Nowadays, Krakow has become the new trendy hot spot for travelers to visit in Central Europe and for good reasons. Unlike Warsaw, even though Krakow is a big city, being there will make you feel like you are in a warm, closely-knitted neighborhood.
As the capital of the Małopolskie Province, Kraków is best recognized for its priceless historical monuments of culture and art. Kraków is also Poland's former royal capital and one of the most attractive spots on the tourist map of Europe. Besides history, architecture and an atmosphere all of its own, Kraków offers visitors entertainment and leisure: theatres, cabarets, clubs, cafes, bars, wine cellars and restaurants having something to offer for everyone. International festivals and other events are held either in the Main Market Square or at the foot of the Wawel Castle. For more information, please visit Kraków's official travel portal.
1. Explore The Old Town (St Mary Basilica And More)
Step into the Fairy-tale-like Old Town Square of Krakow and admire all the old architecture like the St Mary Basilica, the Town Hall Tower, and the Kraków Barbican. Go down the Florianska tourist street and experience the liveliness of the city in full swing.
If you are there in the summer months, you might be able to participate in many activities organized in the Old Town Square like a flea market or street food market as well.
Insider's Tips: You can climb up one of the towers of St Mary Basilica for a grand view of Krakow and the Old Town Square. If you climb up there at the right time, you will be able to witness the old tradition of St. Mary's Trumpet Call where a trumpeter on the tower will come out and play the five-note Polish anthem on the hour every hour, 4 times on each side of the tower.
2. Walk Around The Wawel Cathedral
Wawel castle is one of the most important landmarks in Krakow, and a must visit when you are in the city. The architecture of Wawel castle is a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Early Baroque due to it being occupied and captured by different rulers over its existence. I recommend you spending at least a few hours there to learn more about its importance among the Polish people.
3. Meet the Legend - The Wawel Dragon
There’s a legend that dates all the way back to the 1200s of an evil dragon named Smok. He lived in a limestone cave beneath Wawel Hill. (You can actually visit the caves!) According to the legend, a Polish prince named Krakus defeat the dragon and built his palace over the slain dragon’s lair.
As a result of the legend, today there’s a statue of a dragon outside the castle commemorating the defeat and the founding of Krakow.
4. Explore Kazimierz
Kazimierz (the Jewish Quarter) is probably one of my favorite places in Krakow. With its chill vibe, laid-back culture and liveliness of the neighborhood, it is like a little oasis where everyone can find something they enjoy.
You can go shopping at the vintage flea market on Plac Nowy, sip a nice cup of latte and read your personal "quote of the day" scroll at the Cytat Cafè, or you can learn about the history of the Jewish Quarter by exploring the old part of town like visiting the oldest synagogue in Krakow.
You can spend an entire day, just by exploring Kazimierz, so take your time, and give yourself a day to enjoy this beautiful neighborhood.
Insider's Tips: One of my favorite places to sit and watch people or simply relax is at the roof bar of the Hotel Rubinstein. They have a very cozy space for you to sit and enjoy a cup of latte (or cocktails/beers) while overlooking the buzzing square below.
5. Admire The Work Of Oskar Schindler At His Factory
If you have not watched the movie "Shindler's List", do so now before your trip and you will understand why Oskar Shindler's factory is a must-see. He was one of the few lights of hope to the Jewish people during Poland's darkest time, and this is the location where he helped many to escape the concentration camps. If you are a history buff, you can not miss this place.
Insider's Tips: They only allow a certain number of tourist per day so if you are there during the summer months, be sure to book a ticket online prior to your arrival. You can book the ticket here on our request-page here.
6. Eat Your Way Through Kazimierz
No, we are not done with Kazimierz yet! One of the most interesting parts of traveling abroad is the food and Kazimierz have everything you crave for. Are you craving for street food? Do not worry, Kazimierz has plenty for you to choose from.
Insider's Tips: You can try the best zapiekanka (baguette sandwich) in the country at the New Square on Plac Nowy street where you can choose your own toppings and it is served to you fresh and hot from the oven.
Do you like Jazz? There are many cool jazz clubs around Kazimierz and one of the most well-known is the Alchemia. Tucked away in a basement, this hip jazz club is decorated with old vintage furniture, lit by candles and are not fond of large tourist groups, the best combination for everyone to have a great time.
Seriously, you can eat your way through Kazimierz for days!
7. Florianska Street
Florianska Street is a beautiful pedestrian shopping street that starts at St. Florian’s Gate and goes directly to the Old Town Square.
8. St Mary’s Trumpet Call, or Hejnał Mariacki
St Mary’s Trumpet Call, or Hejnał Mariacki, has been played in Kraków’s Main Square on a daily basis since the 14th century to signal the time. This highly traditional tune is known to almost every Pole and due to its long-standing history, a plethora of stories and myths have grown onto it, making it a very rich cultural phenomenon.
Based on five notes in the F-major scale, St Mary’s Trumpet Call is a simple melody that manages to be both majestic and catchy. Heavily laden with connotations of Polish history, whenever it rings out across Kraków’s famous square, it strikes a sentimental chord in the hearts of most Poles.
9. Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a huge complex with underground tunnels, chambers, lakes, and even chapels made entirely out of salt. Everything is salt! The floors, the walls, the ceilings, the altars, the benches, and more. You can buy table salt here that makes a great souvenir!
10. Learn About The Holocaust At Auschwitz
There are 2 concentration camps in Auschwitz, the original concentration camp which is turned into a museum (and required that you have a ticket) and the Auschwitz 2-Birkenau, the second concentration and extermination camps where the infamous train track goes, and you have to visit both. You will need an entire day to see it all.