While many tourists visit this historic site for the experiences and activities that take place around Krakow, such as visiting the Auschwitz concentration camps from Krakow, there are hundreds of interesting sights to see and do in the Old Town itself.
Specifically, in this article we focus on what you can see and do when you visit Kraków's Market Square, world famous for being the largest medieval square in Europe
1. St. Mary's Basilica
Start your visit to the Market Square with a visit to perhaps the most emblematic monument in the whole area and perhaps the most important religious centre in Poland. St. Mary's Basilica is characterised by the uneven towers of its front façade and the intricate stories surrounding its construction.
However, the interior of the basilica is more impressive than its façade and the legends surrounding it. This fascinating work of Gothic architecture, you will find that both the walls and the central nave of the basilica are filled with plumes of blue and gold paint. They make their way from the walls climbing up into the apse and the Gothic niches. The perspective from the human eye is impressive to say the least.
Get as close as you can to the altar area to get a closer look at the Veit Stoss Altarpiece; this is the largest Gothic altarpiece in the world and a national treasure in Poland. During the German invasion the work of art was stolen by the Nazi army, it was recovered in 1946 in a cellar in Nuremberg Castle.
- Opening hours: Except on public holidays the basilica is open to the public daily from 11.30 am to 6 pm.
- Admission fee: Entr ance to the church is free, but if you want to admire the works of art inside the church up close, the entrance fee is approximately €3.75.
- Duration of visit: 50 minutes is enough to tour the interiors and appreciate the works of art.
2. See the exteriors of Sukiennice
No trip to Kraków's Market Square would be complete without a visit to see Sukiennice in Polish, or Lonja de Paños as it is known in Latin. This is a space dedicated to trade since the very foundation of the city, where the most important merchants of the 15th century gathered to bring spices, silk, leather and wax from distant lands; Krakow in turn exports textiles, lead and salt extracted, of course, from the Wieliczka salt mine.
The iconic building was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sits in a privileged position right in the middle of the central square. It has a beautiful and elegant structure, so you can't leave Kraków without taking a postcard picture from the arches of the Cloth Exchange. You can take advantage of the visit to buy all kinds of souvenirs and travel souvenirs.
- Opening hours: The Cloth Exchange is open to the public daily from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm.
- Entry fee: Admission is completely free.
- Duration of visit: You can spend as much time as you like exploring the stalls that catch your eye.
3. See Wieza Ratuszowa
Wieza Ratuszowa is the Polish name for the iconic Town Hall Tower on the Market Square. The Tower is all that remains of **Warsaw'**s old town hall, a historic building that long dominated the southwest side of the Square; after many fires and repair work, the structure was demolished in 1820.
In honour of the old building, a magnificent Gothic tower has been preserved, and inside is an extension of the Kraków Historical Museum; the permanent exhibition focuses exclusively on the history and evolution of the square and is well worth a visit.
- Opening hours: The museum is open to the public in two seasons. From April to October, from 10.30 am to 6 pm and in November and December from 12 noon to 6 pm.
- Admission fee: The entrance fee to the small museum is approximately 3€.
- Duration of visit: It is a small museum so 30 minutes will be enough to see the exhibition and climb to the top of the tower.
4. Explore the Rynek Underground museum and underground market
The Rynek Museum is not visible from the Market Square because it is located underneath it! Visiting the city's immersive museum is definitely one of the best things to see and do in Krakow. The entrance to this unique museum is located right inside the Cloth Exchange.
As you enter you descend several metres underground to discover extensive archaeological excavations that reveal the medieval trading quarters of **Krakow'**s Old Town. You'll find large sections of roads from as far back as the Roman era, all preserved in an impressive state. Through displays and stories the museum educates us about the customs of medieval life in Krakow. The experience is equal parts educational and interesting, ideal if you plan to visit Krakow with children.
- Opening hours: Open to the public from 10am to 8pm daily, except on Tuesdays when it is open only until 2pm.
- Admission fee: The entrance ticket costs approximately €6 per person.
- Duration of visit: Approximately 1.30 hours will be enough to enjoy the interior of the museum in its entirety.
5. Church of St. Wojciech
Although less well known than St. Mary's Church, St. Wojciech's Church is one of the most beautiful churches in Kraków and is located on the southeast side of the Main Square. It is also possibly the oldest building on the square, dating back to the middle of the 11th century, so it was erected even before the current square.
It is a small church adorned with green roofs made up of baroque domes that converge on its harmonious Romanesque façade. The temple is used for certain celebrations, so if you decide to visit it, be sure to respect the solemnity of the place.
- Opening hours: The church is generally open to the public from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm.
- Entry fee: Ad mission to the temple is free.
- Duration of visit: You can stay inside as long as you like.
6. Get to know Polish art: Sztuki Polskiej Gallery XIX
On the first level of Sukiennice is the Gallery of Polish Art of the 19th century; a museum dedicated entirely to honouring talented Polish artists who presented the world with fabulous works of art in different pictorial styles.
Regardless of your knowledge of art in general or more specifically Polish art, this is a visit I highly recommend. Inside you will find huge, beautifully lit rooms. Many of the works on display are of an impressive size and the level of detail in the workmanship will leave you in awe. The art in the Sztuki Polskiej Gallery is displayed on colourful walls painted in bright colours which adds a lot of life and dynamism to the place.
- Opening hours: Monday closed; Tuesday from 10am to 7pm; Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
- Entry fee: The entrance ticket costs approximately 6,60€.
- Duration of visit: 1.30 hours is more than enough time to tour the installation and admire all the artwork.
7. Take a photo of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument
Adam Mickiewicz is one of **Poland'**s greatest romantic poets, a historical figure much loved by locals as he was not only a poet but also a passionate columnist and political activist who even declared himself a visionary and a lover of the homeland in exile. His life and struggle were focused on preserving the customs and language of his native Poland, which throughout history suffered several foreign invasions.
In almost every Polish city you can find a statue of Adam Mickiewicz as he is considered a national hero. Krakow's statue stands in a place of honour on the Market Square right between two of its most important buildings: St. Mary's Basilica and Sukiennice.
Get close to the monument and take some nice pictures!
8. Take a picture of Eros Benato
One of Poland's most famous sculptors, Igor Mitoraj created the famous work Eros Benato in 1999 and decided to give it to the city as a gift in 2010. The sculpture depicts the Greek god of love Eros with a cloth covering part of his eyes and mouth; the symbolism represents that both the desires and ideas of the mythical character have been curtailed. According to records, the artist made four similar works, two in the United States, one in Krakow Square and the last one in Lugano Reform Square in Switzerland.
To be able to see up close and take pictures of an important work of art is a really great opportunity. Many tourists have fun going inside the large sculpture and poking their heads out of the eye holes for fun photographs.
9. Sign up for the year's most important events
As the only main square in Kraków, the Market Square lends itself to important events in the city. If you have already decided on the best time to travel to Krakow and it coincides with one of these, don't hesitate to join in the celebrations - you're sure to have fun!
If you are visiting Krakow in April: Easter Market
In April, in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, a market is held in the city's main square. You'll see seasonal flowers and traditional Polish decorations everywhere you look. You can't miss the hand-painted eggs and wood carvings. During the festival, this area is also the scene of folk parades and other religious processions.
If you visit Krakow in June: Lajkonik Parade
One of Krakow 's most unique traditions takes place on the main square in the summer. According to historians, the ritual dates back to the invasions of the 13th century, when it was believed that the payment of dues would ensure good fortune for the whole year to come. As a result, Lajkonik, a Mongolian warrior on horseback, rides through the old part of the city, entering all the shops to demand a ransom in cash.
If you visit Kraków in June: Grand Dragon Parade
Also in June, the Great Summer Dragon Parade, a myth linked to the very founding of ancient Kraków, is held. Large kites and dragon floats take to the streets, fireworks explode over Wawel Castle and the waters of the Vistula River. The Square is used as a parade ground and stages are set up to play live music.
If you are visiting Krakow in December: Krakow Christmas market
In December in Krakow you can enjoy the captivating Krakow Christmas market. Beautiful and picturesque stalls are temporarily erected around the statue of Adam Mickiewicz on the east side of the square. As you walk around, the smell of cinnamon buns and sizzling Polish black pudding fills the air; all kinds of wares are on sale at the stalls and tourists and locals alike stroll from stall to stall.
10. Check out the best restaurants in the area
On the Market Square itself, specifically in Sukiennice and in the immediate vicinity you can find some of the best restaurants in Krakow' s Old Town. Take advantage of your visit to book a lunch and enjoy either traditional Polish food or other types of cuisine - variety is guaranteed in this area! If you're looking for inspiration, here are some of my favourites.
- La Grande Mamma. Specialising in Italian cuisine
- Dobra Kasza Nasza. Specialising in Polish cuisine
- Restauracja Wentz. Specialising in international European cuisine
- Chopin Restaurant. Specialising in Polish cuisine
- Restauracja Sukiennice. Specialising in Polish cuisine
11. Get to know the best bars in the area
Krakow is famous for its bars rooted in Polish traditions like no other place in Poland. Take advantage of your visit to check out some of the best bars and clubs around the Market Square. If you don't know where to start, here is a list of my personal favourites.
12. Consider booking a guided tour
Most of the activities I have presented can easily be combined with a guided tour and I think this is the best alternative of all. Get to know the city and the Market Square from the hand of a real citizen who can guide you through the most interesting places and corners.
- Price: This type of experience is available from 36€.
- Duration of the excursion: It varies a lot depending on the itinerary, but you can estimate an approximate time of 2 to 4 hours for a complete tour.