A mere 15 kilometres from the city centre, John Paul II International Airport has excellent transport links into Kraków. We break down the different ways to travel and what to expect once you arrive
John Paul II International Airport, Kraków – image © Jason Weaver
For full details of facilities at John Paul II International, see our dedicated Kraków Airport page. If you’re arriving at Katowice Airport rather than John Paul II, see our page on How To Get To Kraków. If you’re flying home, we cover the return journey on our Getting From Kraków City Centre To Kraków Airport page.
Deciding on the best route to the city centre depends on where you are staying. We recommend booking in advance, rather than leaving it until you arrive. Our Where To Stay In Kraków guide has an overview of each main area with suggestions for each budget. With your room safely booked, you can choose the most appropriate transport into town.
Transport To Kraków City Centre
Although Kraków Airport is open 24 hours, planes are usually scheduled between 5.30am and midnight. It’s worth noting that trains only run until 12.20am at night. So, if you land after 11.30pm, you may be looking at an alternative mode of transport. There are hourly buses through the night and you will always be able to get a taxi.
You should also be aware that access to the central train and bus stations is limited after 11pm. With this in mind, we recommend you pre-book a private transfer if your plane is due to land after 9.30pm.
Private Krakow Airport Transfer
Without a doubt, an airport private transfer is the easiest way to get into Kraków. You can arrange everything in advance and somebody will be waiting at Arrivals to take you directly to your accommodation, no matter what time of day. These can be booked through GetYourGuide at reasonable cost with no nasty surprises. It may even cost less than a taxi.
You’ll receive instructions when you book but any pre-arranged pickup service will likely be waiting for you in the Arrivals Hall, directly outside the Customs exit. They’ll hold up a board with your name on it, making you feel like a VIP. The drive to central Kraków is about 25 minutes.
Airport pickups in Arrivals – image © Jason Weaver
There are several reputable Krakow private airport transfer services available. These include private car transfer for a dedicated airport-to-hotel experience, electric car transfer for environmental advantages, and the cheaper shared shuttle transfers.
Make sure you have a contact number to hand in case your plane is delayed or something else goes wrong.
Krakow Airport Taxi
When you emerge from Customs into the Arrivals Hall, look slightly left for the exit to the street. It’s easy to see and well signposted. Not only do the airport’s ‘official’ taxi drivers have a rank, they get their own dedicated lane of traffic, directly in front of the building, and this will be the first thing you see when you get outside.
Kraków Airport taxi rank – image © Jason Weaver
There’s usually a long string of cars waiting to pick up passengers, though you can also book in advance and have a driver wait for you in Arrivals. There is a machine in the Baggage Claim area for booking cabs, but I’m skeptical it offers any real advantage over joining the queue at the rank, and may end up causing confusion.
Kraków Airport Taxi runs a flat-rate with set prices, so you always know what you’ll be paying upfront. The airport is 15km from the city, which costs 89zł (roughly 20€) at time of writing. Mastercard, Visa, and American Express are all accepted. As with a private hire, the journey time will be about 25 minutes. The drivers should speak English, but have your destination written down just in case.
Straightforward so far. However, there is a massive caveat. Many locals consider the advantages given to Kraków Airport Taxi a bit of a scam, pointing out that many cheaper cab companies operate in the city. We’ve already noted that a pre-booked private hire may be more competitive and Uber is available here. Otherwise you may want to explore iCar on +48 12 653 5555 and +48 12 888 0000 or iTaxi on +48 737 737 737. There are no dedicated ranks for these cabs and don’t expect to flag one down. The base rate is 7zł and roughly 3zł per kilometer – perhaps 52zł to the city, compared to the ‘official’ cost of 89zł – though rates will be higher at night and Sundays. Ultimately, it comes down to cost versus convenience. You could also consider sharing a cab with someone else in the queue.
Krakow Airport Train
The train is an excellent and stress-free way to travel into central Kraków. It’s a fraction of the cost of a taxi or private hire and takes roughly the same amount of time. The trains are modern and comfortable, with pleasant views outside. You arrive in the very centre of Kraków, right next to the Old Town. And, as the station is built into a large shopping mall, it’s handy for getting cash, food, SIM cards, and the like. See below for more details.
Ticket machine for trains – image © Jason Weaver
There are three places to buy tickets: in the Arrivals Hall, on the station platform, or from the guard on the train itself. The Arrivals Hall is probably best, as you can take your time without a queue of impatient people behind you. I would only risk buying on the train if it’s just about to leave and you need to jump on. Not all trains have a ticket machine and the guard will only accept cash. There’ll almost certainly be a ticket inspector on board, so don’t try to dodge the fare.
The ticket machine is just to the left of the currency exchange in the Arrivals Hall. Bus tickets are dispensed from a different machine, so make sure you use the right one. It says ‘Małopolska’ on the side with a brightly coloured logo and the front of the machine says ‘Małopolska Karta Aglomeracy’ with a logo of a map pin.
Select the UK flag on the touchscreen to change the default language to English, then the ‘One-pass tickets’ option. On the next screen, select ‘Train one-pass ticket’ and ‘BUY TICKET TO Cracow Main Station’. The next screen allows you to specify the number of tickets you need. Then click through to select the ticket type. You want the one-way ‘END-TO-END’ option at the top of the menu.
At time of writing, a single ticket to Kraków Główny costs a mere 9zł (just over 2€). You can pay with cash, Mastercard, or Visa but not American Express. Machines accept contactless payments, as well as PIN.
Escalator to upper level: trains, ATM, Costa, and hire cars – image © Jason Weaver
Skywalk bridge from Kraków Airport to train station – image © Jason Weaver
Sign to Kraków Airport train station – image © Jason Weaver
To the left of the ticket machine is an escalator. Take this to the first floor and turn left at the top. This covered bridge links the airport terminal with the train station. Follow the signs that say ‘Train to city’ to the very end of the bridge and take the escalator down to the train platform. The layout is very logical and it’s almost impossible to take a wrong turn.
Escalator from airport bridge down to train station – image © Jason Weaver
Kraków Airport is the final stop on the line and every train from here goes to the main station. So don’t worry about getting on the wrong one. Everything is clearly marked in English on the departure boards. Trains run every half-hour between 4.25am and 12.20am.
Kraków Lotnisko train station – image © Jason Weaver
Airport train to Krakow Główny – image © Jason Weaver
Airport train to Krakow Główny – image © Jason Weaver
You want to get off at Kraków Główny, the fifth stop, which takes roughly 20 minutes to reach. See section below for details of what to expect when you arrive.
Kraków Airport bus stop – image © Jason Weaver
Krakow Airport Bus
Although cheaper than the train (and free with the KrakowCard), the bus journey into central Kraków takes at least 45 minutes and the small amount you’ll save doesn’t really justify the hassle involved.
Bus ticket machine – image © Jason Weaver
All the same, you can buy tickets from a machine in the Arrivals Hall or at the bus stop. These cost 4zł at time of writing (approximately 1€). Look for the escalator to the left of the currency exchange. The ticket machine is close to the bottom, attached to a metal pillar. It’s dark blue and says ‘Krakowska Karta Miejska’ on the front. Train tickets are dispensed from a separate machine, so make sure you use the right one. You can also buy a ticket from the driver but this is cash only, with the exact money.
There are chunky touchscreen buttons under the screen. Push ‘Languages’ and select English, then choose ‘Single and multiple journey tickets’. Click ‘Zones I+II suburban services’ then ‘Normal 4,00zł’ on the next screen. You’ll get an odd warning page (‘Please exercise caution when making the payment!’). Just click ‘continue’ and then either insert money or select ‘Cards’ on the final screen. Mastercard and Visa are both accepted, using either PIN or contactless, but not American Express.
Once you have your ticket, exit from the terminal and turn right. Walk to the very end of the building outside the Check-in Hall, where you’ll find the bus stop on a strip of pavement, between the separate traffic lanes for taxis and buses.
Between 5.20am and 9.20pm, take the 208 bus to Dworzec Główny Wschód, which is the main bus station in the centre of the city. It’s the last stop, so there’s no need to worry about getting off at the wrong place. Buses are hourly, although bizarrely there isn’t one at 10.20am or 12.20pm. See section below for what to expect when you arrive.
902 is the night bus, which also runs hourly between 11.25pm and 4.55am. This also terminates at Dworzec Główny Wschód. Again, there is no bus between 9.20pm and 11.25pm.
The 252 bus, which also runs from this stop, doesn’t quite reach the city centre and is best avoided.
You need to validate your ticket in one of the small yellow or orange machines, once you’re on board. Push the ticket into the slot (face up, arrow pointing forward) and you’ll hear it stamp. If in doubt, copy what the other passengers do.
Although coaches do stop outside Kraków Airport, these are for onward passage to other Polish or European cities, such as Katowice or Prague, rather than to Kraków itself.
Local government has done a good job of restricting car use in the very centre of Kraków. Most things are within walking distance and the public transport is very good. However, if you plan to drive outside the city centre (to Zakopane for example), a hire car might be worth considering.
There’s a number of car rental companies at Kraków Airport. Quickly check availability and compare prices to hire a car using the search box below.
All the car hire companies are located on the upper floor. Take the escalator directly opposite Arrivals. Once you reach the top, you’ll see a corridor with slanted windows directly in front of you and a sign that says ‘Rent-a-car’ and ‘Travel agencies’. Each company has a separate counter which is clearly marked.
Hire car booths Kraków Airport – image © Jason Weaver
What To Expect When Arriving at Kraków Główny
If you’ve opted to take the train or bus to the city, you’ll arrive at Kraków Główny. While the airport is a relatively serene introduction to Poland, Główny is big and bustling, and a little disorientating at first. The train station practically sits inside a huge shopping mall, with a tram stop underneath and the bus station at the back. And there’s a carpark on the roof. But it doesn’t take long to get your bearings, and the building’s location, just north of the Old Town, is unbeatable.
Galeria Krakowska, the shopping mall attached the train station, is also excellent. We cover the facilities on a separate Galeria Krakowska page.
Arriving By Train
Once you’ve disembarked at Kraków Główny, take the stairs, escalator, or lift down to the next level. You’ll find youself in a long hallway lined with shops and cafés.
Sign to left luggage lockers – image © Jason Weaver
Left luggage lockers – image © Jason Weaver
If you want to drop your bags off at left luggage, go down another level to the ticket hall. Follow the signs with an icon of a suitcase and key (or a hand holding some tickets). The lockers are tucked into alcoves on either side of the ticket windows. Prices range from 8-15zł (2-4€) for 24 hours, depending on luggage size. The catch is that you’ll need the right change.
Sign to Old Town and Pawia – image © Jason Weaver
To get out of the station, follow the signs for ‘Stare Miasto’ and ‘ul. Pawia’. Curiously, instead of emerging out on the street, you’ll find yourself in the basement of the Galeria Krakowska shopping mall. At this point, you can sort out money, snacks, or buy a SIM card if you need to. Otherwise, take the escalator to the ground floor. You’ll see the exit to ul. Pawia straight ahead.
Exit from Kraków Główny train station – image © Jason Weaver
Escalator leading out of Galeria Krakowska – image © Jason Weaver
We’ll cover onward transport in a moment but it’s nice to know that if you turn left on Pawia and walk for a few minutes, you’ll find Planty Park and the Old Town. You have truly arrived in the very heart of Kraków!
Arriving By Bus
Airport buses terminate at the east end of the train station. Follow the path around to the left and enter the station building up ahead. You’ll find yourself in the same hallway of shops and cafés described above. Left luggage lockers are in the ticket hall down the stairs on the left-hand side, whilst the shopping centre and street exit are straight ahead. See previous section for full details.
Entry to Kraków Główny from bus station – image © Jason Weaver
Left luggage lockers – image © Jason Weaver
Please Note: Entry to Kraków Główny via the shopping centre is closed after 11pm (10pm on Sunday). Access to the station is more limited and the information above will not always apply. If your plane is due in after 9.30pm, you should consider hiring a taxi or private car direct to your accommodation.
Alternatively, there’s an exit that leads out between Galeria Krakowska and the railway tracks into plac. Jana Nowaka Jeziorańskiego, adjacent to Pawia. Ask a member of staff to point you in the right direction. You can also leave via the bus station into Bosacka. Use Jakdojade to navigate to your accommodation (see next section).
Kraków bus – image © Jason Weaver
If you’re staying anywhere near the Old Town, chances are your accommodation will be walkable. However, if you’ve picked somewhere like Kazimierz, you’ll need to take a tram or bus. The best way to work out where you’re going is to use Jakdojade, Kraków’s fantastic online route planner.
Open up the page in your smartphone web browser and it can geolocate your current position – or you can manually type it in. Add a destination: it accepts points of interest, including many hotels, as well as specific addresses. Give it a moment and it will calculate the optimal route, broken down into tram, bus, or on foot, with greater accuracy than Google Maps. You can search for routes immediately or change the time and date.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be using it all day. There are dedicated apps for iOS and Android but I found these less friendly to use.
Kraków bus and tram ticket machine – image © Jason Weaver
Buses and trams accept the same ticket. There are machines at most stops, and on the vehicles themselves – although these may not accept cards or notes. They’re simple to use and give the option for English language. Tickets are sold according to duration, from a 20-minute trip through to a 7-day pass. The basic 20-minute journey (currently 2,80zł) should cover about five stops and get you as far as Kazimeriz, for example. Jakdojade can work out accurate timings. Remember to validate your ticket in the yellow or orange machines once you start your journey. Alternatively, the extended version of the KrakowCard gives you unlimited use of buses and trams.
Kraków tram – image © Jason Weaver
Vintage Kraków tram – image © Jason Weaver
Public transport runs from 5am until 11pm, with a sparser schedule of buses and trams through the night.
If the route to your accommodation looks too complicated for public transport, there’s a taxi rank in the bus station. You can also get a taxi from the roof of Kraków Główny. Find the lift that serves platform 4 in the main hallway of the train station and take it to level +1. You’ll find the taxi rank just to the left once you step outside. Have your destination written down, just in case the driver doesn’t understand you.
Taxi rank at Krakow bus station – image © Jason Weaver
If it’s late and there aren’t any cabs at the rank or you can’t get access to the roof, you can try iCar on +48 12 653 5555 and +48 12 888 0000 or iTaxi on +48 737 737 737. There’s no guarantee you’ll get an English speaker if you phone, so you might want to try your luck with the apps instead. The base rate is 7zł and roughly 3zł per kilometer, though rates will also rise at night and Sundays. Uber also operates in the city. All cabs operate from ranks so you’re unlikely to hail one in the street.