20 Must-do things in Krakow

by Ranjit

Krakow is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland, located on the river Vistula. It was the official capital of Poland until 1596. It has been the center point of Poland for its academic, economic, cultural, and artistic life.

Krakow is the most visited tourist city in the country and also described as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Krakow’s old town was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world.

Info :

How many days do you need to explore Vienna : Minimum of 3 days, 2 nights is recommended.

Language spoken in Vienna : Polish

Do locals speak English: Though Poland isn’t a country with many English speakers. Officials at tourist attractions in Krakow do speak English.

Currency used in Vienna : Polish złoty (Zl)

Let’s explore the list of best things to do and place to visit in Krakow.

Best things to do in Krakow

1. Wawel Royal Castle

First things first, Wawel Royal Castle was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world. The castle was built between 13th – 14th centuries by Casimir III the Great, who was the King of Poland from 1333 to 1370.

The castle is full of wonders in its architectural style. Its architecture consists medieval, renaissance and baroque styles and the main courtyard is in Italian-styled.

Tickets : You can find different plans to explore the castle from the official website.

Wawel Royal Castle : Source

2. Wawel Cathedral

Wawel Cathedral is also known as The Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus on the Wawel Hill. This is Poland’s most important sanctuary having completed its construction in the 11th Century.

Pope John Paul II right after his ordination to the priesthood offered his first Mass as a priest in the crypt of the cathedral in 1946.

Wawel Cathedral

3. Rynek Główny (Old Town Main Square)

Rynek Główny is the main square of Krakow dating back to the 13th century. It is the largest medieval town square in Europe. Not only that, many consider this square as the best public space in Europe due to its cheerful street life.

Rynek Główny Square

4. The Cloth Hall

The Cloth Hall of Krakow is the world’s oldest shopping mall belonging to the time of Renaissance. It is located on the main old square of the city.

It once was the major location for international trade for the traveling merchants to gather and discuss their business. Moreover its vast architectural beauty, is also a great one-stop solution to find exotic shopping-items.

The Cloth Hall on the left.

5. St. Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary’s Basilica was originally founder in 1221–22, then re-built in the 14th century. Located next to the old square, Saint Mary’s Basilica stands 262 feet (80 meters) tall.

St. Mary’s Basilica is the best example of Polish Gothic architecture. It is at most famous for the wooden altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss (Wit Stwosz).

Price : It costs 10zl (Polish Zlotty) to enter and 15zl to go up the tower.

St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow: Source

6. St. Florian’s Gate

St. Florian’s Gate in Krakow is perhaps, the best-known of Polish Gothic towers in Poland. It was built in the 14th century as a part of fortification to defend the city from the Turkish attacks.

Florian’s Gate was planned in 1307 to make it a part of the defending wall to protect the city after the Tatar attack in 1241, which destroyed most of the city. It was the main of 17 defending gates and was connected to the Barbican wall.

It is one of most visited touristic attractions in Krakow, located by the Old Town Square.

7. Kraków Barbican

The Kraków Barbican widely popular still standing medieval walls. It is one of the very few constructions in its style. Also, The barbican is one of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications and defensive barriers that once encircled the royal city of Kraków, which used to be one of the largest cities in Europe until 17th century.

The Kraków Barbican : Source

8. Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory

Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory used to be a metal item factory in Krakow until the end of World War ii as seen in the film Schindler’s List.

It now hosts two museums, namely the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków and a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków.

If you indulge in the history of Oskar Schindler and his efforts to save millions of Jews during The Holocaust, This factory is a must- visit.

Oskar Schindler’s Office Room
Jews’ Bed Room in Schindler Museum

9. Plac Nowy

After Krakow’s Old Town Square (Rynek Główny), Plac Nowy is another spectacular main square in the city. It was the main market place for the Jews in history. The square was referred to by locals as Plac Żydowski (Jewish Square).

The square is filled with food-markets, metal shops, and flocks of pigeons. It is located 1.4 km away from the Old Town towards Vistula River.

Plac Nowy Aerial View : Source

10. Kazimierz Neighborhood (Jewish Square)

Until the early 19th century, Kazimierz Neighborhood was once a town and was separately governed from Krakow. It was the quarters of Jews and a major location for the coexistence of ethnic Polish and Jewish cultures.

Eventually, I got transformed into a center point of Bar and Cafe culture. Now, Kazimierz is a major touristic attraction and an important center of cultural life of the city

Kazimierz Neighborhood
Kazimierz Neighborhood : Source

11. Rynek Underground

The underground square central museum of Kraków is a Historical Museum that tells the history of the city from the beginning of first settlers in the city till the death of Pope John Paul II. It holds a great collection of remains of the medieval constructions that include a reconstructed 12th-century workshop, Former waterworks, The remains of burned settlements (the oldest of which dates from the eleventh century), A reconstruction of a medieval merchant’s stall and a map depicting distant trade routes.

Located in the Old Town of Krakow, Rynek Underground museum is one of the most popular touristic attractions

12. Krakow Planty

Krakow Planty Park is one of the largest in the city occupying 5.2 acres and a length of 4 kilometers. It is called as “lungs of the city”  for the nature it holds.

The park is full of charming trees, pleasing flowers, intriguing colors, and adorable walk-trails. As long you are in the city, Krakow Planty is a must-visit popular thing in Krakow.

Price : Planty Park is Krakow’s public place, so the entry in the park is free of cost.

Krakow Planty Park
Krakow Planty Park

13. National Museum in Krakow

The National Museum in Krakow was established in 1879. It features a huge collection of about 780,000 art objects, covering from classical archeology to modern art with noteworthy Polish paintings.

During World War II, a huge collection of artifacts were looted by the German fascist invaders. Polish government retrieved almost all of them after the war except for a 1,000 artifacts are still missing.

14. Kościuszko Mound

Kościuszko Mound is a symolic grave dedicated to the national hero in Poland, Tadeusz Kościuszk as commemoration.

The Mound stands 35 meters tall with 326 meters above sea level. It offers a breath-taking panoramic view of the city and the Vistula river. Interestingly, Kościuszko Mound is perfectly visible from almost everywhere in the city center.

Facade of Kościuszko Mound
Kościuszko Mound : Source

15. Ghetto Heroes Square

Ghetto Heroes Square has 33 memorial chairs made of iron and bronze to commemorate the deaths of Polish Jews between 1941 and 1943. Also known as The Jewish Heroes Square, It was the site of mass murders of the Jews, where it was inhabited by 68,000 Polish Jews.

16. Father Bernatek’s Bridge

Father Bernatek’s Bridge connects North Krakow and South Krakow over the Vistula river. A stroll through Kazimierz neighborhood heading towards south Krakow can take you to this beautiful bridge. The bridge was recently opened in 2010 and named after late Father Laetus Bernatek. It is yet another popular site for Love Locks.

: Source

17. Krakus Mound

Krakus Mound also known as Krak Mound is located on the Lasota hill in the south of krakow. It is pondered to be the the resting place of Kraków’s mythical founder, the legendary King Krakus.

It offers you very pleasant panoramic views of the city, especially at the time of sunset. Being a little known place, It is also a great spot for creative photo-sessions.

Krakus Mound

18. Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec

Benedictine Abbey is a popular monastery in the village named “Tyniec”. The abbey was built in 1044 by King Casimir the Restorer.

From the city center of Krakow, Tyniec is located 12 km away among limestone Jurassic hills, called the Tyniec Hills. The location is thought to be the place for one of the oldest human settlements in history, dating back to the Old Stone Age Period.

If you aren’t rushing on your trip, Benedictine Abbey, Tyniec village, and the Hills are undoubtedly one of the top-rated things to do in Krakow.

Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec : Source

19. Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is located in the town Wieliczka around 13 km away from Krakow. The mine is now an official Polish Historic Monument attracted over 45 million visitors so far.

The main features of the mine are labyrinthine passageways, the shafts, an underground lake, four chapels, several statues carved by miners out of the rock salt, and many more contemporary sculptures.

Price: It costs 93zl (appx. 20 euros) to explore the mine. The mine offers other plans for families and kids, you can find the tickets and more details from the official website.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine : Source

20. Ojcowski National Park

Ojcowski National Park, located around 17 km away from Krakow in the north, is the smallest national park in Poland. It is very popular for its several caves and a great pleasant holiday vacation.

The geography of the park itself is quite intriguing with forests, lakes, valley, caves, even castles and museums. And It is even wonderful to know over 5500 species reside in the park making it very bio-diverse.

Ojcowski National Park
Ojcowski National Park

Have you been to Krakow already ?

What was the most amusing best thing about the city for you ?

I would love to know more about your experiences and adventures during your trip to Krakow and other cities of Poland.

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