Krakow is the most popular Polish city and definitely the most visited one. Its centuries-old tradition and magical atmosphere makes this city really one of a kind. I love to come back to Krakow and discover new spots, because it never stops surprising me. You would probably need about a week to get to know our former capital very well, but if you are planning a short escape, check how to see the best of Krakow in one weekend!
Day 1 in Krakow
I would suggest you to start your first day from Rynek (Main Square) – for me the most beautiful one in Poland. Walk around the square with its famous Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) and the majestic Town Hall Tower. If you are in Krakow this means you have to love history, so book an entrance to the Underground Rynek Museum situated below the market square. You will explore the medieval exhibits by walking over glass ramps and have an unique chance to feel the atmosphere of Kraków seven hundred years ago. When you finish, visit Kościół Mariacki (Saint Mary’s Basilic) situated in the heart of the Main Square. The Basilic became a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside the Historic Centre of Kraków and is a simply must during your stay in Kraków! It’s a home to sculptural masterpiece of the late Gothic style – the Great Altar by Wit Stoss.
After lunch, take Grodzka Street which will lead you directly to the Wawel Castle. Your visit in the Castle should include Royal Apartments, Crown Treasury, Sigismund’s Bell and Royal Tombs where the greatest Polish kings rest. It may take you few hours to complete the tour. In the peak season you will also be able to descent to the Dragon’s Den. If you are a romantic soul like me, finish your day watching sunset over the Vistula boulevards. I promise you will never forget this view!
Day 2 in Krakow
After breakfast, head to the city centre and take a bus with direction Wieliczka Salt Mine. I think its better to visit the mines in the early morning. You can check different trails on the official Wieliczka website and also book your tickets to avoid waiting in the line. In my life I’ve been in Krakow around 10 times and never visited Wieliczka Salt Mines before! This year I finally managed to see this outstanding place and I have to admit that it’s very, very impressing and beyond compare. It’s a very special place in the entire world with beautiful underground altars, sculptures and banked halls made of salt. The main point of your visit will be the Chapel of St. Kinga – the world’s largest underground temple. The uniqueness of the mine is evidenced by the fact that already in 1978 it was entered on the first UNESCO World Heritage List.
Once you are back in Krakow, take your time and spend afternoon in Kazimierz. It’s the old Jewish district with a really special atmosphere, a perfect destination to have some drinks after an intense day. You also have to try delicious zapiekanka – a long baguette filled with whatever you want and the biggest reason why I love Kazimierz so much! There are five synagogues in Kazimierz, and four of them can be visited. These are the Old Synagoge, Remuh, Tempel and Kupa synagogues. The oldest of them is Remuh, next to which there is also a Jewish cemetery, one of the oldest in Europe.
Another really worth visiting place in Kazimierz is Oskar Schindler’s Factory. It’s a very moving museum located in the former buildings of the Schindler’s factory. This museum will help you understand the history and fate of Krakow Jews during World War II. As it’s your last night in Krakow, come back to the Main Square and book a table in one of Sukiennice terraces. Krakow is precious at night with all the city centre being illuminated. You can order your favorite drink and just admire the game of lights from the top!
Day 3 in Krakow
If it’s your first time in Krakow and you are still not enough with history, there is one very important place that you shouldn’t miss. Auschwtiz-Birkenau is a former German concentration camp which really provokes to reflect about our cruel past as humanity. You will get to know and understand the tragedy of this place better, where a lot of people died at the hands of torturers. Emotions are evoked by exposed personal belongings of imprisoned, abused and those who did not manage to survive the death camp. I visited Auschwitz only once in my life and it was a very moving experience. I wouldn’t repeat it because of how much it affected me in the past, but I consider it one of those places we should all visit at least once in a lifetime. I just want to advice very sensitive people that it will be a very tough day. Please, also try not to take any pictures as a respect for the victims.
When you come back to Krakow and still have some time before plane departure, take a walk along the Vistula River and city centre and just relax. Try the famous bagel, listen to the local artists and enjoy every single moment of this magical city. I believe the last day shouldn’t be about rush! Of course there are plenty of other places that you could visit in Krakow, such like museums,, parks and other attractions. I would suggest you to leave them for another time, because I bet you will want to come back!
The popularity of some places means that very often it turns out that we have to wait in long lines for tickets, or that the tickets have been sold out. Therefore, before arrival, I suggest you should book tickets to: Wawel Royal Castle, Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, Auschwitz – Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Did you like my itinerary for Krakow? If you know any other places you think should be added to this plan, don’t hesitate to let me know! 🙂