Places to visit in Krakow Poland
Are you planning to visit the city of Krakow? Are you dreaming of a weekend in the capital of Malopolska? Or maybe you are a resident of this wonderful main square and are looking for interesting places to discover? Come with us on a wonderful journey through Krakow, its picturesque streets, colorful parks, historical monuments and cult restaurants. The city of Krakow has such a rich history and such unique corners that every day can surprise you.
Along with the seasons, the surrounding nature creates an amazing aura and the ever-developing infrastructure and attractions for tourists ensure that Krakow never gets boring. Krakow, the former capital of Poland and the second-largest city in the country, guarantees fabulous views, with the Wawel Castle towering over it, as well as an unusual atmosphere created by the local people, artists and tourists from all over the world.
The lively Main Market Square, Planty Park, St. Florian’s Gate and the Krakow Old Town are where you will experience and feel the rhythm of the city. Particularly atmospheric at night, it’s impossible not to visit the Main Square while you’re exploring all that Krakow has to offer.
Magical Krakow Old Town
Situated on the banks of the Vistula River, the former capital was long an important center of art, commerce and culture in the country, and is still a vibrant and energetic place today. Once the home of Polish kings, today it is a major place of entertainment, student life or thriving businesses. It has many fantastic bars and restaurants to offer, and many cultural events and festivals take place here throughout the year.
Due to its many attractions, Krakow is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Many people use it as a base to visit Zakopane, Auschwitz Birkenau, or the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which are all located nearby. Like everything that surrounds us, Krakow has another side to it.
Dark times in the history of Poland and the city are visible in the famous Oskar Schindler’s Factory or the Jewish Ghetto Memorial and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, while the former Jewish district of Kazimierz will take you to another world.
Probably the most beautiful Main Market Square in Europe
The Main Market Square is the heart of Krakow’s Old Town, bustling with life at any time of day or night. Come here to see the bars in the basements of medieval buildings, street cafes and restaurants, and monuments, including the central Renaissance Cloth Hall, or the City Hall Tower. One of the most recognizable buildings in the entire city is Krakow’s Cloth Hall, located in the heart of the main square of the bustling Old Town. Passing by, it is impossible not to notice the artistic arcades and exquisite Renaissance style architecture. For centuries the Cloth Hall has played an important role in the trade not only of Krakow but also of Central Europe.
Today, the stalls located inside can buy all kinds of souvenirs, handicrafts or jewelry made of Baltic amber. On the second floor there is the Cloth Hall Museum with a rich collection of 19th century Polish art, and in the basement there is a museum where you can travel back in time to ancient Krakow. There are interactive maps, films and interesting reconstructions that will help you expand your imagination.
St Mary’s Basilica
The world famous St. Mary’s Basilica, from which the bugle call is played every hour. Built of bricks in 1347, its two towers, which differ in height, reaching over 80 meters. From the top of the highest of them you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Old Town. Its interior is no less stunning – stained glass in the windows adjoins colourful wall paintings and the unique altar of Wit Stwosz in the very center of the cathedral.
The heart of Krakow – Wawel Castle
A must-see on the map of Krakow is the historic Royal Castle on Wawel Hill with its grotto once inhabited by the legendary dragon Wawelski spreading fear over the city of Krakow. Today it is quite an attraction, especially for younger tourists. It’s also recommended to visit Wawel Castle, including the Wawel Cathedral, the royal chambers and all royal possessions. As you walk through its beautiful interior, you will find many tombs, chapels and crypts dedicated to the most important and influential people in Polish history.
Attractions in Krakow
The magnificent Polish Gothic-style Florian Gate marks the beginning of the so-called Royal Route. Walkthrough and listen to street musicians in the echoing tunnel, before heading to the Old Town in the footsteps of former Polish kings. This is where you can start your expedition along the most popular tourist route, the Royal Route. This route includes: St. Florian’s Basilica, Jan Matejko Square, the Barbican and defensive walls, Florianska Street, Market Square, Grodzka Street, Kanonicza Street and finally Wawel Castle with the cathedral and the dragon’s den.
Jewish Quarter Kazimierz
A visit to Kazimierz – old Jewish Quarter – is a must in Krakow sightseeing program. Walking through its old cobbled streets, you will come across many synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, with several monuments and museums. Kazimierz is a lively part of the city with cozy cafes and restaurants, galleries and antique shops, and the cobblestone streets and monuments of Jewish culture create a charming atmosphere that cannot be described. Kazimierz is also a place where cultural life takes place. Here takes place, among others, the Jewish Culture Festival – an event of international renown, attracting thousands of participants from home and abroad.
Referring to Jewish history, it is worth visiting the famous Oskar Schindler’s Factory located in the vicinity of Zablocie. Named after Oskar Schindler – the German industrialist who infamously saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews during World War II – this once enamel factory is now a fascinating museum about his life and the Nazi occupation of Krakow. His heroic story, immortalized in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, is told in the museum through numerous memorabilia and photographs. In addition, the museum has many moving exhibitions depicting the life of Jewish residents of Krakow during World War II. For art lovers, artistic souls and fans of worldly works of culture, Krakow has a wide range of museums to visit throughout the year. From ancient monuments, ancient crafts, and glassware to wartime aircraft and quite modern and imaginary modern art.
Polish Aviation Museum
Located in the eastern part of Krakow where the Krakow – Rakowice – Czyżyny Airport used to be. The Polish Aviation Museum is widely regarded as one of the best museums of its kind in the world. With an arsenal of over 200 aircraft to explore, its vast collection will delight aviation enthusiasts with all it has to offer. In addition to pre-war Polish aircraft, the museum also has bombers, fighters and helicopters, as well as a wide range of jet engines. The interactive displays and exhibitions are equally informative, interesting, and fun.
National Museum in Krakow
Complementing the large museums such as the National Museum Main Building, the Czartoryski Museum and the Sukiennice, there are smaller, more personal, biographical exhibitions devoted to some of the greatest Polish artists who lived or worked in Krakow, such as the painter, playwright and poet Stanisław Wyspiański and the composer Karol Szymanowski.
The Collegium Maius, which means “Great College” in Latin, is the oldest of the Jagiellonian University buildings and was built in the 14th century. Its richly decorated interior is equally magnificent to explore, complete with elegant ceremonial and lecture halls, alongside a beautiful old library and professors’ common room. Nicolaus Copernicus studied here. Some of his manuscripts, works and instruments can still be seen in the small museum when visiting the Collegium Maius.
MOCAK – The Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow
It may not be something the average person encounters every day but it turns out that you don’t have to study at the Academy of Fine Arts to admire and contemplate works of art. MOCAK’s mission is to present contemporary art to viewers of all ages and at all levels of cultural knowledge. Nevertheless, the compositions located there can delight people of all ages.
Activities in Krakow
If you are a fan of taking walks, doing outdoor sports or playing in the nature with your children, then you should definitely go to the area around Jordan Park and the great green space that is Blonia. Local residents take advantage of these places every day, walking, playing with their dogs and children. Various sports and music events are organized there.
Planty Park around Main Market Square
Another place you just can’t miss is one of the biggest parks in the city. The Planty Park circles around the Old Town and is located in a place where the old medieval city walls used to be. There are many benches and refreshments in the green belt, as well as monuments to famous figures such as Copernicus or King Wladyslaw II Jagiello. Very popular with locals and tourists alike, Planty Park is a combination of landscaped gardens located within walking distance of almost all of the city’s most famous sites.
Tours around Krakow Poland
Located near concentration camp Auschwitz Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine are also very popular to visitors and from Krakow there are also plenty of organized tours with an experienced guide. You can also see a fantastic place like Zakopane, where you can explore interesting attractions in the Mountains with local culture.
Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine
Another attraction most often visited by tourists is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, located about 14 km from the city center. This unique Polish monument was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1989. It is an underground labyrinth of tunnels and chambers – about 300 km spread over nine levels, the deepest of which is 327 m underground – a small part of which is accessible to visitors.
The biggest attraction is St. Kinga’s Chapel with its phenomenal chandeliers made of salt crystals, and reliefs and floors carved in lumps of salt. During your first visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, it’s worth taking a full guided tour to ride the elevator, walk the galleries, see the various chambers, chapels and brine lakes. There is also a spa on the grounds of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. You can spend the night there in the salt excavations in a specific, healthy microclimate.
Tour to Auschwitz Birkenau
For those interested in history, Auschwitz Birkenau Museum is a must-see. This is another place near Krakow which is worth seeing, not necessarily treating it as an attraction. It is a place to which every Pole and every foreign tourist visiting Krakow should go at least once. Auschwitz Birkenau is a place of great historical significance, commemorating the greatest crimes of mankind. A visit there is not easy or pleasant, but for some it may show the enormity of the tragedy during World War II and the Nazi occupation of Krakow. Especially memorable are the rooms dedicated to the collected evidence of mass murders.
Krakow Poland – the city of tourists – you have to see it!
If you are still wondering whether to visit attractions in Krakow or you don’t want to come here alone, we can recommend you organized tours of the city. A local guide will show you all the most popular attractions of Krakow and you will learn about the history of centuries-old Poland. Places such as the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Jewish Quarter, Oskar Schindler’s Emalia Factory or Wawel Castle in the Old Town are the best way to feel the history. Moreover, during these tours you can taste local food, listen to the music of Krakow artists and visit museums.