Best time to travel to Krakow

Krakow has become an up-and-coming destination. However, the experience will depend a lot on the time of year you travel. Here are some tips to help you choose the right one for you

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

9 min read

Best time to travel to Krakow

Krakow, Poland | ©Jen Hunter

Kraków's extraordinary medieval centre and the rest of its attractions make it worth a visit no matter when. It is important, however, to consider when you want to travel in order to plan your stay and make the most of it.

Among the most important aspects in deciding when to go is the weather. Kraków, because of its geographical location, has very cold winters and very few daylight hours. For this reason, it is generally better to travel at other times to make the most of the days you spend there.

When is the best time to visit Krakow?

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

There are two interrelated factors that will determine the best time to visit Krakow: temperature and daylight hours. Taking both into account, along with the number of tourists, it's clear that the best months to visit are between April and October. If you have the chance, you can narrow it down even further to spring or early autumn.

In all seasons there will be some chance of rain, so before you set off, check the weather forecast to get an idea of what you're in for.

  • Summer: In the case of summer, the main problem is the large number of tourists at the main monuments, so it's good to know the opening hours and type of guided tours at Kraków Castle, for example. You will also notice it when strolling through the streets of the historic centre, the Stare Miasto. The prices of flights and accommodation also increase significantly. In favour of this season is the good temperature, without it ever getting stiflingly hot, and the hours of daylight.
  • Winter: Winter, on the other hand, is characterised by low temperatures that can make walking in the streets quite unpleasant. In addition, the daylight hours are very low as the season progresses, to the point that at the end of December it is dark before 4pm. However, as you can see in this article on what to do in Krakow at Christmas, this period can be very interesting if you plan your stay well.
  • Spring and autumn: In April, May, September and October temperatures are much milder and tourist arrivals are also much lower. This is an ideal time to book a tour of Krakow's Old Town.

Book a tour of Krakow's Old Town

Travel to Croatia in spring, the best option

Kraków sightseeing bus| ©Jose K
Kraków sightseeing bus| ©Jose K

Regardless of what the calendar says, spring in Kraków doesn't really begin in terms of temperature until April, as March is usually still quite cold. From that month onwards, temperatures start to ease, although mornings and evenings can still be unpleasant.

According to averages, minimum temperatures during this season are around 7ºC, while maximum temperatures (in May) are around 20ºC. However, the chances of precipitation are quite high. One of the effects of these temperatures is that Kraków is full of colour, and not just because of the flowers and leaves in its various parks. The city hosts numerous celebrations in which locals and visitors can take part.

The days are great for strolling, even on the promenade along the river. Likewise, it's also a great time to book the Krakow sightseeing bus or, if it's not raining, book a Krakow bike tour to get to know the city. Spring is also a time when Krakow' s nightlife is at its peak, with thousands of students flocking to the venues around the Jewish Quarter.

Cracow's most interesting activities in spring

  • Immerse yourself in Easter, when it is traditional to decorate the famous Easter eggs and weave palm trees out of flowers. The country's Catholic tradition comes to the fore during Easter. In addition to the usual attractions on Krakow's Market Square, there are several stalls of Polish, Slovak, Hungarian and Ukrainian craftsmen where you'll find some of the best gifts. There are also food stalls where you can sample some of the country's top dishes.
  • Attend The Drowning of Marzanna, which is a popular pagan festival.
  • Take part in sporting activities such as the Kraków Marathon.
  • Don't miss the Film Festival.

Book the Krakow sightseeing bus

Travel to Krakow in summer, the best temperature but with lots of sightseeing.

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

The high season in Kraków lasts from mid-June to the first half of September. The best thing about Kraków in summer is that the weather will be more pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-20s to mid-30s. The average minimum temperature is not too low either, at 12.7°C.

Another positive aspect is the number of daylight hours. During these months it gets dark at around 9pm, which gives you more time for sightseeing and excursions such as to Auschwitz

However, Krakow's summer also has some downsides for travellers. For a start, this is the busiest time of year for tourists. The crowds in some places will be constant and, for example, will make it difficult to see the fabulous sights of the Market Square or to see Krakow's best churches in peace and quiet. Of course, the high season also brings with it a significant increase in prices, both for flights and accommodation.

What to do if you travel in summer

  • Wianki, also known as the Flower Garland Festival, is held along the Vistula River.

  • Don't miss the Festival of Jewish Culture, where you can listen to music, dance and attend other activities in the Jewish quarter. This is definitely a great time to book a tour of Krakow's Jewish Quarter.

  • Discover the Festival of Travelling Theatres, an option not to be missed if you like theatre.

Book a bike tour of Krakow

Travel to Krakow in autumn, a great time to visit the city

Daniłowicza Well in the Salt Mines| ©Aleksandr Zykov
Daniłowicza Well in the Salt Mines| ©Aleksandr Zykov

Autumn in Kraków climatologically only lasts until the beginning of November. This season is one of the best times to visit the city, as the weather has not yet reached the low temperatures of winter and there is less chance of rain.

The maximum temperatures range from an average of 19°C in September to 13°C in October, while in November they drop to 7°C. The minimum temperatures range from 19°C in September to 13°C in October. Minimum temperatures, on the other hand, stay around 6ºC, with the exception of the cold 0ºC reached at the end of the season.

On the other hand, the city is noticing the drop in tourist arrivals. The streets are much clearer and the queues to enter the most important monuments are much shorter. In addition, the lower number of tourists makes this season the perfect time to take a trip to the spectacular salt mines of Wieliczka or to escape for a day (and night) to the beautiful town of Wroclaw.

What to do in autumn

  • Attend the Zaduszki Jazz Festival: the best way to see the latest in this musical genre.
  • Eat at the interesting Plac Nowy in the Jewish quarter: With the start of the university year, the city is getting back to its local nightlife and, when the weather is good, it is even difficult to find a free place.
  • Taste the traditional autumn dishes: Food is also one of the protagonists of this season, with traditional dishes such as hunter's stew or its most famous soup, zurek, which you will no doubt have tasted if you have taken any of the highly recommended gastronomic tours featured in this article.

Book a trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mines

Winter in Kraków - bitterly cold and dark, but with a different kind of charm

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

If the facts are anything to go by, winter is definitely the least favourable time to visit Kraków. Temperatures are very low, with highs of 2 or 3°C, while lows hover around minus 5 or 6°C. Snow is also a common occurrence. In addition, snow often falls and daylight hours are so short that in December it gets dark before 4pm.

However, as my article on the best things to do in Kraków in winter tells you, it also has a special charm from mid-December onwards. With the arrival of Christmas, it is all decked out in lights and decorations. The Christmas market on Market Square is truly impressive, and there are smaller markets in the neighbourhoods. There are few things more pleasant than ordering a mulled wine in the winter cold. Another possibility is to try the hot spiced beer.

On the other hand, many Krakowers take advantage of the winter week ends to go on one of the best excursions from Krakow: for example, you can book an excursion to Zakopane, the so-called winter capital of Poland. Unlike in spring and summer, these trips are not for hiking in the forests, but mainly for skiing. If you decide to visit Kraków in this season, warm clothes are essential, as well as a hat, gloves and a good coat.

What are the most interesting activities in winter?

  • Visit the Christmas market: The main activity to do in Krakow in December. Despite the cold, the atmosphere in the Market Square and the stalls selling crafts, Christmas decorations and food will make you forget about the low temperatures and enjoy yourself like a child.
  • Take a Nativity Scene Tour: Among the Christmas traditions, especially if you are travelling to Krakow with children, the unique nativity scenes that are on display in some corners of the city are very appealing, especially if you are travelling to Krakow with children. Unlike the Spanish ones, they represent small buildings inspired by the most important monuments of the city.

Book an excursion to Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains

Comparative table on the best time to travel to Krakow

To give you at a glance the most important information for deciding when to travel to Krakow, here is a table with information about the different seasons.

  • Spring
  • April-June
  • High 17º C
  • Low 6º C
  • The best: the weather is improving and there are no crowds yet.
  • Worst: It tends to rain quite a lot during this season.
  • Summer
  • June-September
  • High 23º C
  • Low 12º C
  • The best thing: more daylight hours and good weather.
  • Worst: crowds and the possibility of rain.
  • Autumn
  • September-November
  • High 13º C
  • Low 4º C
  • The best thing: fewer tourists and more peace and quiet for strolling.
  • The worst: in November it starts to get quite cold.
  • Winter
  • December-March
  • Maximum 2º C
  • Low -5º C
  • The best: Christmas and seeing the city under the snow.
  • Worst: the cold and the short daylight hours

Best time to go to Auschwitz

Barracks in which prisoners were crammed at Auschwitz| ©Fred Romero
Barracks in which prisoners were crammed at Auschwitz| ©Fred Romero

A visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp (actually the two that were built in the area) is almost a must for anyone travelling to Krakow. Here are some facts and figures depending on when you travel:

  • As with the city itself, the best months to visit are May to September.
  • In winter, on the other hand, the cold weather can make the visit too uncomfortable and the countryside may even be snowed in. It should also be borne in mind that the tour of Auschwitz II takes place entirely in the open air, so low temperatures are not the best way to get to know the site.
  • Another important aspect of this visit is that from April to the end of October, as you can see in the information on the opening hours of the Austchwitz complex, you can only enter Auschwitz I without a guide (on your own) first thing in the morning (before 10 am) and during the last opening hours (from about 3 pm onwards). During the rest of the year, the hours during which free visits are not allowed are between 10:00 and 13:00.
  • If you go in summer, don't forget to book your Auschwitz tour in advance, which is necessary even if you want to go in on your own. Due to high demand, you may arrive and not be able to buy a ticket. The best way to avoid this is to book a tour from Krakow. It's also advisable to bring a hat and water, as you'll need them to be able to walk for so long in the sun.

Book your tour to Auschwitz