We were truly fascinated by Krakow. This enchanting and architecturally rich city truly shows what a trading and political force this city was and has been throughout the ages.
Whether we are looking at Wawel Castle or the Renaissance Cloth Hall all of these buildings help you understand the importance of Krakow within the Polish realm but also at an European level. This imperial capital is a testimony to Polish culture and society showcasing the best of what Poland has to offer.
- Travel and Accommodation
- Top Things to do in Krakow
- Food and Drink Highlights
- Final Thoughts
Travel and Accommodation
We flew to John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport, which is not far from the city. It takes 30 minutes by taxi or 50 minutes by bus to reach central Krakow. We went for a weekend break Friday to Sunday.
Flights were super cheap, less than £20 per person. If you are looking for suitable flight options, make sure to check out this article with top tips on how to find cheap flights.
We stood at Aparthotel Pergamin Hotel near the Old Town as we wanted to be close to the main attractions. We love walking and didn’t really consider public transport but there are plenty of options to move around the city.
Top Things to do in Krakow
Krakow was the official capital of Poland until 1596. It’s a beautiful city with great architecture. Its Old Town was declared the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world. We hope you can see why from the photos below.
If you don’t have enough time or would rather get to the main sights in an organised manner, you might consider Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour & Gondola Cruise to cover the main attractions.
St. Florian’s Gate
Our hotel was near St. Florian’s Gate, so for us, this was the main entrance to the old town’s main square. This is one of the best-known Polish Gothic towers and serves as the main point of the old town. Here you can also see many of the city’s best buskers.
Nearby, you will see the Krakow Barbican – a fortified outpost once connected to the city walls. Today, there are occasional theatre productions and other art shows hosted within its walls.
Saint Mary’s Basilica
Saint Mary’s Basilica is dominating the landscape with its architecture. This brick Gothic church, adjacent to the main square, was built in the 14th century. Make sure you visit the church to admire the beautiful interior.
Krakow Cloth Hall
Krakow Cloth Hall dominates the main market square; you won’t miss it! The Cloth Hall dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city’s most recognisable icon.
This place was once a major centre of international trade. During its golden age in the 15th century, one can find exotic imports from the east such as spices, silk, leather and wax.
Rynek Underground (Rynek Podziemny)
You can find more about the medieval market and trading by visiting Rynek Underground (Rynek Podziemny), the underground square central museum of Kraków. This museum is situated below the market square of the city and is immense.
It covers around 6000 square metres and you don’t even realised you are walking on top of this museum whilst exploring the central square. Please make sure that you book this in advance; we were lucky booking the final slot during our weekend stay.
Town Hall Tower
Another tower you won’t miss is the Town Hall Tower. It’s one of the focal points of the main market square. As we walk towards our next attraction – Wawel Castle, you can enjoy the beautiful facade of St. Peter and Paul Church, a Roman Catholic Polish Baroque church.
Wawel Cathedral is probably one of the most beautiful cathedrals we have seen so far. lt looks stunning on the outside and is really beautiful on the inside. It is more than 900 years old and is the Polish national sanctuary. It has served as coronation site of the Polish monarchs.
Wawel Royal Castle, situated on Wawel Hill is a must-see attraction. For centuries, it was the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood. Today, the castle is one of the country’s premier art museums. You can enjoy amazing views from the top of the castle, which is situated on the left bank of the Vistula River.
We found this castle very similar to the castle in Prague, Czechia.
Wawel Dragon Statue (Smok Wawelski)
On your way up to the castle, you will also see the Wawel Dragon Statue (Smok Wawelski). This is a famous dragon in Polish mythology and there are many popular stories about how the dragon was defeated. The statue itself is great for a quick photo next to this 6m tall dragon.
We would also recommend exploring the streets of Kazimierz Jewish Quarter. Jews started to settle in this part of Krakow since 12th century. As we know, the Holocaust led to a truly great loss of culture and since the war, Kazimierz has become a place of their cultural significance.
You would immediately notice a difference from the rest of the city. This place offers unique atmosphere, buildings and special looking streets. In this area, you could see the Old Synagogue and other historical sites, explore the beautiful streets, atmospheric cafes and art galleries.
Food and Drink Highlights
After all this walking and enjoying beautiful Krakow, we have to sample the food and drinks. The country’s best-known meal is a dish of pierogi – fried dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables. We received a great recommendation to visit Pierogarnia Krakowiacy for some traditional food and of course pierogi.
We also found a lovely restaurant Restauracja Starka offering traditional food and more than 20 flavours of Poland’s best known drink zubrowka. We enjoyed the Polish zurek soup (served in bread) and beautifully cooked pork with cabbage dish.
Our most favourite place was the main market square with all the restaurants and cafes. Enjoying a coffee during the day or a nice adult beverage in the evening whilst admiring the views of the busy square. Most of the cafes have a heated outside area, which makes them a great pit stop any time of the day, all year round.
Krakow is a beautiful city with great atmosphere. There are plenty of things to do and explore and you won’t get bored. It’s easy to get around with lots of cafes and restaurants to enjoy during your visit.
A weekend break was enough for the city itself. Having said that, if you want to explore areas outside of the city e.g. Auschwitz concentration camp or Wieliczka Salt Mine, make sure you allow an extra day or two.
Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:
- Flights – we use flight aggregators such as Skyscanner and Google flights to find the best options. You can find more information about finding cheap flights here.
- Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.
- Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.
- Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.
- Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.
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