Due to its importance in Poland’s history, Krakow is a must-visit for all history buffs. Sounds boring? Don’t worry, it has a lot to offer to all types of travelers. Located in the south of the country and not far from the Tatra Mountains, it is a popular place on the map of Poland. Krakow is rich in culture and bustling with life – it is great for couples who want to enjoy a romantic weekend, families or those who are traveling alone. Doesn’t matter if you are in Krakow in winter or in summer – hot or not, you will surely enjoy your time there! If you are planning to visit that historic city then have a look at our list of top 10 things to do in Krakow and get ready for your trip!
1. Stroll around the Old Town and go inside Saint Mary’s Basilica
Want to see the biggest medieval market square in Europe? Then the Main Square in Krakow is the first place that you should visit. As the heart of the city and the old town, it is always lively and busy. Apart from restaurants and little shops, Krakow Market Square is where you will find some major attractions, like one of the most favorite places to photograph – Saint Mary’s Basilica. That gothic church is a UNESCO Heritage Site and houses the largest gothic altarpiece in the world. Every hour you can hear St. Mary’s Trumpet Call (known as Hejnał Mariacki in Polish) being played by a trumpeter from the tallest tower of the church. Another landmark on the main square is the Krakow Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) where you can buy hand made souvenirs. Krakow Market Square is charming at all times, so walking around it is equally wonderful during the day and at night. However, keep in mind that if you would like to enter Saint Mary’s Basilica and admire the famous wooden altarpiece by Veit Stoss then make sure you are there in the daytime.
2. See where Polish kings lived
Wawel Castle is another place in Krakow that is on the UNESCO list and it was home to Polish kings between 13th and 17th centuries. The castle is located on a hill next to the Vistula River and boasts great views. The castle’s museum is home to numerous artifacts, so if you want to go back in time and see how Polish royalty lived centuries ago then a tour of the castle will definitely be worthwhile. Don’t forget to visit the Wawel Cathedral where Polish kings were coronated and later buried.
3. Watch out for the Dragon!
Wondering about things to do in Krakow with kids? After getting familiar with the riches of past kings, head to the Dragon’s Den. It is a fun spot on the map of Krakow where you can get to know the Polish legend about a dragon that ruled over the city and was finally killed by a simple, but smart, shoemaker. Besides the den there is a dragon statue which spits fire, so don’t miss the chance to get a photo!
4. Enjoy food and the atmosphere in the old Jewish Quarter
Kazimierz, Krakow’s former Jewish Quarter, is a unique district with narrow, cobbled streets where you can find a number of small shops and cafes (and have a very satisfying eating experience). If you are looking for a romantic thing to do in Krakow then a cozy dinner in this area is a good idea. The district is also close to the Vistula River so after wining and dining couples can go on a lazy stroll with lovely views.
5. Get active and enjoy the views
For those who would like to mix a history lesson and panoramic views with a bit of activity, the Kosciuszko Mound will be a fun thing to do while in Krakow. The mound was built to honor Tadeusz Kosciuszko and is now a museum where you can learn about that Polish hero. After a relatively easy climb on the mound you will be rewarded with a great panorama of Krakow. If you’re in Krakow in summer then make it even more fun and active by taking a bike.
6. Step into medieval times
If the sky is not clear enough to appreciate the views from the Kosciuszko Mound, then opt for the Rynek Underground Museum which will be a unique experience even when it’s raining. The Rynek Underground Museum in Krakow is located right underneath the Main Market Square and what makes it unique is that it is an authentic market square from the Middle Ages. It was excavated fairly recently and includes medieval stalls and various treasures, so now you can see it and feel like you stepped into different times.
7. Admire the art
Krakow is a city where you can find an abundance of art and it has a number of different museums and art galleries, so you can pick the ones that suit your tastes most. Apart from having the chance to see masterpieces, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine” in the Czartoryski Museum or Veit Stoss’ altar in Saint Mary’s Basilica, you can also have a look at modern art. For example, fans of contemporary art can see an impressive collection of paintings in MOCAK (Museum of Contemporary Art) or Bunkier Sztuki. On the other hand, if graphic art is more your style then you can stop by Krakow’s Poster Gallery. Any fans of Japanese culture here? Although it may seem like a surprising thing to do in Krakow, visiting Manggha – Museum of Japanese Art and Technology is definitely worth your time.
8. Visit Schindler’s Former Factory,
If you have seen Steven Spielberg’s movie “Schindler’s List” and want to see the factory where the movie was filmed, as well as learn more about Oskar Schindler then this will be an interesting visit for you. In Krakow, you have the chance to see Oskar Schindler’s Factory with your own eyes as the building has been turned into a museum. Apart from presenting the hero’s background, Schindler’s Factory Museum is where you can find out more about the Nazi occupation of Poland.
9. Experience Krakow at night
After admiring all the art and architecture, go out into the city and enjoy its nightlife. Wondering what to do in Krakow at night? Soak up the atmosphere! As a city popular among both tourists and students, Krakow is home to a huge number of pubs, bars, and clubs, but even a lazy stroll around the Old Town at night is nice. If you are looking for a crazy party then you will surely find it near the Main Square. On the other hand, if you are in the mood for an evening in a more chilled and calm atmosphere can head more towards the Kazimierz district.
10. Go on a day trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine
If you are in Krakow for a few days and would like to get out of the city then consider a day trip to the Krakow Salt Mine in Wieliczka. This is yet another Heritage Site and could be compared to a small, underground town where everything is made of salt! Sounds unbelievable? Then you have to experience it yourself. During the tour of the Salt Mine you will see impressive chambers with lots of ornaments and statues – all, of course, carved out of salt.