Kraków is famous for its beautiful Old Town and historic buildings. But this is just a small sample of what the city has to offer. There’s also wonderful food and drink, museums and galleries, cycling and other kinds of physical activity, as well as great shopping and open spaces. Here’s an exciting list of things to do in Kraków
Wawel Hill – image © Jason Weaver
This page is full of suggestions for some essential things to see and do in Kraków. Here, we offer an overview of different activities and link out to where you can find out more information.
You’ll also find plenty of suggestions in our Two-Day Kraków Itinerary, Three-Day Kraków Itinerary and our Four-Day Kraków Itinerary pages. You should also consider investing in a KrakowCard to give you cheap access to lots of Kraków attractions.
Some Kraków museums, like Schindler’s Factory, are deeply affecting and give vivid context to historical events. A visit to the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau is an unsettling and life-changing experience. There are various tour options for visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau from Krakow which you can book online. See our photo walkthrough of visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau so you can get a sense of what you will be witnessing and expect reality to look profoundly different afterwards.
Arbeit Macht Frei – image © Ayesha Cantrell
Treat Your Eyes To The Largest Medieval Town Square In Europe
With sections dating back to the 11th century, Kraków’s stunning Rynek Główny blends almost 10 centuries of architectural styles into a harmonious whole. The Gothic towers of St. Mary’s Basilica and Renaissance Cloth Hall are surrounded by elegant town houses, each of which has a fascinating history. A walking tour with private guide is the perfect way to get acquainted with this beautiful square.
St. Mary’s Basilica – image © Jason Weaver
Experiment With A New Cuisine
For many, food and drink is the reason to visit Kraków. You’ll find food from all over the world, as well as a refreshing range of places to eat vegan. But, while you’re here, you should get to know the many delights of Polish and Eastern European cooking. Pick somewhere from our list of restaurants or find out how to decode a menu with a Polish food crawl.
Kraków is also an excellent city for bars and drinking. Get the low down on how Polish beer is brewed with a guided tasting session. Or navigate your way through inventive variations of flavoured vodka. You could also learn to make pretzels Kraków style in an obwarzanek workshop.
Wódka Café Bar – image © Jason Weaver
Walk In The Footsteps Of The Great Polish Kings And Queens
An excellent way to see Kraków’s Old Town is to follow the royal coronation route from Floriańska Gate to the castle and cathedral on Wawel Hall. In fact, most of Poland’s regal ancestors are also buried there in the royal crypts. I can recommend this informative guide to the Wawel Royal Apartments.
View of Wawel from Kanonicza Street – image © Jason Weaver
Or Follow The Life Of A Saint
Though born in Wadowice, Karol Wojtyła spent many years in Kraków before becoming Pope John Paul II and there are traces of the man’s life all over the city. From the Papal Window, commemorating Cardinal Wojtyła’s evening addresses to the crowds outside, to Arka Pana, the startlingly modern church he consecrated, a whole industry has grown up around the Polish pope.
Papal Window – image © Jason Weaver
Discover An Unusual Hobby
Come to Kraków for the Baroque churches, stay for the axe throwing! The city is a haven for pretty much any kind of fun you could possibly imagine. This includes archery, quad biking, bubble football, rafting on the Dunajec river, and shooting live weapons. See what’s available with Get Your Guide for the dates you visit. This extreme axe throwing class includes a hotel pick-up.
Kraków Archery – image © Jason Weaver
Spend Time Alone With A Da Vinci Masterpiece
Kraków is full of excellent galleries and museums – see the KrakowCard for a list of almost 40 suggestions. However, the must-see art experience is Leonardo da Vinci’s sublime ‘Lady with an Ermine’. Its current home is the main building of the National Museum and, if you’re as lucky as I was, you may even have the room completely to yourself. Tickets can be reserved in advance.
National Museum – image © Jason Weaver
Go For A Bike Ride
Kraków’s Old Town is relatively free of traffic which makes cycling an excellent way to get to know the highlights. Informative tours are available covering every conceivable area, duration, and aspect of history. This 4-hour tour covers a lot of highlights and includes insurance. Or let an electric bike do the hard work for you.
If you don’t fancy cycling, you can see Kraków by a huge range of transportation, including horse and cart, electric car, electric scooter, river cruise, private catamaran, or Segway. Just check Get Your Guide to see what’s available for the dates you visit.
Kraków horse and cart – image © Jason Weaver
Go Behind The Scenes Of A Classic Spielberg Film
Steven Spielberg shot much of ‘Schindler’s List’ in Kraków locations. The enamel factory, where Oskar Schindler protected Jewish employees during the Nazi occupation, is now a fantastic museum covering all aspects of this horrific period. Sobering, even frightening, this is none-the-less a recommended experience. Advanced booking with a knowledgeable guide is even better and will ensure your entry to one of Kraków’s most popular museums.
Entrance to Schindler’s Factory – image © Jason Weaver
Since mining for salt in the 13th century, Kraków has always made clever use of subterranean spaces. You can book tickets online for day trips to Wieliczka Salt Mine including transport to and from Krakow.
Closer to the centre, the Old Town has many charming cellar bars and restaurants, and one of Kraków’s newest museums is Rynek Underground, built directly beneath the main square. Entry is strictly limited by demand, so a guided tour will not only increase your enjoyment of this excellent museum but also ensure you get in.
Salt Statues – image © Ayesha Cantrell
Shop For Amber
Kraków is an excellent city for shopping and souvenirs, especially as prices can be remarkably low. You’ll find the same brands as in other European countries, but the real fun is in exploring the shops for uniquely Polish specialities. Although originating in the Baltic regions to the north of Poland, Kraków became an important centre for amber due to its location on the Vistula river, the main trading route for the precious material. There are amber shops all over the city, full of beautiful and imaginative items crafted from fossilised tree sap.
World of Amber – image © Jason Weaver
Study At One Of The Oldest Universities In The World
A magnificent example of 15th-century Gothic architecture, the Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Maius building is another essential visit for first-time visitors to Kraków. The interiors are both beautiful and fascinating, with a room dedicated to former student Copernicus. Much of the building is, incredibly, still regularly used by the university. However, entry to the building is by guided tour only and advance bookings sell out quickly. Entry to the courtyard is free and worth a look, especially for the jolly procession of figures when the clock strikes every other hour.
Entrance to Collegium Maius – image © Jason Weaver
Get To Work In A Socialist Paradise
The 1950s Socialist Realist housing district of Nowa Huta is a fascinating part of Kraków’s Soviet-era history, but it can seem a bit drab and disjointed to the casual visitor. If you’ve made the effort to get out there, you’ll appreciate the benefits of a tour guide to give full context to the area. This excellent tour includes all the highlights and has the added thrill of being picked up in a classic Polish car.
Ronald Reagan Central Square – image © Jason Weaver
Conquer The Great Outdoors
Located at the foot of the Tatra mountain range, 120km south of Kraków, Zakopane is known as the winter capital of Poland. This stunning area has dozens of beautiful summer hiking trails and the region is popular for outdoor activities like skiing and moutaineering. This tour takes you into the Slovakian High Tatras for a treetop walk and includes a hotel pick-up from Kraków.
Zakopane – Poland’s Outdoor Activity Capital
Get To Know Kraków’s Jewish Heritage
Kazimierz remains one of Kraków’s liveliest and loveliest districts. Retaining the soul of Jewish Kraków, it is home to some pretty buildings, cobbled streets, and numerous interesting attractions. Kazimierz is also one of the city’s best areas for food and drink. Many tours also include some excellent museums in Podgórze, on the other side of the river.
Jan Karski monument – image © Jason Weaver
Keep the Kids Happy
There’s plenty of family attractions around Kraków. Energylandia, Poland’s biggest amusement park, is in Zator, 50km from the city. Day tickets are available with hotel pick-up from Get Your Guide. Similarly, Kraków Zoo sits within a huge forest and is home to some 1500 animals. You can buy advance tickets and a hotel pick-up in advance. The KrakowCard includes entry to the Stanisław Lem Science Garden of Experiences, which is a kind of sculpture park full of interactive experiments.
Take A Daytrip In Poland’s Stunning Landscapes
The countryside around Kraków includes castles, mountains, lakes, forests, and caves, much of which can be reached within a daytrip. The Pieskowa Skała Castle is a fine example of Polish Renaissance architecture. It sits within the Ojcow National Park, a relatively small patch of natural beauty, that is bursting with biodiversity and places to explore. If castles are your thing, you can follow the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests – 25 impressive fortifications strung along the rocky border of Poland.
Pieskowa Skała Castle – image © Jan Jerszyński / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic
Visit A Working Abbey
Perched dramatically on a cliff overlooking the Vistula river, the Benedictine Abbey at Tyniec is a great trip on a sunny afternoon. There’s a restaurant and cafe to get wholesome home-grown food, including tasty beer and honey wine, and the views are superb. The cycle route is flat and follows the river. A private tour with hotel pick-up is also available. Note: the full KrakowCard includes entry to the Tyniec Benedictine Abbey and transport by bus.
Give Your Feet A Holiday
If you’ve been walking around Kraków for a few days, you’ll really begin to feel it. Many hotels offer spa facilities or you can book a luxury relaxation package to wind down after a long day. If you’re driving, you could treat yourself to a full day out at the Chochołowska thermal baths in the Polish highlands. Overlooking the Tatra mountains, these rejuvenating pools draw nutrient-rich water direct from deep within the earth. The pass includes saunas and steam baths.
More Kraków Itineraries
See our range of itineraries to suit your stay in Kraków:
- Kraków Two Day Itinerary
Kraków is packed with things to do, but you can still see a lot in two days. This itinerary is perfect for getting the most out of two full days, such as a long weekend.
- Kraków Three Day Itinerary
Three days in Kraków lets you explore the key sightseeing districts in the centre of the city and to head out of town for at least one day trip. This is the ideal way to make the most of three days in Kraków.
- Kraków Four Day Itinerary
There is a lot to see and do in Kraków. This four-day schedule includes many key attractions, focusing on the Old Town, a day trip to either Auschwitz or the Wieliczka Saltmines, the ‘socialist realist’ area of Nowa Huta, as well as the Kazimierz and Podgórze districts.
- Auschwitz-Birkenau – Kraków Day Trip
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is hardly your usual tourist attraction. Never-the-less its historical importance cannot be overstated; visiting will leave an impression on you.
- Wieliczka Saltmines – Kraków Day Trip
The Wieliczka Saltmines comprise of 20 chambers connected by around 3km of tunnels which lie 135m underground. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the area and is an easy daytrip from Kraków.