Top 10 Things to Do & See in Kraków, Poland
Kraków in Poland. A quiet and underrated city in Europe that is the ideal location for a city break. Kraków is practically bursting at the seams with things to do, see, eat and drink. Whether you’re heading for a couple of days or longer, I’ve put together my top spots in one neat little package for you.
Granted, I’ve only been once but I fell head over heels for this city in the short time I was there! Even so, this guide could be considered more ‘what to do and see on your first visit’ to Kraków, so as not to feel all phony. That is, until my next visit anyway and there is, without a shadow of a doubt, going to be another!
Anyhow, let’s get Krak-ing…
1. EXPLORE THE MARKET SQUARE.
Also known as the ‘Main Square’, this is the central spot of Kraków. Plenty of restaurants and bars line the sides, with the Cloth Hall centre stage and St. Mary’s Basilica and the Town Hall Tower in either corner.
See it at night time too, the atmosphere is completely different to that of the bustling day.
COST: Free to walk around.
OPENING HOURS: All day, every day.
ADDRESS: Rynek Główny 4, 33-332 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/main-market-square
2. VISIT ST. MARY’S BASILICA.
St. Mary’s Basilica is an iconic feature of Kraków and looks fantastic, inside and out. You have to check it out whilst you’re in Poland.
Just be sure to buy a ticket and go through the tourist entrance if you want to see inside – unlike us, read the story here.
COST: Tours of the Basilica: 10 Polish złoty
OPENING HOURS: Open to visitors between 11:30am to 6pm on Monday to Friday & 2pm to 6pm on weekends & bank holidays.
ADDRESS: Plac Mariacki 5, 31-042 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.mariacki.com
3. AND BE SURE TO GO UP THE BUGLE TOWER.
The panoramic city views are awesome!
But be warned: there’s no lift up to the top, so be prepared to work off some of that Polish cuisine.
COST: 15 Polish złoty
OPENING HOURS: Apr to Oct (excluding religious holidays): 9:10am to 11:30am & 1:10pm to 5:30pm, Tuesday to Saturday; 1:10pm to 5:30pm on Sunday; time slots every 30 minutes. Closed on Monday.
Nov, Dec & Mar (excluding religious holidays): 9:10am to 11:30am & 1:10pm to 5:30pm, Thursday to Saturday; time slots every 30 minutes. Closed Sunday to Wednesday.
Jan & Feb: Closed.
ADDRESS: Plac Mariacki 5, 31-042 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.mariacki.com/tours-of-the-bugle-tower
4. WANDER ACROSS TO WARWEL CASTLE.
Take a short walk from the Market Square and you’ll find Wawel – pronounced ‘va-vul’ – Hill and the Royal Castle. Admire this funky architectural building and see if you can spot some dragons whilst you’re there.
And as much as you may want to, it’s probably highly unlikely that a gold-coated roof would suit your house, sorry – unless you live in a castle that is!
COST: Free to visit exteriors and gardens. Prices vary for entrance to exhibits like the State Apartments and Royal Private Apartment, click here for more info.
OPENING HOURS: Mar & Oct: 9am to 6pm, every day excluding bank holidays.
April & Sep: 9am to 7pm, every day excluding bank holidays.
May to Aug: 9am to 8pm, every day excluding bank holidays.
Nov to Feb: 9am to 5pm, every day excluding bank holidays.
ADDRESS: Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.wawel.krakow.pl
5. WATCH THE SUN SET OVER THE VISTULA RIVER.
We were incredibly lucky that the weather was so nice on our first afternoon in Kraków. Watching the sun set over the river is a memory that I am going to cherish forever.
What I’m trying to say is that if you have a sunny day during your trip, be sure to head to Wawel Hill before sundown.
ADDRESS: 31-001 Kraków (on the outskirts of Wawel Castle).
6. TAKE A TRIP TO AUSCHWITZ.
I am slightly cheating with this one, seeing as Auschwitz and Birkenau is actually located an hour and a half outside of Kraków. Nevertheless, this is one place you should not ignore during a Polish trip.
Whether you book through a tour guide – our AirBnb host was ours – or do a DIY job, be sure to visit this harrowing place and pay your respects to all those that lost their lives. If you have enough money for only one big spend or trip, make it Auschwitz and Birkenau. I’m not going to lie, it will be difficult and emotional. But you should see it anyway.
COST: Free to visit, although, prices vary for guided tours – these can be booked through the Auschwitz website or through an agent online or in the city.
OPENING HOURS: Everyday, excluding 1st Jan, 25th Dec & Easter Sunday.
Jan & Nov: 7:30am to 3pm.
Feb: 7:30am to 4pm.
Mar & Oct: 7:30am to 5pm.
Apr, May & Sep: 7:30am to 6pm.
Jun, Jul & Aug: 7:30am to 7pm.
Dec: 7:30am to 2pm.
ADDRESS: Więźniów Oświęcimia 20, 32-603 Oświęcim,
WEBSITE LINK: www.auschwitz.org
7. TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR AROUND OLD TOWN.
Free walking tours…who knew they’d be so great and interesting?! Thank you to whoever came up with the idea because, rest assured, we will be doing more in the future.
Kraków has plenty of rustic and fascinating streets to get lost on, especially in Old Town. Strap on your walking shoes, find a tour guide and head out to learn about this city’s rich history. And although it’s classed as ‘free’, simply tip afterwards if you like it and can afford to.
COST: Free, although tips are welcome.
OPENING HOURS: Vary between tours, so remember to ask when you speak to them.
ADDRESS: The starting point also varies depending on which tour operator you choose.
WEBSITE LINK: There are plenty of different tours to go on, although I’d highly recommend Cracow Free Tours (meeting point outside St. Mary’s Basilica).
8. GO VODKA TASTING AT WODKA CAFE BAR.
This little bar can be found not far from the main square and it offers up a huge variety of flavoured vodkas to try to your heart’s content. It’s a popular but tiny place, so be prepared to queue and wait for a seat.
The vodkas are well worth the wait though, I’d highly recommend the apricot. Mmm!
COST: Prices vary, there will be a board next to the bar with current prices on.
OPENING HOURS: Everyday, excluding bank holidays.
Sun to Wed: 2pm to 12am.
Thur: 2pm to 1am.
Fri: 1pm to 2am.
Sat: 2pm to 2am.
ADDRESS: Mikołajska 5, 31-027 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.facebook.com/pages/Wodka-Cafe-bar
9. ALSO TRY BEER WITH A SIDE OF VODKA.
Whether this was truly a Polish tradition or just a clever marketing ploy to get tourist to pay more, who’s to say. Either way, beer with a side of flavoured vodka is a popular tipple in Kraków and it is delicious.
COST: Prices vary depending on where you’re drinking; some can be relatively cheap, whilst others being expensive.
OPENING HOURS: Opening times also vary depending on where you go.
10. SHOP AT THE CLOTH HALL MARKET.
From touristy trinkets to Christmas decorations, jewellery to homewares and clothes. Besides food, you can find pretty much anything here. The building is gorgeous too!
It’s the perfect place to pick up some presents for family and friends back home or simply souvenirs for yourself.
COST: Free to visit, prices will vary on the items you’re buying.
OPENING HOURS: Tues to Sun: 10am to 6pm.
ADDRESS: Rynek Główny 1/3, 31-042 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/cloth-hall
STAY: AIRBNB APARTMENT ON STREET.
Rustic? Check. Large? Check. Has all the suitable amenities? Check. Close to the Main Square? Check.
This AirBnb was a great find by our friends and the hosts were particularly helpful!
ADDRESS: Zygmunta Wróblewskiego 2, 31-148 Kraków
KEY FEATURES: Full apartment that sleeps up to 8 people complete with comfy beds, spacious lounge with a table that seats 4, a working kitchen, two bathrooms with showers, washing machine, free WIFI, secure entry (to the building & apartment).
WEBSITE LINK: www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/20866808
EAT: AT POD WAWELEM KOMPANIA KUFLOWA.
If you try one Polish restaurant during your trip, make it this one. It has a lively, yet comfortable atmosphere and the staff are great. But the food, the food is something else.
The meals are huge and tasty, plus they’re incredibly reasonably priced! I’d highly recommend the Deska “Oficer Grilluje” but you probably couldn’t go wrong with anything you order here.
COST: Prices vary, click here for their menu.
OPENING HOURS: Mon to Sat: 12pm to 12am.
Sun: 12pm to 11pm.
ADDRESS: Świętej Gertrudy 26/29, 31-048 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.podwawelem.eu
DRINK: AT FREE PUB.
Tucked off the street, with an uninviting entrance, this bar was a gem of a find by the men on our trip.
The drinks are cheap and super tasty. The decor is rustic and comfortable. It’s also deceptively large with plenty of seating. Plus, you’re hidden away underground, which is pretty damn cool anyway
COST: Prices vary, click here for their menu.
OPENING HOURS: Sun to Wed: 4pm to 1am.
Thur: 4pm to 2am.
Fri & Sat: 4pm to 3am.
ADDRESS: Sławkowska 4, 31-014 Kraków
WEBSITE LINK: www.free-pub.krakow.pl
There are so many places to explore and things to see in Kraków that a short city break is simply not enough time. But if that’s the case, it can only mean one thing: you’ll have to come back again! Lovely!
Prices per adult and opening hours as at July 2019.