Krakow, Poland, is quite simply a gorgeous city. Although we’d kept our plans flexible, we ended up staying in Krakow for more than a week! Not only because there are so many things to do in Krakow, but because it has a really wonderful vibe that just made us feel right at home.
I do realise that not everyone will have the luxury of spending a full week in this beautiful Polish city. But, I do recommend that you try to spend at least three full days here to be able to see as much as possible of what Krakow has to offer. Unlike many other cities in Poland and around Europe, Krakow escaped World War II relatively in tact, so it truly does offer a fantastic glimpse into history!
In this comprehensive Krakow city guide, I’m sharing all my tips and insights from our visit to Krakow, to help you make the most of your 3 day Krakow itinerary. For details on where to stay, where to eat, what to see and how to get there in the first place, read on!
PS – This post may contain affiliate links: That means that if you purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Of course, I only recommend products/services that I have used and believe are great! Please read my disclosure for more info.
How To Get To Krakow, Poland
Krakow city is really accessible by plane from all around Europe. Mostly, you’ll find that flights are with budget airline carriers like RyanAir, EasyJet and WizzAir.
I personally always use Skyscanner to check for the best deals. Bear in mind that most low-cost airlines don’t include luggage in the price so factor that in when booking!
Read More: Check out all my best kept secrets on how to book cheap flights here!
We flew to Poland (Poznań) from Ireland with RyanAir for only €50 each, so it’s definitely very affordable.
As we were already in Poland, we chose to travel from Warsaw to Krakow by train. Train travel in Poland is really great, and in my opinion, more comfortable (plus generally faster!) than by bus. But, it can be more expensive too so it pays to look up what your options are online.
It is possible to book train tickets online, but we tended to just head to the train station and buy them from the ticket office. Staff were always friendly and more than willing to help, even if some had limited English.
Read More: Check out my complete guide on Train Travel In Poland for everything you need to know!
Travelling by bus in Poland is a really great alternative to trains. Bus can often be cheaper although it is usually a bit slower than by train. Although, this isn’t always the case so check out your options online.
Flixbus is a great bus company that allows you to book tickets online via their App, and we found them comfortable and reliable. We also travelled with Maxbus during our time in Poland and found them equally good, clean and comfortable to travel with. In reality, I don’t think the bus company matters too much, so go with whichever offers a departure time that suits you.
When To Visit Krakow, Poland
In all honesty, with the variety of things to do in Krakow, I really can’t imagine a bad time to visit!
We visited Krakow in August when the weather was hot and sunny though never uncomfortable. Obviously, summer of 2020 has been a completely different experience to any other year… We noticed primarily Polish tourists in Krakow and the other cities we visited during our time in Poland. It was busy enough, but I can imagine it gets even busier in “normal” years.
In the winter, the weather in Krakow gets cold and you can certainly expect some snow which will give Krakow a totally different charm. I hear the Christmas market in Krakow is well worth a visit, if that’s your thing.
Long story short – Visit Krakow whenever you can! Every season will give you a slightly different experience but each will undoubtedly be amazing. With countless things to do in Krakow, it’s a fantastic destination for any traveller, at any time of the year.
Where To Stay In Krakow, Poland
We were incredibly comfortable in our lovely apartment on Pilsudskiego street in Krakow. It’s located just outside Krakow Old Town, on a slightly busy street although this never bothered us. The apartments are in a beautiful old building with high ceilings, and within easy walking distance to all the main sights and things to do in Krakow.
We stayed in Apartment 6 which was large (2 bedrooms!) and airy. It has a fully equipped kitchen and there is a shared laundry room that you can use whenever you like at no extra charge. Miko was a great host (even if we never met!), and his staff were super helpful.
Where To Eat In Krakow, Poland
I’m going to be honest here and say that we didn’t come across an awful lot of really amazing restaurants in Krakow. We did our research, read Tripadvisor reviews and ate at a variety of restaurants during our week there, but some top-rated restaurants left us underwhelmed….
But, we did (luckily!) have a handful of really great meals! If you come across anywhere else, please let me know and I’ll make a note here!
As a fun alternative, why not join a food tasting tour of Krakow, to sample some traditional local delicacies?
We had an amazing first meal in Krakow at Smakolyki, which was just around the corner from our apartment. While it might not look like anything special from the outside, it was actually quite lovely on the inside, with friendly and attentive staff, and large portions!
I highly recommend “Mrs Grażyna’s gnocchi served with grilled pork tenderloin and a demi glaze sauce”. Omer had the stuffed turkey roulade and was very happy with that too.
Szalone Widelce (Crazy Forks)
This was our dinner spot on our final night in Krakow and boy, what a way to end our fantastic week in this amazing city!!!
Make sure you head here hungry because my meal was insanely huge!!! I can definitely recommend the skewered meat! Their house wine was actually very good as well and prices were incredibly reasonable.
A top find for places to eat in Krakow for sure!
For a super simple but filling and cost effective lunch, the Big Dog Krakow food stand at the station square is amazing. If you like hot dogs of course!
The hot dogs are massive! And at only PLN 15 a piece, you’ll have no trouble sticking to your daily budget!
Top Things To Do In Krakow, Poland
Where do I even start? There are so many things to do in Krakow, you could spend weeks here and still not get bored!
Like I mentioned, we were in Krakow for a week, but you could definitely see many of these sights in a 3 day itinerary as well if you manage your time well.
Wander Around Krakow Old Town
Krakow Old Town (Stare Miasto) is a huge and vibrant central market square and a myriad of cobblestone side streets filled with beautiful buildings, restaurants and shops. There is a green belt (Planty Park) surrounding all of Krakow Old Town, giving you the opportunity to relax in the shade away from the hustle and bustle anytime you like.
Krakow Old Town has quite a medieval feel to it. Of all the amazing things to do in Krakow, I’d encourage you to simply stroll around its streets without any real direction or purpose. Just soak it all in!
The Old Town is packed with stunning architecture, not least of all the gorgeous St. Mary’s Church, the central Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), the gothic style Town Hall Tower and the medieval Barbican gate and city walls.
Main Market Square – Rynek Główny
The second largest market square in all of Europe, Rynek Główny truly is the central hub of Krakow, and has been for over 1000 years. Left mostly intact after WWII, any damage that did occur has been beautifully restored, giving you a wonderful glimpse into Poland’s past.
St Mary’s Basilica
You can climb St Mary’s Bugle tower from April to November for PLN 15 per person (max 6 people at a time). Only a limited number of tickets are sold daily, and the tower is closed in bad weather. Alternatively, you can visit the church itself (outside of mass times) for PLN 10. Note that only half the church is open to tourists. Buy your skip the line and entry ticket online, or, get a Krakow Card for free entrance!
The views from the original 14th century Town Hall tower aren’t quite as impressive as from St Mary’s, as the windows in the Town Hall are narrow. But, it gives you a different vantage point, and at PLN 12 per person, it’s equally affordable. You can visit the tower from April to November, and Mondays are free!
Cloth Hall (Sukiennice)
The central building in the main market square is the old cloth hall of Krakow. Historically, most of Krakow’s trade and commerce took place here. Today, you’ll find an array of souvenirs to bring home!
The Barbican and St Florian’s Gate
St Florian is the main gate into Krakow city, and kings would enter Krakow through this gate after winning battles! Connected to St Florian’s Gate is the Barbican, and together they defended Krakow city from the north.
Bonus Tip – Go on a free (tip-based) walking tour to learn more about many of these places while learning lots about Krakow in the process. Alternatively, a guided walking tour with Discover Cracow is a great option too.
Explore Wawel Castle
Just a short stroll south of Krakow Old Town, you’ll find the incredible Wawel Castle. This is perhaps the most impressive building in all of Krakow, towering above you as you approach Wawel Hill.
Wawel castle is arguably one of the best things to do in Krakow during your 3 day itinerary. You’re able to stroll around some of the grounds for free, while access to the state rooms, private apartment, royal gardens, chapels and crypts are paid. Each has a separate entry ticket.
Pro Tip: You can purchase your skip-the-line entry ticket to Wawel Cathedral, Sigismund Bell Tower and the Royal Tombs online, including an audio tour, ahead of time!
If you dare, you can visit the caverns of the Dragon’s Den and see if you can find the legendary Wawel dragon!
Or, take a leaf out of the local’s book, and head to Wawel Castle around sunset for a beautiful end to your day!
I hadn’t really realised that Krakow was on a river as well. It almost seems like most Polish cities are on or near the water which is lovely! In fact, the Vistula (Wisła) River the longest river in Poland! It runs all the way up to Gdańsk in the very north of Poland.
The Krakow riverfront is a wonderful place to stroll and soak up the atmosphere of the city. Locals hang out here, cycling, running, kayaking or generally just lazing on the grass under the castle.
Kazimierz is Krakow’s Jewish quarter and houses the Old Synagogue, numerous museums, artisan shops, and countless cafes and restaurants. It’s a great place to wander around for an afternoon to soak up the atmosphere, which is somehow quite different to Krakow’s Old Town.
If you walk down to the river and across Father Bernatek footbridge (Kładka Ojca Bernatka) with its acrobatic sculptures, you can also visit the Ghetto Heroes Square. Here, there is an installation of iron and bronze chairs to symbolise the empty seats left by the unimaginable numbers of Jews deported to concentration camps.
Schindler’s Factory Museum
Of course, many of the things to do in Krakow and in Poland relate to WWII and the dark history of its Nazi occupation.
Within Schindler’s Factory Museum, you can view Schindler’s preserved office and an extensive and educational exhibition about the Nazi occupation of Krakow during 1939-1945.
If you’re interested in visiting Schindler’s Factory, make sure you book a slot online well in advance because tickets are limited and spaces fill up fast. Entrance costs PLN 26 per person, but is free on Mondays. Alternatively, you can join a tour, which often will have spaces closer to the time.
There are an incredible amount of beautiful churches all around Krakow city. You could probably spend a full day just exploring churches alone!
I’ve listed some of my favourites below, but there are many, many more if churches are your thing!
St Peter’s and Paul’s Church is the first Baroque church in Krakow and was consecrated in 1635. Concerts are often held here in the evenings due to its fantastic acoustics.
St Mary’s Basilica is a striking Gothic style church with two towers of differing heights and architectural style. Legend has it that two brothers built one tower each. However, when one realised that he was lagging behind and that his tower was shorter, he murdered his brother out of envy, and the construction of that tower stopped!
Church Of St Anne is the largest Baroque church in Krakow. Here, it’s really the interior that you’ll want to see, with its beautifully painted airy dome.
Corpus Christi Basilica is actually located in the Jewish quarter. While the exterior of the church is impressive, it pales in comparison to the church’s dazzling Baroque interior
Wawel Cathedral is perhaps the most imposing of all, and is where almost every Polish king and queen throughout history has been crowned. Admission is 14,00 zł.
If you’d like to participate in a bit of retail therapy, Krakow is the place to be!
The huge Galeria Krakowska Shopping Mall at the train station will keep you occupied for a few hours without any trouble. And, since it’s only a few minutes walk away from the Main Market Square, you don’t have to go too far out of your way to get there.
Best Things To Do As A Day Trip From Krakow
Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Arguably, a day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow is a must-do activity during your 3 day itinerary. It will be an incredibly emotional day but also very educational. It’s almost impossible to fully comprehend the horrors that happened at these concentration and death camps, where more than one million people were murdered.
We visited Auschwitz on a group tour as it worked out cheaper than doing it independently. Put aside about 7 hours for this as Auschwitz is about 1.5 hours from Krakow.
You’ll visit both the original Auschwitz concentration camp, and Auschwitz II – Birkenau.
Wieliczka Salt Mines
If you’re short on time, it is possible to combine a visit to the Wieliczka salt mines with your day trip to Auschwitz. This will definitely make for a long day though, so weigh up your options.
If not, it’s really easy to visit Wieliczka Salt Mines on your own like we did. It’s a 30 or so minute bus ride (bus 304) from Krakow. We bought our entry ticket at the mine itself, although queues can get long so you may want to consider purchasing your ticket online ahead of time to skip the queue.
Lasek Wolski Forest
Only 7km from Krakow city, Lasek Wolski Forest is a great spot to head to for a day of hiking or cycling. There are multiple trails through the woodlands, and since it’s so close to the city centre, why not rent a bike in town and cycle out to Lasek Wolski forest? Bring a picnic and enjoy getting into nature for a while in Krakow’s largest wooded park.
Zakopane and Tatra Mountains (Morskie Oko)
I’ll preface this by saying that while it is apparently possible to visit the Tatra Mountains and hike to Morski Oko from Krakow on a day trip, I wouldn’t personally recommend it.
We travelled to Zakopane from Krakow by bus and stayed for two nights in order to have a full day to hike the Polish Tatra Mountains. Doing it as a day trip would be extremely exhausting. But, if you’re short on time, there are tours that will take you there from Krakow in one day.
Read my full guide to hiking the Polish Tatra Mountains to Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw for all the details!
I really hope you found this Krakow city guide useful in helping you decide what things you’d like to do during your time in this wonderful city. Krakow was probably my favourite of all the Polish cities we visited and I hope you enjoy your time here!
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