancient fortress from medieval times is one of the most important points of interest in the Old Town of Krakow. To get there, you'll need to head to the streetcar stop called Teatr Słowackiego, just a few steps from the entrance to the site. From there, you will also have access to the entire Old Town to continue with the rest of the day on foot.
In the Barbican fortress you can walk through its network of passages and nooks and crannies for less than 2 euros and also enjoy some of the temporary exhibitions it houses. Undoubtedly, a return to the past of the city.
Basilica of Santa Maria
Walking just two streets to the south, you can find another of the highlights of the center of Krakow, the Basilica of St. Mary. This impressive place is one of the most important monuments and has two high towers, one of them higher called Hejnalica that nowadays rings every hour.
Visiting the interior costs between 3€ and 5€ but being able to see its spectacular wooden altarpiece up close is a must experience. Take advantage of the location to book a tour of the old town of Krakow.
Lunch at the Market Square
At this point, it's time to stop to recharge your batteries and try the local cuisine. One of the most popular places and that is just a few steps from where you are is the Market Square, where you will find different stalls and restaurants.
One of them is the Hawelka, a typical Polish food restaurant that for a very affordable price will offer you the best delicacies of the city and in a privileged location from where to continue your visit.
Afternoon at the Wawel Castle
To continue the day, I suggest you book a guided tour of the Wawel Castle. This place is in a strategic point of the city and over the centuries has been passing from owner to owner, becoming the first residence of the kings of Poland.
Today, this castle is full of attractions to visit and has become one of the most popular places for tourists. Inside, you can visit throughout the afternoon its different sections, among which are:
- The Wawel Cathedral.
- The John Paul I Cathedral Museum.
- The Dragon Cave.
- The Royal Palace.
Put the finishing touch with a Chopin concert
If you are a music lover, do not hesitate to book your ticket for Chopin's piano concert and put a magnificent finishing touch to your first day in Krakow.
The concert, which lasts approximately 1 hour, is performed by young and renowned pianists. In addition, you will be treated to a complimentary glass of wine.
The concert will take place in the Chopin Gallery, located in the Bonerowski Palace, a 15th century building.
2. Day Get to know the Jewish Quarter
Much of Krakow's attraction lies in all the historical weight that was carried by the Jewish population at the end of the 20th century. However, it was centuries ago when the Jewish Quarter of Krakow was formed, what was once known as an independent village of the city.
This second day, I suggest you dedicate it to know in depth the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, a place full of history and key places for its culture and spirituality.
This square is one of the most central places in the Jewish Quarter of Krakow and, although it may not seem so now, centuries ago it was the main beach of the village of Kazimierz. To get there you can take streetcar lines 1,2,3,4 or 6 to the Plac Walnica stop.
Today it is one of the most popular starting points of the quarter and is notable for its large white building in the center which has been converted into an Ethnographic Museum.
Visit to the synagogues
Within the Kazimierz district, you will immediately realize the great weight that has the Jewish religion and culture. One of the most attractive plans that you can make during the tour of the Jewish quarter, is to be able to visit the two large synagogues that it has and which can be reached perfectly walking during the morning. These are:
- Isaac Synagogue.
- Remuh Synagogue.
Lunch in the Jewish Quarter
To recharge your batteries after a morning on your feet, there is nothing better than stopping at one of the restaurants in the Jewish Quarter to recharge your batteries and try some typical dishes.
I recommend you to try the Starka restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants in the neighborhood with a traditional Polish food and a gourmet touch that makes it very popular. You may have to book a reservation the day before so I recommend that you value it in advance. Another ideal option is to book a gastronomic tour of the Jewish quarter of Krakow.
Visit the Remuh Cemetery
After lunch, I propose an almost obligatory visit within the Jewish quarter due to its historical importance; the Remuh Cemetery. This place is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Poland, with graves dating back to the 16th century.
During the Second World War, many of them were destroyed and, after its reconstruction, the entire space was rearranged and, with the remains of tombstones, they recreated a "Wailing Wall" which is one of the highlights of the cemetery.
Tour the Mural of Illustrious Persons
To end the day, you can tour another of the most photographed areas of the Jewish Quarter of Krakow. It is a mural with the faces of the most illustrious people of the city and is shown as a street aesthetic in the middle of the neighborhood. It is located at Jozefa 17, outside the Wrega Pub.
Delve into Polish culture with a concert of Jewish music.
Did you know that Yiddish is the language spoken by Jews of German origin? If you want to make an approach to this language, do not hesitate to book your ticket for a concert of Jewish music, performed by a band of professional musicians with a career of more than 20 years, in a traditional Polish house of the 15th century.
The pieces to be performed by musicians with more than two decades of experience are related to the folklore of Reform Judaism, which has its starting point in the 19th century.
Moreover, it is a double experience because the venue is the Dębinskim or Under Barrel, a dazzling classical building dating back to the 15th century with only one floor, and whose structure was completely renovated in the mid-16th century.
3. Day Delve into Podgórze, the Jewish ghetto
You have already learned a little more about the history of Krakow and it is time to delve into the enormous weight that Europe had on this city with the advent of World War II. The Jews, at that time, were driven into a ghetto where the tragedy of the Holocaust began to unfold.
Despite the harshness of history, Krakow still has much to tell and that is why, for this third day, I have reserved for you Podgórze, the Jewish ghetto that, even today, keeps memories of those tragic days. To know it in depth, book a private tour of the Jewish quarter.
Start at Bohaterow Getta Square
Bohaterow Square is one of the most emblematic starting points of this area of the city where all the Jews were sent after the Nazi occupation. In this place was where the fate of millions of citizens and their distribution to the concentration camps was decided.
Now, in its place, there are distributed throughout the square 60 empty chairs in recognition of all the victims. To get there, you should arrive by streetcar to Limanowskiego station by streetcar.
Visit the Oskar Schindler Factory
Inside the Jewish ghetto of Krakow is a must-see stop that you can't miss and has an incredible story behind it. Oskar Schindler's pot factory was founded in Krakow and started by cheap Jewish labor. However, during World War II, its owner Mr. Schindler used it to save the lives of a total of 1,200 people by giving them jobs.
Today the factory is a must-see museum of memory that you can visit for around 15 euros and that I promise you will be worth it for the enormous historical value.
Tour the MOCAK
Very close to the factory, you will find the most important contemporary art museum in the city, the MOCAK. I suggest you visit it after lunch and dedicate the time it deserves because it is full of works of all kinds and, if you like art and culture, for less than 5 euros you will feel at home.
Go to see the remains of the ghetto wall
The Krakow ghetto was for many years separated from the rest of the city by a wall that enclosed the Jews. Today there are only a few remains located at 62 Limanowskiego Street, but it is interesting to visit them to learn more about what the ghetto was like at that time and get an idea of the recent history of the city.
Be dazzled by a cruise on the Vistula River
Enjoy a cruise on the Vistula River in Krakow is another plan that you can not miss on your trip to Krakow.
On this route, which lasts about an hour, you will have the best views of Wawel Castle, Bernatka Bridge, the Manggha and Cricoteka Museums, the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz and the Church on the Rock. In addition, you will not miss any detail thanks to the audio guide that will be at your disposal.
A tip: don't leave your camera behind.
4. Day Visit Auschwitz-Birkenau in one day
Auschwitz is one of the most important and most visited concentration camps still standing in the world. Within its walls the most brutal contemporary crimes in history were committed. Today it is a place of memory that is visited by millions of curious people and an excursion to Auschwitz is a must.
Visiting this place is one of the essential plans in your visit to Krakow and that is why you will dedicate a whole day to visit Auschwitz and its neighboring camp in a solemn visit that will not leave you indifferent.
Morning visit to Auschwitz
Auschwitz is located 70 kilometers west of Krakow so you will spend the whole day touring it between going and returning. To get there, you can choose to hire some of the organized tours that pick you up from the center of Krakow, or go on your own in a bus that takes about 1 hour to arrive.
Once in the camp, you must get your ticket for a price of approximately 25 euros to access the interior and tour the various rooms that will make your hair stand on end, from the sheds, to the gas chambers.
Rest and lunch in the area
You may not have much appetite when you leave Auschwitz, but to recharge your batteries, I recommend going to some of the nearby restaurants like Portobello to disconnect a little and continue with the afternoon visit to Auschwitz II.
Finish at Auschwitz II-Birkenau
To end the day, you should visit Auschwitz II-Birkenau, one of the largest concentration camps still standing and containing the most chilling rooms of what was the Jewish holocaust.
This kind of excursions are not recommended for children under 14 years old because of the harshness of the history. I also recommend you to hire a guided tour so you don't miss anything.
5. Day Visit the salt mines of Wieliczka
At this point you have already known much of the essential Krakow and all its history, but there is still more. You can not leave this city without making one of the most famous visits in the whole country; its salt mines of Wieliczka.
Proclaimed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, these mines are composed of many chambers and even have a subway chapel that will leave you with your mouth open. Due to its location and its immensity, you will dedicate a whole day to visit it.
Tour the salt mines
This spectacular place is located just 15 kilometers from Krakow and can be reached either by bus, on line 304, by car or through an excursion to the Salt Mines from Krakow. When you arrive at the place, you will find yourself in huge subway galleries of more than 300 kilometers with all kinds of sculptures and passages carved in salt. Definitely a wonder to visit.
The entrance to the salt mines usually costs around 50 euros and I recommend that you do it through an organized tour so you can be guided through the various rooms and know a little more of the history of these impressive mines.
St. Kinga Chapel
One of the most incredible points of your visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines is to reach the subway chapel of St. Kinga, built entirely of salt and with dimensions that will make you forget you are underground.
6. Day Archaeological visit to the Krakow Mounds and Nowa Huta
You are nearing the end of your week in Krakow and this time I have reserved for you a day dedicated to two attractive places to see that, curiously enough, are very close to each other.
On the one hand, you will visit one of the five mounds or "kopiec" that are scattered throughout the city and have been places of worship for centuries. On the other hand, you will enter Nowa Huta, the Soviet quarter. Let's get started!
Meet the Wanda Mound
To get to this curious construction, you must go to the Kopiec Wandy station on streetcar lines 21 or 22, which will leave you next to the entrance. This mound, along with his other 4 brothers scattered around the city, are funeral places of worship that have been standing for centuries and are shaped like hills.
It is estimated that the daughter of the founder of Krakow was buried in the Wanda mound between the 7th and 8th centuries. Admission is free and it is ideal to visit with children as it is a natural environment like no other.
Lunch at Nowa Huta
I recommend that, next, you take the tour of Nowa Huta, the Soviet quarter. But before getting to know it in depth, I recommend you to recharge your batteries in a restaurant in the area as Stylowa, where you will taste a little better Polish cuisine.
Tour the Communist Quarter of Krakow
After the tour of the Nowa Huta neighborhood, created by the Soviets in the second half of the 20th century, and where you will visit landmarks such as the Centralny Square, the Nowa Huta Museum, the Soviet tank or the Ark of the Lord Church, I recommend you to book a tour of communism in Krakow.
7. Day Trip to Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains
Visiting Krakow is a real wonder as you will be checking and after knowing first hand all the most important places in Krakow, I propose you to finish your trip in this amazing place. For this, I have prepared a farewell excursion to spend the day just 2 hours from here, in some mountains that will conquer your heart: the excursion to Zakopane and Tatra.
The day will begin in Zakopane and will travel during its course the most idyllic mountain scenery of the country, having its culmination in the Tatra mountains and surrounding villages.
Gubałówka and Butorowy Wierch Mountains by funicular railway
The Tatra Mountains is a natural park that you can't miss to say goodbye to your trip around Krakow. To get there you can go by car but the most advisable option is to hire a guided tour that picks you up in the center of Krakow and directs you throughout the day so you do not miss any detail.
One of the highlights when you arrive in Zakopane is to take one of the funiculars and climb the main mountains of the reserve, where you can enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery.
Zakopane center and Tatra Museum
Returning back to the center of the small town of Zakopane, you will have the opportunity to see its picturesque houses and stroll through its colorfully decorated streets. You can also have a bite to eat in one of the local restaurants and visit the Tatra Museum, with all the history of the area.
Stop in Chochołów
On your way back to the city and to say goodbye to this incredible trip through Krakow, you will have the opportunity to stop in a picturesque village halfway called Chocholów, with typical wooden houses of the southern part of the country and where you can buy some handicraft souvenirs.