In the Polish capital Krakow you will experience sights that are hard to beat in beauty. But you also have the opportunity to discover interesting places that once made sad history. Experience one of the most beautiful cities in Poland and meet the friendly people of Krakow on your journey through the history and present of Krakow. You should definitely visit these top 10 sights:
1. Wawel Castle
The Wawel Castle is, together with the Old Town of Krakow, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the former residence of the Polish kings in Krakow. Situated on a hill above the Vistula, the castle complex paints a picturesque picture in the landscape furrowed by underground caves. Legend has it that a dragon once dwelled in one of the caves, which is why it is also called the "dragon's lair". The bold knight Krak defeated the dragon and so the city of Krakow could be founded at this place, which was immediately named after the glorious knight.
The Town Kazimierz was named after King Casimir the Great and was not declared a district of Krakow until 1800. Particularly noteworthy is the emergence of the so-called Jewish quarter in the 18th century, of which around six synagogues and a Jewish cemetery still bear witness today. Nowadays, the Kazimierz district is known mainly as a nightlife district and attracts many visitors and locals alike with its many different bars and restaurants. Once a year the Jewish Cultural Festival is traditionally held here. Those who have the chance to visit Krakow at this time should in any case also visit the festival.
3. Cloth halls
The Cracow cloth halls are located, like the Marienkirche, on the main market square and are also called the oldest shopping centre of the city. The beautiful Renaissance architecture alone makes a visit to the cloth halls an absolute must on your sightseeing tour of Cracow. Maybe you will even find the right souvenir here? A little tip: The printed price tags are never the last offer. Bargaining is absolutely desirable.
4. Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the absolute highlights on a tour of Krakow and its surroundings. Explore the 3km of underground corridors and marvel at the chambers carved in rock salt, eerie underground salt lakes and magnificent room constructions. Unfortunately you cannot discover this sight on your own. However, if you would like to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine on a guided tour, you can book a tour including transfer to the Salt Mine.
5. Schindler Museum
The name Oskar Schindler is probably known not only to all inhabitants of Krakow, but also to most people in the rest of the world. During one of the darkest periods in world history, at the time of the Second World War, Oskar Schindler and his wife saved 1,200 Jewish workers employed in his enamel factory from deportation and murder by the Nazis. Today the Schindler Museum recall the cruel deeds during the 2nd World War and tell the history of Krakow during the occupation. Guided by characters from selected Krakowers, the individual fates of many Polish and Jewish residents are told. A really highly recommended museum!
6. Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
No, with the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp it is not just another sight on your to-do list and it would be impolite to dismiss it as such. As a monument of horror and as a memorial to the many innocent people who were cruelly murdered here during the Second World War, this site of horror is still accessible to visitors today. The former death camps can be visited during the main season on a guided tour for a fee. On the full day tour with transfer from Krakow you will experience the history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and can now quickly feel the hell the prisoners of the former concentration camp had to go through.
7. Church of the Virgin Mary
The Church of St. Mary in Krakow is also called the church of the holy maid Mary. Situated at the north-eastern corner of the main market square, it is considered a classic example of Polish-Gothic architecture and belongs at the top of every must-see list in Cracow. Something very special is the trumpet playing, the so-called "Hejnał", which resounds every full hour in honour of a deceased trumpeter from the highest tower of the Marienkirche.
8. Rynek Główny
The Krakow marketplace, Polish: "Rynek Główny"), is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe with an area of around 40,000 m². The popular market square is one of the most popular places in the city. In addition to the numerous cellar vaults, which nowadays serve as restaurants or cafés, the Rynek Główny also hosts numerous public events. These include the Krakow Christmas crib, the Lajkonik processions and also the biggest New Year's Eve party in Poland.
9. Lake Zakrzówek
Not far from the centre of Cracow, an oasis is waiting for you to discover it, Lake Zakrzówek. Especially in the summer months, a visit to the flooded quarry is an absolute insider tip for Krakow. Take a short break from the hustle and bustle of the city and literally experience your blue wonder. The easiest way to reach the turquoise shimmering paradise is by tram (stop Norymberska). From there it is only a few meters on foot to the lake. By the way, the visit is one of the free activities and undertakings in Krakow. Apart from the ticket for public transport, there are no other admission fees.
10. Ojców National Park
If you don't want to miss out on nature during your city trip in Krakow, you should definitely make a detour to Ojców National Park, which is about 16 km away. Here you can let your soul dangle in the midst of an impressive landscape and explore beautiful walking paths. The excursion to the surroundings of Krakow is highly recommended especially during the summer months.
Travel tips for Krakow
The best time to visit Krakow
Krakow, the glittering capital of the Lesser Poland Region, is a year-round tourist destination and is recommended as an insider's tip for city breaks in Europe due to the density of historical sites, museums and other attractions. The climate of Krakow is comparable to that of Germany. Only in the winter months it gets a little colder here from time to time. But also the winter weather does not stop the visit of the several museums and sightseeing highlights. If you want to take a relaxing trip to the Vistula, you should travel in summer. At this time nature is clearly more worth seeing. Spring and autumn are considered the best time to visit Krakow. With mild temperatures and comparatively few visitors in the secret capital of Poland, one experiences the city at its best.
How many days should you stay in Krakow
As always, how much time you spend in Krakow depends on what you want to do on your trip. With the rule of thumb "3 days in Krakow" you will see the most important sights, such as the Church of St. Mary or the Jewish quarter "Kazimierz". But you can also visit many exciting attractions of Krakow in one day. We recommend at least three days in Krakow, as they are perfect for a short city trip with lots of great activities in the city.
How much is Krakow?
The times in which Poland's big cities were much cheaper to travel to than Germany are unfortunately over. Nevertheless Krakow is cheap. You can count on about 30,00€ per day for food and drinks in the old town. Also in Krakow there is the possibility for tourists to save a lot of money during a sightseeing tour through Krakow or other activities. Some tourist hot-spots, such as the Wawel Museum, Schindler's Factory or the Rynek Underground Museum, offer free entry once a week. It is worthwhile in any case to "Krakow Tourist Card"with which you get free or reduced-price admission to many attractions in addition to unlimited use of public transport.
Restaurants in Cracow - try Polish specialties
The culinary offer in Krakow is great. From the Polish national dish par excellence - the pirogi - to multicultural alternatives, there is something for every gourmet. As the city centre of Krakow is not too big, the way from one culinary temple to the next can be easily covered on foot. Especially recommended is Restauracja Starka, where you can enjoy a glass or two of vodka at the bar after a hearty meal. For all dumplings fans we recommend Przystanek Pierogarnia, a kind of snack bar where you can try your hand at dozens of different types of pies.
Going out in Krakow
If you want to dance after an eventful day or make yourself comfortable in a bar, Krakow is the right place for you. The possibilities for going out in this city are endless, thanks to the many students living in Krakow. Especially in Kazimierz, which is also known as the Jewish quarter, you can enjoy the nightlife. In today's trendy district, pubs and bars line up next to each other and 1.5 liters of Piwo (Polish for beer) can be bought from just 3.00€.
The most beautiful view over Krakow
You get a particularly beautiful view over Krakow from the Kościuszko hill. Although it is only about 35 metres high, it is located on a hill, so that also from this level one can enjoy a wonderful view over the city. In the surrounding area there are nice walking paths and the Kościuszko museum, which gives a great insight into the history.