12 Tips for Travelling to Krakow

If you're planning to visit this European city steeped in history, take note of these tips to get the most out of your trip

Carolina Morales

Carolina Morales

9 min read

12 Tips for Travelling to Krakow

Wawel, Krakow | ©Radek Kucharski

In Krakow, history and modernity converge. It is the second largest city in Poland and was declared by UNESCO as a "Protected Site of World History".

This city offers you the chance to meet history at every step you take, with plans ranging from visiting Oskar Schindler 's factory to a gastronomic tour to explore Polish flavors. But before you dive into the different plans, here are the top tips to keep in mind.

1. Plan your transfer to Krakow from the airport

Krakow Airport| ©Alquiler de Coches
Krakow Airport| ©Alquiler de Coches

Transfers between the airport and Krakow are a key aspect when arriving in any city, as in some cases the local airports are at moderate distances from the center.

In the case of Krakow the distance from the historic center to the John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport is approximately 11 kilometers.

You have several alternatives depending on your budget and preferences. If you want to go more comfortably and you can pay a little more, book your transfer from the airport in Krakow. You can also use public transportation or rent your own car upon arrival at the terminal.

Book your Krakow Airport Transfer

2. Find accommodation in the historical center

Krakow's Jewish Quarter| ©Artur Borowski
Krakow's Jewish Quarter| ©Artur Borowski

Krakow is located in the south of Poland, near the border with the Czech Republic and has more than 750 thousand inhabitants.

The heart of the city will be the best place to stay during your trip. Not only because you will be closer to the main attractions, such as the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, but also because you will be able to enjoy its wonderful architecture.

Despite being the center of a European city, its architectural organization makes it an easy city to navigate without the typical chaos of large metropolises. To do this, do not hesitate to book the different tours available and walk around it comfortably:

Book a private tour of the Jewish quarter

3. Choose the best season to visit Krakow

Krakow Market Square| ©Francisco Anzola
Krakow Market Square| ©Francisco Anzola

Of course, this aspect depends on your availability but it is always advisable to adjust our schedules to enjoy the destinations to the fullest.

  • High season: although you will meet many other travelers, the period from May to September. An ideal time of the year, as temperatures are quite pleasant.
  • Mid season: in the months of March, April and October you will find good weather. In addition, the city will not be so full of tourists so it will be a good time to enjoy it more calmly.
  • Low season: from November to February. It will be a good time for your trip if you enjoy the cold, which can be extreme, or if you want to experience Christmas in Polish style.

Choose your travel season also based on different festivities that connect you with the local culture. June, for example, is the Wianki, a colorful event that welcomes summer, where Krakowers gather on the banks of the Vistula River to celebrate the shortest night of the year.

Book a cruise on the Vistula River

4. Familiarize yourself with the local currency: the złoty.

Złoty banknote| ©Dariusz Gąszczyk
Złoty banknote| ©Dariusz Gąszczyk

It is important to keep this point in mind so that you can easily get by in Krakow's local commerce.

Although Poland belongs to the European Union, it does not have the euro as its currency, but its national currency is the złoty (PLN), with an approximate conversion of 1 euro = 4.54 złoty.

The best advice I give you then, is that if you have already established a travel itinerary, carry the change in cash for basic expenses during your stay such as drinks, meals and tips, and pay the rest with a card. But always check with your bank about commissions so you don't get any surprises.

Book the best Krakow plan

5. Download an app or bring a good dictionary to communicate

Dictionary| ©Stock Catalog
Dictionary| ©Stock Catalog

Unless you speak Polish and can communicate without a problem, be prepared for a bit of interaction in Krakow. If you speak English, you won't have much of a problem, as most of the population is fluent in English.

Take a dictionary and a translation app with you to help you in your day-to-day life. However, it doesn't hurt to learn a few basic Polish words, which will also be seen as a great gesture of kindness on your part. Here are a few:

  • Good morning/afternoon = Dzień dobry.
  • Good evening = Dobry wieczór.
  • Please = Proszę.
  • Thank you = Dziękuję.

Book the best plan in Krakow

6. A bit of history before your visit to Krakow

Entrance to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp| ©Rafael Wagner
Entrance to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp| ©Rafael Wagner

One of the exciting things about cities like Krakow is how inspiring it is to appreciate its reconstruction and change after one of the most heartbreaking chapters of our history.

For this reason, I believe that visiting Krakow is also a learning experience in which you should show respect and empathy, beyond enjoying a trendy European destination. So if you visit the city and decide to visit places like the Auschwitz concentration camps, it will be ideal that you document what you will see in this place, because beyond a sightseeing tour, it is an exercise in memory.

Note that it is not a suitable visit if you are traveling with children or very sensitive people. In this article I tell you more about what to see at Auschwitz Concentration Camp and then tell you how to book your tour to Auschwitz.

Book your tour to Auschwitz

7. Opt for a guided tour

Heroes' Square| ©Marco Zanferrari
Heroes' Square| ©Marco Zanferrari

Krakow is a city with a strong historical background and it is to be expected that you will want to know every detail hidden in its streets. For this reason, I advise you to opt for tours with expert guides who will offer you a deeper look into the city and its corners.

A guided tour offers you benefits such as:

  • Better organize your daily schedule.
  • Get to know more details of the places that on your own could go unnoticed.
  • Meet and connect with other travelers.

You can take guided tours to visit Heroes' Square, Wawel Cathedral, the University of Poland or Sukiennice, the oldest shopping center in the city, among other options. And for this, you have the possibility to book:

Book a bike tour in Krakow

8. Taste the flavors of the local food

Bigos, traditional Polish food| ©Caterine Romero
Bigos, traditional Polish food| ©Caterine Romero

One piece of advice I always like to give travelers is not to be afraid to try the food of the destination they are visiting. Sometimes we are a bit skeptical and prefer to go for the simple, the commercial or what we feel safe with.

But there is nothing more exciting than trying new things and discovering what is behind the gastronomic tradition of the city we are visiting. In Krakow you will encounter a mix of cultures and flavors such as Slavic, Turkish, Jewish and French gastronomy.

Visit the local market and venture to book a gastronomic tour through the Jewish quarter to taste the most traditional dishes. Here is more information about the best gastronomic tours in Krakow.

Book a gastronomic tour of the Jewish quarter

9. Organize a daily agenda and don't miss a thing

Salt Mine Extraction Gallery| ©Aleksandr Zykov
Salt Mine Extraction Gallery| ©Aleksandr Zykov

A recurring question from travelers has to do with how much time you need to get to know Krakow in detail. The answers can be several, as everything will depend on how much time you have in the city. My advice is that with a minimum of three days you can discover the city in a comfortable and unhurried way.

In three days and depending on your interests you can do different things but I recommend four essential things:

In this article you will find more details of an itinerary to see Krakow in 3 days.

Book an excursion to the Wieliczka Salt Mines

10. Don't forget to visit the attractions around Krakow on your trip

Wroclaw Market Square| ©Hrs Poland
Wroclaw Market Square| ©Hrs Poland

Sometimes we focus on the city and forget the places that are in the surroundings and that we can visit easily and in a short time. My recommendation is that you start with Krakow and leave some time to visit some places with great attractions like:

Learn more about what to see and do around Krakow here.

Book an excursion to Wieliczka Salt Mines

11. Take advantage of the free events calendar in Krakow

Wawel Castle Dragon, Krakow| ©Pedro Pepio
Wawel Castle Dragon, Krakow| ©Pedro Pepio

Sometimes we focus only on plans created purely for tourists and forget that we are in a city where culture is our daily bread.

Krakow is no exception and with its rich history and culture, it won't be difficult to find additional events for you to enjoy the city like a local. A good place for this are the public libraries, where you can find announcements of the cultural agenda that may include concerts, exhibitions and other free activities to enjoy alone or with the family.

If you are traveling with children, ask about children's events so that they can also have a great time and take home a nice memory of Krakow. Here are 11 things to do in Krakow with kids in Krakow.

Book the best plan in Krakow

12. Find out about the local ways and customs before your trip

Winter in Krakow| ©Roman Boyko
Winter in Krakow| ©Roman Boyko

Krakow has many things to see and do and is an ideal destination, but before your trip I recommend that you learn more about the ways of interacting in the place you are visiting. For a matter of respect and travel camaraderie.

If you arrive from Spain, for example, and you are introduced to new people, you will probably give the traditional two kisses on the cheek. But be careful, as Poles are not used to it and will find it a bit strange.

Just shake their hand and be very friendly. Once you get used to it, in Poland they give up to three kisses as a greeting, as in some regions of Switzerland and France.

Krakow's climate throughout the year

In addition to these tips I have shared with you to enjoy your visit to Krakow, it is also important to have basic facts about the cities we want to visit, such as what weather to expect throughout the year.

The maximum temperatures in Krakow can reach up to 14°C on average during the year, with peaks up to 26°C in August, so you can expect a very pleasant summer. If you like snow, the snowy season runs from mid-November to mid-March. The snowiest month is January.

Safety in Krakow

Generally speaking Krakow is a fairly safe city, where you can walk around quietly until late at night. I recommend the basics and that is not to fall into traps designed to deceive the tourist.

If you are going to visit museums or specific places like the famous Salt Mines of Wieliczka, try to book in advance and only through official sites.

I hope this guide will be of great help to prepare your trip to this city that will leave you wanting to repeat. And if after visiting Krakow, you feel like continuing to explore the magic of Poland, here are the details of how to get from Krakow to Warsaw.

Book an excursion from Krakow