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Krakow's Castle: a practical guide to discovering it

Wawel Castle is located on the hill of the same name and for centuries has been the residence of Polish monarchs. What began as a small stone building would later become this majestic gothic castle. Get to know it!

Carolina Morales

Carolina Morales

9 min read

Krakow's Castle: a practical guide to discovering it

The Royal Wawel Castle | ©Derwisz

If you are passionate about history and intrigued to know what is behind these classical and royal buildings, the Wawel Castle will be a must-see during your visit to Krakow. Learn about the history of its construction from when it all began with the reign of Casimir the Great until its last restoration by Bartolomeo Berrecci.

If this place is on your list of things to see and do in Krakow, and you want to know how to visit it, keep reading because I will tell you all about how to get there, what guided tours you have available and how to get your tickets easily to make this one of the best experiences during your visit to Krakow.

How to get Wawel Castle tickets at the box office

Castle Walls| ©Sergei Gussev
Castle Walls| ©Sergei Gussev

You have several alternatives to buy your tickets to the Wawel Castle, besides the possibility to buy them online and prepare your visit in advance. My recommendation will always be to look for your tickets online as it will guarantee you not to lose time and ensure your entrance for the day and time you have planned. This type of official places sell tickets at the box office with a limited number per day, so it is better not to take risks.

  • At the Visitor Center, which is open Mondays from 9 am to 12 noon and Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 4:20 pm.
  • At the Herbowa Gate, the most popular entrance to Wawel Hill. It is open from April to October from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (Monday) and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday).
  • Through the Castle 's official website you can make your purchase online, with the possibility to make your purchase up to a week in advance or even on the day of your visit.
    Information to keep in mind:
  • Tickets are issued on a timed basis and you will see the time printed on your ticket.
  • The number of tickets available is limited per day and the ticket is only for the day of the visit.
  • The Castle does not accept payment in foreign currencies (euros or others). Payment must be made in zloty (PLN).

Book a guided tour of the Wawel Castle

How much do tickets to Wawel Castle cost?

Sunset at Wawel Castle| ©Brandon Atkinson
Sunset at Wawel Castle| ©Brandon Atkinson

Wawel Castle does not offer a group ticket to see everything. Tickets are sold separately and for each individual exhibition. According to the exhibition you decide to visit you can find tickets from 2,50 € to 6,50 €. You can include in your visit several exhibitions if you have the interest and enough time.

The categories of tickets you will find at the Royal Wawel Castle are: regular, reduced and complimentary. On the official website of the Royal Wawel Castle you will find all the details of who applies for reduced and complimentary tickets.

During your visit you will be able to see permanent exhibitions which I will tell you more about later. In addition, the castle also holds temporary exhibitionsthroughout the year. Please note that both the cost of tickets and opening hours may change according to the season.

Book a guided tour of Wawel Castle

Are tickets to Wawel Castle included in any city sightseeing pass?

Wawel Castle Tower| ©Davis Staedtler
Wawel Castle Tower| ©Davis Staedtler

There is a tourist card in Krakow or the Krakow Tourist Card that includes free admission to a variety of museums and tourist attractions in the city. Unfortunately the Wawel Castle is not part of this list. Some of the places you can visit with this tourist card are:

  • St. Mary's Basilica
  • Oskar Schindler's Factory
  • Old Synagogue (Stara)
  • Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow

Some of these places are located in the interesting Jewish quarter of Krakow. A place whereyou have a lot to see and do.

Book a guided tour of Wawel Castle

Are there guided tours of Wawel Castle - is it worth it?

Touring the Wawel Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis
Touring the Wawel Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis

Many of the exhibits and attractions at Wawel Castle can be done individually and without a guide. However, the castle offers some alternatives on this subject:

  • Audio guides are available at the Visitor Center (at an additional cost).
  • Expert guide service, which is an ideal option for groups. The maximum number of people in a group is 15.

Cost of the guide service for groups of up to 15 people:

  • 1 exhibition: 90 zloty (PLN) or 19 euros approx.
  • 2 exhibitions: 140 zloty (PLN) or 30 euros approx.
  • 3 exhibitions: 190 zloty (PLN) or 40 euros approx.
  • 4 exhibitions: 240 zloty (PLN) or 50 euros approx.
  • 5 exhibitions: 290 zloty (PLN) or 62 € approx.
  • 6 exhibitions: 340 zloty (PLN) or 73 € approx.
  • 7 exhibitions: 390 zloty (PLN) or 83€ approx.

Book a guided tour of Wawel Castle

How to get to Wawel Castle

Warsaw Bus| ©Chido-Fajny
Warsaw Bus| ©Chido-Fajny

The Royal Wawel Castle is located on the hill of the same name. It is just a 10-minute walk from the Market Square and a 20-minute walk from Krakow's train and bus station.

  • Public transport: Wawel and Stradom streetcar stops and Jubilat and Stradom bus stops.
  • Bicycle: You will find places to park your bicycle at the entrance gate to the Castle, as bicycles are not allowed on Wawel Hill.

Ask about available parking near the castle

Many travelers, especially Europeans, travel by car. If this is your case, you will find parking lots available very close by. The closest one is on Plac na Groblach just 5 minutes walk from the Castle. You can also find next to the National Museum, which is a 20-minute walk from the Castle or with the Muzeum-Narowowe bus route.

Book a guided tour of Wawel Castle

Is it advisable to go to Wawel Castle with children?

Visiting the Castle with children| ©Silvia Inacio
Visiting the Castle with children| ©Silvia Inacio

Children are always welcome in places like these. Nothing better than instilling a love of history, culture and art from a young age. Although Wawel Castle does not offer discounted family tickets, children under the age of 7 get in free regardless of the time of year.

The castle also organizes special activities for children throughout the year. I recommend that you consult the site's agenda at the time of your trip to see what options you have. And if you are looking for more activities for the little ones at home, here are 10 things to do in Krakow with kids.

How much time do you need to visit the Wawel Castle?

Inside the Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis
Inside the Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis

The duration of your visit to Krakow Castle or Wawel Castle will depend on how many exhibitions you decide to see. Remember that for each exhibition you must purchase a separate ticket that will be valid only for the day and time indicated on the ticket.

The longest exhibitions are the State Halls, which lasts up to 1 hour, and the visit to the outer gardens, courtyards and St. Gereon's Church, which lasts 70 minutes. Then you will have others lasting between 20 and 40 minutes, the shortest being the visit to the Cave or Dragon's Lair that will only take about 10 minutes.

Best time of the year to visit Wawel Castle

Climbing the Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis
Climbing the Castle| ©Dennis Jarvis

It will obviously depend on your availability. As it is an enclosed area, in my opinion, the weather does not matter much. But the season does influence the amount of people you might encounter. If you decide to visit the castle in summer, it will probably feel a bit crowded or you will have more difficulty getting tickets.

My recommendation is to visit between the months of April and June when the weather is pleasant and you still don't feel the chaos of summer.

What not to miss at Wawel Castle? Permanent exhibitions

Royal Treasury at Wawel Castle| ©Damien and Marie
Royal Treasury at Wawel Castle| ©Damien and Marie

You have a variety of possibilities when visiting the Krakow Castle. Which confirms that this is one of the best tours and excursions from Krakow. I tell you a little more about the permanent exhibits that you can't miss:

State Halls

The State Rooms of Wawel Castle are my favorite. This access is ideal for those who want to connect with history, appreciate architectural details, art and learn a little more about the history of Polish royalty.

In addition, this seems to me one of the most complete and ideal entrance options, as it allows you to access several of the rooms and apartments used by the monarchy to receive their guests. Here you can appreciate a complete collection of Gothic art, portraits of the monarchy, exquisite Italian Renaissance furniture and much more.

Useful information

  • This ticket includes direct access to the permanent and temporary exhibitions in each royal hall. These are 4 salons on the second floor and 14 rooms on the second floor of the Castle.
  • The last admission for this exhibition is at 4 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • The tour of the Royal Halls lasts approximately 1 hour.
  • The regular entrance fee for this exhibition is 30 zloty (PLN), approximately €6,50.

Art of the East: Ottoman Turkish Tents

This exhibition on Art of the Orient is located on the second floor of the castle and features carpets, silks, tapestries, weapons and armor, and much more. It highlights a collection of trophies taken during the Battle of Vienna, and a collection of East Asian porcelain, which shows the fascination of eighteenth-century Europe for Chinese and Japanese cultures.

Useful information

  • Last admission to this exhibition is at 4:20 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • The approximate duration of the tour is 40 minutes.
  • The regular entrance fee for this exhibition is 20 zloty (PLN), approximately €4,30.

The Lost Wawel

The Lost Wawel| ©James JT
The Lost Wawel| ©James JT

This exhibition was officially opened in 1975 and seeks to take visitors on a tour of the complete history of Krakow Castle. It includes a space with a multimedia video to make the visit more interactive. I definitely recommend it for those who appreciate the architectural and engineering theme. There is a station of the tour dedicated exclusively to the extensive collection of Renaissance tiles in the Castle.

Useful information

  • This exhibit is open Mondays from 9:30 am to 1 pm. From Tuesday to Sunday it is open until 5:00 pm with a last admission at 4:30 pm.
  • The approximate duration of the tour is 30 minutes.
  • The regular entrance fee for this exhibition is 15 zloty (PLN), approximately 3,20€.

Wawel Recovered or Restored Wawel

I highly recommend it as well, as it is an interactive exhibition that uses state-of-the-art technology to show you traditional works, architectural models and large-scale illuminated reproductions of the historical archive of the Wawel Hill from the late 18th to the 20th century.

Useful information.

  • This exhibition is also open on Mondays from 9:30 am to 1 pm. From Tuesday to Sunday it is open until 5 pm with a last admission at 4:30 pm.
  • The approximate duration of the tour is 30 minutes.
  • The regular entrance fee for this exhibition is 10 zloty (PLN), approximately €2,15.

Tips for visiting Wawel Castle

Wawel Cathedral| ©Maciej Szczepańczyk
Wawel Cathedral| ©Maciej Szczepańczyk

The first thing is to tell you to try to plan your visit in advance. Especially because you can take advantage and on the same day visit other places of interest very close to the Wawel Castle as:

  • Wawel Cathedral
  • Archdiocesan Museum
  • St. Andrew's Church
  • Archaeological Museum of Krakow

If you are planning your visit and you know which exhibits to visit at the Castle, I recommend you to buy your tickets online to avoid queues and be able to make your tour in the most comfortable way.

I hope you can enjoy this charming and historical place that you have to include in your visit. Krakow is a city to enjoy little by little, and it is always a good idea to come back. If you have at least a week to travel to Krakow, you can visit this and many other places like the salt mines of Krakow or enjoy the best gastronomic tours of Krakow.