Krakow's extraordinary medieval center and the rest of its attractions make it worth visiting no matter when. It is important, however, to take into account the date you want to travel to better plan your stay and get the most out of it.
Among the most important aspects in deciding when to go is the weather. Krakow, due to its geographical location, suffers from very cold winters and, in addition, with few hours of daylight. For this reason, it is generally better to travel at other times to make the most of the days spent there.
When is the best time to visit Krakow?
There are two interrelated factors that will determine the best time to travel to Krakow: temperature and daylight hours. Considering both, along with the influx of tourists, it is clear that the best months are between April and October. If you have the opportunity, you can still delimit further to decide for spring or early autumn.
In the case of summer, the main problem is the large influx of tourists that is felt when visiting the main monuments, so it is good to know the schedules and the type of guided tours of Krakow Castle, for example. Likewise, you will also notice it when strolling through the streets of the historic center, the Stare Miasto.
Prices of flights and accommodation also increase quite a lot. In favor of this season is the good temperature, without ever getting stiflingly hot, and the hours of daylight.
Winter, on the other hand, is characterized by low temperatures that can make walking through the streets quite unpleasant. In addition, the daylight hours decrease a lot as the season progresses, to the point that at the end of December it is night before 16:00. However, as you can see in this article on what to do in Krakow during Christmas, this period can be very interesting if you plan your stay well.
Spring and early autumn, more specifically April, May, September and October have much milder temperatures and the arrival of tourists is also much lower.
In all seasons there will be some chance of rain, so I advise you to check the weather forecast before you start your trip to get an idea of what you are going to find.
Travelling to Croatia in spring, the best option
Regardless of the calendar, spring in Krakow in terms of temperature does not begin until April, as March is usually still quite cold. It is from that month when temperatures begin to soften, although the mornings and nights can still be unpleasant.
According to averages, the minimum temperatures during this season are usually around 7 ° C, while the maximum (already in May), moving around 20 º C. Of course, the chances of precipitation are quite high.
One of the effects of these temperatures is that Krakow is full of color, and not only because of the flowers and leaves in its various parks. The city hosts numerous celebrations in which locals and visitors can participate.
The days are also great for strolling, even on the promenade along the river. It is also a great time to take advantage of the Krakow sightseeing bus to explore the city.
Finally, spring is a time when Krakow' s nightlife is at its peak, with thousands of students flocking to the venues around the Jewish quarter.
Most interesting activities when traveling in spring
One of the most striking festivities that take place during these dates is Passover. On this holiday it is traditional to decorate the famous Easter eggs, as well as to make palm trees woven with flowers.
The Catholic tradition of the country is felt during Easter. In addition to the attractions that you can usually see in Krakow's Market Square, at this time of year there are several stalls of Polish, Slovak, Hungarian and Ukrainian craftsmen. In this market you will find some of the best gifts in the city.
Along with these craft stalls there are also others dedicated to gastronomy where you can try some of the main dishes of the country. Another interesting celebration, especially because it is different, is the pagan festival The Drowning of Marzanna.
Apart from these festivities, April and May are full of sporting activities, such as the Krakow Marathon, cinema, with the film festival, and others of various themes.
Travel to Krakow in summer: the best temperature but with a lot of sightseeing
The high season in Krakow lasts from mid-June to the first half of September. The best thing about Krakow in summer is that the weather will be more pleasant, with the average temperature ranging from 20°C to 30°C. The average minimum temperature is not too low either, at 12.7ºC.
Another positive aspect is the amount of daylight hours you will find. During these months it gets dark around 21:00 hours, so you will have more time for sightseeing and for excursions such as the one to Auschwitz
However, the summer in Krakow also has some negative points for travelers. To begin with, this is the period when there are the most tourists in the city. The crowds in some places will be constant and, for example, will not let you see the fabulous view of the Market Square or go to see the best churches in Krakow.
As is obvious, the high season also brings with it a significant increase in prices, both for flights and accommodation.
Most interesting activities when traveling in summer
Summer is a good time to stroll around Krakow in search of its tourist attractions, despite the inconvenience of finding large groups in many parts of the city.
I recommend that you decide to visit some of the lesser-known neighborhoods of the city. In many of them you will find interesting corners without the same crowds.
Among the most important celebrations of the summer is the Wianki, also known as the Flower Garland Festival, which is held along the Vistula River. Another highlight is the Festival of Jewish Culture, where you can listen to music, dance and attend other activities in the Jewish quarter.
If you like jazz, in July there is a competition dedicated to that type of music, while theater lovers can enjoy the plays participating in the Festival of Mobile Theaters.
Traveling to Krakow in autumn: a great time to visit the city
Autumn in Krakow climatologically only lasts until the beginning of November. This season is one of the best times to visit the city, as the weather has not yet reached the low temperatures typical of winter and, in addition, the chances of rain decrease.
Maximum temperatures range from an average of 19°C in September to 13°C in October, while in November they already drop to 7°C. The minimum, meanwhile, stays around 6ºC, with the exception of the cold 0ºC reached at the end of the season.
On the other hand, the city is noticing the drop in tourist arrivals. The streets are much clearer and the queues to enter the most important monuments are greatly reduced.
In addition, this lower influx of tourists makes this season the perfect time to take a trip to the spectacular salt mines of Wieliczka or to escape for a day (with its corresponding night) to the beautiful town of Wroclaw.
More interesting activities if you travel in autumn
Although fewer activities are organized than in summer, autumn in Krakow offers visitors some interesting attractions, such as the famous Zaduszki Jazz Festival.
With the beginning of the university year, the city recovers its local nightlife and, when the weather is good, it is even difficult to find a free place to eat in the interesting Plac Nowy, in the Jewish quarter.
Precisely, food is also one of the protagonists of autumn in the city. In this season some dishes are traditional and are among the most typical of the country, such as the hunter's stew or its most famous soup, the zurek, which you will certainly have tasted if you have done any of the highly recommended gastronomic tours listed in this article.
Traveling in winter to Krakow: intense cold and darkness, but with a different charm
If we stick to the data, winter is undoubtedly the least favorable time to visit Krakow. Temperatures are very low, with highs of 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, while the minimum is around 5 or 6 degrees Celsius below zero. In addition, snow is often present and daylight hours are so short that in December it gets dark before 4:00 pm.
However, as I tell you in my article on the best things to do in Krakow in winter, the city also has a special charm at this time, at least from mid-December. With the arrival of Christmas, Krakow dresses up with its illumination and decoration. The Christmas market in the Market Square is really impressive and, if you walk around a bit, you can find smaller ones in the neighborhoods.
Few sensations are more pleasant, at least for me, than ordering a mulled wine in the middle of the winter cold and drinking it little by little while walking among the stalls of the markets. Another possibility is to try the hot beer with spices, with a rather curious taste.
On the other hand, many inhabitants of Krakow take advantage of the winter weekends to make one of the best excursions that can be done from Krakow: visit Zakopane, the so-called winter capital of Poland. Unlike in spring and summer, these trips are not for touring the forests surrounding the city, but mainly for skiing.
If you decide to visit Krakow in this season, it is essential to prepare your luggage well. Thermal clothing, as well as a hat, gloves and a good coat should not be missing.
Most interesting activities when traveling in winter
The main activity to do in Krakow in December is to visit the Christmas market. Despite the cold, the atmosphere in the Market Square and the stalls selling handicrafts, Christmas decorations and food make you forget about the low temperatures and enjoy like a child.
Within the Christmas traditions are very striking (especially if you travel with children to Krakow) the particular cribs that are exposed in some corners of the city. Unlike the Spanish ones, these represent small buildings inspired by the most important monuments of the city.
Comparative table on the best time to travel to Krakow
So that you can access at a glance the most important information to decide when to travel to Krakow, here is a table with data on the different seasons.
- High 17º C
- Low 6º C
- The best: the weather is improving and there are no crowds yet.
- Worst: it usually rains a lot
- Maximum 23º C
- Low 12º C
- The best: more daylight hours and good weather.
- The worst: crowds and the possibility of rain.
- High 13º C
- Low 4º C
- The best: less tourists and more tranquility for walking.
- The worst: in November it starts to get quite cold.
- Maximum 2º C
- Minimum -5º C
- The best: Christmas and seeing the city under the snow.
- Worst: the cold and the few hours of daylight.
Best time to go to Auschwitz
The visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp (actually to the two that were erected in the area) is almost a must for everyone who travels to Krakow. As with the city itself, the best months for this visit are from May to September.
In winter, on the other hand, the cold can make the visit too uncomfortable and it is even possible that the camp is snowed. It should also be taken into account that the tour of Auschwitz II takes place completely outdoors, so low temperatures are not the best way to get to know the place well.
Another important aspect when making this visit is that from April until the end of October, as you can see in the information about the opening hours of the Austchwitz complex, you can only enter Auschwitz I without a guide (on your own) first thing in the morning (before 10:00) and in the last hours of opening (from 15:00, approximately). During the rest of the year, the hours in which free visits are not allowed are between 10:00 and 13:00.
If you go in summer, do not forget to book the Auschwitz tour in advance, which is necessary even if you want to enter on your own. High demand may cause you to arrive and not be able to purchase a ticket. To avoid this, the most convenient way is to book an excursion from Krakow.
In these summer dates it is also advisable to bring a cap and water, as you will need them to be able to walk for so long under the sun.