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10 Things to Do in Krakow in Summer

Summer, with its good weather and many hours of daylight, is one of the best times to visit Krakow. To make the most of it, I have compiled a series of interesting activities.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Krakow in Summer

Krakow Park in Summer | ©Monika

Cracow is much more than its many monuments. The Polish city offers a wealth of cultural events, gastronomic variety and, of course, entertainment. This, which is true at any time of the year, is even more so during the summer months.

Forgetting the cold of winter, the summer season allows visitors and inhabitants of Krakow to go out and enjoy the surroundings of the Vistula River, live the night to the fullest in its countless bars or attend festivals as interesting as the one that pays homage to the pierogi or the one that celebrates Jewish culture.

1. Stroll through Planty Park

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

One of the favorite activities of Krakow's inhabitants during the summer is a leisurely stroll through one of its most famous parks: the Planty. I advise you to follow one of the most famous maxims among travelers, "where you go, do what you see", and join young and old on a walk through the more than 4 kilometers of this green space.

These walks are ideal for those who have made an excursion to Auschwitz from Krakow in the morning, a visit that inevitably causes a sense of anguish. To recover, there is nothing better than a stroll through this park surrounding the old town.

In ancient times, the entire medieval city of Krakow was surrounded by defensive walls. From the 18th century, a green belt called Planty began to be built. Today, while walking along its paths, you can still see some remains of the old walls.

One of the most striking points of the park is the Florian Gate in the northern part, one of the original entrances to the walled city and the perfect starting point for a 2-day itinerary in Krakow.

In addition, while strolling through the park you will be able to see several statues representing important figures in the history of Poland, such as Nicolaus Copernicus, who attended the famous Collegium Maius in Krakow.

However, the most popular and visited part of this space is the one located in the vicinity of the Wawel Castle. There, on a boulevard that runs along the river bank, many people gather sitting on the lawn, walking or enjoying the view.

Book a guided tour of the old town

2. Don't miss the Festival of Jewish Culture in Kazimierz

Kazimierz| ©Paul Arps
Kazimierz| ©Paul Arps

I have no doubt that during your stay in Krakow you will have spent some time visiting Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter of the city, as it is home to many places worth seeing. Precisely this neighborhood is home to one of the most renowned cultural events in the country: the Festival of Jewish Culture. If the dates coincide, you should not miss the events organized there.

The festival is held every year for 10 days in late June or early July. Originally, in 1988, it was conceived as a series of events to remember the importance of the Jewish community in the city, as well as a recognition of its historical and cultural contributions.

Since that first edition, the festival has been consolidated and today attracts almost 30,000 people every year. Without a doubt, you will have plenty of activities to choose from: lectures, workshops, guided tours and concerts of traditional music that take place in various locations in the neighborhood.

Other activities that take place during these days are film screenings, Jewish cooking classes or book presentations.

Book a tour of the Jewish Quarter

3. Take a boat ride on the Vistula River

Vistula River Boat| ©Leif Arne Storset
Vistula River Boat| ©Leif Arne Storset

Although summer is usually considered the best time to visit Krakow, the truth is that it has a small point against: the crowds of tourists in many streets. A possible option to avoid them for a while is to take a small boat trip on the Vistula River.

This route will allow you to visit part of the city in a more relaxed and quiet way, something you will appreciate after visiting the bustling Market Square, for example.

To book these tours you should approach the vicinity of the Wawel Castle, a few meters from the exit of the dragon cave, next to the river.

The walk lasts approximately one hour. The most striking points, besides the views of the castle, are the Pilsudski or Dębnicki bridges, under which you pass. The end point of most of the walk is the interesting Benedictine monastery.

Another way of river trip, intended for those who are fitter, is to rent a kayak and sail with it quietly for a while.

Book a cruise on the Vistula River

4. Discover one of the typical dishes of the country at Pierogi Festival

Pierogi| ©Naomi K-S
Pierogi| ©Naomi K-S

In the month of August in Krakow, usually in the middle of it, a festival dedicated to a very appetizing theme takes place in Krakow: pierogi, similar to stuffed ravioli. If you are in the city, do not hesitate to join the activities to learn more about this dish (and, obviously, try several of its forms).

Anyone who has taken a gastronomic tour of Krakow or simply walked into a restaurant in Krakow will have tasted what is in its own right one of the traditional dishes of Poland. This food is also found in other countries in the area, including Russia. However, the Poles are particularly proud of the way they cook it.

During the days of the festival, all the restaurants present their best creations with this type of pasta as the star. Some of them experiment to introduce new fillings that go beyond the typical pierogi ruskie or pierogi kirniki (with chicken). Thus, you can try some made with deer meat, smoked cheese or lamb.

Possibly the highlight of the celebration is the contest in which the best pierogi dish of the whole festival is decided. This event is held in Maly Rynek and during it you can listen to live music and, of course, try some recipe for a really low price.

Book a gastronomic tour of the Jewish Quarter

5. Find a wreath and become a part of the Wianki

Women in the Wianki| ©Anna Kaczmarz
Women in the Wianki| ©Anna Kaczmarz

Those who travel to Krakow during the summer solstice will be able to witness (and participate if they wish) in one of the most beloved traditions of the city: the Wianki. This pagan festival celebrates the arrival of the summer season with different events.

The tradition in Krakow is to throw wreaths of flowers into the river, something that connects with a local legend: thus, Princess Wanda, daughter of the legendary founder of the city, preferred to throw herself into the Vistula before agreeing to marry Rydygier, a German leader who had invaded the city.

The not-to-be-missed moment of this festival takes place at night. At the base of the Wawel hill, in the area bordering the river, a large crowd gathers every year to listen to the concerts held there and to enjoy the food and drink from the stalls that are installed.

At midnight, those present (especially the young women) throw their wreaths of flowers into the water. At the end of the celebration, a truly incredible fireworks display takes place.

On the other hand, you can also attend concerts and parties in other parts of the city, in some squares where medieval markets are set up.

6. Attend a performance of the Summer Opera Festival

Summer Opera Festival| ©Ryszard Kornecki|
Summer Opera Festival| ©Ryszard Kornecki|

Whether you love opera or just want to enjoy a performance in some magical setting, the Krakow Summer Opera Festival is a great opportunity.

Usually held in July, this festival is considered one of the most anticipated events of the entire artistic season. Performances are held in different parts of the city, both in Krakow's many concert halls and in some less formal venues.

Although tickets are not easy to get, the event that everyone wants to attend takes place in the courtyard of Wawel Castle. In this beautiful setting, surrounded by buildings such as the Royal Palace and the Wawel Cathedral, a stage is set up for opera lovers to attend the performances.

Practical information

First of all, I recommend that you start looking for your tickets as soon as possible. The popularity of the festival, especially the performances that take place in the castle courtyard, means that the festival sells out quickly.

To buy them, assuming that you will not be able to do it at the box office, it is best to look at the official website dedicated to such events in Krakow.

7. Experience Krakow's nightlife

Eating Zapiekanka| ©Zygmunt Put
Eating Zapiekanka| ©Zygmunt Put

The presence of thousands of students in the city, both locals and foreigners, plus the many tourists who travel in summer make the nightlife in Krakow the liveliest in Poland. If you like to party you can find it practically every day of the week, no matter if you are looking for quiet or livelier plans.

The nightlife in Krakow is concentrated in two different areas. The first one, the old town, where tourists usually gather. The second, much more youthful, is in the Jewish quarter, full of bars and pubs and with an incredible atmosphere in each of its streets.

In case you go to this second area, my advice is to start eating a good zapiekanka in the new square (Plac Nowy). This dish is basically a baguette with mushrooms and other ingredients that is grilled in the oven. In the same square you will also find other food stalls with grilled meat or sausages.

After eating it is time to get lost in the lively streets of the neighborhood until you find a place you like to live the night.

More tranquility in the Forum

If the night is not your thing but you want to have a beer with tranquility, one of the best places in the city is the Forum. It is a former communist-era hotel converted into a bar and to find it, you have to cross the river from the Jewish quarter area.

Summer is undoubtedly the best time to go to this place, as they put hammocks to drink something overlooking the river and the Wawel Castle.

Book a tour of Krakow's Old Town

8. Don't leave the city without trying one of Krakow's typical ice creams

Good Lood Ice Cream| ©Andre Chang
Good Lood Ice Cream| ©Andre Chang

You probably don't associate Krakow (or Poland in general) with ice cream. However, Poles love this sweet treat and in the city you will find a large number of places to buy them. All you have to do is learn the word lody and point out the flavor to enjoy a delicious bite.

Although the stores are open all year round, summer is the peak season for eating ice cream. Long lines form in the best ice cream parlors, which will be useful to know where to go with guarantees.

Two good places to have an ice cream

To make sure you get it right the first time, here are two recommendations to buy your ice cream:

  • Good Lood: just looking at the queues you are going to realize that it is one of the favorite places of the inhabitants of Krakow. As a curiosity, every evening at 8:00 pm they publish in their app the flavors they are going to add the next day to their usual four (chocolate, cream, raspberry and salty caramel).
  • Lody na Starowislnej: located on Starowislna Street, near the Jewish quarter, is one of the most traditional and popular ice cream parlors in Krakow.

9. Bike ride to Tyniec

Tyniec| ©Kriksos
Tyniec| ©Kriksos

A really interesting activity to do in summer, when the weather permits, is to rent a bicycle and go to the monastery of Tyniec. From the center of Krakow there is a bike path to make the 12-kilometer route in a safe and comfortable way, as well as to other places around the city.

Tyniec used to be an independent village, but today it is part of Krakow. There, on the banks of the Vistula, a Benedictine abbey was built on a hill in the 11th century.

If you want to complete your walk with a visit to the abbey, you should take into account that the opening hours are from 10:00 to 1800 hours.

Book a bike tour in Krakow

10. Take a hiking tour in Zakopane

Zakopane| ©lucy_s86
Zakopane| ©lucy_s86

Although Zakopane is known by the nickname of "winter capital", the truth is that in summer there are a number of activities that are worth a trip, either on your own or organized.

The most popular thing to do in this municipality located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains (about 2 hours from Krakow) is the hiking trail that leads to the spectacular Morskie Oko Lake.

If you want to do this route you should know that its beginning is far from the village. If you have gone on your own, you will have to take one of the minibuses that continuously depart from the bus and train station of the town and leave you at the beginning of the trail.

The area has many other routes, some of them with attractions such as churches, small waterfalls or extraordinary viewpoints. If you are lucky, you may even see some deer along the way.

:::link|text=Book a tour to Zakopane|element=pa-7652:::

What is the weather like in Krakow in summer

Summer Solstice in Krakow| ©Rafał Zięba
Summer Solstice in Krakow| ©Rafał Zięba

The summer in Krakow has very pleasant temperatures, without really suffocating heat. Thus, July and August have an average maximum temperature of 23.4ºC, while the average minimum temperature is about 12.7ºC.

The month of September is somewhat different, with temperatures dropping. By the end of summer, the highs are already at a pleasant 19º C, but the lows can drop to an average of 8º C.

Something to keep in mind is that the possibility of rain is always present, as the average rainfall is 8 days per month. The best way to ensure that you can carry out your plans is to check the weather forecast shortly before traveling.

Cracow in the summertime

Market Square in Summer| ©Iz Marty
Market Square in Summer| ©Iz Marty

Summer is the high tourist season in Krakow, so crowds are common in the most tourist areas of the city. However, if you go a little out of the historic center (even in the Jewish quarter) the situation is somewhat quieter.

This large influx influences the rise in prices for accommodation and flights. Fortunately, the low prices of food, transportation and entrance fees compensate for this increase.