10 Things to Do in Krakow in Summer

With the good weather and the many hours of daylight, summer is one of the best times to visit Krakow. Here's a list of some interesting activities

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Krakow in Summer

Krakow Park in Summer | ©Monika

Krakow is much more than its many monuments. The Polish city offers a wealth of cultural events, gastronomic variety and, of course, entertainment. This is true at any time of the year, but even more so during the summer months.

With the cold of winter long forgotten, the summer season allows Kraków's visitors and inhabitants to go out and enjoy the area around the Vistula River, enjoy the night to the fullest in its countless clubs or attend interesting festivals such as the one celebrating the pierogi or the one celebrating Jewish culture.

1. Stroll through Planty Park

Strolling through Planty Park in Summer| ©Soon Keat Ong
Strolling through Planty Park in Summer| ©Soon Keat Ong

One of Kraków's favourite summer activities is a leisurely stroll through one of its most famous parks: Planty Park. I advise you to follow one of the most famous maxims among travellers, "where you go, do what you see", and join young and old on a walk through the more than 4 kilometres of this green space.

In ancient times, the entire medieval city of Kraków was surrounded by defensive walls. From the 18th century onwards, 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 city walls. Among the most outstanding points of interest are the following:

  • Florian Gate: In the northern part, it is one of the most striking points of the park and one of the original entrances to the walled city. It is the perfect place to start a 2-day itinerary in Krakow.
  • Statues: As you stroll through the park you will be able to see several sculptures depicting important figures in Polish history, such as Nicolaus Copernicus, who attended the famous Collegium Maius in Kraków.
  • Near Wawel Castle: This is the most popular and most visited part of this area. There, on a boulevard that runs along the river bank, many people gather sitting on the lawn, walking or enjoying the view.

It may be worth booking a guided tour of the old town to find out about this and other places of interest in the city.

Book a guided tour of the old town

2. Don't miss the Festival of Jewish Culture in Kazimierz

Kazimierz| ©Paul Arps
Kazimierz| ©Paul Arps

I have no doubt that during your stay in Krakow you will have booked a tour of the Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. The Jewish quarter is home to many places worth seeing. It is precisely this quarter that hosts one of the country's most renowned cultural events: the Festival of Jewish Culture. If the dates coincide, you should not miss the events organised there.

The festival is held every year for 10 days at the end of June or beginning of July. Originally, in 1988, it was conceived as a series of events to remember the importance of the Jewish community in the city, as well as to recognise its historical and cultural contributions.

Since that first edition, the festival has become consolidated and today attracts almost 30,000 people every year. There are plenty of activities to choose from: conferences, workshops, guided tours and concerts of traditional music that take place at various venues in the neighbourhood. Other activities during these days include film screenings, Jewish cooking classes and book presentations.

Book a tour of the Jewish Quarter

3. Take a cruise on the Vistula River

Vistula River boat| ©Leif Arne Storset
Vistula River boat| ©Leif Arne Storset

Although summer is usually considered the best time to visit Krakow, it does have one small drawback: the crowds of tourists in many streets. A possible option to avoid them for a while is to book a cruise on the Vistula River.

This trip will allow you to visit part of the city in a more relaxed and quiet way, something you will be grateful for after visiting the bustling Market Square, for example.

The trip lasts approximately one hour. The most striking points, apart from the views of the castle, are the Pilsudski or Dębnicki bridges, which you walk under. The end point of most of the trips is the interesting Benedictine monastery. Another form of river cruising, designed for the more fit, is to rent a kayak and take a leisurely ride on it for a while.

Book a cruise on the Vistula River

4. Cycle to Tyniec

Tyniec| ©Kriksos
Tyniec| ©Kriksos

A really interesting activity to do in summer, when the weather permits, is to book a bike tour of Krakow and head to the Tyniec Monastery.

From the centre of Krakow there is a bike path that takes you safely and comfortably along the 12 kilometre route, as well as to other places around the city.

Tyniec used to be an independent village, but today it is part of Kraków. 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 bear in mind that it is open from 10 am to 6 pm.

Book a bike tour of Krakow

5. Take a walking tour in Zakopane

Zakopane| ©lucy_s86
Zakopane| ©lucy_s86

Although Zakopane is known as the 'winter capital', in summer there are a number of activities that are worth booking a tour for, either on your own or organised.

The most popular thing to do in this town at the foot of the Tatra Mountain s (about two hours from Krakow) is the hiking trail that leads to the spectacular Morskie Oko Lake. If you want to hike this trail, you should know that it starts far from the town.

If you have gone on your own, you will have to take one of the minibuses that continuously leave from the town's bus and train station and drop you off at the beginning of the trail. There are many other routes in the area, some of them with attractions such as churches, small waterfalls or extraordinary viewpoints. If you're lucky, you might even see a deer along the way.

Book a tour to Zakopane

6. Attend a performance at the Summer Opera Festival

Summer Opera Festival| ©Ryszard Kornecki|
Summer Opera Festival| ©Ryszard Kornecki|

Whether you love opera or just want to enjoy a performance in a magical setting, the Kraków Summer Opera Festival is a great opportunity.

Usually held in July, this festival is considered one of the most anticipated events of the whole 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.

Practical information

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 castle courtyard, means that tickets sell out quickly.

To buy them, assuming you can't buy them at the box office, it's best to look on the official website dedicated to this type of event in Kraków. Another option if you are a classical music lover is to book a ticket for a Chopin piano concert.

Book a ticket for a Chopin concert

7. Experience the Krakow night

Eating Zapiekanka| ©Zygmunt Put
Eating Zapiekanka| ©Zygmunt Put

The presence of thousands of students in the city, both locals and foreigners, plus the many tourists travelling in summer make the nightlife in Krakow the liveliest in Poland. Don't hesitate to book a pub crawl in Krakow and live the experience to the fullest.

The nightlife in Krakow is concentrated in two different areas. On the one hand, in the Old Town, where the city's tourists tend to congregate. On the other hand, in the Jewish quarter, full of bars and pubs and with an incredible atmosphere in each of its streets.

My advice is to start with 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 lunch, it's time to wander around the lively streets of the neighbour hood until you find a place you like to spend the night.

More peace and quiet in the Forum

If the night is not your thing, but you want to have a beer in peace and quiet, one of the best places in the city is the Forum. It's a former communist-era hotel converted into a bar, and to find it, you have to cross the river from the Jewish quarter. Summer is definitely the best time to go here, as there are hammocks where you can enjoy a drink overlooking the river and Wawel Castle.

Book a pub crawl in Kraków

8. Discover one of the country's traditional dishes at the Pierogi Festival

Pierogi| ©Naomi K-S
Pierogi| ©Naomi K-S

In August, Kraków hosts a festival dedicated to a rather appetizing theme: pierogi, which is similar to stuffed ravioli. Anyone who has booked a gastronomic tour of Kraków, or simply walked into a restaurant in Kraków, will have tasted what is in its own right one of **Poland'**s traditional dishes.

During the days of the festival, all the restaurants present their best creations with this type of pasta as the star dish. Some of them experiment with new fillings that go beyond the typical pierogi ruskie or pierogi kirniki (with chicken). You can try some made with venison, smoked cheese or lamb.

Perhaps the highlight of the festival is the competition for the best pierogi dish of the whole festival. 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.

Book a culinary tour of the Jewish Quarter

9. Find a wreath and become a part of the Wianki

Women in the Wianki| ©Anna Kaczmarz
Women in the Wianki| ©Anna Kaczmarz

Those who travel to Kraków at the time of the summer solstice can witness one of the city's most beloved traditions: the Wianki, a festival of pagan origin celebrating the arrival of the summer season.

The tradition in Kraków is to throw wreaths of flowers into the river, something that connects with a local legend: Princess Wanda, daughter of the legendary founder of the city, preferred to throw herself into the Vistula rather than agree to marry Rydygier, a German leader who had invaded the city.

But the must-see moment of this festival takes place during the night. At the base of Wawel Hill a large crowd gathers every year to listen to the concerts and enjoy the food. At midnight, people throw their wreaths into the water, followed by a truly incredible fireworks display. You can also attend concerts and parties in other squares where medieval markets are also set up.

10. Don't leave the city without trying one of Kraków's typical ice creams

Good Lood ice cream| ©Andre Chang
Good Lood ice cream| ©Andre Chang

You probably don't associate Kraków (or Poland in general) with ice cream. However, Poles love this sweet treat and you'll find plenty of places to buy it in the city. Just learn the word lody and point to the flavour to enjoy a delicious bite.

Although shops are open all year round, summer is the peak season for ice cream. The best ice-cream parlours have long queues, which will help you to know where to go.

To make sure you get it right the first time, here are two recommendations for buying your ice cream:

  • Good Lood: just by looking at the queues you'll realise that this is one of Kraków's favourite places. As a curiosity, every evening at 8pm they publish on their app the flavours they are going to add the following day to their usual four (chocolate, cream, raspberry and salty caramel).
  • Lody na Starowislnej: located on Starowislna Street, near the Jewish quarter, this is one of the most traditional and popular ice cream parlours in Kraków.

What is the weather like in Krakow in summer

Midsummer in Krakow| ©Rafał Zięba
Midsummer in Krakow| ©Rafał Zięba

Summer in Kraków is a very pleasant time, but it's not really sweltering hot. July and August have an average maximum temperature of 23.4°C, while the average minimum temperature is around 12.7°C.

September is somewhat different, with temperatures dropping. By the final days of summer, highs are already at a pleasant 19°C, but lows can drop to an average of 8°C.

One thing to bear in mind is that the possibility of rain is always present, as the average rainfall is 8 days per month. The best way to ensure you can carry out your plans is to check the weather forecast shortly before you travel.

Book a segway tour Krakow

Cracow tourist influx in summer

Market Square in Summer| ©Iz Marty
Market Square in Summer| ©Iz Marty

Summer is the peak tourist season in Krakow, so crowds are common in the more touristy areas of the city. However, if you go a little outside the historic centre (even in the Jewish quarter) the situation is a little quieter.

This large influx of tourists has an impact on the price of accommodation and flights. Fortunately, the low prices for food, transport and entrance fees compensate for this.

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