More residential than Kraków’s more famous districts, charming Piasek is a comfortable retreat the Old Town, yet is a mere 10-minute walk from the main square. Here is an overview of what to see in Piasek, as well as where to eat and stay.
Stanisław Wyspiański Museum
Piasek Area Overview
Wrapped around the western flank of Kraków’s Old Town, residential Piasek provides a welcome retreat from areas more famous to tourists. Generally overshadowed by the Old Town and Kazimierz, this leafy district has more than enough to be proud of, including some delightful architecture and it’s well placed for excellent attractions like the National Museum. The Old Town itself is really only 10 minute’s away.
While neighbouring Nowy Świat is home to many international luxury hotel brands, here you’ll find comfortable mid-priced accommodation and apartments. There are some interesting shops, particularly on Smoleńsk and the roads branching off Karmelicka, and right now, Krupnicza is flourishing with cafes and restaurants, popular with local university students.
As such, Piasek works well as a relaxed base for breakfast, before heading out for adventures in other parts of the city. You’ll experience a side of Kraków that many first-time visitors don’t get to see.
The National Museum Main Building
Things To Do And See In Piasek
There are some modest yet worthwhile museums in Piasek and a handful of important churches. The key attraction, however, is the National Museum Main Building, which lies just outside the district. You are also well placed for the wide-open greenery of Błonia and a secret Chinese garden – perfect for lunch on a hot day. And football fans can get tickets for a match at Cracovia Stadium.
A route through Piasek to the National Museum Main Building is included in our Four-Day Kraków Itinerary and our Kraków Sightseeing page has more suggestions, along with recommendations for Things To Do In Kraków. A KrakowCard can also be a good investment, giving you access to lots of Kraków attractions.
All locations can be found on the map below.
- The National Museum Main Building
The National Museum has a number of different branches across Kraków but the Main Building is one of the city’s key attractions. In addition to the permanent collections of 20th-century Polish painting, decorative art, and military items, the museum always has a handful of excellent temporary shows of an international standard.
- Stanisław Wyspiański Monument
There’s usually a temporary collection of sculptures in front of the National Museum Main Building and a monument to 20th-century polymath Stanisław Wyspiański. There are also huge reclining benches for relaxing with a cold drink on a warm day.
- Stanisław Wyspiański Museum
Home to an exhibition space for one of Poland’s most outstanding and versatile artists – playwright, poet, painter, graphic artist, theatre reformer and interior designer, in a renovated 17th-century granary.
- The Józef Mehoffer House
The home of early-20th-century artist Mehoffer includes accurate period interiors, as well as stained glass and paintings by the man. The house also has an elegant garden.
This wildlife sanctuary is a good spot for a picnic on sunny days. There are often events taking place here as well.
- Instytut Bliskiego
Tucked away off a sidestreet close to Błonia and the National Museum, this university department has a delightful Chinese garden that is open to the public. There are plenty of places to sit and it makes a good place for a packed lunch in the summer.
- Cracovia Football Stadium
Home to MKS Cracovia aka The Stripes, the oldest active sports club in Poland. You can often buy tickets from the official box office before games.
- Karmelicka Street
Once amongst the most fashionable and elegant addresses in Kraków and home to writers and other celebrated figures, Karmelicka is worth a stroll for the range of buildings it contains.
- Spider House
The Polish architect Teodor Talowski’s most famous building – on the corner of ul. Karmelicka and ul. Stefana Batorego – has an eccentric and quintessentially Cracovian exterior.
- Carmelite Church
A site of miraculous deeds, the full name of this interesting church is the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And, in fact, the name of this district is connected to the curative sand that allegedly led to the founding of the church.
- Capuchin Church
The basic interior reflects the strict ethos of the Capuchin friars, but there are some splendid artworks on display here and a delightful animated crib scene at Christmas.
- Józef Piłsudski Monument
The Józef Piłsudski Monument celebrates the revolutionary and statesman of Polish independence.
- Małopolska Garden of Art (MOS)
Located at ul. Rajska 12, this multi-purpose arts venue has a nice outside area for sunny days and a cafe. The building itself is a striking contemporary design.
Places To Eat In Piasek
Piasek is a largely residential area, so it helps to know where to look if you want something to eat. The most striking thing about my recent visit is how many good cafes and restaurants had sprung up around three streets in particular. Krupnicza, close to the university, is looking very good, with a wide selection of enticing places to dine out. There are some nice cafe / bookshop / bakery combinations around Smoleńsk. And around the end of Karmelicka – the opposite end from Planty Park – there are some really interesting places.
A word of warning, though! Many kitchens shut early, even at the weekend. I recently found myself without anywhere nearby still serving at 9.30 on a Saturday evening. So check hours in advance if you plan to eat close to your accommodation.
We’ve listed our recommendations alphabetically below but you can also find them by style of food on our dedicated Restaurants in Kraków page. You can also find the location of every restaurant on our Kraków map below.
- Massolit Bakery & Cafe
Great coffee, a big window, seats in the sun, and fresh pastries baked on site, Massolit is a great place to sit and read or chat. Lots of vegan options on the menu.
- Smaki Roślinne
Appealing corner location, just along from the Massolit Bakery, Roślinne is a lunchtime-only vegan restaurant, with excellent prices and a minimal menu that tends to go quickly.
Away from the tourists and a favourite with local students, Smakolyki gets high scores all round and is recommended for a good, simple meal rather than a classy night out.
- Cukiernia Michałek
Tiny pastry shop on Krupnicza, which is known for its queues halfway down the road. Widely considered to sell the best donuts in Kraków.
- Cukiernia Miedź
If Michałek has sold out of stock or you want to eat in, this tiny pastry shop has a couple of seats outside and a small seating area upstairs, overlooking the street.
- Vegan AF Ramen
This tasty restaurant absolutely lives up to its name. The menu is completely vegan and almost entirely consists of a Polish take on Japanese ramen. The food is attractive to look at and delicious. The restaurant itself even has counter seats.
- Mieta Resto Bar
With a simple, family-friendly Polish and Italian menu, Mieta offers good value and service, and has a nice outdoor space.
- doskoi Kraków
Cosy Japanese restaurant, focused on donburi (rice-bowl) and curries. The portions are big and tasty, and it is reasonably priced.
- Turlaj Klopsa
Super-healthy, tasty, and hearty vegan, build-it-yourself menu, with some great cakes and drinks. The owners have made imaginative use of the compact space.
Decorated like a mountain tavern, Chata is a fun experience with cheap and tasty local cooking. Perfect for a cold, winter night.
- Szalej Cafe
A little hidden gem on Kremerowska, just off Karmelicka. Opens early on weekdays for breakfast, although it gets very busy. The stars of the menu are the chunky challah-based sandwiches. Imaginatively decorated with a really nice atmosphere.
Another great breakfast and brunch joint on Stefana Batorego, Astrid has shaded, kerbside tables and an attractive, brick, wood, and tiled interior. You can’t miss it from the mustard-coloured exterior. There’s Scandinavian influence to the menu, which features seafood on toast and pancakes.
- Pistachio Box
This cafe sticks to what it knows, with delicious Turkish coffee and a range of pistachio-based sweet treats. Sticky baklava, ice creams, and wedges of pistachio-flavoured cakes, with tables out on the street. Makes me happy.
Shopping In Piasek
As with places to eat, finding the most interesting shops in Piasek requires a bit of exploration. However, a simple rule of thumb says that where you find a good cafe, there will also be some good shops very nearby. As with places to eat, you should concentrate on the streets around Smoleńsk and the tail-end of Karmelicka. For me, though, the shopping highlight of Piasek is the huge Soviet-era complex opposite the National Museum Main Building. This has the Dydo Poster Gallery and the incredible retro warehouse Forum Designu, as well as a cafe and some other attractions.
For more practical shopping, during your stay, see our Shopping In Kraków guide for information on malls, supermarkets, pharmacies, and 24-hour shops.
Every location is on our Kraków map below.
- Forum Designu
Housed on the ground floor of a mammoth former 1960s hotel, Forum Designu is a huge warehouse of contemporary and retro Polish interior design. You’ll find every kind of furniture here and they obligingly ship overseas, so you won’t need to stuff a sofa into your suitcase. In my opinion, this is a Kraków highlight.
- Dydo Poster Gallery
In the same incredible modernist hotel complex as Forum Designu, the Dydo Poster Gallery has a gorgeous selection of Poland’s unparalleled graphics for theatre, cinema, music, and other artforms, as well as Polish cities. Helpful and knowledgeable staff too.
- Stained Glass Museum Shop
A great museum with an excellent cafe and gift shop for unusual souvenirs, like hanging stained glass fish and birds. All items are made by artists, on site, using traditional methods. You can also take part in workshops and learn some of these techniques for yourself.
- Massolit Books & Café
Massolit stocks around 20,000 new and used titles, which you’re free to read and peruse as you relax in an armchair. Great coffee and baked goods, and regular events. Like that other great American-European bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, Massolit also belongs to a tradition worth fighting for. The bakery is great too, with delicious fresh nibbles being produced all day on the premises.
- In Vino Veritas
Polish wine is hardly a household name, but the country does produce some high-quality bottles. In Vino Veritas sells an international range and the staff are experts at finding the right bottle within your price range.
Despite the name Winoteka-Alkohole is as much a destination for recommended rare and unusual Polish liquors to take back home with you.
A huge selection of contemporary and 80s / 90s comics and graphic novels. Poland has an incredible graphics history, but you can also get copies of The Amazing Spider-Man in Polish for the comic fan in your life!
This Italian bookshop has a good selection and regular author events. However, it’s also a nice cafe, selling Italian chocolates and other treats, for non-speakers of the language.
Radisson Blu Hotel
Where To Stay In Piasek
Piasek is a pleasant residential area and this is reflected in the accommodation, which does well in the mid-range and apartment-based categories. You’ll find luxury hotels in the Old Town and south of Piasek in Nowy Świat. Budget hotels are better to the north and east of the Old Town.
Best Luxury Hotels In Piasek
- Radisson Blu Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Just on the outskirts of Piasek, the location, restaurants, and top-class bar mark the Radisson Blu as a luxury hotel, with little 5-star touches in the rooms.
Best Self-Catering Apartments In Piasek
- Crystal Suites Old Town
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Great value, self-catering apartments just outside Kraków’s Old Town, the Crystal Suites are well-run by excellent staff.
Best Mid-Range Hotels In Piasek
- Hotel Logos
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
In a quiet area just outside the Old Town, Hotel Logos is reliable, mid-range accommodation with excellent staff.
- Nobilton Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Equidistant between the National Museum and the Old Town, Nobilton’s large, light rooms and extra-helpful staff make for a comfortable stay in a quiet area.
- Amber Boutique Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
In a great location, just outside Kraków Old Town, Amber Boutique Hotel is elegant and comfortable with very attentive staff.
- Golden Tulip City Center Hotel
(View on Booking.com)
A modern hotel in an attractive building, the Golden Tulip is a smart base for exploring, with impressive breakfasts to start the day.
Mercy Brown is in the basement
Nightlife In Piasek
Due to its residential nature and proximity to Kraków’s centre, Piasek is a little sleepy in terms of nightlife, much of which is focused on students anyway. The advantage here, of course, is that you can indulge in everything the Old Town has to offer before quickly retiring back for a peaceful night’s sleep.
That said, there are a few good options. Mercy Brown, in particular, had a big influence on Kraków nightlife
You can find an overview of Kraków bars, clubs, and music venues on our Kraków Nightlife page. All locations can be found on the Kraków map below.
- Mercy Brown
Kraków speakeasy vibes with very original cocktails and swing, live jazz, and burlesque. It’s quite hard to find, so ask at the Smakolyki restaurant.
- C.K. Browar
With a restaurant, bar, and club on the same premises, the pub has delicious pints fresh from the onsite brewery.
- Kijów Centrum
Soviet-era art house cinema with live opera, dance, and cabaret performances.
- Auditorium Maximum Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego
University conference and lecture hall that is sometimes used for prestige concerts.
Getting To Piasek
Piasek lies just to the west of the Old Town, directly opposite Planty Park, which means it is quickly reached from the Old Town and makes for a pleasant walk through the park.
However, the district is build around a handful of long artery lines that branch out in different directions. If you take the wrong road, it can add an extra 10 or more minutes to your journey. Make sure you know where you’re headed in advance or get a taxi when you first arrive, so you don’t end up losing your way.
- By taxi from John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport (approx. 20m): Due to traffic limitations in the centre of the city, it is almost quicker to take a taxi directly from the airport than from Kraków’s main train station. Taxis leave from directly outside the front of the airport or you can book a private transfer in advance.
- By public from Kraków Glówny (10m): Leave the station via Galeria Krakowska and walk for 2m to the Teatr Słowackiego stop, just opposite Planty Park. Take any bus or tram that stops at Uniwersytet Jagielloński. These include 124, 152, 424, and 502. The journey is two stops and takes 6m. This stop is on the southern tip of the Piasek district.
- On foot from Kraków Glówny train station (30m): Leave the station via Galeria Krakowska shopping mall and walk south to Planty Park. Follow the park around to west and then south, until you reach the Teatr Bagatela tram stop. The Piasek district is directly opposite the park.
Where Are These Places Located?Find these locations on the Visit Kraków Google map:
- Open the Visit Kraków map
- Click on a marker and it will give you the name of the landmark, with a brief description and links for more information and directions. You can pan, scroll, and zoom around the map, or use the + or – buttons in the bottom left of the map to zoom in and out
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side, sorted by category. Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Each category is on a different layer, which can be switched on and off. So you can just see the Hotel or Restaurant pins, for example
- If you are using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location
Map pins are color coded:
- YELLOW: Kraków Sightseeing
- GREEN: Kraków Transportation
- DARK RED: Restaurants in Kraków
- ORANGE: Michelin Restaurants in Kraków
- LIGHT RED: Kraków Bars / Clubs / Music Venues
- BLUE: Kraków Hotels
- PURPLE: Shopping In Kraków