Krakow is a city steeped in history. Its medieval streets hide monuments and legends that seduce any traveller, and its surroundings are not far behind. A guided tour is the best way to get to know everything the city has to offer and these are the best ones:
1. Krakow electric vehicle tour
If you're staying in the centre of Kraków, you'll be able to walk to almost any point of interest in the city. However, you may have noticed small electric vehicles with panoramic views driving around the city: they are environmentally friendly cars and are a popular way to get around the centre as they have access to areas closed to traffic such as the Old Town.
These vehicles are used for guided tours of the city. The driver comfortably takes you to see the main sights of Krakow while telling you what you need to know about them. Tours are booked online and you can select the day and time that suits you best.
All these vehicles are similar: about four seats, equipped with transparent covers for the rain and blankets and heating for the cold. As for the route, it may vary slightly from tour to tour, but almost all of them take in landmarks such as the Jewish Quarter, Heroes' Square in the ghetto or **Oskar Schindler'**s factory. There are different options, but I recommend one of these two:
Private electric vehicle tour of Krakow: This is one of the best value for money options as the guide picks you up from your hotel and you start and finish the tour there. It is available in 26 languages including English and Spanish.
One and a half hour tour
This is an ideal option if you want to go at your own pace and let yourself be carried away by the explanations recorded by an expert (available in the language of your choice).
2. Guided tour of Krakow's Jewish Quarter and Schindler's factory
The city of Krakow was not spared from the Nazi occupation and many traces of the horror committed against the Jewish population still remain in the city today. This guided tour of the Jewish Quarter of Krakow will take you through this part of history with the aim of ensuring that it does not happen again in the future.
The guided tour of the Jewish Quarter of Krakow and the Schindler Factory lasts approximately 2 hours. The tour is available in several languages, including English, French or Spanish, just choose once you have booked your place online.
Among the places visited during the tour are the Eagle Pharmacy Museum and the factory run by Oskar Schindler. If you haven't seen Spielberg's masterpiece, you should know that Schindler was a businessman who dedicated himself to saving Jews from concentration camps by hiring them for his factory.
3. Guided tour of Auschwitz Concentration Camp
From this list of tours and excursions in and around Krakow, the most popular activity is undoubtedly the day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau from Krakow, a place steeped in history.
Once the most famous extermination camp in Europe, today it is a museum that commemorates the horrors of Nazism and seeks to ensure that the memory of the victims is not forgotten. This tour includes return transfer from your hotel in Krakow, entrance to the complex and the services of an expert guide.
Although Auschwitz is referred to as one concentration camp, it is actually three different camps, the best known being Auschwitz-Birkenau. On this tour you will see all three camps including the remains of the crematorium, the letters written by some of the prisoners during their stay there and the "camp" in which the prisoners lived.
Although this tour can be done individually, a visit with an expert guide is essential to immerse yourself in the history. In this article on Auschwitz Tours from Krakow: Day Trips and Best Prices more details on how to organise your visit.
4. Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour
When I heard about this excursion to the Wieliczka salt mines from Krakow I was also surprised and wondered if it was really worth it. However, after doing it I can say that I was pleasantly surprised as I discovered one of the most fascinating Polish monuments.
On this tour you will learn about mining techniques that have been used from the Middle Ages to the present day and you will also see extraordinary statues made of salt in the likeness of important personalities. You will walk through a network of tunnels built 135 metres above the surface, which creates a microclimate beneficial for people with asthma and respiratory problems.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour is available in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish and German. The price includes transport to and from the centre of Krakow, entrance to the mines and the services of an expert guide. It will take you about four hours to complete the entire tour. In this guide about Wieliczka Salt Mine Day Trips from Krakow all the information you need to organise your visit.
5. Pieskowa Skala Castle and Czestochowa Tour
If you like scenery, I recommend this day trip to Pieskowa Skala Castle and Czestochowa from Krakow to see the famous Black Madonna, Poland's most revered relic. The Black Madonna is located at the pilgrimage site of Czestochowa, but along the way you will pass sites such as the Eagles' Nest Route and Pieskowa Skala Castle.
This guided tour gives you the chance to discover another side of Poland that would be difficult to access by limiting your visit to the city of Krakow. It is available in English, Spanish and Italian and costs 75 Euros including transfer and guide services.
6. Excursion to Zakopane
If you want to escape to the mountains, you can take a trip to the town of Zakopane, a two-hour drive from Kraków. Among other things, you'll find the Tatra Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a natural border between Poland and Slovakia.
The destination is ideal for a walk in the summer months (the cold temperatures of winter can make it very hard and even dangerous at this time of year) and then admire the simple and welcoming architecture of the place.
7. Four-hour guided tour of Kraków
If you want to get an overview of the Polish city and hear all the stories hidden in its streets regardless of their theme, the best option is this half-day guided tour of Krakow.
A specialised guide will spend half the day with you to show you the most outstanding monuments of the city, tell you about the legends and historical episodes that made it what it is today, tell you about the customs of its inhabitants, give you recommendations for your trip and even accompany you on a visit to some of the main museums.
This half-day tour of Krakow includes entrance tickets to the museums visited during the route. One of its advantages is that you will be in a group of maximum 12 travellers, so there will be an atmosphere of closeness that will allow you to enjoy even more the experience and the explanations of the guide available in Spanish, English, German, Italian or French.
The tour will be on foot with sections by bus. When you book online you will be informed of the meeting point by email.
You also have the possibility to explore Krakow in a very comfortable and sustainable way with this bike tour which will allow you to explore the city by bike.
- Wawel Royal Castle: a Renaissance palace which at the beginning of the 16th century was a Gothic Royal Castle. This has been for years the place of residence of the Polish royal family.
- Wawel Cathedral: resting place of Polish kings and heroes. A stop steeped in history
- Kanonicza Street: a picturesque corner of the city with a history dating back to the 14th century.
- Royal Route - the route along which the royal retinue used to pass during ceremonies held in the city. It includes churches such as St. Florian's Church and St. Mary's Basilica.
- University of Poland: more than 500 years old.
- Central square of the city: where the largest market in medieval Europe used to be located.
- Sukiennice: Kraków's oldest shopping centre
8. Excursion to the Dunajec River
Another great getaway from Kraków is a trip to the Pieniny Nature Park, where the Dunajec River is located. This option is ideal if you want to avoid the crowds and spend a solitary, relaxing day away from the stress of the city. In less than two hours you'll be in a natural setting where they say there's a hidden Inca treasure. Personally, I think the real treasure is the view of Niedzica Castle, located here.
9. Excursion to Wroclaw
Wroclaw, a three-hour drive from Kraków, may not be one of the best-known cities in the country, but the old town is definitely worth a visit, especially if you take a guided tour and learn about the history of the place. In the surrounding area are the landscapes that were used as the setting for the film The Chronicles of Narnia. Don't forget to visit the Jewish quarter.
10. Excursion to Warsaw
Poland's capital is about three and a half hours from Kraków; if you're in a hurry you can get there and back in a day or you can book overnight accommodation if you want to see the city in more detail. Warsaw's cultural offerings are quite outstanding, so you won't get bored on a visit that should include must-see sights such as the Royal Castle, Lazienki Park, Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, the Prague Quarter and the Ghetto.
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You already know almost everything you have to do during your stay in Krakow, and there are many things to do, so don't forget to organise your arrival at the hotel and return to the airport. For this I leave you with this article on Krakow Airport Transfers which may help you.