The alternative princess of Poland

In Poland, on the banks of the Vistula River, lies a city bursting with history, culture, and tradition. That city is Krakow, Poland’s second-largest city and its former capital.

In Krakow, the past is enchanting. Travel to romantic Krakow with your partner and live a lovely emotional experience. Climb aboard a fairy-tale carriage in the Old Town and follow in the footsteps of kings in Europe’s largest medieval square. Admire the dreamy sunset from the magnificent Wawel Castle and enjoy evening walks along the banks of the Vistula River.

In Krakow, the past teaches. Travel alone to historic Krakow and discover unique historical and art treasures. Many famous museums of European Culture and innovative educational exhibitions are situated here. It is also an ideal starting point to visit the world’s oldest salt mine and the Auschwitz concentration camp.

In Krakow, the past is alive. Travel to alternative Krakow with your friends and live a wild-fun experience. Explore the bohemian Kazimierz district and discover the trendiest bars with the best music suggestions. Once a Jewish ghetto, today, this preserved neighbourhood overflows with people, art and pleasure every day.

In short, Krakow is a multi-dimensional, dynamic city that stands out. It is included in the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and is an ideal destination for a low-cost, high-quality three-day trip.

Table of Contents

Krakow travel guide

Info about Krakow

Language : Polish.

Cześć = hello Dziękuję =thank you 

Population : 756.183

Currency : Zloty

Climate : Temperate oceanic

National Day : 11 November – Independence Day

Emergency number : 112 police and medical 

Chargers : Charger type E as in France, but it works with type C and F too.

Kraków is in the south of Poland, on the banks of the Vistula River, and dates to the 7th century. Historians estimate that the city has been named Krakow after Krakus, the mythical founder, as in Polish it means “The City of Krakus”, or from the Polish word for “Crow”.

It was firstly the capital of Poland, with a significant economic, commercial and educational role in the country’s life, until it was destroyed in 1241, during the first Mongol invasion. Then, it began to develop again during the reign of Casimir the Great, who founded Europe’s second university there.

In 1596, Warsaw became the new capital of Poland, and Krakow started declining. In 1815, it became an independent Republic. In 1846, the city rejoined Poland and began developing again by increasing its population and doubling the presence of Polish Jews.

In 1939, during the German occupation, the city became the centre of the German administration, based in Wawel Castle. Krakow took on a German character, renaming streets and districts with German names, ghettoising Jews, and weakening intellectual Polish activity by arresting intellectuals. In 1941, the Nazis began exterminating the city’s Jews.

After the war, the city showed industrial development. In 1978 the local archbishop was named “Pope John Paul II” and became the first non-Italian Pope in history. In the same year, Krakow became one of the first cities on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

Krakow is a beautiful little city that you will explore on foot without difficulty. Based on recent legislation, cars, except trams, stop to give priority to pedestrians.

Smoking and drinking alcohol in open spaces is legally prohibited and may result in a fine. In practice, however, you will not face any restrictions.

It’s a good idea to have some coins with you for the public toilets and, yes, the tap water is drinkable.

The Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally.

Chopin – Rondo a la Krakowiak.

“Schindler’s List”.

polish, flag, poland-4181769.jpg

The best time is the end of spring and the beginning of autumn, when the temperature is better, and you can comfortably enjoy the city. 

By air to Krakow (John Paul II) airport with code KRK AIRPORT. Or by train – coach from Warsaw or the very nearby Katowice.

Arriving at Krakow Airport, outside the arrivals exit is the stop for express bus 300 to the city centre. It departs every 30 minutes, the ticket costs around 1.20 euros and the journey time is almost half an hour. Next to the starting point of the bus, there is an automatic ticket issuing machine, with a choice of language and the use of a bank card or cash.

Book your stay at the Kazimierz district if you’re interested in nightlife or close to the Old Town for a quieter sleep.

How many days in Krakow?

If you want only to get an idea of the city, then two days are enough for your visit. Ideally, it would be better to stay there for three days to visit the salt mine or Auschwitz.

Many agencies combine visiting Auschwitz and the salt mine on the same day, but if you have time to spare and want to go to both, then four days would be the best. So you will be able to enjoy it without haste and relax.

Special Events in Krakow

Many festivals take place in Krakow throughout the year.

One of the most important events is the Wianki festival on June 24, a local pagan festival to mark the summer equinox. Nowadays, it has evolved into a music festival, with many outdoor concerts, dancing and fireworks on the Vistula River. Its symbol is the traditional wreath of flowers that all participants wear and then float down the river.

Another spectacular celebration, which will be enjoyed by children and adults, is the Dragon Parade at the end of May or the beginning of June. For two days, the Dragon of Wawel has his due. On the first day, the great dragon floats down the river, while on the second, a grand parade of dragons created by children goes through the town.

Then, another special event takes place on the first or second Sunday of September in Krakow. It’s the Dachshund Day. Sausage-like dogs of this breed come from all over the world and dress up in costumes to parade through the city centre. In the end, the two most beautiful become king and queen.

In October, Krakow hosts the Krakow International Royal Piano Festival, aiming to showcase the world’s best pianists. In addition, music lovers will love the Sfogato Festival in September, in honour of Chopin, and the Wawel at Dust Festival in July, when evening classical music concerts take place in the magnificent Wawel Castle.

Finally, Christmas is a big event that gives a unique ambience to the city, with markets and decorations that make it a famous destination.

Famous Personalities

Pope John II is one of the most famous figures in Krakow and is very honoured in the city. He was the local archbishop before becoming the first non-Italian Pope in history.

Also, the famous director Roman Polanski lived here and was a prisoner in the Jewish concentration camp.

Krakow Itinerary

Let’s stroll around the city!

The royal road

Let’s get to know the glorious Krakow through its aristocratic past, following the famous Royal Road, the route followed by the kings during their coronation ceremony or funeral procession.

The route starts north from the baroque church of Saint Florian, the Patron of the city. The temple is next to the medieval fortress Barbakan, one of the three watchtowers of its kind in Europe and the best preserved. The walls of Barbakan used to protect the city in the past but nowadays are replaced by a lovely perimeter garden, the Planty Park, which generously offers peace and relaxation in a verdant setting.

We pass the defensive tower of the Barbakan outpost through the St. Florian’s Gate, a gate that was the main entrance to the city in the Middle Ages, and it introduces us to the Old Town of Kraków, also known as Stare Miastro. We walk down the elegant Florianska pedestrian street with its brilliant Gothic buildings, and Europe’s largest medieval square, Rynek Glowny, is revealed in front of us.

Krakow’s main square, Rynek Glowny, is dazzling with its magnificent stately buildings, fairy-tale carriages driven by beautiful young ladies in traditional costumes, and flocks of pigeons flying carefree in the Polish sky.

In the centre of the square dominates the Town Hall Tower and the Sukiennice Textile Market Building, which today houses a rich market of local products. Its unique Renaissance architecture is hard to miss and, in a way, poses a photographic challenge.

The sound of the trumpet draws our attention to the majestic Saint Mary’s Basilica. Standing there since the 14th century with the longest wooden altarpiece in the world, it constitutes a national treasure of the country. The church has two ornate bell towers of unequal height, from where a trumpeter, every hour, plays a mournful tune. Countless pigeons constantly fly around him as if they, like us, are magnetized by the musical melody.

Rynek Glowny

stare miastro

Around the square are buildings that historically were the residences of nobles, and today, countless restaurants and cafes are spread out on their ground floor. We stop to admire the magnificent architecture of Rynek Glowny and the carriages that pass incessantly in front of us.

Fairy tale atmosphere, let alone at Christmas when the setting is even more brilliant with the decorations and mulled wine stalls that give colour and warmth to the snowy city.

After a first impression of Krakow’s grandeur, we pass the ancient Romanesque church of St. Adalbert and walk along Grodzka pedestrian street. Following the sounds of the street musicians, in the small square of Mary Magdalene, we pass in front of the first baroque church in Poland, Saint Peter and Paul church, with beautiful statues on its facade.

Grodzka Street ends at the foot of Wawel Hill, where within its walls is the Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the place of coronation and burial of the Polish Kings.

Wawel Castle was originally the royal residence and today functions as a museum. Its architecture is an aesthetically admirable result of a combination of pompous baroque, gothic and Renaissance styles, while colourful gardens adorn its facade. We grab something to drink from the discreet cafes of the place and choose a comfortable chaise longue to enjoy the unique art of the palace and the peace of the establishment.

It is the best spot to leave the day and welcome the night in Krakow. The beautiful landscape constantly changes colours as the sun sets over the horizon.

Looking under the walls, at the foot of the hill, we see the Vistula River flowing peacefully. Ships ply in its clear waters, and the residents enjoy its green shores. Cute stalls of street vendors await us to taste the local specialities while walking along the banks or relaxing on the lush grass.

wawel castle


You might have thought this was Krakow, but what a surprise since this was only half of it.

After completing the Royal Route at Wawel Castle and seeing the shining side of the city, we’re off to experience Krakow’s more recent, blood-soaked post-war past.

The Kazimierz district is situated next to the Wawel Castle. In this district initially, many Jews and Poles lived together, but in 1941 the Nazis forced all the Jews of Krakow to move here, thus turning it into a ghetto. Then, during the war, the area was destroyed, but in 1990, its restoration began. Since then, it turned into the cultural heart of Krakow.

Museums dedicated to the Second World War, such as the Schindler Factory, the Old Synagogue and other monuments, are an attraction for travellers when, at the same time, it is the neighbourhood that residents prefer to go out, with trendy bars, bohemian cafes and the best restaurants.

Leave the map and get lost in its stone alleys, admiring the preserved houses coloured by the impressive graffiti, the beautiful vintage boutiques and the small squares that house open-air markets with the most delicious street food in the city. When walking there, you can easily understand why Kazimierz is considered by the residents the ‘soul’ of Krakow.

TOP 10 list of Krakow

What to see & what to do in Krakow

Sightseeing, monuments, attractions and activities.

Wawel Castle. It consists of separate rooms where paintings, tapestries, original armour and a room of Ottoman art are exposed. Every Monday it has free entry from 9.30 to 13.00. Here is also the Wawel Cathedral, which has a magnificent view and a separate entrance, for 5 euros. Access to the surrounding area is free.

In the location where Schindler’s factory operated, today an exhibition space – museum operates about the period of the German occupation of the city. There are authentic World War II exhibits, rich photographic material and informative documentaries on Nazi action. The entrance is about 6 euros.

It is located in the Old Town Square since the 14th century and has an impressive, famous wooden altar. The church has two ornate bell towers of unequal height, from where a trumpeter plays the Krakow Anthem every hour. This tune is broadcast over the radio all over the country, honouring the trumpeter who was shot by an arrow in the neck when he sounded the alarm during the Mongol invasion in the 13th century.

Roman Catholic church, baroque decoration with elaborate decoration. Classical music concerts take place inside the church, with an entrance fee of 12 euros.

The Baroque building of the Textile Hall is in the Old Town Square and, during Krakow’s heyday in the 15th century, products from all over the world were for sale, and personalities of the world trade of the time met here. Today, it houses a section of the national museum and a market for traditional products.

Overshadowed by Auschwitz, the ruins of this small camp are preserved today in a large park within walking distance of the city centre. A small spot and the quarry where the movie “Schindler’s List” was filmed also operate in the area.


It is an impressive art museum that combines a classic and modern aesthetic. Important exhibits by Rembrandt and other famous artists are on display, culminating in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine. It hosts rich expeditions from many cultures and is worth a visit. The entrance is about 8 euros. Admission is free every Tuesday.

This place once used to function as a mill. It was recently renovated in an industrial style and transformed into a museum. The permanent exhibition presents images of daily Jewish life, shedding light on Jewish culture before and after the Holocaust. The museum also features seasonal expositions and musical events, and admission costs around 3 euros.

Womai Institute. The Womai Science and Senses Center focuses on blindness. The innovative exhibition ”Into the Darkness” raises awareness and informs. Visitors, guided by a blind person, enter a dark world and discover the experience of living by relying only on your senses. If you want to visit it, book the tickets in advance.

The Barbakan watchtower is the main entrance to the old city centre. It was built in 1498 and was part of the city’s enclosure. It is one of Europe’s three surviving fortified outposts and the most well-preserved. Nowadays, it functions as a museum.

It is in the heart of the Jewish quarter and, in the 15th century, it functioned as the town hall. Today, visitors can admire treasures of traditional art in this Renaissance building. There are elaborate costumes, hand-made paintings, everyday objects, and even a recreation of a schoolroom. The space overflows with colour and transports us to the city’s rich past. The entrance is about 4 euros.

Located at the Jagiellonian University, it is the oldest garden in Krakow. If you seek peace and relaxation, head here and enjoy your coffee or meal at the park’s cafeteria. Especially in the summer, when the flowers are in bloom, you will be filled with energy from the smell and colour of the exotic plants, while at the same time, you can watch an exhibition in the park’s museum or a musical performance. The entrance is approximately 3.5 euros.

If you find yourself in Krakow, you can visit the Auschwitz concentration camp. Choose one of the many companies and take the guided tour that lasts about 6 hours, including the transfer.

The salt mine in the Wieliczka region is one of the oldest salt mines in the world and was in operation until the recent past. Now, it functions as a museum with unique exhibits and statues made of salt. It is located near Krakow and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Just a 30-minute walk away, we find the lush natural park with the hidden lake, Zakrzowek. It is an ideal location to enjoy nature and everyone’s favourite place for sunbathing, partying or even swimming. The park also features five pools of varying depths, a climbing wall and a specially designed picnic area.

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One of the most popular local specialities is these hand-made dumplings with all kinds of fillings, like cheese, vegetables, duck or meat. The more traditional ones have Russian filling, a creamy cheese with potatoes and herbs. They are prepared even with sweet filling for dessert.

An open baguette with filling, similar to pizza, the zapiekanka is a Polish fast food. It offers a great variety in the combination of ingredients for garnish, but the most genuine version is the one with mushrooms and cheese. They say the most delicious are those of the open-air stalls in the Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, in Nowy Square.

Smoked roast sausage from beef or pork, accompanied by onion and pickles.

Traditional speciality with boiled meat and cabbage served at the festive Christmas table.

Pancakes made of potato, with topping mushrooms, cheese or meat and sour cream.


Filled cabbage leaves with meat filling and mushroom or tomato sauce.

Warm white soup with boiled egg and sausages served in a mug-shaped loaf.

Traditional bagels are similar to pretzels. Garnished with sesame seeds and poppy seeds. They are Krakow specialities and very popular with the inhabitants

Traditional dessert with cream filling over thin sheets of dough and icing sugar. It is similar to the French mille-feuille.

Sweet and salty dessert from smoked sheep cheese with cranberry sauce.

Krakow Gastronomy

What to eat and where in Krakow?

In addition to traditional bistros and trendy restaurants, Krakow also has Milk Bars. They were created during the difficult years of the war to provide a solution to the feeding of the inhabitants. After the war, they continued serving and offered milk as a drink in a glass with a straw. Nowadays, they still operate as restaurants, offering cooked traditional food at a low price.

Then, there are a lot of open-air markets in the Kazimierz district and lovely stalls by the river offering traditional snacks and desserts that would be a pity not to try.

Goscinna Chata

If you wish to taste the local specialities, you can try the Polish restaurant Goscinna Chata at the Stare Miastro. Enjoy your meal in a warm, traditional environment and in a very reasonable price.

Kluska Na Placu

A modern restaurant with an updated menu, offering delicious Polish and European recipes in a lovely, pretty decorated back garden.

Ulica Jozefa 11

It has no name, just an address that will take you to Kazimierz and a wide selection of beers to quench your thirst. If you like the pubs with inner courtyards, then it’s worth a try.

Berka Joselewicza 12, Kazimierz

nic nowego

The best coffee in town is at Nic Nowego, in the Kazimierz district. Here, the coffee is art, combined with delicious vegan cakes and desserts, not just hand-made but made from homemade ingredients of the highest quality.

The basic concept of the shop is recycling. It reflects on its name, the original decoration, the second-hand clothes offered for sale and the special events, like the vinyl bazaar.

It will attract you with good music, please you with good coffee, and win you with good vibes. Enjoy!

Travel Card Krakow

Before your trip or when you arrive in the city, you can buy the official tourist “Krakow Card” that gives free access to the attractions and to public transportation.

See the options and detailed information on the official page

Travel Essentials

What to pack for Krakow?

Flat shoes and very warm isothermal clothes even for the spring or autumn. 

Shopping in Krakow

What to buy from Krakow?

Souvenirs and local products.

Visit the central Cloth Hall at Rynek Glowny, where you will find numerous creations of folk art and souvenirs at their best price.

In Krakow, you will find a variety of hand-crafted ceramic objects for everyday use, such as plates and cups with the traditional beautiful polka dot pattern.

A traditional wreath of flowers. During the Middle Ages, it was supposed to give magical powers and protection from evil to the women who wore it. Over time, it symbolized innocence, worn by unmarried young girls. Today, it is mainly a symbol of the local Wianki music festival.

Christmas ornaments. Krakow loves Christmas very much, so beautiful ornaments feature in the central market all year round.

Interview with a local

Krakow through the eyes of Raff

“In Krakow you can see the history in every corner.”

From Krakow with love x

I went to Krakow without expectations. I wanted to fly here to visit Auschwitz without waiting for something specific from the city.
During my stay, I encountered some unforeseen circumstances, with the highlight of not managing to board my return flight and missing the next day’s work.
But after these few hours in Auschwitz, my only thought was, and still is, that ‘it doesn’t matter’. What matters is staying alive.
Finally, about Krakow?
I was delighted to discover this place is a gem with impressive architecture, important museums, and natural grace. The short distances and the reasonable prices are the main reasons for highly recommending it.

But what counts more, and is difficult to describe, is the creative energy and the good vibes. It makes me look forward to visiting again!

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