7 Things You Don’t Want To Miss In Krakow

Drenched in history and brimming with culture, not to mention the abundance of cheap food and drink – it’s easy to see why Krakow has become such a popular European city break in recent years.

After spending 4 days exploring everything this wonderful city has to offer, here’s 7 things that are not to be missed during your trip to Krakow.

KRAKOW’S ‘ROYAL ROAD’

We spent a lot of time exploring the main market square of Krakow – probably the most visited place in the city, and for good reason.

Krakow square is one of the oldest medieval squares in Europe

Krakow square is the focal point in the Old Town

It’s one of the largest and oldest medieval squares in Europe, rich with history and filled with amazing architecture, not to mention it’s simply beautiful.

Flowers being sold in Krakow old square

Save yourself the hassle of trying to figure out where everything is and join a free walking tour of Krakow’s ‘Royal Road’ with Cracow Free Tours.

The tours run twice a day at 10:30AM and 14:00PM, look out for the guides with red umbrellas in front of St Mary’s Church in the main market square.

In just two hours (that really did fly by) we visited St Mary’s Church, The Cloth Hall, St Peter and Paul’s Church, The Town Hall Tower and a number of other attractions.

'The Head' is one of Krakow's most well-known landmarks

‘The Head’ is one of Krakow’s most well-known landmarks

The tour was brilliant and a great way to get our bearings with the help of our guide who was full of knowledge when it came to the city’s history.

Amber is a native stone of Poland

Amber is a native stone of Poland and sold on market stalls throughout the city

Travel Tip: The walking tour is completely free, the guides do not get paid a wage but make a living from the tips that they receive. At the end of the tour you can give your guide whatever you feel is a reasonable amount.

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU CONCENTRATION CAMPS

‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

Auschwitz-Birkenau is a heart-wrenching experience

If you’re visiting Krakow, in our opinion there is no excuse not to visit Auschwitz-Brikenau, a sobering but very necessary lesson in European history.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, known as Auschwitz I and II are the largest of the concentration camps and have now become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We took very few photos at the camps as a sign of respect

It’s a difficult and heart-wrenching place to visit, but a vital reminder of why something like this can never happen again.

The two concentration camps are located very close together, about an hour and a half away from the city.

We arranged our trip through Go Krakow, which included return transport to the camps, a pre-booked timed entrance and guided tour around both camps. The guided tour really is vital if you want to truly understand the horrific history of the camps.

Travel Tip: If you’re on a budget, you can take the bus instead and general entrance will be free (although we 100% recommend taking a guided tour which are available in various languages.)

WAWEL ROYAL CASTLE

The last stop on the Royal Road walking tour is the beautiful Wawel Castle.

The majestic Wawel Castle

The castle is over 900 years old is without doubt one of the must-see attractions of the city.

We enjoyed spending time exploring the castle’s stunning grounds and marvelling at the incredible architecture.

The whole Wawel region is incredibly beautiful, with the cathedral and castle being the main focal points.

THE JEWISH QUARTER

The Old Jewish Quarter, known as Kazimierz is an effortlessly cool labyrinth of quirky streets filled with hidden bars and restaurants.

Street art in the Jewish Quarter

Street art in the Jewish Quarter

It’s hard to believe that this now trendy part of Krakow, so popular with students and tourists, has a dark and upsetting history.

It was in this relatively small confined area of the city that the Jews were forced to live under Hitler’s cruel Nazi regime.

Heroes of the Ghetto Square

Heroes of the Ghetto Square is a memorial to those imprisoned in the Krakow ghetto in WWII

Once again, you can join a free walking tour of Jewish Quarter where you’ll be guided through a number of sights such as Kazimierz Market Square, Szeroka Street, Isaac Synagogue and various Schindler’s List filming sites.

Whilst you’re in Kazimierz, be sure visit Schindler’s Factory which is the last stop on the walking tour.

Schindler’s Factory is the original factory and filming location for Schindler’s List film which has now been transformed into an interactive museum documenting the war in Poland.

Schindler's Factory

VODKA TASTING

Poland claims to be one of the best manufacturers of vodka in the world, so it’s only polite to put this theory to the test whilst in Krakow, right?

Hidden on one of the backstreets of the old square, Wodka is a small and charming vodka bar home to hundreds of flavoured vodkas from salted to caramel to horseradish.

Ask the barman to put together a ‘tasting board’ for you, where you can pick 6 vodkas yourself or simply ask the barman for his recommendations.

Vodka tasting in a traditional Wodka Bar

It’s a great way to try different flavours and will certainly warm you up if you’re visiting during the Winter.

Be sure to check out a medieval cellar bar during your trip. Set deep under the cobbles throughout the city, cellar bars are cosy and cramped but have an awesome atmosphere and a wide array of alcoholic drinks on offer.

Cellar bars are cosy and cramped but have an awesome atmosphere

WIELICZCKA SALT MINE

Whilst in Krakow, don’t miss your chance to visit Wieliczka salt mine.

The salt mine was established in the 13th century, yet salt deposits in the mine have been there for more than 13 million years.

The salt mine was established in the 13th century, yet salt deposits in the mine have been there for more than 13 million years

Measuring over 250km, Wieliczka salt mine is the oldest salt mine in the world.

Once again we arranged our trip through Go Krakow, which included our transport to the salt mine, a pre-booked timed entrance and guided tour.

You must walk down 350 stairs to reach the starting point of the tour, which is 135 metres below the surface

Don’t look down!

You must walk down 350 stairs to reach the starting point of the tour, which is 135 metres below the surface.

The main attraction of the mine is the chamber of St Kinga, which is made entirely out of salt.

The chamber was created by only three people and took more than 60 years to complete

The chamber was created by only 3 people and took more than 60 years to complete

POLISH FOOD

The food scene in Krakow took us by surprise; it was hearty, delicious and unbelievably cheap.

Bigos is a traditional Polish stew

Bigos is a traditional Polish stew

Some of our must-try dishes are pierogi (polish style dumplings), kielbasa (sausages served with grilled onions and pickles) and bigos (a hot stew made from cabbage and meat.)

Pierogi are polish style dumplings

Read our post on 11 Delicious Dishes You Need To Eat In Poland.

For an authentic eating experience, be sure to visit a milk bar (bar mleczny.) There’s no milk on offer, instead you can get yourself a three-course meal for less than £5 per person.

These canteen-styled restaurants became increasingly popular after WWII, serving up traditional Polish classics for an unbelievably cheap price.

Kielbasa is type of Polish sausage and is served with grilled onions, pickles and sauerkraut

Kielbasa is type of Polish sausage and is served with grilled onions, pickles and sauerkraut

Would you like to visit Krakow? 

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19 Comments

  1. 29th November 2017 / 5:45 pm

    This is just brilliant and makes me want to visit Krakow even more. I noticed some segways in the background behind the The Head photo so it would be nice to take a tour that way, but more than anything else it is the food that fascinates me. Love Street Art and Singing in the Rain is a favourite film so that one perked my interest even more.

  2. 29th November 2017 / 5:37 am

    What a special and deeply moving place- I can only imagine the weight of emotion that one feels while walking around Krakow. Though I’ve never been, I hope to one day visit the city that has held such a prominent role for my ancestors and for our society. Even with all of the heaviness, I’m glad there is still joy to be found there.

  3. 29th November 2017 / 5:04 am

    Great list for a 1st time visitor. these a great places to visit and things to do that cover history, culture and food! I had no idea there was a castle in the city, def a must-see for me.

  4. Joanna
    29th November 2017 / 1:28 am

    I had no idea that there was a salt mine in Krakow that you can actually go down to and visit. From your photos it looks amazing! The vodka tasting sounds great as well and the food looks very yummy! Auschwitz must be a very painful place to visit. Even if it happened before we were born, just thinking of the people and the atrocities they suffered there can make even the strongest person get emotional.

  5. Carol Colborn
    29th November 2017 / 1:11 am

    Wow, there are indeed so many to look forward to when we visit Krakow. Auschwitz, kielbasa and pierogi, Schindler’s Factory, the salt mine, and the Royal Road all appeal to me. Never thought there would such a treasure trove!

  6. 29th November 2017 / 1:01 am

    Oh, this post is making me so nostalgic about Poland! I traveled to Krakow a few years ago and was completely blown away by the country. I also toured the concentration camps and didn’t take a lot of pictures. it somehow felt wrong. I opted for a bike tour, which took me through Kazimierz and the town square. So grateful that Hitler decided NOT to bomb Krakow!

  7. Abigail Sinsona
    28th November 2017 / 1:57 pm

    Krakow has undeniable beauty at every corner. I’ve always wanted to go and this post just reminded me why it’s in my bucket list. I also love the beautiful architecture – it is so impressive!

  8. 28th November 2017 / 8:56 am

    Great job on this one! Love the photos, and the writing was very informative. You’ve made me want to check out Krakow. I’ve heard great things about Poland elsewhere as well, so will definitely add it to the list.

  9. 28th November 2017 / 1:01 am

    Beautiful photos. Krakow sounds very interesting and full of history. It must be very painful to check on those concentration camps. We should not see a repeat of that. It’s very thoughtful of you to give a tip about the tour guides!

  10. Rocio Cadena
    27th November 2017 / 1:45 pm

    Seems like you two loved Poland! My old roomie is Polish and she’d always rave about her home country, especially Krakow. Your article definitely makes me consider stopping in Europe after my travels in SE Asia, but I guess it will have to boil down to how much money I have left at that point haha. How long were you guys in Poland?

  11. 26th November 2017 / 10:37 pm

    Great photographs! I want every single meal you’ve listed and follow it with a tasting of Wodka. Wow, can you walk out of there after such a line up? I’d probably reserve to crawling…Polish culture is very close to mine and I’d love to visit Krakow and rural towns one day…Good to know its cheap!

  12. 26th November 2017 / 7:19 pm

    Beautiful pictures of Krakow! Makes us want to go right now. The head is quite creepy but indeed would be a landmark to not miss if we are in town! Would be keen to try that tarting board too! looks pretty great. PS: omg craving of Perogis now and thinking to buy a frozen pack to make them ourselves haha

  13. 25th November 2017 / 11:28 pm

    I visited Krakow years ago and can’t believe I missed the head! This looks so Instagrammable, you took the shot of it well. I also missed the vodka tasting, as a huge vodka fan I must go back.

  14. 25th November 2017 / 2:20 pm

    There’s so much history in Krakow. I’d be particularly interested in visiting the 900-year-old castle. Vodka tasting would be fun as well!

  15. 25th November 2017 / 1:40 pm

    I dont think I will ever be able to visit Auschwitz. Just hearing and reading about the horrors that happened there, breaks my heart. But Krakow seems like such a beautiful place! Maybe I will visit the city for the rest of its charms 😀 Loved the post.

  16. 25th November 2017 / 2:14 am

    I had no idea Krakow was such a beautiful city! The name Auschwitz can conjure up such a horrible history, so it’s great to see that the city has so much to offer. The free walking tours sound like a wonderful way to discover Krakow.

  17. 24th November 2017 / 9:40 pm

    Yes, I’d like to visit Krakow. Such an historical yet lively city. I’d optin for the walking tours, there are certainly the best to learn about the history of the city. I wouldn’t believe this city had so much gory incidents as it’s now without such traces. Poland’s cuisine looks tasty too. I’d surely make a visit.

  18. 24th November 2017 / 7:26 pm

    I was in Krakow exactly 3 years ago and this brought back so many great memories. I did all of this stuff too! There’s actually so much to do there and I’ve been wanting to go back for ahwile. This post might have convinced me to book it!!

  19. Lisa
    23rd November 2017 / 11:38 pm

    You’ve really inspired me to visit Krakow after reading this. I’d love to do the walking tour, and great tips on offering something to the guide after. I don’t think I could visit Auschtwitz, I know many people do, but it’s just too sad for me!

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