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15 Best Things to Do in Krakow & 4 Top Places to Visit Nearby (+ Map & Tips)

15 Best Things to Do in Krakow & 4 Top Places to Visit Nearby (+ Map & Tips)

Looking for the best things to do in Kraków, Poland? In this guide, you can read about the VERY BEST sights and TOP tourist attractions in Krakow that are worth your time the most if you are visiting the city for the first time. We also include the most popular places to visit near Krakow that are considered absolute must-sees in the area.

In other words – this guide covers all the top places and experiences that you really shouldn’t miss when visiting Krakow. Find out!

Poland’s second-largest city, Krakow (sometimes also spelled as Cracow) is a welcoming destination that has seen its popularity soar over the last decade. Indeed, Krakow has a lot to offer and there is something here to appeal to every visitor, from a compelling – if troubled – history, to glorious architecture and stunning natural scenery.

In summer, the banks of the River Vistula come alive with locals and tourists enjoying picnics and soaking up the sunshine. Krakow has a fairytale-like appeal in the winter months too, its main square alive with the sights and sounds of the Christmas market and the skeletal trees of Planty Park tipped with snow.

Add to these attractions the incredible Polish cuisine along with some exceptional international eateries, and you have one of the best – and most affordable – European cities for a memorable break.

Read on to discover some of the very best things to do in Krakow if you’re visiting for the first time. For each attraction, we include practical advice to help you plan your visit and insider tips for making the most of your time.

And finally, we also created a map of the best places in Krakow that should help you plan your sightseeing itinerary. Take a look!

TIP: If you are planning on doing lots of sightseeing in Krakow, and visiting all the main attractions and museums, you may want to get the Krakow Card. It’s available for 1, 2, or 3 days and includes access to almost 40 museums in Krakow, unlimited free travel on the city’s buses and trams, and a few other perks.

READ ALSO: Krakow Travel Tips for First Visit

Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) in Krakow Poland
The main market square in Krakow
 

These are the very best places to see and things to do in Kraków:

1. Krakow Old Town

Krakow’s historic Old Town (Stare Miasto) is the best place to visit in the city. It’s here that you will find the majority of the most popular sights and tourist attractions in Krakow.

The importance of the city – once Poland’s capital – is evident here in the magnificent architecture and monuments. The Old Town was once completely enclosed by walls, although very little of these remain today and there is a belt of parkland in their place.

Don’t miss the Kraków Barbican, a 15th-century city gateway on the northern side of the old town. You can also visit St. Florian’s Gate and Defensive Walls and walk on the ramparts for an elevated view of the streets below.

The old town has a fun and vibrant atmosphere from morning until late at night. There is so much here to see and do that it is very easy to spend an entire day just in and around the main square.

Below, you can find more information about many highlights of Krakow’s old town.

Colorful buildings on Florianska street in Krakow old town
Colorful buildings in Krakow’s old town.
 

2. Rynek Główny (Main Market Square)

The cultural, commercial, and historic heart of the city, Rynek Główny is a must-see in Krakow!

Dating back to the mid-13th century, it’s one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. The market square as it is today was laid out following the devastating Mongol invasion that destroyed the original site.

You can see long rows of townhouses on its borders and restaurants surrounding the square on all sides. Despite their Neoclassical facades, some of these are very old and distinguished – particularly The Restauracja Wierzynek. In 1364, a wealthy Krakow merchant named Mikołaj Wierzynek hosted a feast here for the monarchs of Europe on behalf of the Polish King Casimir the Great.

In the summer, the cobbled square regularly hosts street food and flea markets. In the winter, it feels incredibly romantic, the outdoor seating areas of the restaurants covered with glass enclosures and illuminated with fairy lights.

Good to know: No matter in which season you visit, you’ll see horse-drawn carriages lined up in the square. The routes and fares are at the discretion of the individual driver. The most popular route – from Market Square to Wawel Hill – takes around 30 minutes and varies from 200-300 zloty (40-65 euros), depending on the season.

TIP: Don’t miss the smaller square just nearby, Mały Rynek. It’s much quieter and worth a quick look for its colorful architecture.

Krakow Old Town and Market Square aerial view from St Mary Church
Krakow Market Square as seen from the tower of St Mary’s Basilica
 

3. Sukiennice (Cloth Hall)

Krakow’s Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) was built in the 14th century and is one of the most important buildings in the central square. Considered the world’s first shopping mall, it is evidence of Krakow’s importance in medieval European commerce.

In addition to cloth, it once sold exotic items from the east, such as leather, silk, wax, and spices. Though it’s still a market today, you are – sadly – more likely to find mass-produced tourist memorabilia than oriental luxuries.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere is fun and there are some lovely pieces of amber jewelry and handmade lace that you might want to take home as souvenirs.

If you don’t feel like shopping, you may prefer to check out the Sukiennice museum instead. The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art in Sukiennice is located on the upper floor of the building and houses Poland’s largest exhibition of 19th-century Polish paintings and sculptures.

Practical info: The Cloth Hall and museum are open from 10 am Tuesday to Sunday (closing times vary). Both are closed on Mondays. The entry to the museum is included with the Krakow Card.

Main landmarks in Krakow - Cloth Hall (Sukiennice)
Krakow’s Cloth Hall and Town Hall Tower.
 

4. St Mary’s Basilica

Located on the square opposite Cloth Hall, St Mary’s Church is another must-see in Krakow.

This impressive basilica was built in the 14th century on the site of an earlier church destroyed during the Mongol invasion.

St Mary’s Basilica is still an active place of worship, so you can’t visit during services. But if you’d like to take a look inside, head to the building opposite the tourist entrance where you can buy tickets to visit at certain times from spring to autumn. The entry is also included with the city museum card.

It’s worth doing so if you get the chance, as the Gothic altarpiece – the largest in the world – is simply stunning! Just as the blue ceiling with its gold stars and the beautiful stained glass windows in the nave.

Good to know: If you’re feeling energetic, you can climb to a viewing platform near the top of the higher tower. There are almost 300 steps to tackle but the views of the square and across the city are worth the effort!

Interesting to know: On the hour every hour, you can hear a bugler perform an hourly trumpet call – the hejnał mariacki – from the top of its northern tower. You should be able to see him, too, as he repeats the call four times in four different directions. But as you listen, you may wonder why the haunting melody cuts off so abruptly!

That’s because the bugle is played in honor of the original church’s bugler, who is said to have been killed by an arrow as he played to warn Krakow’s citizens of the invaders’ approach.

St. Mary’s Trumpet Call has been broadcast daily at noon on Polish radio since 1927. This makes it the longest-running radio broadcast in the world!

St Mary's Basilica - best places to see in Krakow Poland
Krakow Market Square and St Mary’s Basilica.
 

5. Rynek Underground Museum

Located to the right of the Cloth Hall you’ll find Rynek Underground Museum. This unique museum is devoted to life in Krakow’s Old Town more than 700 years ago. It’s actually an archaeological site that covers a huge area below the main square and houses ruins of the original market and artifacts discovered during excavations.

These include items that give you a real insight into times gone by, such as leather shoes, clay figurines, dice, and beads. You can also see ancient graves and learn more about the city’s trade relationship with the Hanseatic League.

Good to know: There are information boards in both Polish and English, along with engaging interactive video displays. It takes around an hour to see everything.

Practical information: The museum limits the number of visitors and works with timed-entry tickets. So if you absolutely want to visit, it might be a good idea to reserve your tickets on their site in advance. Tickets are also available from the Visitors’ Centre in the Cloth Hall – on the opposite side of the museum’s entrance. Alternatively, you can also visit here with a guided tour.

Rynek Underground Museum in Krakow Poland
Rynek Underground Museum.
 

6. Florianska Street and St. Florian’s Gate

The bustling Florianska Street is one of the main streets in the old town of Krakow. It runs between Market Square and St. Florian’s Gate, part of the city’s 14th-century fortifications built to keep out Turkish invaders.

This wide promenade is lined with interesting buildings and is part of the ‘Royal Road’ from St. Florian’s church to the foot of Wawel Hill.

Strolling between the square and the Gate you’ll pass an interesting mixture of modern-day fast-food eateries and some of the oldest cafes in the city. This is a good place to stop and enjoy a strong coffee and a traditional Polish meal, whilst soaking up the lively and exciting atmosphere.

When you get to St. Florian’s Gate, you’ll probably be greeted with music from one of the buskers that regularly perform in its echoing tunnel.

If you have time, you might like to pay a small fee to visit ‘The City Defence Walls’ exhibition. This includes both Florian’s Gate and the nearby Barbican, giving you the chance to walk along the ramparts and see the Old Town from a higher angle. These are all included with the Krakow Card as well.

TIP: Avoid using the currency exchange offices along Florianska Street as the rates are not as good as elsewhere in the city.

Florianska Street and St Florian Gate in Krakow, Poland
Florianska Street and St Florian’s Gate – Photo parrysuwanitch/depositphotos.com
 

7. Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral

Wawel Royal Castle is another must-see in Krakow that should be on every itinerary. This impressive, UNESCO-listed complex holds a lofty position atop Wawel Hill, just about 15 minutes walk from the city center. The sweeping views across the city and the Vistula from the bulwarks are stunning!

The seat of the King of Poland from the 13th to the 17th century, Wavel Castle is exceptionally important to the Polish people. The uniquely mixed architecture gives a hint to its turbulent past and the many rulers that have occupied it.

If your time in Krakow is limited, then you can visit for free and simply take a walk through the gardens and around the grounds, and check out Wavel Cathedral. If you want to explore the area at your own pace and learn about the fascinating history and stories of this place, we highly recommend getting an audio guide. It’s just a few euros and well worth it.

But if you have more time available, it’s well worth seeing all that Wawel Castle has to offer! It has been a museum since the 1940s and is splendid inside, with glorious State Rooms, a Treasury, and extensive art exhibitions.

Highlights include paintings by Veronese, Gobelin tapestries, and Szczerbiec – the ceremonial sword used in the coronations of almost all Polish monarchs from 1320 to 1764. It is also the only preserved part of the medieval Polish crown jewels.

If you are visiting Krakow with children, don’t miss the Wawel Dragon Statue which stands on Wawel Hill, next to the Vistula River. It breathes ‘real’ fire (thanks to a supply of natural gas).

Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral - one of the most popular attractions in Krakow Poland
Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral.
 

Practical info: You can find more information about visiting the individual attractions at the castle and book tickets here. Alternatively, there is a really good guided tour available.

Good to know: For the best photos of the entire castle complex, stand on the Grunwald Bridge across the Vistula river. If you get time, pop back at night – the scene looks magical with the lights from the castle reflected on the water!

TIP: After visiting the Castle, stop for lunch or dinner at Pod Wawelem, a traditional Polish restaurant that sits at the foot of the Hill. The food is exceptional and you’ll be served by staff dressed in traditional clothing for an authentic experience. The restaurant is as popular with locals as it is with tourists, so reserve your table in advance, especially if visiting during the weekend.

The courtyard of Wavel Castle - best things to do in Krakow
The courtyard of Wavel Castle
 

8. Vistula River Cruise

If you are looking for something relaxing to do in Krakow away from the hustle and bustle of the main attractions, consider a short excursion on the Vistula River by boat.

From the water, you can take in breathtaking views of the city including some of Krakow’s most important landmarks such as the Wawel Castle, the Convent of the Norbertine Sisters, or the house of Pope John Paul II, to mention just a few.

In addition, you get an informative but also entertaining audio commentary of all the sights you pass along the way. There is a big variety of boats that you can choose from; some boats also have a bar where you can get a drink.

Good to know: Most Vistula River Cruises start/end at the foot of Wawel Castle and take about 1 hour. They run the whole year. It’s a nice way to see more of the city and at the same time rest your legs a bit after all the walking and sightseeing in the center of Krakow.

TIP: Here you can find all the best options for a Vistula River Cruise. This is the most popular cruise at the moment. If you are looking for a more special experience, you can opt for a private tour on a traditional ‘gondola’.

Vistula River Cruise - popular things to do in Krakow for tourists
Traditional gondola on the Vistula River.
 

9. Vistula Boulevards

Exploring the wide, manmade banks of the Vistula River is a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon in Krakow and a great opportunity to mingle with the locals.

Developed from 1907 to 1913 for flood management, the Vistula Boulevards are ideal for walking or cycling, giving you a unique perspective on the city. You’ll find barges moored along the banks selling all different types of food, or you can simply turn up with a picnic and watch the world go by!

TIP: The Czerwieński Boulevard – between the Dębnicki and Grunwaldzki bridges – is the most popular section, and here you’ll find the Wawel Dragon and a statue of the dog Dżok. You can also see the handprints of celebrities like Celine Dion on the Avenue of Stars.

Another point of interest is the modern Bernatka Footbridge that links Podgórze with Kazimierz. It is decorated with sculptures that look as if they are floating. It has also gained a reputation as a bridge of love and you’ll see many locks attached to the railings where couples have attached them before throwing away the keys.

The banks of Vistula River in Krakow
The banks of the Vistula River.
 

10. Jewish Quarter

South of Krakow’s Old Town lies Kazimierz. This neighborhood has been home to the city’s Jewish population since the 15th century.

Just opposite it – on the right bank of the Vistula – sits the Podgórze district, which is where the Krakow ghetto was established by the Nazis in 1941. Here, Polish Jews lived in miserable and cramped conditions until 1943, when the ghetto was ‘liquidated’.

From this point onwards, the entire Jewish district fell into disrepair. But gradual improvements and its later use as a location for the movie ‘Schindler’s List’ transformed the Jewish District. It is now one of the most attractive parts of the city, filled with quaint old buildings, indie galleries, quirky shops, and eateries that look much as they would have done in the past.

Here you can find The Old Synagogue – as its name suggests, the oldest synagogue in Krakow. Unusually, it is a part fortress, too, designed to protect Jewish citizens during a siege. Looted, then converted to a warehouse by the Nazis, it is now a museum where you can learn more about the history and traditions of Polish Jews. The entrance here is also included with the Krakow Card.

Old Synagogue in Krakow Poland
Old Synagogue of Krakow.
 

A sobering sight when visiting the Jewish district is the Ghetto Heroes Square, where you can see large and small chairs placed in a grid on the cobbles. These symbolize the empty seats left behind, caused by the many deaths that took place here during World War II. This is one of the most moving places to see in Krakow. You can also see a plaque marking the spot where a resistance unit called the ‘Jewish Combat Organization’ used to meet.

Be sure to visit Plac Nowy, referred to for generations by locals as the Jewish Square. It looks far more run down than Rynek Główny but has a much more authentic feel, with stalls selling everything from antiques to pigeons, depending on when you visit.

Good to know: You can find excellent food at Plac Nowy, particularly the ‘zapiekanki’ – a sort of French bread pizza sold from a hatch in the rotunda. We also recommend stopping at Cytat Cafe, a unique venue piled with books that serves an inspirational quote with every cup of coffee!

TIP: One of the best ways to visit the Jewish ghetto (and learn the stories behind the buildings and the streets) is with a local guide. There are really good walking tours, or you can opt for this highly-rated bike tour. In about 4 hours, you cover all the main sights of Krakow including the Old Town, Kazimierz, the Ghetto, and many sites featured in the movie ‘Schindler’s List’.

Empty chairs on Ghetto Heroes Square in the Jewish Neighborhood in Krakow Poland
Empty chairs on Ghetto Heroes Square – Photo efesenko/depositphotos.com
 

11. Schindler’s Factory

Within a 30-minute walk of the Old Town, the Schindler’s Factory Museum is another place that is well worth seeing in Krakow.

If you have seen the movie or read the book, then you will be familiar with the story of Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist credited with saving the lives of more than 1,000 Jews in World War II. Although a visit to the museum will reveal a somewhat different character to that depicted by Hollywood.

This museum is housed in the former enamelware factory that he took over after the occupation. Despite its name, this attraction isn’t just devoted to Schindler. Instead, the museum looks in detail at the occupation of Krakow by the German army at that time and the effects it had on ordinary citizens.

Some of the exhibits relate directly to Schindler, including a desk believed to be his, along with accounts of how he helped save lives and details of his famous ‘list’. But the wider exhibition contains reconstructions of ghetto dwellings and artifacts, helping you understand how everyday life was in Krakow at that time for both Poles and Jews.

Good to know: There are few interactive exhibits and the subject matter is geared toward a mature audience, so it’s not recommended for children under the age of 14.

Practical info: Visitor numbers are limited, so be sure to book your ticket in advance. The entry here is also included with the Krakow Card. Although you can visit the factory independently, we recommend considering a guided tour to get the most out of your visit. Private tours are also very affordable.

Oskar Schindler desk at Schindler’s Factory Museum in Krakow Poland
Oskar Schindler’s desk at the museum.
 

12. Saints Peter & Paul Church

The Jesuit Church of Saints Peter and Paul is one of the most beautiful churches in Krakow. It’s located on Grodzka Street, between the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter, so you’ll likely pass here anyway when sightseeing in Krakow; so be sure to take a look.

Built early in the 1600s, it was Krakow’s first baroque building and features statues of the twelve apostles outside (although these are contemporary replicas of the originals, which you can now see in the side yard).

Finished in Italian marble and with striking iron railings, its exterior is stunning. It’s also quite unique in a city filled with churches.

The inside – whilst beautiful – isn’t quite as impressive. Apparently, this is because the Jesuits spent so much money on the façade that there was little left for the interior. But it still has some interesting details, with a magnificent baroque altarpiece, ornate organ, and stucco decorations depicting scenes in the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul.

TIP: The best way to appreciate The Church of SS Peter & Paul is to attend one of the classical concerts held there. The acoustics are outstanding, creating a wonderful experience you won’t forget. You can find details of upcoming concerts here. Usually, you can just book the tickets for the same day. Also, sometimes, you can hear live organ music simply when visiting the church.

Best things to do in Krakow - Saints Peter & Paul Church
Saints Peter & Paul Church
 

13. Jagiellonian University

Jagiellonian University is also worth a quick visit when exploring Krakow’s old town. Founded in 1364 by King Casimir III the Great, it is one of the oldest universities in Europe, with a rich history.

Visiting the university museum (Muzeum Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego Collegium Maius) is a great way to learn about the history and culture of Poland. Plus, the interior is very impressive as well.

But even if you have no time to go inside, it’s well worth coming here for the stunning Gothic architecture of the main building of the university, Collegium Maius, where the museum is located. It has a beautiful courtyard and pretty much all the walking- and biking tours of the old town pass here as well. The courtyard is open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm.

TIP: Don’t miss the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik), the famous 15-16th century astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that for the first time placed the Sun at its center and not the Earth. He’s one of the most famous alumni of Jagiellonian University.

Good to know: The museum offers guided tours on weekdays, every 30 minutes between 10 am and 1 pm. At 1 pm, they also run extended guided tours of the main exhibition in English, including the collection of scientific instruments. Free (unguided) entry on Wednesday afternoons. For more info, see their website.

Jagiellonian University Collegium Maius - top places to visit in Krakow Poland
Collegium Maius, Jagiellonian University.
 

14. Planty Park

Early in the 19th century, Krakow underwent quite a drastic transformation when Franz I, Emperor of Austro-Hungary, ordered that the medieval fortifications surrounding the Old Town were dismantled.

Following this, the moat was leveled off and Planty Park – a 4-kilometer (2.5 miles) green belt of English landscaped gardens – was established in its place. An oasis of calm and spotlessly clean, the park is lush in the summer and Christmas card perfect in the winter.

Planty Park encircles the entire old town and is the ideal place to take a break from all the sightseeing and enjoy a small slice of local life. This green space is an integral part of life in the city and you’ll see lots of locals walking their dogs among the sculptures and fountains.

Krakow Barbican and Planty Park
Krakow Barbican and Planty Park around the old town.
 

15. Traditional Food & Folk Shows

No visit to Krakow would be complete without experiencing traditional Polish cuisine. You’ll find lots of really nice restaurants in the city, and there are also markets and street food stalls where you can try all kinds of local specialties.

You can also find a variety of food-tasting tours, cooking classes, pub crawls, etc. See here for a complete selection. This is one of the best-rated Polish food tours, and a pierogi cooking class.

Be sure to try Oscypek, a regional specialty! It’s a type of smoked cheese made from sheep’s milk and is usually served grilled with cranberry sauce. Another dish you really have to try is Pierogi. These are traditional Polish dumplings filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, potatoes, or sauerkraut. They can be boiled, fried, or baked and are usually served with sour cream.

Other traditional Polish dishes include Kielbasa, which is any type of meat sausage – served grilled or boiled – and a staple of Polish cuisine. Be sure to also try Bigos, a hearty stew made with sauerkraut and kielbasa.

TIP: A popular tourist attraction in Krakow is a traditional dinner with a folk show. These typically include a hearty meal accompanied by dancing and singing in regional costumes. The most popular place for this in the center of town is Jama Michalika Café, on Florianka Street (reserve here). Alternatively, you can opt for a similar experience at a restaurant just outside of Krakow overlooking the beautiful Lake Kryspinów (they offer great value for your money, including a comfortable bus transfer from the city center – reserve here).

Polish smoked cheese Oscypek in Krakow
Smoked cheese Oscypek is a regional specialty.
 

Now that we covered the main sights and attractions in the city, let’s take a look at some of the most popular places to visit near Krakow:

16. Wieliczka Salt Mine

Located around a 30-minute drive from Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of Poland’s most popular tourist attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage site. While a mine may not sound like the most exciting place to visit, this one is unlike any you will have encountered before. It’s an absolute must-see when visiting Krakow!

Built in the 13th century, the mine reaches a depth of 327 meters (1,072 ft) below ground and has 9 levels. It covers an incredible 245 km (152 miles), but only about 2% of the labyrinth is accessible to the public.

As you can imagine, you can only see the mines as part of a tour, as it would be very easy to get lost in this vast labyrinth of hollowed-out corridors and chambers.

Inside, you can see the truly incredible statues carved out of the rock salt by the original miners. It is difficult to believe that everything you see is made from salt! You will hear stories from your guide about the many visitors who have even licked the walls to make sure.

At certain points, music and strategic lighting are used to highlight the beauty of the sculptures, crystal grottoes, and saline lakes you encounter. But nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the St Kinga’s Chapel, where even the massive chandeliers are made from salt!

The most popular is the ‘Tourist Route’ which brings you to the most impressive galleries and sculptures. If you prefer a more ‘hands-on’ experience, you can opt for the Miners’ Route. This includes activities like testing the air, searching for salt, and working out which paths to follow.

Wieliczka Salt Mine - one of the best places to visit near Krakow
Wieliczka Salt Mine.
 

Interesting to know: The air in the mines is considered incredibly healthy. So healthy, in fact, that the horses who used to live and work in the mines lived several years longer than those from above ground.

The incredible preservative effect of the salt air is also evidenced by the effigies of Jesus and Mary in one of the chambers. They have been there for hundreds of years and have never been restored, yet their colors remain incredibly vivid.

Good to know: The 3.5 km Tourist Route involves a descend a total of 800 steps. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes! The good news is that there is a lift waiting at the end of the route to return you to the surface. The temperatures below ground can be surprisingly warm, so dress in layers to remain comfortable throughout the experience.

Practical info: You can book a tour with or without transfers from Krakow here. If you choose to go it alone, the journey by Uber is relatively inexpensive, or you can take a public bus. There is a restaurant at the end of the route serving excellent Polish food at very affordable prices.

LEARN MORE: How to Visit Wielczka Salt Mine

TIP: If you want to see some of the best places near Krakow but have limited time, consider this popular 2-in-1 tour that visits Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz in a day. It’s one of the best day trips from Krakow!

Salt Sculptures at Wieliczka Salt Mines near Krakow Poland
Salt Sculptures at Wieliczka Salt Mine.
 

17. Auschwitz

Few tourists come to Krakow without visiting the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Memorial. It commemorates victims of Nazi atrocities during World War II and ensures the Holocaust is never forgotten. This is an absolute must-see in the area!

The site is located in Oświęcim (the Polish name for ‘Auschwitz’), a small city about 70 km to the west of Krakow. It is divided into two parts: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

At the camps, you will have the opportunity to see many of the original roads, fences, and accommodation blocks, along with personal items like clothing, suitcases, shoes, and glasses. It is a very moving experience.

To enter the original Auschwitz concentration camp you will need a ticket. The Auschwitz 2-Birkenau camp – located around 3km away – is free to visit. It is best to see both, however, particularly since the museum is housed in the original camp. A free shuttle runs between them throughout the day.

Good to know: You may be asked for ID when entering the camp, so bring your passport. Large bags are not permitted. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes – particularly in winter when the camps can be very muddy. Please also note that it’s not recommended for kids under the age of 14.

Practical info: We highly recommend booking a tour to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Memorial that includes transportation from Krakow. It’s possible to travel independently but you will need to be sure to book your tickets in advance, as the site is so busy that you could otherwise be refused entry.

Tours last around 3.5 hours and your travel time is around 3 to 4 hours in total, so you will need to set aside most of the day for your visit.

TIP: This is the best-rated day tour from Krakow. As already mentioned before, you can also opt for a 2-in-1 tour that includes a visit here and also visits Wieliczka Salt Mine on the same day.

LEARN MORE: Visiting Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Auschwitz Concentration Camp Memorial Poland
Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
 

18. Zakopane

Zakopane is a beautiful town at the foot of the Tatra mountains and one of the most popular nature destinations near Krakow. It’s a 2-hour drive just to get there, so you’ll need to set aside a full day for a quick visit. Or even stay in the area for a few days, especially if traveling in the summer.

But if you have the time, then it’s a trip we strongly recommend you take! In the summer, Zakopane is wonderful for hiking, its lush valleys filled with crocuses and the crystal-clear lakes sparkling in the sunshine.

In the colder months, it transforms into a winter wonderland, the slopes of the mountains deep in snow, and a range of pursuits to enjoy from sledding to skiing!

Good to know: The area is also well-known for its geothermal hot springs. Most tours will include these in their itinerary, so pack a swimsuit and a towel!

TIP: One of the best ways to experience Zakopane on a quick visit is with a day tour from Krakow.

LEARN MORE: Zakopane Day Trip from Krakow (tour review)

Mountain lake in Zakopane - top places near Krakow
Morskie Oko mountain lake in Zakopane.
 

19. Energylandia

Energylandia is a large amusement park located in Zator, about 1-hour drive east of Krakow (on the way to Auschwitz).

This is the largest theme park in Poland, featuring roller coasters, water rides, live shows, and countless fun attractions for the whole family. In the summer, you can also enjoy water slides, so pack your swimwear! There are lots of good places to eat here too and you could easily spend several days here.

If you are traveling with a family and are looking for something fun to do in Krakow with kids, then definitely plan a day trip to Energylandia!

Good to know: The park is open daily between May and September and also on some weekends and holidays during the lower season.

If you are renting a car, you can easily drive there on your own. But there are also private or shared transfers available. You can find all the best options for tickets and/or transfers here.

Energylandia amusement park in Poland - best places to visit near Krakow with kids
Energylandia – Photo Olivia/depositphotos.com
 

More places to visit in Krakow if you have time

Here are a few additional recommendations for things to do and places to see in Krakow if you have more time:

  • Chopin Concert. Experience the wonderful piano music by Poland’s most famous composer in a music hall in the old town. See here for more info and tickets.
  • Botanical Garden of Jagiellonian University. This is one of the best botanical gardens in Poland and is especially beautiful in the warmer months. More info here.
  • Kościuszko Mound. This artificial mound was erected in 1823 to honor Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish hero, and is quite a unique place to see in Krakow. From the top of the hill, you have a great view of the city. There is also a museum at the bottom and you will need to pay a fee in order to access the hill, but the views are worth it.
  • The Princes Czartoryski Museum. This is an art museum in the old town of Krakow. The main highlight here is the Lady with Ermine painting by Leonardo da Vinci (without the crowds of the Louvre in Paris ;)). You can find more info and tickets here. This museum is also included with the Krakow City Card.
  • Lost Souls Alley. This an interactive ‘haunted’ house, popular with young people and suitable for bachelor/ette parties. It’s located on Florianska street in the old town.
  • WOMAI. This is a relatively new attraction located close to the railway station. Essentially, it is two exhibitions in one. The first is a journey through darkness using only your 4 senses, designed to help you see the world from the perspective of someone who is blind. The second is a unique maze of lights, colors, and games that teaches scientific concepts in a fun way.
  • Polish Aviation Museum. Located on an old airfield a bit outside of the city, this is an interesting museum for all aviation enthusiasts and a great place to visit in Krakow with kids. You can see lots of planes and helicopters, and the museum has an indoor and outdoor section. You can find more info and book tickets here. This museum is also included with the Krakow City Card.
  • …. As you can imagine, a big city like Krakow has a lot more museums and tourist attractions than mentioned in this guide. But if you are visiting the city for the first time, you’ll need several days in order to visit just the main sights, not even to mention the additional recommendations. If you have even more time or are looking to get a bit off the beaten path, check out several other museums that are included with the city card (there are almost 40!).
Kosciuszko Mound - tourist attractions in Krakow Poland
Kościuszko Mound.
 

Where to stay

Since Krakow’s old town is very walkable, we recommend staying close to the main tourist attractions in the historic city center. If you are planning on doing day trips, stay in the northern part of the old town, closer to the railway station.

Here are some of the most popular highly-rated hotels for different budgets (even luxury hotels are very affordable in Krakow):

TIP: If you are arriving in Krakow by plane, you can reserve a private airport transfer here.

Map of the main tourist attractions in Krakow

To help you plan your time in Krakow, we created a map indicating all the sights mentioned in this article. As you can see, most attractions are located very close to each other.

TIP: If you only have a few days in Krakow and are wondering how to best plan your time, take a look at our suggested itinerary in the link below. In that article, you will also find more practical information for visiting Krakow, getting around the city, airport transfers, tipping, places to stay, etc. Check it out!

READ ALSO: Krakow Itinerary for 2-3 Days

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

 

So, this is our guide to Krakow’s main attractions. We hope that you find it helpful and that you enjoy exploring every facet of this remarkable and unforgettable city.

Have a great trip!

READ ALSO: Tips & Info for Visiting Krakow

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Best places to visit and things to do in Krakow (Cracow) Poland
Tops sights and tourist attractions in and near Krakow Poland
 

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