Are you planning a trip to Krakow? If you've chosen to go in August, you're going to love what I have to tell you, because during this month there are several festivals and events that take place there and with which you can delve into the gastronomic, musical and natural culture of the city.
Although it's true that August is high season and there is usually more tourism, the temperatures are good for being outdoors, which is why I want to suggest plans where nature plays a leading role, although there are also some much more lively and urban alternatives. That's why I'd like to suggest plans where nature plays a leading role, although there are also some much more lively and urban alternatives. Which ones are you up for?
1. Follow the rhythm of Polish folklore during the Summer Arts Festival
Did you know that Krakow has been the cultural centre of Poland for many years? And it still is, which is why every August folklore groups, choirs or orchestras gather in the city to take part in the Summer Arts Festival, a celebration of traditional Polish music and dance.
In mid-August therefore the city fills up with art and does so as a great tribute to Polish customs. Krakow is a city full of life all year round and it's never a bad time to go, but I can assure you that these days you'll feel the rhythm of the city as you wander around the various festival stages, which are usually the city's own squares or churches.
2. Dance to the rhythm of rock at the Live Music Festival
Every August since 2006, previously known as the Coke Music Festival, Kraków fills up with music. And not just any music, because this festival is attended by some of the best-known bands on the planet, especially hip-hop and rock bands such as Post Malone, Macklemore and Muse. For two or three days you can attend several concerts and even sleep at the festival's campsite.
Over the years the Live Music festival has changed a lot. It used to be sponsored by Coca-Cola, hence the old name, and was held at the Wisła Kraków stadium. In recent years, however, the venue has been the Aviation Museum. Wherever it is, it's a festival where you'll enjoy great live music and, as it's held in Kraków itself rather than somewhere else nearby, it allows you to get to know the city during the day and then dance to the music at night.
3.. Accompany your visit to Krakow with classical music
If I had to choose a soundtrack to accompany my trip to Krakow I would choose classical music, without a doubt. The atmosphere of the city, the cobbled streets, the low buildings... No wonder Krakow has been organising a classical music festival every August since the 1970s. Moreover, the locations are usually emblematic and historic buildings in the old part of the city, such as Krakow's churches, so don't be surprised to be walking around and hear a concert in the background.
Music in Old Krakow is a tribute to all the musicians who visited the city years ago, such as Liszt or Rubinstein. Perhaps they were as inspired by Krakow as the artists who come to the festival to perform today.
Although the festival is international, most of the performers who attend are Krakowers, so if you're around in August, you'll have a chance to get a taste of the city's culture. Don't think it's all early music, though, as there's also room for more modern compositions.
4. Celebrate Polish history on Polish Armed Forces Day
Kraków is a city steeped in history and there is never a bad time to get to know it. One important date is 15 August, when Poland's Armed Forces Day is celebrated. This event commemorates their victory against the Russian army in 1920. Although most of the events around this occasion are political in nature, my advice is to take advantage of this day to get closer to the history of Krakow and Poland.
Although there are no activities to join in on Armed Forces Day, this is no excuse to omit the significance of this day and the importance of the victory over the Russian army for the Poles. As Krakow is one of the most important cities in Poland, walking its streets can help you understand not only its memory but also that of the whole country.
My advice, especially if you are only going to be in Krakow for a few days, is to book an organised tour with a guide. This way you won't miss anything and you'll discover all the events that have left their mark on Kraków. Strolling through its streets you will surely understand much better the role that wars and battles have played in the country.
5. Get a closer look at Jewish culture at the Tisha b'Av
As you probably know, Krakow is a city where Jewish culture has always been part of its history. In fact, before the Second World War, the Jewish community accounted for a quarter of the population.
Although Jewish holidays are not part of the Polish calendar, you may be interested to know that August is usually celebrated on Tisha b'Av, a day that commemorates some of the hardest events in the history of the Jews, such as their expulsion from Spain or the destruction of their First Temple.
Knowing the specific date on which Tisha b'Av will take place can be complicated, as it is marked by the lunisolar calendar. However, it is usually in August, so if it coincides with your trip to Krakow, I think it is a good time to take a tour of Krakow's Jewish Quarter. There is no better way to understand how two cultures have been able to coexist for so long and also the terror caused by the Nazi occupation.
6. Experience Kraków's countryside in Zakopane
I'm sure that one of the reasons you've travelled to Kraków, apart from seeing the city, is to take a well-deserved holiday and relax. You may not know it, but Zakopane is only three hours away from Kraków. Zakopane is a favourite summer destination for Poles and you too can enjoy it in August, the month when temperatures are warm enough for hiking in the mountains and strolling through the streets.
Zakopane has a lot of historical significance because of its role in Polish nationalism, but it is also a place to relax and connect with the more rural side of Poland. Being so close to Krakow, I highly recommend booking an excursion from there to discover its half-timbered houses and mountain trails.
Stroll around the town of Zakopane
Have you ever been to a fairytale town? Zakopane is just that. Its low, wooden houses with sloping roofs have created an architectural style of their own and are the perfect setting for a summer morning, when the temperatures are warm enough to be outside and on the terraces.
Hiking in the Tatra Mountains
If there is one thing Zakopane is known for, it is the Tatra Mountains, which act as a natural border between Poland and Slovakia. On your visit you can take the cable car to the top, which I love because you'll be able to see all the green that covers the terrain.
Once you're at the top you can follow one of the marked trails that run through the National Park. August is a good month to do one of these routes, as the weather is fine and you won't find any slippery ground from the rain, but there will be leafy fir trees to accompany you along the way.
7. Taste Kraków's gastronomy at the Pierogi Festival
Don't know what pierogi is? Don't worry, because as soon as you set foot in Kraków you'll get a taste of this traditional dish. What's more, if you go in August you'll have the chance to taste the different types during the Pierogi Festival, a celebration in which these dumplings or boiled dumplings of Polish origin take centre stage.
A unique opportunity to try the traditional Polish dish
In mid-August, Kraków' s restaurants get creative and come up with even more delicious and surprising combinations of pierogi. This Polish delicacy is made of stuffed dough, like the famous dumplings, and traditionally it was filled with mashed potatoes, cheese, egg... Over the years this recipe has been reinvented and during your trip to Krakow, especially during the Pierogi Festival, you can try many varieties, including some sweet ones for dessert.
Which one to choose among so many alternatives? My advice is to make the most of every day and let yourself be guided by the smell coming from every stall that fills Kraków's Market Square, where the Festival is held.
Accompany every meal with the best music
Do you only eat during this festival? Of course, eating is a fundamental and essential part of the festival, but during these days the streets of Krakow are filled with traditional music to accompany the food.
What is the best pierogi?
The Pierogi Festival is held to taste this typical dish, but also to reward the culinary innovation of the participating restaurants. How? There are two prizes: one awarded by a professional jury, and the other based on the opinions of the attendees. Who will you vote for?
A gastronomic feast
Once you've tried a few pierogi, you'll want to know the recipe - they're so good! To learn it, nothing like attending one of the gastronomic workshops or tours around Kraków organised during the festival by Kraków's best chefs.
In my opinion, this festival is a unique opportunity that you can't miss, as you will connect with Krakow and its culture through its gastronomy. Believe me, there is nothing better (or tastier).
8. Embark on an adventure on the Dunajec river descent
Fancy an adventure? August is the perfect month to embark on one and descend the Dunajec River, which is located in one of Kraków's most beautiful natural settings. During the summer months the lush vegetation will accompany you for 15 kilometres.
As well as being the border between Poland and its neighbouring country, Slovakia, the Dunajec River is a beautiful landscape through which to sail and discover the Pieniny Nature Park, one of the oldest in the world. Along the way you can admire the rock formations on the banks as you approach Niedzic Castle, where legend has it that there is an Inca treasure.
Take advantage of this excursion not only to enjoy nature, but also to sunbathe on the deck of your boat.
9. Refresh yourself and take a swim in the Bagry Pond
Kraków is a rather hot city in August. Temperatures are generally mild, but there may be days when it's over 30 degrees Celsius. In that case, what better than going to the beach? You got me, Krakow doesn't have a beach, but it does have the Bagry Pond, which acts as a beach and you're going to love it.
The entrance to this artificial pond, built on an old gravel mine, is free of charge. As well as swimming in the fresh water, you can also hire water vehicles or even watch a sailing competition. As it is located on the outskirts of Kraków and can be easily reached by city bus or car (parking is available), expect to meet many other people who, like you, want to cool off on hotter days.
10. Spend the last hours of the day on the banks of the Vistula
One of the best things about travelling to Kraków in August is making the most of every last minute of its almost 13 hours of daylight. This month is the last month you can enjoy daylight saving time in Kraków, so don't hesitate and end one of your days with a glass of wine or a picnic on the banks of the Vistula River.
This place tends to attract a lot of students, although if you go in August, when classes haven't started yet, you'll have more time to lie on the grass or sit on one of the benches while you have a drink or a snack - perfect if you're in Kraków with children, as the little ones can play and move around to their heart's content.
If you prefer to take a boat trip on the river, that's also a great option, and you'll get some great views of the sunset.
Krakow weather in August
August in Kraków brings mild temperatures of between 16ºC and 29ºC, although some summer days in Kraków can reach over 31ºC. On the other hand, rainfall is scarce, so you can visit the city without fear of getting drenched. If you're worried about the heat, don't be, as the higher temperatures are usually accompanied by more cloud cover so the sun isn't too hot.
Another great thing about travelling in August is that daylight lasts from 5am until almost 8pm, so you'll have plenty of time to visit Kraków.
The number of tourists in Kraków in August
If you are coming to Krakow in August, you should be aware that it is high season, so it is advisable to book tours and entrance tickets in advance. The good weather and summer holidays attract many tourists like you who want to discover this Polish city, so transport and accommodation prices may also go up.
If you want to make sure that you visit tourist sites such as Auschwitz, it's best to buy your tickets in advance, although Krakow has many other attractions. In general, it's a city for strolling, wandering the streets and relaxing in the parks and green spaces, so I recommend you visit them as well to avoid the most crowded places.
Are you looking forward to August in Krakow? No wonder, there are plenty of things to do and see when you arrive. Which ones are you going to do?