11 Best Things To Do in Krakow

For some years now, Krakow has been the most fashionable destination in Europe, and for good reason. Krakow will captivate you as soon as you set foot in the city.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

9 min read

11 Best Things To Do in Krakow

Streets of Krakow | ©Ostap Senyuk

Discovering the secrets of Krakow and exploring its streets and monuments is the ideal plan for a long weekend. The city and its surroundings offer plans that will stay in the traveller's mind forever. Here's what not to miss on your trip to Krakow.

1. Take a guided tour of the city

Walk through Kraków's history-filled streets| ©Charlie
Walk through Kraków's history-filled streets| ©Charlie

Kraków's Old Town and Jewish Quarter are the most identifiable places in the city because of the history behind them. Although a solitary stroll through both places is visually enjoyable, booking a guided tour of Kraków to get to know them is infinitely more enriching.

A local and specialised guide will show you the city through his eyes and help you learn about its history and anecdotes. They will also show you monuments and places of great cultural interest that might otherwise go unnoticed. There are several options for guided tours of Krakow:

Book a guided tour of Krakow

2. Visit Auschwitz Concentration Camps

Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp| ©Pedro Antunes
Entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp| ©Pedro Antunes

Located about an hour and a half's drive from the centre of Kraków, the Auschwitz concentration camps are one of the most visited sites in Europe. What was once the capital of horror is now a museum dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Nazi regime.

You can visit the Auschwitz camps individually (here's how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow) or by booking a guided tour of Auschwitz. My recommendation is clearly the latter option; check the prices of Auschwitz tickets and guided tours and you'll see that it pays off.

Just be aware of Auschwitz opening hours when booking your tour. I would suggest booking early in the morning, as tours of the Auschwitz concentration camps usually last about two hours and you'll have more time to see other things later.

Interesting facts about organised tours

Many packages include, in addition to admission to the Auschwitz complex, transfer from Krakow and are available in several languages. What you will see in the Auschwitz concentration camps are the remains of a historical period that it is essential to make known and not forget.

This tour is not recommended for children under the age of nine and, on a personal level, I would not recommend it to very sensitive travellers because, although enriching, it can be quite hard, even though the guides do not go into lurid details at any time.

Book a tour to Auschwitz

3. Take a trip to the Wieliczka salt mines

Detail of the decoration of the Chapel of St. Kinga, Wieliczka Salt Mines| ©Dennis Jarvis
Detail of the decoration of the Chapel of St. Kinga, Wieliczka Salt Mines| ©Dennis Jarvis

After Auschwitz, a trip to the Wieliczka salt mines is the most popular visit around Kraków among travellers passing through the Polish city. It's also a World Heritage Site, so if you're wondering whether it's worth visiting the salt mines from Kraków, the answer is yes.

The most important thing to know is that you should book your tickets well in advance. Even if you choose to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines on your own, the mines are always visited with a guided tour available in several languages and are usually in high demand.

You can book online a full tour of just the transfer to Wieliczka from Krakow, or just the entrance fees to the salt mines near Krakow with a guided tour, or combine both options and book a tour to the Wieliczka Salt Mines with a guided tour.

Interesting facts about visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mines

Some of the features you will find at the Wieliczka Salt Mines include a salt-carved chapel, a lake, chambers connected by a network of underground tunnels and salt sculptures of famous people (the latter is where you can take some of the best photos of the Wieliczka Salt Mines).

The salt mines are located about half an hour's drive from Krakow and the visit to the salt mines takes about two and a half hours.

Recommendations for visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mines

Book a tour to the Wieliczka Salt Mines

4. Visit Oskar Schindler's factory

Façade of Oskar Schindler's Factory| ©Håkan Dahlström
Façade of Oskar Schindler's Factory| ©Håkan Dahlström

For those who have seen Steve Spielberg's masterpiece, the relevance of this place will be clear. For those who haven't: Oskar Schindler was a German businessman who dedicated himself to saving large numbers of Jews from concentration camps by employing them as workers in his factories.

After the war, Schindler was executed, but the descendants of his employees still honour him.

Booking a guided tour of Schindler' s factory in the centre of Krakow is a lesson in history and a lesson in hope, because in the midst of all the horror of the Nazi occupation of the city, there were people who resisted being part of it.

Book a guided tour of the Schindler Factory

5. Take an inside tour of Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle Courtyard| ©Dennis Jarvis
Wawel Castle Courtyard| ©Dennis Jarvis

Close to the historic centre stands Wawel Hill and the imposing castle of the same name. From there you will have a perfect view of the city from the top and you will also be able to see this 14th century Renaissance castle.

It can be visited every day from 9:30 to 16:00 (in summer until 17:00) and inside you will find the crown treasury, the royal armoury, the royal apartments, the crypts of famous people and my favourite place, the dragon cave.

It is a highly recommended visit to make alone or in a group when booking a guided tour of Wawel Castle as Wawel Castle is one of the emblems of the city of Krakow.

Book a guided tour of the Wawel Castle

6. Stroll around the Market Square

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

In every city there is a place to wander around, browse shops, watch the locals, have a leisurely lunch or just sit and relax. In Kraków that place is Kraków's Market Square, a medieval-style square surrounded by colourful palaces.

You'll pass by it many times during your visit, so enjoy it and explore it leisurely, because it's worth it.

And, of course, it's included in the itinerary when you book a Krakow Old Town tour and other city tours.

Book a Kraków Old Town Tour

7. Enter the Krakow Cathedral

Inside the Wawel Cathedral| ©Terrazzo
Inside the Wawel Cathedral| ©Terrazzo

The city's Cathedral is located on Wawel Hill, is dedicated to St. Stanislaus and is over 1000 years old. It is one of the most important buildings in Poland and is therefore included when booking a tour of the Old Town and admission is free.

Inside you can't take photos and if you want to climb the tower to see the aerial views of the city you will have to pay about four euros. If you find this visit interesting, don't hesitate to add other of Krakow's best churches to your route. You won't regret it.

Book a tour of the Old Town and Jewish Quarter

8. Visit the Barbican Fortress

Barbican Fortress| ©Fred Romero
Barbican Fortress| ©Fred Romero

This sturdy fortification is located in the centre of Kraków and is about 25 metres high. It was built in the 15th century to protect the city from the advance of the Ottoman Empire and, although a visit to its interior is not necessary, you should walk around it as you pass by to appreciate its Gothic style.

You'll find it just past the Florian Gate and, like other sites we've already mentioned, it is of great historical interest and is usually included when booking a tour of Krakow's Old Town.

Book a tour of Krakow's Old Town

9. Taste Polish cuisine

Enjoy the typical Polish Pierogi| ©Quinn Dombrowski
Enjoy the typical Polish Pierogi| ©Quinn Dombrowski

The list of things to see and do in Kraków could not be complete without a mention of Polish cuisine. The most popular drink in the country is known to be vodka, but what about the traditional dishes?

In Kraków' s restaurants you'll find delicacies such as Pierogi, Paprykarz or Zurek, all of which consist mainly of meat, pasta and spices.

Polish cuisine takes elements from other cuisines such as Armenian, Slavic, Turkish, German, Jewish and French. The result is exquisite and the best way to experience it first hand is to visit some of the city's traditional restaurants or book a culinary tour of Krakow.

Book a gastronomic tour of Kraków

10. Visit Warsaw from Krakow

Warsaw| ©Lide Etxeberria
Warsaw| ©Lide Etxeberria

Another tip for planning your trip to Krakow that I can give you is not to limit yourself to the city itself. Many people wonder before their trip whether it is better to visit Krakow or Warsaw, but the truth is that you don't have to choose.

If you have enough time on your trip, you can travel from Kraków to Warsaw on your own or on one of the organised excursions around Kraków- don't miss out on either city! And if you're still hungry for more, check out this post on how to get from Krakow to Wroclaw.

I recommend you book a trip to Warsaw from Krakow in advance so you don't get caught out - Poland is waiting for you!

Book a tour to Warsaw from Kraków

11. Discover the Collegium Maious

Courtyard of the Collegium Maious| ©Craig Wyzik
Courtyard of the Collegium Maious| ©Craig Wyzik

Located in Kraków's Old Town, the building in which Copernicus studied is notable for its beautiful inner courtyard.

If you are interested in astronomy you should visit the university museum, but if not you can also come in the evening, when the organised tours are over, to relax in the garden and admire the architecture.

Plan your visit in detail

Krakow| ©Gian Luca Sgaggero
Krakow| ©Gian Luca Sgaggero

As you can see, Kraków has a lot to offer tourists, but as a large capital it also has seasonal events that are not to be missed.

Choose the date of your visit to Krakow (my recommendation is to travel to Krakow at Christmas, especially if you're visiting Krakow with children) and then check out this list of things to do in the Polish city:

Every time of the year has its advantages. Whether you visit Krakow in winter, visit Krakow in summer, visit Krakow in autumn or visit Krakow in spring, you'll find things to do, so book a minimum of 3 days for your visit.

If you are staying less and want to save time, I recommend booking airport transfers to Krakow in advance). However, there are several itineraries available here that you can consult even if you are staying more or less days:

Book a transfer from/to Krakow Airport