Old city center view in Krakow. Photo by RossHelen, iStock

Go World Travel is reader-supported and may earn a commission from purchases made through links in this piece.

Holidays and City Breaks in Krakow: What to Do in Krakow

Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland, is a city steeped in history and brimming with life. With its picturesque streets, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, it’s no wonder Krakow is a top destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.

Whether visiting for a short city break or planning a longer holiday, Krakow offers many activities and attractions to suit every taste. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best things to do in Krakow, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this enchanting city.

Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip

Exploring the Historic Old Town

The heart of Krakow is its Old Town, a UNESCO-listed site that transports visitors back in time. Begin your journey at the Main Market Square (Rynek Główny), Europe’s largest medieval market square and one of Europe’s biggest. Here, you can marvel at the stunning St. Mary’s Basilica, famous for its two unequal towers, and the Hejnał mariacki, a traditional bugle call played every hour.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), a historic trading hall that now houses souvenir stalls and the Krakow Historical Museum.

Make sure to visit the Town Hall Tower, a prominent feature of the Main Market Square that offers panoramic views of the city. Beneath the square lies the Rynek Underground Museum, where you can delve into Krakow’s rich past through fascinating archaeological exhibits and multimedia presentations.

Stroll down the Royal Route, which begins at the Florian Gate and leads to the Wawel Castle. You’ll pass by beautiful churches, historic buildings, and charming cafes along the way. Stop at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, known for its stunning Art Nouveau interior and beautiful stained-glass windows designed by Stanisław Wyspiański.

As night falls, Krakow’s Old Town transforms into a vibrant nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants offering a lively atmosphere. Whether you’re interested in history and architecture or enjoying the city’s nightlife, the Old Town has something for everyone.

Discovering Wawel Castle

Perched on a hill overlooking the Vistula River, Wawel Castle is a must-visit attraction in Krakow. This magnificent castle complex, located in Poland’s former royal capital, was the residence of Polish kings for centuries and is now a symbol of national pride. Explore the State Rooms, the Royal Private Apartments, and the Crown Treasury and Armory to glimpse the castle’s rich history and opulent interiors.

The architecture of Wawel Castle showcases a blend of Renaissance and Baroque styles, making it one of the city’s most picturesque landmarks. Adjacent to the castle is the Wawel Cathedral, where many Polish monarchs were crowned and buried. The cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and houses the impressive Sigismund Bell, which weighs over 12 tons.

Climb to the top of the bell tower for breathtaking panoramic city views. After exploring the castle, consider cruising down the river to fully appreciate the stunning views and the beauty of Wawel Hill from the water. At the foot of Wawel Hill, you can also find the Dragon’s Den, a limestone cave associated with the legend of the Wawel Dragon.

Delving into Krakow’s Jewish Heritage

Krakow’s Kazimierz district, once the center of Jewish life in the city, is now a vibrant neighborhood filled with cafes, bars, and historical sites. Start your exploration at the Old Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in Poland, which now serves as a museum showcasing the history of Krakow’s Jewish community.

Visit the Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery, one of the few active synagogues in the city, and pay your respects at the grave of Rabbi Moses Isserles (Remuh). Wander through the narrow streets and discover hidden gems such as the Isaac Synagogue and the High Synagogue.

A visit to Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory is also highly recommended. This museum, located in the former factory of Oskar Schindler, tells the story of the Nazi occupation of Krakow and the lives of the Jewish community during World War II. The exhibition is informative and moving, offering a deep understanding of the city’s history during this dark period.

Don’t miss the Galicia Jewish Museum, which offers insightful exhibitions about the Jewish culture and history in the region. This museum is dedicated to celebrating Jewish heritage and commemorating the Holocaust, providing a modern perspective on these significant historical events.

After exploring, relax in one of Kazimierz’s many charming cafés. These cozy spots offer a perfect place to unwind, enjoy a cup of coffee, and soak in the unique atmosphere of this historic district. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or a good meal, Kazimierz has something to offer everyone.

Enjoying Krakow’s Culinary Delights

No visit to Krakow is complete without indulging in its culinary delights. Polish cuisine is hearty and delicious, with various dishes that satisfy any palate. Start your culinary journey with a bowl of traditional Polish soup, such as żurek (sour rye soup) or barszcz (beetroot soup).

Pierogi, Poland’s famous dumplings, are a must-try. These delicious dough pockets are typically filled with savory ingredients like potatoes and cheese, meat, or mushrooms and cabbage. For those with a sweet tooth, try the sweet version filled with fruits such as blueberries or strawberries.

Head to one of Krakow’s many milk bars (bar mleczny) for an authentic Polish dining experience. These canteens offer affordable, home-cooked meals and are a great way to sample traditional dishes like kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet) and bigos (hunter’s stew).

Experiencing Krakow’s Vibrant Nightlife

Krakow’s nightlife is legendary, with a wide range of bars, clubs, and pubs to suit every taste. The city’s Old Town is a hub of activity after dark, with lively venues offering everything from jazz music to techno beats. Start your evening at one of the many cozy bars in the Kazimierz district, where you can enjoy a craft beer or a cocktail in a relaxed atmosphere.

For a unique experience, visit one of Krakow’s many cellar bars, known as “piwnice.” These underground venues are often in medieval cellars and offer a distinctive ambiance. The Alchemia Bar in Kazimierz is popular and known for its quirky decor and live music. If you want to dance the night away, head to one of Krakow’s nightclubs.

Prozak 2.0, located near the Main Market Square, is a multi-level club that hosts top DJs and features a variety of music genres. For a more alternative scene, check out the Bomba Club, which offers a mix of electronic and indie music.

Exploring Beyond the City

While Krakow has plenty to offer, there are also many fascinating day trips from the city. One of the most popular excursions is to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site just a short drive from Krakow. This incredible underground complex features intricate salt sculptures, chapels, and even an underground lake. Guided tours take you through the labyrinthine tunnels and provide insight into the mine’s history and significance.

Another must-visit destination is Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp. Located about an hour’s drive from Krakow, this somber site serves as a powerful reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. Guided tours are available and provide a deeply moving and educational experience. For more information, you can visit the Auschwitz tour page.

For those looking for an adrenaline rush, visiting Energylandia is a must. Located about 50 kilometers from Krakow, Energylandia is the largest amusement park in Poland. It offers a variety of attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and family-friendly areas. With its thrilling rides and entertainment shows, Energylandia guarantees a fun-filled day for visitors of all ages.

For nature lovers, a trip to the Tatra Mountains is highly recommended. Located about two hours from Krakow, this stunning mountain range offers breathtaking scenery, hiking trails, and the charming town of Zakopane. Whether you’re looking to ski in the winter or hike in the summer, the Tatra Mountains provide a perfect escape from the city.

Shopping in Krakow

Krakow is also a fantastic destination for shopping, with options ranging from traditional markets to modern malls. The Cloth Hall in the Main Market Square is a great place to pick up souvenirs, including handmade crafts, amber jewelry, and traditional Polish pottery.

For a more modern shopping experience, head to Galeria Krakowska, a large shopping mall next to the main train station. Here, you’ll find a wide range of international and Polish brands and numerous dining options.

If you’re interested in antiques and vintage items, visit the flea market at Plac Nowy in Kazimierz. This market is held every weekend and offers a treasure trove of unique finds, from vintage clothing to old books and records.

Relaxing in Krakow’s Parks and Gardens

Krakow is home to many beautiful parks and gardens, providing a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. Planty Park, which encircles the Old Town, is a lovely place for a stroll. This green belt was created in the 19th century on the site of the old city walls and offers shaded paths, fountains, and statues.

Another great option is the Jordan Park, located near the Błonia Meadow. This park features a large pond, playgrounds, and sports facilities, making it a perfect spot for families. For a more tranquil experience, visit the Botanical Garden of the Jagiellonian University, which boasts a wide variety of plants and a beautiful greenhouse.

How to Get to Krakow and Where to Stay

Krakow is easily accessible thanks to its well-connected airport, John Paul II International Airport. The airport offers numerous flights to Krakow from various European cities, including many low-cost carriers, making it easy to find deals on Krakow city breaks. Once you land, the city center is just a short drive away, making Krakow an ideal destination for a city break.

When it comes to accommodation, Krakow offers a wide range of options to suit all budgets and preferences. You can choose from luxurious 5-star hotels that provide top-notch amenities and services or more budget-friendly student hostels that offer a cozy and sociable atmosphere.

Additionally, plenty of private apartments are available for rent, which can be a great option for those seeking a home-like experience. Whether you’re looking to book Krakow hotels or private accommodations, you’ll find something that fits your needs.

Krakow is a city that captivates visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. Whether wandering through its historic streets, exploring its museums and castles, or enjoying a leisurely meal at a local restaurant, Krakow offers an unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re here for a short city break or a longer holiday, you’ll find plenty to see and do in this enchanting Polish city. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the magic of Krakow!

Inspire your next adventure with our articles below:

Go World Travel Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *