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Travel guide to Kraków - insider tips for Poland's Cultural Gem

Travel guide to Krakow
By Joanna Dabrowska

By Joanna
(Contact Me)

Places to visit in Europe Feb. 6, 2024 Poland Kraków 2024 Places to visit in Europe

We’re so happy that we live in south Poland – we’re close to the mountains and we’ve got one of the most beautiful cities within an arm's length.

In this detailed travel guide to Krakow, you'll learn about the most interesting attractions in the city, the best places to eat, transportation tips and much more! We'll also share Krakow's dark secrets - when it comes to tourist places there's always a fly in the ointment.

Check also my list of the best day trips from Kraków.

OK, let's get to it!

Travel guide to Kraków

Kraków attractions

krakow travel guide

There are so many things to do in Kraków that it's not easy to choose to best ones.

I've decided to describe the attractions which I like the best and which are easily accessible on foot or by public transportation.

Kraków Main Square

travel guide krakow

Symbol of Kraków, considered by many as one of the most beautiful market squares in Europe. On the UNESCO list since 1978.

There are lots of monuments and statues, pubs and restaurants. Street performers, festivals, horse-drawn carriages - you won't get bored there.

I love Kraków Main Square's vibe, especially in the evening when the buildings are beautifully illuminated! ❤️

The most important places to visit on the square:

✅ St Mary's Basilica - this Gothic masterpiece was built in the 13th century. It's one of the biggest and most prominent cathedrals in Poland. It features two unequal towers and a stunning interior with the famous wooden altarpiece by Wit Stwosz. I might not be a great fan of church sightseeing but I think it's worth visiting - its rich and colorful interior is on par with other famous European cathedrals. It's available for tourists every day when no Mass is being conducted. You may check the visiting hours here.

✅ Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) - located in the center of the square, Sukiennice is a Renaissance-style building that has served as a marketplace for centuries. Today, it houses shops with local crafts and souvenirs. There are beautiful products but I must admit they're ridiculously overpriced.

✅ Town Hall - its tower offers amazing panoramic views of the city - climbing the stairs is well worth the effort.

Underground Museum👇

Krzysztofory Palace👇

Kraków underground museum

krakow guide

We have visited Kraków many times (it's close to where we live) but there are still a few places we haven’t seen yet. One of them was the Kraków Underground Museum.

It was opened in September 2010 and since then has been a must-go.

The museum is located 4 metres under the surface of the Kraków Market Square and is 3300 square metres big. The museum is fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Rynek Underground is closed every second Monday of the month. The opening hours vary according to seasons so it’s best to check it on the website here.

There are many foreign visitors in the museum so the audio guide is available for English, German, French, Japanese, Russian and Italian speaking groups.

It’s good to reserve about 2 hours for visiting the Kraków Underground Museum.

Because of the museum’s popularity and the fact that the visits are limited to only 30 people every 15 minutes, I’d strongly recommend purchasing the tickets in advance to avoid standing in a long queue - you can do this here.

We were carefree enough not to book the tickets in advance and as a result, we had to wait to get in for almost an hour. This might be OK during summertime but at the beginning of December, it wasn't very enjoyable.

is krakow worth visiting

Rynek Underground Museum presents historical and archaeological findings. It is a must-see, especially for everyone who is fond of medieval times.

What I definitely liked about the place is that it’s very innovative and modern. There are lots of interactive screens in various languages, holograms, videos and displays. The visit begins with a short film projected on a wall of smoke.

It offers a walk among excavated medieval merchant stalls and presents the history of Kraków starting from its very first settlement in nomadic times. There are lots of relics of medieval construction including fragments of buildings, cemeteries, parts of settlements, paving stones and an aqueduct.

Visit to the Kraków Underground Museum is one of the most interesting things to do in Kraków, especially for history enthusiasts. I think it's worth visiting for people of all ages as it provides an interesting look at medieval life. And the entrance tickets are cheap.

Krzysztofory Palace

krakow attractions

The palace is a fine example of Renaissance architecture with Baroque elements. It dates back to the 17th century and has undergone various renovations and reconstructions over the years. You'll recognize this building thanks to a figure of saint Christopher on the facade.

Krzysztofory Palace is one of the main branches of the Kraków Museum. 

If I were to describe this place in one short sentence I'd say "Kraków in a nutshell".

In over a dozen chambers you'll get to know about every aspect of the city - history, legends, culture and tradition, history of Kraków residents (famous ones and common folks) and even its animals.

You'll find a variety of exhibits available to see on 3 floors. In the underground, you'll be taken to medieval times - you'll get to know legends, kings and Kraków ghosts, and you'll see how the city has been changing.

On the first floor, there is presented everyday life of Kraków citizens. On the second floor, you'll learn about Kraków artists, craftsmen, traditional Kraków outfits and histories about famous animals.

Insider tip: entrance to Krzysztofory Palace is free of charge on Tuesdays.

You can check opening hours and ticket prices here.

Wawel Castle

krakow travel guides

is a fortified complex located on a hill right on the bank of the Vistula River in Kraków Old Town. It consists of Royal Castle, Cathedral, Crown Treasury and Armory, Cathedral Museum and Dragon’s Den. The beginnings of the complex date back to the 9th century!

It's one of the most famous places to visit in Poland and one of Kraków top attractions.

The Royal Castle is the quintessence of Polish history and culture - I haven’t seen a place which would have more historical treasures than Wawel. I think we don’t even know a Pole who hasn’t visited Wawel Castle at least once in a lifetime 😉

The place is so important because starting from the 11th century, Polish monarchs lived there and were crowned and buried in the Wawel Cathedral. Also, since the 19th century Polish national heroes have also been laid to rest there.

This impressive UNESCO-listed place is loaded with art treasures, interesting architecture and priceless exhibits. Visiting Wawel Castle is one of the top things to do in Kraków.

If you would like to learn about Polish history and get to know Wawel Castle, you may get a guided tour with a skip-the-line ticket here:

Kościuszko Mound

attractions krakow

I think this travel guide to Kraków wouldn't be complete without Kościuszko Mound.

Visiting the hill is one of the most unique things to do in Kraków as it combines history, nature and beautiful views.

This monument is situated on Saint Bronisława Mound (Wzgórze św Bronisławy), a natural hill in the western part of Kraków. It reaches 34 metres and offers panoramic views of the city, Jurrasic Highland and, if the weather permits, even the Tatra Mountains.

The Kościuszko Mound was erected in the early 19th century to honor Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish military hero and national symbol. Kościuszko played a crucial role in the American Revolutionary War and later led the Polish Uprising against the Russian and Prussian occupation.

Entry onto the path leading to Kościuszko Mound top leads through Kościuszkowskie Museum.

The museum is modern and interactive. Every history enthusiast will love it. It presents different moments and stages of Tadeusz Kościuszko's life.

attractions in krakow

I liked the exhibitions - they aren't overloaded and present the most important and interesting facts from the hero's life.

The museum is fun for kids - they will get to know if small Tadeusz ate chocolate or played football; they will build a fortress, pass a labyrinth, write a postcard to Tadeusz Kościuszko and much more!

Straight from the museum, you will pass through the cafe onto the observation deck and from there, you will start climbing Kościuszko Mound.

Exit is on the other side of the hill, you won't return through the museum.

The walk to the hilltop is nice and easy, suitable for everyone, including families with prams.

After walking down from the hilltop you may visit a small wax museum with figures of famous Poles. The wax museum is combined with the historic XIXth century exhibition of Kraków Fortress, with reconstructions of coppers and weapons.

You will see all these attractions with one ticket - you may purchase it here.

Kraków Schindler Factory

things to do in krakow

The official title of this museum - Schindler Enamel Factory Museum is a bit misleading because enamel exhibits aren’t the main value of this place. It’s a museum depicting the life of Jews in Poland during World War II.

Visiting this museum isn’t a nice and happy experience. After a few moments, we become helpless witnesses of one of the biggest calamities in European history - World War II.

However, we all need to visit such places to be reminded of humanity’s past errors, and to be able to avoid such tragedies in the future.

The owner of the factory was Oskar Schindler. Originally he was a member of German secret service and was meant to spy on Polish officials. But he chose a different destiny.

After relocating to Kraków he bought an enamel factory and started developing it. Every year he employed more and more workers, mostly Jews. In 1943 he created a work camp close to the factory, in which there were located several hundreds of workers from his factory.

Thanks to Schindler’s factory many Jews avoided oppression and brutal death in concentration camps.

The museum is located on 3 storeys of Oskar Schindler's enamel factory. Each of them presents a different period of the occupational history of Kraków.

The museum features interactive displays, multimedia exhibits and archival photographs. There's even an old Kraków tram! For me, the most interesting exhibits were screens displaying interviews with people who knew Schindler.

Insider tip: visiting Schindler's Factory is one of the most important things to do in Kraków. Check out the below tour to learn about the history and avoid wasting time in queues.

Kraków Jewish District

things to do in krakow poland

Kazimierz, also known as Kraków Jewish District, is home to several historic synagogues, each one having its unique architectural and historical features.

There are also art galleries, flea markets, beautiful murals and unique restaurants.

There are so many great places to visit in Kraków Jewish District that I've decided to write a separate article about it - check it out.

Best places to stay in Kraków

places to visit in krakow

Kraków offers a variety of neighbourhoods with distinct atmospheres, so the best place to stay depends on your preferences and interests. Here are some popular areas to consider when choosing accommodation in Kraków:

Old Town:

    • Pros: central location, close to major attractions. Plenty of restaurants, shops, and historical charm.
    • Cons: can be crowded and more expensive due to its central location.

      Kazimierz (Jewish district):

      • Pros: rich in history, with a bohemian atmosphere. A vibrant area with trendy cafes, art galleries, and historic sites like synagogues.
      • Cons: less central than the Old Town, but still easily accessible. It can be lively at night.


      • Pros: home to the historical Kraków Jewish Ghetto. Quieter than the Old Town or Kazimierz, with a more residential feel.
      • Cons: fewer entertainment options compared to the city center.

      Below you will find highly-rated places to stay in Kraków Old Town. They're all listed on and have lots of favourable opinions from the guests.

      K4 APARTHOTEL KRAKÓW - comfortable apartments located in Kraków Old Town. Guests appreciate reasonable pricing, spacious apartments, tasty breakfast and friendly staff.

      MEININGER Kraków Centrum - new hotel located a 15-minute walk from Kraków Old Town. Guests are happy with reasonable prices, delicious breakfast, cleanliness and helpful staff.

      Pokoje Gościnne Poselska 20 - a comfortable homestay located just 200 metres from Kraków Main Square. Guests appraise the cleanliness and comfort. Rooms overlook a garden. Super friendly host.

      Evergreen Hostel Krakow - a cozy and budget hostel located in the Kraków Old Town. Besides location guests are delighted with the cleanliness and friendly staff. There are two female-only rooms.

      Great restaurants

      places to visit krakow

      There are so many lovely places to eat in Kraków that it's not easy to choose the best ones. So, I've decided to list restaurants which offer not only delicious food but also fantastic views.

      🍝 METRUM Restobistro - my no 1 among Kraków rooftop restaurants. Located on the 6th floor of the Academy of Music, right next to Planty Park. The food is delicious, tastes homemade and is reasonably priced. The only drawback is that often they're full (not surprising).

      Address: Świętego Tomasza 43.

      🍝 Zielone Tarasy - my second favourite restaurant with views. They serve traditional food - soups, pizza, pasta, burgers, etc. What I like about Zielone Tarasy is that they have vegan options. The prices are low and the views are amazing - when the weather is favorable you may even admire the Beskidy Mountains.

      Address: Aleja Juliusza Słowackiego 64.

      🍝 Restauracja Vidok - it offers a beautiful view of Wawel Castle and the Vistula River. I ordered a mushroom risotto and liked it a lot. They have many cocktails and wines to choose from. A bit pricey but the views are worth it. I recommend visiting it in the evening - the lights on the terrace create a magical atmosphere.

      Address: Aleja Zygmunta Krasińskiego 1.

      🍝 FRESH Coffee Place - Cricoteka - located in Kazimierz district, in Cricoteka Art Gallery. They serve breakfast, lunch, desserts and delicious coffee. The cafe offers a beautiful view of the Vistula River. I had there pierogi and cheesecake and liked them all 🙂

      Address: Nadwiślańska 4.

      Insider tip no 1 - the above restaurants are popular and I recommend booking a table in advance, especially on weekends.

      Insider tip no 2 - if you'd like to eat out a lot but travel on a budget, consider Milk Bar (Bar Mleczny).

      If you would like to combine Polish food with traditional folk show, check out the below tour:

      Milk bars in Kraków - budget travel

      poland food

      I feel that this travel guide to Kraków needs a few words about milk bars 😉

      Milk bars in Poland are traditional eateries that offer affordable and hearty meals. These places have a history dating back to the communist era when they were established as part of a social welfare program to provide affordable and nutritious meals to the general population

      Many milk bars are cheap because the owners use locally sourced and basic ingredients, which are often subsidized by the government.

      While their popularity has decreased over the years, Kraków still has some milk bars that preserve the tradition.

      Here's a list of milk bars where you can enjoy homemade and inexpensive food:

      🥟 Krakus - located in Podgórze district, close to Kazimierz. Address: Bolesława Limanowskiego 16 Street.

      🥟 Mieszczański - located in southeast Kraków, next to a road which leads to Wieliczka Salt Mine. Address: Wlotowa 2 Street.

      🥟 Pod filarkami - located close to Kraków Old Town. Address: Starowiślna 29 Street.

      🥟 Promyk - located in the southern Kraków outskirts. Address: Marii i Bolesława Wysłouchów 8 Street.

      🥟 Smakosz - located in the Oficerskie district. Address: Mogilska 58 Street.

      🥟 Targowy - located in Kazimierz district. Address: Aleja Ignacego Daszyńskiego 19 Street.

      🥟 Uniwersytecki - located close to Kraków Old Town. Address: Czysta 5 Street.

      How to get to Kraków

      krakow travel

      There are many ways to get to Kraków. The city is accessible via:

      • International Airport Balice,
      • A4 motorway that runs through southern Poland connecting the East with the West - it starts at the German border and ends in Ukraine. The motorway is a part of the European route E40. It's paid.
      • efficient rail transport. offers cheap flight booking services - you may compare flights from 500+ airlines to destinations around the world.

      You can check deals on flights here:

      If you'd like to travel a lot and visit multiple places (especially Polish towns and villages) or discover Polish nature, the most convenient and fast way to travel is to rent a car.

      When we need to rent a car we always use and are happy with them, never had any issues with this company.

      You may check deals on car hire in Kraków Airport here:

      Getting to Krakow city centre from the airport by public transportation is fairly easy - there are lots of shuttles every day:

      • railbus - commute takes about 20 minutes. There’s a shuttle about every 40 minutes to the Kraków Central Train Station (Dworzec Główny PKP). The rail bus stop is about 200m from the T1 terminal. Between the stop and T1 and T1 terminals, there’s an airport bus (free of charge).
      • public bus (MPK): lines no 208, 292, night bus line no 902.

      Central Bus Station in Kraków is located on Bosacka 18 Street, right next to the Central Train Station. Here's a  Google Maps link.

      To check the timetables and available options, go to the Kraków buses website.

      How to get around Kraków

      krakow city guide

      Trams and buses in Kraków allow you to quickly commute in the city, as well as outside of it.

      If you’re planning to stay only in the Kraków city centre, it’s better not to rent a car (traffic jams, costly parking lots).

      You may check tram routes and timetables here, and also on every bus and tram stop.

      Tickets are available at:

      • newsstands
      • automatic machines (both cash and card payments)
      • in buses and trams (driver sells tickets, but doesn’t give change)

      After entering a bus or tram you need to mark the ticket in the check-in machine.

      Insider tip: to get around Kraków without worrying about traffic or timetables, you can rent a scooter or an e-bike. There are a lot of shop rentals in Kraków (you may book a scooter or e-bike online too).

      Kraków map

      Having a paper map is good for a few important reasons, especially when you're out exploring. Here's why:

      ✅ Paper maps don't need batteries like phones or electronic devices do. So, even if your gadgets run out of battery, you can still use a paper map to find your way.

      ✅ A travel map helps you navigate unfamiliar places and provides a sense of orientation. It allows you to plan routes and find landmarks.

      ✅ In areas where language barriers may exist, a map becomes a universal tool for communication.

      ✅ Maps (especially laminated ones) handle rain and low temperatures much better than electronic devices. All in all, it's less hurtful to ruin a map rather than a smartphone.

      You may buy a reliable travel map of Kraków on here:

      Kraków tours

      top attractions in krakow

      Guided tours can enhance your travel experience, especially in a city like Kraków which offers so many attractions.

      You may want to go on a guided tour if you would like to:

      ✅ gain in-depth knowledge about the city's history, architecture, and cultural heritage.

      ✅ discover hidden gems and lesser-known spots.

      ✅ manage your time efficiently (especially if you visit Kraków only for a couple of days).

      Here are some of the most interesting and highly-rated options on Get Your Guide:

      Is Kraków worth visiting?

      Is Kraków worth visiting

      With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural atmosphere, Kraków is one of the most important places to visit in Poland.

      However, a trip to Kraków may not be your thing if:

      → you prefer off-the-beaten-path travel destinations

      → you're looking for budget-friendly places to visit

      → you have asthma (or other respiratory disorders) and would like to visit Kraków in winter.

      Kraków dark secrets

      krakow dark secrets

      Nothing's perfect in this world. Here are some drawbacks of traveling to Kraków:

      • crowds - the city is worldwide-known and the most popular place in Poland. It's crowded. Especially the Old Town is flocking with travelers, not only during peak tourist seasons.
      • traffic congestion - public transportation is crowded during peak hours and traffic jams are common.
      • high prices - compared to other places in Poland, Kraków is pricey. Eating out and buying souvenirs on Kraków Main Square is a fantastic experience but only if you don't travel on a budget.
      • maintenance works - everyone knows it needs to be done but it's difficult not to complain about it. Whenever I visit Kraków I see construction works everywhere (grumpy me).
      • smog during cold months - for me, this is the most important disadvantage of visiting Kraków. The city is located in a basin and fumes from the chimneys and cars gather in the city. Unfortunately, still, quite a lot of households in Kraków and the surrounding villages use traditional coal furnaces for heating.

      Other beautiful cities in Poland

      Neptune fountain Gdansk. What to see around Gdansk.

      When visiting Poland, it's a good idea to reserve more time, rent a car or hop on a train and explore the amazing Polish cities:

      🌇 Gdańsk - beautiful seaside city, my personal favourite. Totally different from other cities in Poland

      🌇 Wrocław - located in southwest Poland on the Oder River. Famous for bridges and dwarves.

      🌇 Poznań - a bit underrated among international travellers. It hides a lot of national gems.

      🌇 Warsaw - the capital of Poland brimming with attractions.

      🌇 Zakopane - picturesque resort in Tatra Mountains.

      🌇 Kraków & Zakopane - 5-day itinerary.

      Hikes near Kraków

      hiking near krakow

      If you would like to take a break from the city hustle and bustle and venture into the Polish mountains, check out the below guides.

      ⛰️ Beskid Wyspowy - not high but picturesque mountain range within arm's reach to Kraków.

      ⛰️ Gorce National Park - a getaway, not too many hikers on the trails, lovely views.

      ⛰️ Pieniny National Park - some consider Pieniny Mountains the most beautiful in the country. Easy but amazing hikes.

      ⛰️ Babia Góra National Park - perfect for exploring Polish nature. The highest mountain outside Tatras.

      ⛰️ Easy hikes in High Tatras - a list of hiking trails suitable for everyone.

      ⛰️ The most famous hiking trails in Tatra Mountains, Poland

      Hiking in Poland is safe, trails are well-marked and there are lots of mountain huts.

      I hope you find this travel guide to Kraków helpful. I wish you many happy travels!
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