12 Tips for Travelling to Krakow

If you're planning to visit this European city steeped in history, take note of these tips to get the most out of your trip.

Carolina Morales

Carolina Morales

8 min read

12 Tips for Travelling to Krakow

Wawel, Krakow | ©Radek Kucharski

Kraków is a city of history and modernity. It is the second largest city in Poland and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This city offers you the chance to rediscover history with every step you take, with plans ranging from visiting Oskar Schindler' s factory to a gastronomic tour to explore Polish flavours. But before you dive into the different plans, here are some top tips to keep in mind.

1. Plan your transfer to Krakow from the airport

Krakow Airport| ©Alquiler de Coches
Krakow Airport| ©Alquiler de Coches

Transfers between the airport and Krakow are a key aspect when arriving in any city, as in some cases local airports are moderate distances from the centre.

In the case of Krakow, the distance from the historic centre to John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport is approximately 11 kilometres.

You have several alternatives depending on your budget and preferences. If you want to go more comfortably and can afford to pay a little more, book your transfer from Krakow airport. You can also use public transport or hire your own car on arrival at the terminal.

Book your Krakow Airport Transfer

2. Find accommodation in the historic centre

Krakow's Jewish Quarter| ©Artur Borowski
Krakow's Jewish Quarter| ©Artur Borowski

Krakow is situated in the south of Poland, close to the border with the Czech Republic and has more than 750,000 inhabitants.

The heart of the city will be the best place to stay during your trip. Not only because you will be closer to the main attractions, such as the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, but also because you will be able to enjoy its wonderful architecture.

Despite being the centre of a European city, its architectural organisation makes it an easy city to get around without the typical chaos of a big metropolis. To do so, do not hesitate to book the different tours available and walk around it comfortably:

Book a private tour of the Jewish Quarter

3. Choose the best time of year to visit Krakow

Krakow Market Square| ©Francisco Anzola
Krakow Market Square| ©Francisco Anzola

Of course, this depends on your availability, but it's always advisable to adjust your schedule to make the most of your destination.

  • High season: although you will meet many other travellers, the period from May to September. An ideal time of year, as temperatures are quite pleasant.
  • Mid-season: the months of March, April and October offer good weather. In addition, the city will not be so crowded with tourists, so it will be a good time to enjoy it more calmly.
  • Low season: November to February. This is a good time to travel if you enjoy the cold weather, which can be extreme, or if you want to experience Christmas in the Polish style.

Choose your travel season also based on different festivities that connect you to the local culture. June, for example, is the time for Wianki, a colourful event that welcomes summer, when Krakowers gather on the banks of the Vistula River to celebrate the shortest night of the year.

Book a Vistula river cruise

4. Get familiar with the local currency: the złoty.

Złoty banknote| ©Dariusz Gąszczyk
Złoty banknote| ©Dariusz Gąszczyk

It's important to keep this point in mind so that you can easily navigate your way around Kraków's local shops.

Although Poland is a member of the European Union, it does not have the euro as its currency, but the national currency is the złoty (PLN), with an approximate conversion of 1 euro = 4.54 złoty.

The best advice I can give you, then, is that if you have a travel itinerary already established, take the change in cash for basic expenses during your stay such as drinks, meals and tips, and pay the rest with a credit card. But always check with your bank about fees so you don't get any surprises.

Book Krakow's best plan

5. Download an app or bring a good dictionary to communicate

Dictionary| ©Stock Catalog
Dictionary| ©Stock Catalog

Unless you speak Polish and can communicate with ease, be prepared for some interaction in Kraków. If you speak English, you won't have much trouble, as most of the population is fluent in the language.

Take a dictionary and translation app with you to help you get by on a day-to-day basis. However, it doesn't hurt to learn a few basic Polish words, which will also be seen as a great gesture of kindness on your part. Here are a few:

  • Good morning/afternoon = Dzień dobry.
  • Good evening = Dobry wieczór.
  • Please = Proszę.
  • Thank you = Dziękuję.

Book the best plan in Krakow

6. A bit of history before your visit to Kraków

Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp| ©Rafael Wagner
Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp| ©Rafael Wagner

One of the exciting things about cities like Krakow is how inspiring it is to appreciate its reconstruction and change after one of the most harrowing chapters in our history.

For this reason, I believe that visiting Krakow is also a learning experience in which you should show respect and empathy, beyond just enjoying a trendy European destination. So if you visit the city and decide to visit places like the Auschwitz concentration camps, it is ideal that you document what you will see in this place, because beyond a sightseeing tour, it is an exercise in memory.

Please note that it is not a suitable visit if you are travelling with children or very sensitive people. In this article I tell you more about what to see at Auschwitz Concentration Camp and then tell you how to book your Auschwitz tour.

Book your tour to Auschwitz

7. Opt for a guided tour

Heroes' Square| ©Marco Zanferrari
Heroes' Square| ©Marco Zanferrari

Krakow is a city steeped in history and you will want to know every detail hidden in its streets. For this reason, I advise you to opt for guided tours with expert guides who will offer you a deeper insight into the city and its corners.

A guided tour offers you benefits such as:

  • Better organise your daily schedule.
  • Get to know more details of places that you might miss on your own.
  • Meet and connect with other travellers.

You can take guided tours to Heroes' Square, Wawel Cathedral, the University of Poland or Sukiennice, the oldest shopping centre in the city, among other options. And for this, you have the possibility to book:

Book a bike tour in Krakow

8. Taste the flavours of the local food

Bigos, traditional Polish food| ©Caterine Romero
Bigos, traditional Polish food| ©Caterine Romero

One piece of advice I always like to give travellers is not to be afraid to try the food of the destination they are visiting. Sometimes we are a bit sceptical and prefer to go for the simple, commercial or what we feel safe with.

But there is nothing more exciting than trying new things and discovering what is behind the gastronomic tradition of the city we are visiting. In Krakow you will encounter a mix of cultures and flavours such as Slavic, Turkish, Jewish and French gastronomy.

Visit the local market and venture out to book a gastronomic tour of the Jewish quarter to try some of the most traditional dishes. Find out more about the best food tours in Krakow here.

Book a food tour of the Jewish Quarter

9. Organise a daily schedule and don't miss anything!

Salt Mine Extraction Gallery| ©Aleksandr Zykov
Salt Mine Extraction Gallery| ©Aleksandr Zykov

A recurring question from travellers is how much time you need to get to know Kraków in detail. There are several answers to this question, as it all depends on how much time you have in the city. My advice is that with a minimum of three days you can discover the city in a comfortable and unhurried way.

In three days and depending on your interests you can do different things, but I recommend four essential things:

In this article you will find more details of an itinerary to see Krakow in 3 days.

Book an excursion to the Wieliczka Salt Mines

10. Don't forget the attractions around Kraków on your trip

Wroclaw Market Square| ©Hrs Poland
Wroclaw Market Square| ©Hrs Poland

Sometimes we focus on the city and forget about the places that are in the surroundings and that we can visit easily and in a short time. My recommendation is that you start with Krakow and leave some time to visit some of the great attractions such as:

Find out more about what to see and do around Krakow here.

Book an excursion to the Wieliczka Salt Mines

11. Take advantage of the free events calendar in Krakow

Wawel Castle Dragon, Kraków| ©Pedro Pepio
Wawel Castle Dragon, Kraków| ©Pedro Pepio

Sometimes we focus only on the tourist-oriented plans and forget that we are in a city where culture is our daily bread.

Krakow is no exception and with its wealth of history and culture, it won't be difficult to find additional events for you to enjoy the city like a local. A good place to do this is in the public libraries, where you can find announcements of the cultural agenda, which may include concerts, exhibitions and other free activities to enjoy alone or with the family.

If you're travelling with children, ask about children's events so they can have a great time too and take home a nice souvenir of Kraków. Here are 11 things to do in Krakow with kids in Krakow.

Book the best things to do in Krakow

12. Find out about the local ways and customs before your trip

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

Krakow has many things to see and do and is an ideal destination, but before your trip I recommend that you learn more about the ways of interacting in the place you are visiting. For a matter of respect and travelling camaraderie.

If you arrive from Spain, for example, and are introduced to new people, you're likely to give the traditional two kisses on the cheek. But be careful, as Poles are not used to this and will find it a bit strange.

Just shake their hand and be very friendly. Once you get used to it, in Poland you can even kiss three times to say hello, as in some parts of Switzerland and France.

Krakow's climate throughout the year

In addition to these tips I've shared with you to help you enjoy your visit to Krakow, it's also important to have some basic facts about the cities you want to visit, such as what weather to expect throughout the year.

Cracow's maximum temperatures can averageup to 14°C throughout the year, with peaks of up to 26°C in August, so you can expect a very pleasant summer. If you like snow, the snowy season runs from mid-November to mid-March. The snowiest month is January.

Safety in Kraków

Generally speaking, Krakow is a fairly safe city, where you can walk around late at night. I recommend the basics and that is not to fall into traps designed to deceive tourists.

If you are going to visit museums or specific places such as the famous Wieliczka Salt Mines, try to book in advance and only through official sites.

I hope this guide will be of great help to you in preparing your trip to this city that will leave you wanting to come back. And if, after visiting Krakow, you feel like continuing to explore the magic of Poland, here are the details of how to get from Krakow to Warsaw.

Book a tour from Krakow