11 Best Things To Do in Krakow

For some years now, Krakow has been the most fashionable destination in Europe, and for good reason. Krakow will captivate you as soon as you set foot in the city.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

9 min read

11 Best Things To Do in Krakow

Streets of Krakow | ©Ostap Senyuk

Discovering the secrets of Krakow and touring its streets and monuments is the ideal plan for a long weekend. The city and its surroundings offer plans that will stay forever in the traveler's mind. Here's what you can't miss on your trip to Krakow.

1. Take a guided tour of the city

Walk through Krakow's history-filled streets| ©Charlie
Walk through Krakow's history-filled streets| ©Charlie

The Old Town of Krakow or the Jewish Quarter are the most identifiable places of the city for the history they have behind them. Although a solitary walk through both places is visually enjoyable, booking a guided tour of Krakow to get to know them is infinitely more enriching.

A local and specialized guide will show you the city with his eyes and will help you learn about its history and anecdotes. They will also show you monuments and places of great cultural interest that might otherwise go unnoticed. You have different options for guided tours in Krakow:

Book a guided tour of Krakow

2. Visit Auschwitz concentration camps

Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp| ©Pedro Antunes
Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp| ©Pedro Antunes

Located about an hour and a half from the center of Krakow by road, the Auschwitz concentration camps are one of the most visited places in Europe. What years ago was the capital of horror, today is a museum dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Nazi regime.

Visiting the Auschwitz camps can be done individually (here's how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow) or by booking a guided Auschwitz tour. My recommendation is clearly the latter option; check the prices of the tickets to Auschwitz and the guided tours and you will see that it pays off.

However, keep in mind the Auschwitz opening hours when booking your visit. I would suggest you to book it first thing in the morning, since the duration of the tours of the Auschwitz concentration camps is usually about two hours and you will have more time to see other things later.

Interesting facts about organized tours

Many packages include, in addition to the entrance to the Auschwitz complex, the transfer from Krakow and are available in several languages. What you are going to see in the Auschwitz concentration camps are the remains of a historical period that is essential to make known and not to forget.

This tour is not recommended for children under nine years old and, personally, I would not recommend it to very sensitive travelers because, although enriching, it can be quite hard even though at no time the guides recreate in lurid details.

Book an excursion to Auschwitz

3. Take an excursion to the Wieliczka salt mines

Detail of the decoration of St. Kinga's Chapel, Wieliczka Salt Mines| ©Dennis Jarvis
Detail of the decoration of St. Kinga's Chapel, Wieliczka Salt Mines| ©Dennis Jarvis

After Auschwitz, the excursion to the salt mines of Wieliczka is the most demanded visit around Krakow among travelers passing through the Polish city. It is also a World Heritage Site, so if you are wondering if it is worth visiting the salt mines from Krakow the answer is yes.

The most important thing to know is that you should book your tickets well in advance. Even if you choose to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines on your own, the mines are always visited with a guided tour available in several languages and are usually in high demand.

You can book online a complete tour of just the transfer to Wieliczka from Krakow, just the entrance fees to these salt mines near Krakow with guided tour or combine both options and book an excursion to the Wieliczka Salt Mines with guided tour.

Interesting facts about the Wieliczka Salt Mines tour

Some of the elements you will find in the Wieliczka Salt Mines are a chapel carved in salt, a lake, chambers connected to each other by a network of subway tunnels or sculptures of famous people made of salt (in this last point you can take some of the best photos of the Wieliczka Salt Mines).

They are located about half an hour away from Krakow and the duration of the visit to the salt mines is about two and a half hours.

Recommendations for visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines

Book a tour to the Wielicza Salt Mines

4. Visit Oskar Schindler's factory

Facade of Oskar Schindler's Factory| ©Håkan Dahlström
Facade of Oskar Schindler's Factory| ©Håkan Dahlström

For those who have seen Steve Spielberg's masterpiece, the relevance of this place will be clear. For those who haven't: Oskar Schindler was a German businessman who dedicated himself to saving a large number of Jews from concentration camps by employing them as workers in his factories.

After the war ended, Schindler was executed, but the descendants of his employees still continue to honor him.

Booking a guided tour of Schindler's factory in the center of Krakow is a lesson in history from which emanates a certain hope because, in the midst of all the horror that was experienced in the city with the Nazi occupation, there were people who resisted being part of it.

Book a guided tour of the Schindler Factory

5. Take an inside tour of Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle courtyard| ©Dennis Jarvis
Wawel Castle courtyard| ©Dennis Jarvis

Near the historic center stands the Wawel Hill and the imposing castle of the same name. From there you will have a perfect view of the city from the top and, in addition, you can see this Renaissance castle of the XIV century.

You can visit every day from 9:30 to 16:00 (in summer until 17:00) and inside you will find the crown treasury, the royal armory, the royal apartments, the crypts of famous people and my favorite place, the dragon's cave.

It is a highly recommended visit to do alone or in a group when booking a guided tour of Wawel Castle as the Wawel Castle is one of the emblems of the city of Krakow.

Book a guided tour of Wawel Castle

6. Stroll around the market square

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

In every city there is a place to wander around, browse stores, watch the locals, have a leisurely lunch or just sit and relax. In Krakow that place is the Krakow Market Square, a medieval-style square surrounded by colorful palaces.

You will pass by it many times during your visit, so enjoy it and leisurely explore every nook and cranny because it is worth it.

And, of course, it is included in the itinerary when booking a Krakow Old Town tour and other city tours.

Book a Cracow Old Town Tour

7. Enter the Krakow Cathedral

Inside the Wawel Cathedral| ©Terrazzo
Inside the Wawel Cathedral| ©Terrazzo

The city's Cathedral is located on Wawel Hill, is dedicated to St. Stanislaus and is over 1000 years old. It is one of the most important buildings in Poland and, therefore, it is included when booking a tour of the old town, in addition, the entrance is free.

Inside you can not take pictures and if you want to climb the tower to see the aerial views of the city you will have to pay about four euros. If you find this visit interesting, do not hesitate to add to your route other of the best churches in Krakow. You won't regret it.

Book a tour of the Old Town and Jewish Quarter

8. Visit the Barbican Fortress

Barbican Fortress| ©Fred Romero
Barbican Fortress| ©Fred Romero

This sturdy fortification is located in the center of Krakow and measures about 25 meters. It was built in the 15th century to protect the city from the advance of the Ottoman Empire and, although the visit to its interior is dispensable, you must go around it when passing by to appreciate its Gothic style.

You will find it past the Florian Gate and, like other sites we have already mentioned, it is of great historical interest and is usually included when booking a tour of the old town of Krakow.

Book a tour of Krakow's Old Town

9. Taste Polish cuisine

Enjoy the typical Polish Pierogi| ©Quinn Dombrowski
Enjoy the typical Polish Pierogi| ©Quinn Dombrowski

The list of things to see and do in Krakow could not miss an allusion to Polish cuisine. The most popular drink in the country is known to be vodka, but what about the traditional dishes?

In Krakow' s restaurants you will find delicacies such as Pierogi, Paprykarz or Zurek, all composed mainly of meat, pasta and spices.

Polish cuisine takes elements from other cuisines such as Armenian, Slavic, Turkish, German, Jewish or French. The result is exquisite and the best way to get to know it first hand is to go to some of the traditional restaurants in the city or book a gastronomic tour of Krakow.

Book a gastronomic tour of Krakow

10. Visit Warsaw from Krakow

Warsaw| ©Lide Etxeberria
Warsaw| ©Lide Etxeberria

Another tip for planning your trip to Krakow that I can give you is not to limit yourself to the city itself. There are many people who, before their trip, wonder whether it is better to visit Krakow or Warsaw, but the truth is that there is no reason to choose.

If you have enough days during your trip, you can go from Krakow to Warsaw on your own or on one of the organized excursions around Krakow- don't give up on either city! And if you want to know more I leave you this post about how to get from Krakow to Wroclaw.

I recommend you to book an excursion to Warsaw from Krakow in advance so you don't get caught by the bull - Poland is waiting for you!

Book a tour to Warsaw from Krakow

11. Discover the Collegium Maious

Courtyard of the Collegium Maious| ©Craig Wyzik
Courtyard of the Collegium Maious| ©Craig Wyzik

Located in the old town of Krakow, the building where Copernicus studied stands out for its beautiful inner courtyard.

If you are interested in astronomy you must visit the museum of the University, but if not you can also come in the evening, when the organized tours are over, to relax in the garden while admiring the architecture.

Plan your visit in detail

Krakow| ©Gian Luca Sgaggero
Krakow| ©Gian Luca Sgaggero

As you can see, Krakow has a lot to offer to tourists, but being a big capital it also has seasonal events that you can't miss.

Choose the date of your visit to Krakow (my recommendation is to travel to Krakow at Christmas, especially if you visit Krakow with children) and then check this list to know what to do in the Polish city:

Every time of the year has its advantages. Whether you visit Krakow in winter, visit Krakow in summer, visit Krakow in autumn or visit Krakow in spring you will find things to do, so reserve a minimum of 3 days for your visit.

If you are less and want to save time, I recommend you to hire transfers between the airport and Krakow in advance). However, here you have several itineraries at your disposal that you can consult even if you go more or less days:

Book a transfer from/to Krakow Airport