10 Best Things to Do in Krakow, Poland

Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland, is not just a city; it’s a tale unfolding on the cobblestone streets of its historic centers. Each corner hides a fragment of its rich past, which has been meticulously preserved and presented to travelers from around the globe. Whether you’re a history buff, an art aficionado, or a traveler with an insatiable curiosity, Krakow offers a kaleidoscope of experiences that are both captivating and enriching.

From the majestic Wawel Royal Castle to the poignant remnants of World War II at Auschwitz-Birkenau, every moment in Krakow is poignant with history. Amidst this historical tapestry, modern life blossoms vibrantly, with a bustling nightlife and a vibrant culinary scene that will enthrall your senses.

Here, we will guide you through the top 10 things you can’t miss in this European gem, ensuring your trip is not just fabulous, but informed and memorable.

1. Explore the Historic Old Town

Krakow’s Stare Miasto, or Old Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a treasure trove of architectural marvels. The heart of the Old Town is the Main Market Square, one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe. It’s a living museum, lined with picturesque townhouses and dominated by the Gothic towers of St. Mary’s Basilica. You can’t miss the hourly bugle call from the tallest tower, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. A visit to the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) in the center of the square allows you to shop for local crafts, amber jewelry, and souvenirs.

2. Visit Wawel Royal Castle

Perched on a hill overlooking the Vistula River, the Wawel Royal Castle is a symbol of Poland’s former glory. Enter through the grand gate and wander through royal apartments adorned with period furniture and stunning artworks. Don’t forget to peer into the infamous Dragon’s Den, a mysterious limestone cave beneath the castle shrouded in legend. It’s said that a dragon once terrorized the locals from this very cave.

3. Discover the Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz

Crossing the river from the Old Town, you’ll find yourself in Kazimierz, the historic Jewish Quarter. This area has witnessed a renaissance in recent years, transforming from the somber remnants of World War II to a Bohemian district filled with vibrant life. Discover centuries-old synagogues and important Jewish heritage sites, or simply wander its eclectic streets, adorned with striking street art and dotted with inviting cafes and restaurants.

4. Tour Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

Just outside Krakow lies a place that needs no introduction, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. A visit here is a solemn and haunting experience, but it is also a fundamental part of understanding the city’s history and the resilience of the human spirit. Book a guided tour to walk through the barracks, see the infamous gate with its chilling slogan, and reflect by the memorial. This visit is not just about the past; it is a solemn reminder to strive for a better future.

5. Enjoy Polish Cuisine

No trip to Krakow is complete without indulging in traditional Polish cuisine. Be sure to sample pierogi (polish dumplings), barszcz (beetroot soup), and obwarzanek (a local bagel). Krakow’s food scene offers a plethora of options, from cozy milk bars serving hearty, home-cooked meals to high-end restaurants putting a modern twist on classic dishes. Make your trip a culinary adventure by trying something new every day.

Related: 12 Best things to do in Warsaw, Poland

6. Stroll along the Vistula River

The Vistula River is the longest river in Poland and runs through the heart of Krakow. A walk along its banks offers a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Discover charming parks like the Planty or Bernatka, stroll across one of the ornate bridges that span the river, or take a leisurely river cruise to admire the city’s skyline from a new perspective.

7. Experience Krakow’s Nightlife

Krakow’s nightlife is as diverse as its daytime activities. For a lively evening, head to the cellars and courtyards of the Old Town. Where you’ll find countless bars and clubs. The city has a strong live music scene, ranging from classical to jazz and rock. Don’t miss out on hearing some Chopin in the city where he once lived. Or groove to the tunes of contemporary Polish bands.

8. Shop at the Cloth Hall

The Sukiennice, or Cloth Hall, has been a trading hall for merchants selling cloth, salt, and other goods for centuries. Today, it’s where you can find one of the city’s best shopping experiences. The ground floor is filled with vendors selling an array of goods. And the upper floor houses the Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art in the Sukiennice, a must-visit for art lovers.

9. Attend a Cultural Event or Festival

Krakow’s rich cultural heritage comes to life through numerous events and festivals. From the International Cultural Centre’s lectures on literary history to the city’s many theaters and galleries, there’s always something happening. The city hosts events year-round, from the vibrant and eclectic Jewish Culture Festival to the solemn Beethoven Easter Festival. Offering something for every taste.

10. Day Trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine

A short drive from Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site that reaches 135 meters underground. It’s a marvel of engineering and human effort, with intricate chambers, chapels, and sculptures carved entirely out of salt. The mine’s highlights include the Chapel of St. Kinga. Where everything, including the chandeliers, is made of salt, and the stunning underground lake. A visit here is sure to astonish and inspire with its testament to human creativity and ingenuity.


Krakow is a city that seamlessly marries its past with its present, offering visitors an unparalleled mix of history, culture, and experiences. From the grandeur of its castles to the poignancy of its memorials. Every moment in Krakow is a chance to connect with the layers of humanity that have shaped this remarkable city.

With our top 10 recommendations, you’ll be able to immerse yourself fully in all that Krakow has to offer. But remember, the best way to experience a new place is with an open mind and a willingness to explore. Whether you’re wandering through the Old Town or sharing a meal with locals. You’ll find that the true charm of Krakow lies in the unexpected discoveries waiting around every corner.

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