Forget Warsaw – Krakow is where it’s at! Krakow is one of Poland’s oldest cities, and oozes culture, history and charm from every pore. If you’re after medieval streets, Gothic churches and a dash of modern city life, this is the place to get it.
Krakow has seen a lot in its history – and not all of it has been good. Visit the Galicia Jewish Museum to see the incredibly moving Holocaust exhibits, then head to Podgorze to visit the infamous Krakow Ghetto depicted in Schindler’s List (and where much of the film was actually made).
Krakow also mixes relaxation with remembrance, thanks to stunning Planty Park or lush Las Wolski Forest– a hiker’s favourite. Then head to Szewska Street for great eats, a spot of shopping and a thriving nightlife.
Krakow's Top 10
10. Krakow Zoo A lush forest backdrop and everything from elephants to owls.
5. Galeria Krakowska Grab your money and go! Nearly 300 stores will fulfil your every shopping desire.
9. Kazimierz Home to cool, boho-style boutiques and rockin’ food. Anyone up for matza ball soup?
4. Wawel Castle An extraordinary art museum as well as an architectural gem.
8. Słowacki Theatre Dress up to the nines and head to a show at this very glam theatre.
3. St Mary’s This 13th century church may not look like much from the outside, but wait till you see its interior.
7. Florianska Street If you don’t want to do the malls, this buzzing shopping strip will make you very happy. Very.
2. Cloth Hall Renaissance architecture with a hint of Gothic goodness! This city icon has a museum and plenty of handicraft traders within its walls.
6. Old Synagogue The oldest synagogue in the country has seen a hell of a lot over the years. Plus, it’s pretty on the inside.
1. Market Square The historic city centre is home to plenty of medieval building and local buzz.
- Wawel Castle - Explore this historic castle and its surrounds, located near the Vistula River.
- Synagogue of Remuh - Built in 1557, this synagogue is home to ancient vestments, and next to the synagogue is an age-old cemetery.
- Sukiennice - Built in the early 14th century, this trading hall boasts a fine example of Gothic style.
- Town Hall Tower - The tower is home to a fascinating museum.
- Barbakan - The largest European defence building to be found in Krakow.
Krakow Art & Culture
- National Museum - This museum has several branches throughout Krakow.
- The Sukiennice - Home to some of the best collections of 19th-century paintings Poland has to offer.
- International Cultural Centre - An extensive collection of temporary art exhibitions, with a rooftop terrace offering stunning views of the city centre.
- Centre of Japanese Art & Technology - Home to the National Museum’s Japanese artefacts.
- Galicia Jewish Museum - An exhibition of photographs of locations in Poland associated with the Holocaust.
- Plac Nowy - An open-air flea market is the ideal place to go shopping for bargains.
- Hala Targowa - Another of Krakow’s open-air flea markets full of inexpensive goods.
- Galeria Krakowska - A 27-store shopping centre located next to the main train station in Krakow.
- Galeria Kazimierz - A large shopping centre offering numerous stores, boutiques and eating establishments, as well as a cinema.
- Krakow Plaza - Home to some of Krakow’s best clothing stores.
Gay & Lesbian Krakow
- Kitsh - One of Krakow’s most well-known gay clubs. The dance floor is always busy, so be sure to get here early.
- Club Coco - Open only on Fridays and Saturdays, this venue is the place to dance the night away. A popular venue to mix with the gay community and make new friends in the city.
- Blue Bar Club - A discreet yet quality gay bar located near to the Old Town.
- Ciemnia Club - A club strictly for men only and the ideal place to enjoy a drink in the evening.
- Pozytywka - A gay-friendly cafe featuring an underground dance floor.
- Royal Way - Walk the Royal Way from St Florian's Gate to the Wawel castle on a fine summer’s day in the city.
- Hejnal Mariacki - Listen to the sound of the trumpet signal while enjoying the scenery at the Rynek Glowny.
- Planty - Take a stroll around this large park in the surrounds of the Old Town, an ideal place for families visiting Krakow.
- Kazimierz - Visit this district to explore Krakow’s rich Jewish past.
- Rynek Glowny - A fine medieval square found in the heart of the Old City.
- Watch 13-time Polish champions, the Wisła Krakow football club.
- Catch five-time champions, the Cracovia football club, at their home ground in the city.
- Enjoy watching the first-league rugby club Juvenia Krakow.
- Marvel at the skills of the eight-time Polish ice hockey champions, the Cracovia Krakow.
- Support the runners of the annual Cracovia Marathon.
June’s Lajkonik Festival celebrates the Polish defeat of the Tarters back in the 13th century. Expect plenty of food, a colourful parade and music and dancing till nightfall.
The Crossroads Traditional Music Festival in late July features concerts and workshops. If you’re not a hard-core folk fan, look out for the genre-mix concerts featuring folk combined with a little jazz, pop and even rap.
The STREETART International Festival of Street Theatre fills Market Square with jugglers, magicians, contortionists and puppeteers. It’s fun, it’s colourful and free! July to September.
August’s Coke Live Music Festival features everything from R&B to rock and local acts to international megastars.
Locals compete to create the best szopkas (super-embellished, multistorey cots topped with city images) for December’s Nativity Cribs. Very cool.
When To Go
- Krakow’s summers are pretty mild at around 23°C (73ºF), but its winters can be brutal. Expect it to get as low as -5°C (23ºF) during the day and -15°C (5ºF) at night. Rug up, kids!
- If you want an event-filled trip, head over in summer for the festivals.
- Summer is also the wettest time of year, so be prepared!
- Public transport is pretty, with trams, trains and buses. Stick to the buses and trams in town, as the trains are best only if you’re city-hopping.
- If you’re up for some walking, Krakow is pretty easy to explore on foot.
- Don’t bother hiring yourself a car – the parking is horrendous/expensive and the locals’ driving skills are… interesting. Hire a bike, instead.
Peerless culture and historical import make the most significant city in Poland one of the best destinations in Europe, period. While the 20th century was as unkind to Kraków as one can imagine, with the segregation and eventual extermination of a vast Jewish population by Nazi Germany in World War II and the subsequent conversion of the city into a cold, industrial Soviet satellite by Stalin, the onset of a new dawn heralds promise. One visit to Kraków is enough to convince anyone that the city, and indeed Poland as a whole, has limitless potential as a legitimate and bona fide tourism destination.
Kraków simply has it all, the result of a long history as a progressive center of intellectual and social activism. A hub of science, culture and the arts, the city boasts a dynamic populace and one of the most diverse collections of museums and architectural gems on the continent. From the Middle Ages to the Soviet Empire, traces of the past are everywhere, with enough UNESCO World Heritage eye candy to keep your digital camera busy for days.
Attractions & Acitivties
Restaurants & Nightlife
Kraków has a temperate climate with long, cold winters and humid summers. Rain is heaviest between May and August.
- Winter (November to March) -7-7°C
- Spring (April to May) 3-18°C
- Summer (June to August) 11-23°C
- Fall (September to October) 4-18°C
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