As a tourist destination, the city of Krakow is characterized by its beauty and charm totally impossible to replicate. Being one of the two most important cities in Poland, it ranks among the top most visited destinations in Europe.
For that reason, there are a lot of interesting things to see, do and enjoy; so any trip to Krakow requires millimetric planning to make the most of your stay in the place.
The tourist bus option is a simple and above all fast way to get caught up in the Krakow magic and move between the most important sights of Krakow's Old Town.
1. The most complete option: the Krakow Hop-on-Hop-off.
Like other major cities in Europe and around the world, pretty little Krakow has its own version of the classic Hop-on-Hop-off sightseeing bus.
It is a great alternative for those travelers who are in town for a short period of time, 3 days in Krakow or less, and want to get to know the city in a quick but very complete tour.
How does the City Sightseeing Krakow work?
The Krakow Hop-on-Hop-off sightseeing bus has a pre-designed route consisting of 8 stops at the main sights of Krakow's Old Town. The traveler purchases a special pass valid for one or several days.
This pass allows you to get on and off the bus as many times as you want as long as your pass is valid. You can visit all the attractions that are of interest to you, getting off directly at nearby stops to get back on the bus when you want to continue your tour.
Another interesting way to use the Krakow Hop-on-Hop-off service is to do the full non-stop route to get a quick overview of the whole place. The decision is all yours! and will depend largely on the specifics of your trip.
For example, doing the full non-stop route can be interesting during the winter in Krakow when temperatures are too cold to explore the city streets on foot.
However, if you are traveling during the summer in Krakow, getting off the bus and exploring some areas on foot is the best way to enjoy the city.
The bus includes audio guides in 10 different languages, including Spanish, English and French. The audio guides provide the traveler with information about the city and the attractions you will see along the way.
Timetable and duration of the tour
- Schedule: The Krakow Hop-on-Hop-off bus service operates every day of the year from 10:00 a.m. in the morning until 4:20 p.m. in the afternoon.
- Duration of the tour: The complete self-guided tour without stops has a total duration of 90 minutes.
Routes and stops on the tour.
In the city of Krakow the Hop-on-Hop-off offers a unique tour line known as the Red Line that stops at the following highlights of the city.
- Stop 1: The Royal Wawel Castle in the Old Town
- Stop 2: In the vicinity of the Blonia Meadows, the National Museum and the Krakow Stadium.
- Stop 3: The Kościuszko Mound.
- Stop 4: The Conference Center.
- Stop 5: Ghetto Heroes' Square.
- Stop 6: In the vicinity of the Schindler Factory and the Museum of Modern Art
- Stop 7: In the Jewish Quarter of Krakow
- Stop 8: In the Kazimierz area; Here you can see the Museum of Engineering, the 7 Synagogues of Kazimierz and the Wolnica Square.
Krakow Hop-on-Hop-off Prices
The price table for the Krakow Hop-On-Hop-Off follows the following parameters.
- 24-hour ticket: Approximately 45 Euro adult ticket and 40 Euro children's ticket for children from 3 to 15 years old. This pass is valid for 24 hours from activation. This special ticket includes an additional electric trolley ride around Krakow.
- 72-hour ticket: Approximately 22€ adult ticket and 20€ children's ticket for children from 3 to 15 years old. This pass is valid for 72 hours from activation and does not include any additional travel only the bus.
- Babies travel free: If you travel to Krakow with small children you should know that babies do not need to pay a ticket to access the Krakow Hop-on-Hop-off. However, they must be seated on their parents' lap during the whole tour.
2. Sightseeing bus Wow Krakow!
The Wow Krakow tourist bus is another alternative that you can consider on your trip to the city. This service is offered by a local company with a similar operation to the Hop-on-Hop-off and in two main formats: day tour and night tour.
The Wow Krakow Tourist Bus daytime tour allows you to see the main attractions of the city at your own pace in a tour designed so that you can hop on and off as many times as you wish. The tour includes an audio guide in 6 languages: Polish, English, German, Italian, French and Spanish
The Wow Krakow route! It includes a total of 12 stops near numerous points of interest in Krakow's city center.
The most famous are: the Krakow Philharmonic, the Wawel Castle, the National Museum, the Kościuszko Mound, the Church of the Norbertine Sisters (considered one of the 10 must-see churches in Krakow), the Grunwaldzki Bridge and many others.
- Duration of the tour: The complete non-stop tour takes about 90 minutes to complete.
- Schedule: Generally the tour starts at 10:30 am and ends around 2 pm;
- Price: The 1-day or 24-hour Wow Krakow pass is available from 20 EUR per traveler.
Wow Krakow! offers visitors a night tour of the city, an activity rated as one of the best things to do in Krakow at night.
This tour is offered seasonally so depending on when you travel to the city the night tour may or may not be available.
During the tour you are likely to see the most important sights of the city, including a visit to the famous Krakus Mound for panoramic views of the city.
It also includes a guide who accompanies the group throughout the trip and refreshments at a local restaurant in the center of Krakow, usually around the Main Market Square.
- Duration of the tour: The entire tour takes about 3 hours to complete.
- Schedule: The bus is usually available from Wednesday to Saturday. The tour starts at the Galaxy Hotel in Krakow at 8:00 pm. However, I recommend confirming this information with the company before the tour.
- Price: You will have to pay an average of 20€ per passenger.
Advantages and disadvantages of the tourist buses
No matter which city you visit, the tourist buses have many advantages for the tourist, starting with the fact that they include stops near the main attractions, which makes it very easy to get to them.
However, what is possibly my favorite aspect is the possibility of being able to enjoy more of the city in urban centers where the subway is the means of transport of the masses. The tour bus allows us to move between destinations and actually walk the streets, not just pass under them.
The main drawback of tour buses is, in most cases, the lack of organization of the traveler. If you don't arrange your itinerary carefully you may end up paying for a service that you don't use much. For this reason I recommend travelers to reserve at least one day to explore the attractions of the old town.
Tips for visiting the city on a sightseeing bus
There are many tips for traveling to Krakow that you should take into consideration, but when it comes to exploring the city and the tourist bus here are the most important ones.
The 1 or 2 day pass is usually enough
When visiting Krakow, keep in mind that the city has an old town and a small historic center, with most attractions located very close to each other.
Consequently, you can book 1 or 2 days in Krakow to explore and enjoy the old town and then move on to destinations further afield.
Consequently, if you have a well organized itinerary a 1 or 2 day bus pass is usually enough to see everything important.
Buying passes in advance is the best option.
Buying your bus passes before you arrive in the city is one of the best decisions you can make.
This way you save time and make sure you have all the information you need to make the most of your vacation.
Explore beyond Krakow's Old Town
Finally, on a more general travel tip, as attractive as the city of Krakow is, try to explore the main attractions located outside the city but close enough to get there and back in a day trip at most.
Some of my personal favorites are the following:
- Auschwitz concentration camp, considered one of the most terrifying places during World War II. This concentration camp was the main extermination center of the Nazi army, today it is a museum and memorial with a moving and impressive exhibition.
- The Wieliczka Salt Mines; an ancient mine where in former times a large amount of saltpeter was extracted. Today it houses an impressive collection of sculptures carved on the salt blocks. You can visit the salt mines on your own or you can take a tour from Krakow to visit the salt mines of Wieliczka.
Main points where the tourist buses pass
Krakow is one of the most visited destinations in Poland for its architectural monuments, museums, medieval buildings and one of the oldest markets on the continent.
Although there are many things to see and do around Krakow, sightseeing buses are a fantastic alternative to see the highlights of the city and get acquainted with the historic center in a relaxing way.
Please note that the tour itinerary will depend largely on the service you decide to hire. However, there are some points that you should not miss: the Royal Wawel Castle, one of the most important sights of the city; the old Kazimierz Courthouse in the heart of the city, the Ethnographic Museum where you can learn about European history and culture, the Schindler factory and many more.