Krakow 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.
The cold of winter forgotten, 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
One of the favorite activities of the inhabitants of Krakow 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 the walks through the more than 4 kilometers long 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 feeling 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, as you walk 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 banks of the river, many people gather sitting on the grass, walking or enjoying the view.
2. Don't miss the Festival of Jewish Culture in Kazimierz
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 Hebrew 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: conferences, workshops, guided tours and concerts of traditional music that take place in various parts of the neighborhood.
Other activities that take place during these days are film screenings, Jewish cooking classes or book presentations.
3. Take a boat ride on the Vistula River.
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 that you will appreciate after visiting the bustling Market Square, for example.
To hire these tours you must approach the vicinity of Wawel Castle, a few meters from the exit of the dragon's 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 trips is the interesting monastery of the Benedictines.
Another way of river cruising, intended for the more fit, is to rent a kayak and sail it leisurely for a while.
4. Discover one of the typical dishes of the country at the Pierogi Festival
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: the pierogi, similar to stuffed ravioli. If you are in the city, don't 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 especially 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 a recipe for a really low price.
5. Find a wreath and become part of the Wianki
Those who travel to Krakow during the summer solstice can witness (and participate if they wish) in one of the city's most beloved traditions: the Wianki. This festival of pagan origin, 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 moment you should not miss of this festival takes place during the 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 that are held there and to enjoy the food and drink from the stalls that are installed.
At midnight, those present (especially young women) throw their wreaths into the water. At the end of the celebration, a truly amazing 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
Whether you like opera or just want to enjoy a performance in some magical setting, the Cracow 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 Wawel Cathedral, a stage is set up for opera lovers to attend the performances.
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 courtyard of the castle, causes the seats are sold out quickly.
To buy them, assuming that you can not do it at the box office, it is best to look at the official website dedicated to this type of events in Krakow.
7. Experience the Krakow night
The presence of thousands of students in the city, both locals and foreigners, plus the many tourists who travel in summer make the night in Krakow the liveliest in Poland. If you like to party, you will be able to 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's 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 quiet beer, 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 have a drink overlooking the river and the Wawel Castle.
8. Do not leave the city without trying one of Krakow's typical ice creams
You probably don't associate Krakow (or Poland in general) with ice cream. However, Poles love this sweet and in the city you will find a large number of places where you can buy them. Just learn the word lody and point to the flavor to enjoy a delicious bite.
Although stores are open all year round, summer is the peak season for eating ice cream. Long lines form at the best ice cream shops, something that will be useful for you to know where to go with guarantees.
Two good places for 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 will 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
A really interesting activity to do in summer, when the weather permits, is to rent a bike and head to the Tyniec monastery. 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 tour with a visit to the abbey you should take into account that the opening hours are from 10:00 to 1800 hours.
10. Take a walking tour in Zakopane
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 town located at the foot of the Tatra Mountain s (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 start is far from the village. If you have gone on your own, you will have to take one of the minibuses that continuously leave from the bus and train station in town and drop you off 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.
What is the weather like in Krakow in summer
Summer in Krakow presents very pleasant temperatures, without really being stiflingly hot. Thus, July and August have an average maximum temperature of 23.4°C, while the average minimum is about 12.7°C.
The month of September is somewhat different, with temperatures dropping. By the final days of summer, the highs are already at a pleasant 19ºC, but the lows can drop to 8ºC on average.
Something to keep in mind is that the possibility of rain is always present, as the average is that there is rainfall 8 days a month. The best way to ensure that you can carry out your plans is to check the weather forecast shortly before traveling.
Tourist influx in Krakow in summer
Summer is the peak tourist season in Krakow, so crowds are common in the most touristy 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.