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Exploring the Charm of Kraków

Krakow – A Guide to a Memorable Tour

Kraków, a city situated in southern Poland, is an embodiment of Poland’s rich cultural
heritage and history. From the historic Old Town to the iconic Wawel Castle, Kraków boasts
an array of attractions that will make your tour a memorable one. In this guide, we will
explore why Kraków is worth visiting and what you should not miss during your tour. We will
also show you why choosing a tour with a professional guide will make all the difference.

Why Krakow?

Kraków is a city steeped in history and culture that dates back to the 7th century. Its historic
Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to several landmarks, including
the Main Market Square, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the Cloth Hall. The Wawel Castle, a former
residence of Polish kings, is another iconic attraction that adds to the charm of the city.
Kraków is also known for its rich Jewish history, which is reflected in the Jewish Quarter and
the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

What to See?

The Main Market Square is the heart of Kraków’s Old Town, and it is a must-see attraction.
The square, which dates back to the 13th century, is surrounded by historic buildings and
landmarks, including St. Mary’s Basilica and the Cloth Hall. A visit to the Wawel Castle is
also a must-do. The castle, which dates back to the 14th century, houses several museums,
including the State Rooms, the Royal Private Apartments, and the Crown Treasury and
Another attraction not to be missed is the Jewish Quarter, known as Kazimierz. The quarter
is home to several synagogues, including the oldest active synagogue in Poland, the Old
Synagogue. The Galicia Jewish Museum and the Jewish Cemetery are also worth visiting.

Why Choose a Tour with a Professional Guide?

Exploring Kraków with a professional guide will make your tour more enjoyable and
informative. A professional guide will provide you with insights into the history and culture of
the city, making your visit more meaningful. A guide will also help you navigate through the
city, saving you time and hassle.
A professional guide will take you to places that are off the beaten path, allowing you to
discover hidden gems that you may not have found on your own. A guide will also provide
you with personalized attention, ensuring that you have a memorable experience that meets
your specific interests and needs.
In conclusion, Kraków is a city that should be on your bucket list. Its rich history, culture, and
landmarks make it a must-see destination in Poland. A tour with a professional guide will
enhance your visit, providing you with insights, convenience, and personalized attention that
will make your tour a truly memorable experience.

It’s better to book tickets in advance to avoid problems with availability.



Frequently asked questions about Krakow

What top attractions are a must-see in Krakow?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Krakow?

The best day trips and excursions from Krakow are:

Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau


Insider tips: Planning a trip to Krakow

Hi! My name is Sam and I’m the blogger behind Check Out Sam. Krakow is one of my favorite places in Europe, 

because it’s so incredibly diverse and different to most other cities of this continent. 

To help you plan your trip to Krakow, I’ve listed some valuable tips to get the most out of your city break.

What should I do on my first trip to Krakow?

Go marvel at some of the most beautiful sights of this city straight away by walking to Rynek Główny. 

This huge square is surrounded by picturesque buildings such as the famous Sukiennice and the stunning 

St. Mary’s Basilica (make sure to go inside too!). There are plenty of great restaurants in this area as well. 

People watching is yet another thing you should do here!

What are some hidden gems to see in Krakow?

A little bit out of the city center you can find the Kościuszko Mound.

 If it wasn’t surrounded by a ramparts-like wall, you would perhaps think it’s just a (very random) hill dominating the landscape,

 but of course that’s not the case! This monument was built by the Polish people to honor Tadeusz Kościuszko, 

a Polish nationalist who was very much against foreign powers taking over his beloved country. 

People from all over Poland started adding dirt from their towns, villages and cities and added it to the ever growing mound.

 Nowadays, tourists can climb this unique attraction and get stunning views over the city. On sunny days you can even see the 

Tatra Mountains!

How much time should I spend in Krakow?

Krakow is not a big city, so you can easily see it in one full day. However, I would advice to at least take two days to fully experience it. 

If you also want to visit the Auschwitz concentration camps, I would add at least half a day. The same goes for the Wieliczka Salt Mines. 

There are plenty of tours available who combine these two sights near Krakow, so if you don’t want to stress about getting to either of these

 places this might be something for you.

What food is Krakow known for?

From all the cities that I have visited, Krakow had some of the best food that I’ve ever had. It’s cheap, delicious and at the end you always 

get offered a shot of Polish vodka. Make sure to try Pierogi (dumplings) filled with anything from fruits to meat. 

If you like meats, there’s also plenty of options for your taste buds!

What is the best way to get around Krakow?

Walk or rent a bike if you are short in time. If you want to visit Auschwitz or Wieliczka, you can do so with public transportation (bus) 

or with the help of a guided tour.

What are the best months to visit Krakow?

During summer, it can get quite warm in Krakow but almost never too hot. The city feels a bit more crowded because of the nice temperatures,

,but it never gets out of hand. Also worth mentioning: in Augusts there’s a pierogi festival! I personally really liked autumn in Krakow too. 

The temperatures can get quite cold, but most crowds stay away and the colorful trees make this fairytale like city even more stunning.

What is neighborhood Miasto known for?

Stay in Kazimierz for food, nightlife and (jewish) history. If you want to be located centrally I would suggest Stare Miasto.

 Here you’ll find a bit of everything. It’s close to most attractions and also has great nightlife and plenty of great restaurants nearby.

What are the best neighborhoods for food? 

You can find great food all over the city, but I would recommend the Kazimierz neighborhood for the best food. Especially if you want to try 

out the local cuisine. Not that fond of the heavy Polish dishes? No worries! There are enough other options too (steakhouse, Italian, Lebanese)

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping? 

Krakow is not really a shopping destination, but you do have some streets and shopping centers which every shopaholic will love. 

Near the Rynek Glówny (main square) you can find Florianska. This is where you’ll find a nice mix of boutiques and souvenir stores. 

If you’re only looking for the latter, I would recommend to head to the Cloth Hall situated on the main square itself.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Krakow?

I would suggest to stay in the picturesque old center of Krakow. That way you’re close to all the action and never far away from a good

 restaurant or a cosy bar. Stick to the areas that I’ve already mentioned before: Kazimierz and Stare Miasto. 

They are -in my humble opinion- the absolute best to fully enjoy your stay.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Krakow?

The Wieliczka mines are a fun activity for both younger and older people. Descend into these old salt mines near Krakow and discover 

the interesting history and stunning sights so deep down. 

There’s even a cathedral completely made out of salt crystals that you’ll visit here during a guided tour!

What is the best thing to do in Krakow for solo travelers?

Book a (combined) tour to Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mines. It’s a great way to learn more about the surroundings of Krakow 

and its history, but also a good way to meet like-minded people. Especially during or after your visit to Auschwitz,

 it can be nice to talk to someone (guide or other visitors) and let out your thoughts and feelings.

What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Krakow? 

If you don’t mind being en route for a couple of hours (one to three), head to the Tatra Mountains or make a stop in beautiful Zakopane. 


There is plenty of stunning scenery and lots of (challenging) hikes that you can do here.


Cities in Poland





Best things to do in Krakow

Discover the rich history of Poland’s former royal capital as you explore Krakow’s medieval squares and Renaissance castles
Market Square Krakow


Sculpture in Market Square (Alamy)

1. Wander round Market Square

Rynek Glowny, the largest medieval market square in Europe, dazzles with its medieval, Renaissance and baroque architecture. When warm weather heralds the arrival of café tables in the square, it’s tempting to spend hours there taking in the ambience and watching horse-drawn carriages clatter on the cobbles. It’s not surprising that Krakow’s Christmas market pitches up here too, as the square’s fairytale setting suits the festive season. Every hour on the hour, listen as a lone trumpeter in one of the towers in St Mary’s Basilica plays the bugle call four times — the earliest written mention of which dates back to 1392.

The Cloth Hall Krakow


The Cloth Hall (Getty Images)

2. Shop in the Cloth Hall

One of the stars of Rynek Glowny is the magnificent Sukiennice, the Renaissance Cloth Hall that dates back to the 13th-century when it was the centre of Krakow’s trade. Tucked away within its vaulted arcades these days are souvenir, craft and jewellery stalls, adding their glitter to the elegant colonnades. Grab a bite in the Sukiennice Restaurant or a drink on the café terrace, taking in views of the market square. Then head upstairs to the Gallery of 19th-century Polish Art to see evocative scenes from Polish history.


3. Go underground at Rynek

Beneath the Cloth Hall is Rynek Underground, a multimedia museum that does an excellent job in whisking you back to the Middle Ages when the Sukiennice was in its heyday. An underground route takes you past reconstructed medieval market stalls and workshops, and features original cobbled slabs that were among the treasures discovered during an archaeological dig in 2005. It’s all very cleverly done, with holograms and other multimedia wizardry to bring things to life.


The Town Hall Tower and the Cloth Hall Krakow


The Town Hall Tower and the Cloth Hall (Alamy)

4. Climb the Town Hall Tower

Although the 14th-century Town Hall in Rynek Glowny was torn down by the Austrians in the 19th century, its soaring 70m tower remains one of the square’s landmarks. And it offers wonderful views of the market square from the platform near the top of the tower — just a small matter of 110 steps. Along the way to the viewpoint you’ll see old photos and a model of the original Town Hall as part of a small museum.

St Mary's Basilica Krakow


St Mary’s Basilica (Alamy)

5. Explore St Mary’s Basilica

This two-towered Gothic construction is almost overwhelmingly full of treasures. You won’t fail to spot St Mary’s Basilica’s star-covered blue vaulted nave, nor the stained-glass windows in the chancel, nor the art nouveau stained glass above the organ loft. Watch Veit Stoss’s stupendous High Altar open its six hinged wings every day at 11.50am; this pentaptych is the largest piece of medieval art in Poland, and quite a sight, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary.

6. Time travel in Wawel Royal Castle

Poland’s national identity is bound up in Wawel Royal Castle, where kings were crowned and the great and the good were buried. It was also where the Nazis set up their headquarters, so it’s a minor miracle it wasn’t destroyed at the end of the war. Sitting on top of Wawel Hill over the Vistula River, this enormous 16th-century castle houses five separate museums. If you’re not able to fit in a visit to all five, make time for the State Rooms and the Royal Private Apartments. They’re best appreciated on a guided tour.


Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral  Krakow


Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral (Alamy)

7. Explore Wawel Cathedral

The third church to stand on this site, the 14th-century Wawel Cathedral is one of Poland’s most important buildings and the burial place for its kings and, more recently, Polish president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in 2010. You can’t miss the Zygmunt Chapel, where the Renaissance ran riot in its decoration. While the main entrance is free, other parts, including the Royal Crypts, are extra. But it’s worth climbing the rickety wooden steps to see the St Zygmunt Bell and the views from the tower — and to follow the old tradition of touching the bell’s clapper with your left hand for luck.


The Old Synagogue Krakow


The Old Synagogue (Alamy)

8. Visit the Old Synagogue

Poland’s oldest surviving synagogue — now a museum — is also a place to explore the culture and heritage of Krakow’s Jewish community, who mostly lived in the district of Kazimierz. The synagogue’s main hall is starkly beautiful, with vaulted ceilings and chandeliers, while the exhibition spaces reveal the daily lives, rituals and ceremonies. It’s open every day, and is free on Mondays.

The Ethnographic Museum Krakow


The Ethnographic Museum (Alamy)

9. Explore the Ethnographic Museum

The imaginative and entertaining Ethnographic Museum, housed in the 16th-century Kazimierz Town Hall, really lets you into the world of the different cultures within the Krakow, Podhale and Silesian regions. Over three floors, you’ll find life-sized reproductions of Polish peasant houses and insights into rural life in 19th-century Poland through an impressive collection of folk art and costumes. It’s free to visit on Sundays.


Eating zapiekanka at Plac Nowy Krakow


Eating zapiekanka at Plac Nowy (Getty Images)

10. Eat a classic Krakow snack at Plac Nowy

The round market building in Kazimierz’s main square still has remnants of its former life as the local poultry slaughterhouse. Nowadays, its old market hatches offer moreish Krakow street food, namely its take on a pizza — zapiekanka. This open baguette is smothered in various toppings from cheese and tomato ketchup to garlic sauce or mushrooms, then toasted and eaten greedily. Another snack you’ll want to try is the Polish version of a giant soft pretzel or bagel, obwarzanek, which is sprinkled with salt and poppy or sesame seeds and boiled. These are at their best within three hours of being baked.

 The Schindler's Factory museum Krakow


The Schindler’s Factory museum (Alamy)

11. Visit Schindler’s Factory

Oskar Schindler’s enamel factory, where he was able to employ many of the 1,200 Jews he saved from the Nazis, has been turned into an engrossing museum. It not only recounts Schindler’s efforts and stories of the lives he saved, so memorably portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, but it also displays how the people Krakow endured the Nazi occupation of the Second World War. It’s a fascinating exhibition, showing the full terror of life during the war. You get a distinct sense of what it was like, feeling as if you’re walking through the city in the midst of conflict. It’s free to visit on Mondays.



The metal chairs memorial in Ghetto Heroes' Square Krakow


The metal chairs memorial in Ghetto Heroes’ Square (Alamy)

12. See the Pharmacy Under the Eagle

Across the river from Kazimierz is Podgorze, where the Jewish ghetto was created in 1941. The only pharmacy allowed was the Pharmacy Under the Eagle, which soon turned into a secret meeting place for Jews. Now a museum, it powerfully tells the story of life in the ghetto. Just outside is Ghetto Heroes’ Square, where 70 bronze chair sculptures pay tribute to the people who were killed — the chairs symbolising the furniture left abandoned when people were rounded up for the last time in 1943.

The entrance to Auschwitz


The entrance to Auschwitz (Alamy)

13. Take a tour of Auschwitz

Be prepared for a disturbing experience, but one that really has to be done. The first of the two concentration camps, Auschwitz, is almost intact, its barracks showing the unspeakable and incomprehensible brutality its inmates endured. A short bus ride away is Birkenau. Less of the original camp remains here but it’s more harrowing; this was the site of the intended extermination of the Jewish race. Buses and a few trains depart regularly from Krakow.


A restaurant inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine Krakow


A restaurant inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine (Alamy)

14. Enter a salty underground world

Wieliczka Salt Mine, 12km from the city, is one of the most popular day trips from Krakow, and a very entertaining one. The huge underground world of these salt mines, which were used for about 700 years, now houses galleries, a chapel, eating places and labyrinthine chambers. Set aside a few hours to explore it properly.



Planty Park Krakow


Planty Park (Alamy)

15. Stroll around Planty Park

What used to be Krakow’s fortifications circling the city — until the Austrians tore them down in the 19th century — is now an immensely pleasant park, Planty. Follow the paths around the city through pretty gardens and past cafés, starting or finishing at the 14th-century St Florian’s Gate and the 15th-century Barbican fortress. You’ll also see a statue honouring Pope John Paul II, who was born in Krakow.

Kosciuszko Mound Krakow


Kosciuszko Mound (Alamy)

16. Walk up Kosciuszko Mound

Hop on the bus and tram to reach Kosciuszko Mound, an unusual homage to a national Polish hero. The giant artificial mound, shaped like a fat cone with a footpath spiralling around it to the top, was built in 1823 to commemorate military hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Once you reach the top at 326m above sea level, you’ll have wonderful views of the Vistula and the city. On a clear day you can even see the Tatra Mountains, 100km away. The surrounding fortifications feature exhibits on Kosciuszko and how he fought not just the Russians but also with the Americans in their revolutionary war.


17. Go hiking in Las Wolski

Just a few kilometres further west of Kosciuszko Mound is Las Wolski, a protected hilly woodland packed with hiking and mountain biking trails. When the snow comes, that’s the cue to go cross-country skiing through the forest. Hike up the viewpoint at Pilsudski Mound, the forest’s highest point. The forest is also handy for Krakow Zoo and the hilltop Przegorzaly Castle. The castle looks as if it’s been around for centuries, but it dates back only to the 1920s. During the war it was seized by Otto Wachter, the Nazi “governor” of Krakow and the man behind the city’s Jewish ghetto. Today, it’s the serene setting for a restaurant with panoramic terraces.

Ambasada Sledzia bar Krakow


The Ambasada Sledzia bar (Getty Images)

18. Join a vodka bar crawl

You might be crawling once you’ve had a thorough tour of Krakow’s vodka bars, considering how inexpensive the drink is here. As you’re working your way through the various flavours, keep up the pace with typical bar snacks such as mini versions of steak tartare and smalec — rendered pork fat seasoned with garlic, onions and spices and served on bread. In the Old Town, try some of the 100 flavours at Wodka Café Bar, while Ambasada Sledzia offers various versions of pickled herrings — another local delicacy — to go with your shots.


Vistual river Krakow


The Vistula in winter (Getty Images)

19. Take a boat along the Vistula

See Krakow from a chilled-out perspective on one of the many boat tours that run along the Vistula River. Cruises usually run from April to September, and can be anything from 30 minutes to several hours, going as far as the clifftop Benedictine abbey at Tyniec, about 13km to the west. If you’re more energetic, hire a kayak and explore on your own, or get into Krakow’s notorious party spirit by joining one of the Saturday booze cruises.


MOCAK Krakow


MOCAK (Getty Images)

20. See exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow

Next door to Schindler’s Factory is MOCAK, a sprawling, ultramodern glass structure showcasing contemporary art from around the world as well as Poland. There’s a changing roster of temporary exhibitions, but more than 300 artworks make up the permanent display, including one from British artist Sarah Lucas. Come on a Thursday when the permanent exhibition is free of charge.

Street art in Kazimierz Krakow


Street art in Kazimierz (Alamy)

21. Look out for street art

It’s not surprising that Kazimierz, home to a large student population and a buzzing restaurant and bar scene, is also the place to find much of Krakow’s eye-catching street art. A walking tour around the district throws up one vivid mural after another, with explosions of colour, wit and satire on otherwise humdrum walls. Cross the Vistula into Podgorze for even more urban art decorating the buildings. Much of the art came about during festivals such as ArtBoom or the 101 Murals for Krakow initiative, and it shows no sign of slowing down.



 Source; The Times