A GUIDE TO KRAKOW, POLAND

Krakow will always hold a special place in my heart. I come from a town that’s about an hour and a half away from Krakow, so this place is really special to me. Every time I was on summer holiday as a little girl I loved coming here. There’s just something about this place that has always made me feel warm and at home. As I grew into an adult I appreciated this place so much more for its rich history, delicious food, and stunning views.

Today the former royal capital of Poland attracts nearly 2 million international visitors a year. With history, beautiful art and an amazing pub scene it really is a place that anyone can enjoy. Here are my recommendations on things to do in Krakow.

jewish-memorial

Things to do in Krakow:

Royalty and Dragons:

Wawel Hill is located just at the end of Old Town on the left bank of the Vistula river. Once you come here you will feel like you walked into another century. There is so much history on Wawel Hill that you will automatically feel immersed in it.

Wawel Castle is the home of royalty in Poland. This is where all the royal crownings used to happen. Today there is no royalty living there except for old dead kings (sorry). There is a museum that showcases the tombs of these kings that you can see as well.

But my favorite (and a favorite of many children) is the fire-breathing Dragon. YEP! Krakow has a fire-breathing dragon. There is a legend about the dragon that used to live underneath Wawel Hill that terrorized the Krakow residence. Be sure to check out the Dragons Den too, which is a pretty incredible cave where said dragon used to live, or maybe he still does?

wawel

Walk across Wisla (Vistula) River:

After you’ve explored Wawel Hill/Castle/Dragons Den visit the Vistula River. The Vistula River is the longest river in Poland, running from the very south of Poland (near the Tatry Mountains) into the Baltic Sea. The river runs for miles across the entire city and it’s a lovely place to walk, bike, or enjoy a picnic.

Insiders Tip: Take the bridges and walk along both sides, some of the bridges are beautiful with some very interesting sculptures

walk-across-vistula-river

Visit and spend an entire day at Rynek Glowny (Main Square)

I have to say that I think Krakow has the most beautiful Main Square in all of Poland. And you might agree with me once you come here. It’s a huge 10-acre square with beautiful ornate Medieval and Renaissance architecture. The square houses a lot of the tourist attractions in Krakow like St. Marys Church and Sukiennice (Cloth Hall)

The beautiful cobble stoned square is a UNESCO world heritage site and is filled with tons of history. I strongly suggest doing a guided tour of the square as you can learn so much about the history that happened here.

rynek-glowny

Immerse yourself in art at Mocak Contemporary Art Museum

I know that anyone going to this part of town is going to Schindlers Factory but the Mocak museum is located next door to the factory and should not be overlooked. I am a huge fan of contemporary art and love going to different art museums throughout the world. MOMA’s and Contemporary Art Museums are always my favorite though. This museum has a few exhibits, a rotating exhibit, and a still exhibit. Both were great! I went to the museum with a few friends that didn’t have the patience to sit and look at art all day like I do. And even they thought that the art was easy to understand with their explanations and displays. We were all moved by certain pieces and though the museum was exceptional.

mozak

Day trips from Krakow:

Reflect on the horrors of the Holocaust

It’s no secret that Krakow and Poland have had a brutal history before. Just a couple hours away from Krakow you can visit the most famous of the Concentration Camps: Auschwitz and Birkenau where 1.5 million Jews were mass murdered. I suggest you do a guided group tour, you can learn so much more about the history of Krakow and World War II than from reading the signs. Throughout the entire camp, there is a feeling of death lingering and you can’t help but to feel for everyone involved. This is really a once in a lifetime experience that will leave you shaken up and emotional for days.

Get Salty at Wieliczka Salt Mines

Wieliczka Salt Mine is a 700 years old salt mile that goes over 1000 feet underground. It is filled with pits and chambers, there are sculptures, paintings, even a cathedral with chandeliers all made out of natural mineral salt. I dare you to lick a wall.

wieliczka

Where to Eat & Drink

Alchemia of Kuchni

We stumbled across this place for breakfast as we were staying in the Kazimierz neighborhood and this place was open. It is a place mostly known for their poached eggs but they have a few other breakfast options available (great for veggies). I personally wasn’t too hungry that morning and ordered a delicious parfait but from the looks of it, all of the poached eggs were delicious. They also had a great selection of fresh coffees. The staff was super friendly, but slightly slow and the food was delicious.

AddressEstery 5, 31-056 Kraków

alchemia-of-kuchni

I’ve heard wonderful things about this place for dinner but I only experienced it for breakfast. They have a big menu that can satisfy anyone with different drink options as well. The décor inside is beautiful and it’s a great spot to sit down relax a bit and drink a coffee or an afternoon cocktail. The food was a bit expensive for the area that it’s in, but super tasty so it didn’t matter.

AddressEstery 22, 33-332 Kraków

moment-bar-and-music

Nova Krova

Located in the Jewish district, this is one of my favorite vegan restaurants in all of Krakow. Their service is quick and the food is great. They have an amazing selection of veggie burgers, salads, and soups. Also, serve various smoothies and teas. Great spot for lunch and the staff all speaks English.

AddressPlac Wolnica 12, 33-332 Kraków

Vegab

Most European cities have really good kebabs, no matter where you are in Europe. Krakow is no different, what makes the kebabs in Krakow special though is that they have a few restaurants throughout the city that serve veggie kebabs. So if you don’t eat much meat like me this is a special treat that you can enjoy as well.

AddressStarowiślna 6, 31-038 Kraków

Zapiekanki

Probably the best zapiekanki in all of Poland, you have to have one in Krakow. Zapiekanki are essentially Polish pizzas made on open face bread, with cheese, mushrooms, and ketchup. There are tons of different shops and restaurants that serve zapiekanki in Krakow, you have to try one you won’t be disappointed if you do.

Address: Pl Nowy 4B, 33-332 Kraków

Mercy Brown

One of my favorite speakeasy/cocktail lounges I’ve ever been to. The entrance to this place is a bit selective and you pretty much need reservations to get it. But once you get upstairs it’s like walking into another decade. The style, décor, and atmosphere are simply amazing. The bartenders and waiters were brilliant and they really know how to craft a delicious cocktail. Prices are a bit high for Polish prices, but you won’t be disappointed. Try the fig and whiskey cocktail.

AddressStraszewskiego 28, 31-153 Kraków

mercy-brown-krakow

Where to stay:

Secret Garden Hostel

I’ve stayed at a few hostels before in Krakow that all turned out to be party hostels (a lot of fun, but not what I was looking for on my last trip). This was a great hotel/hostel. I really liked that it was treated more like a hotel at a hostel price. Located between the Vistula and the Jewish quarter this was the perfect location. Close to all the nightlife, but still in a quiet spot where you can sleep at night. There are tons of pubs and restaurants nearby that you can go to or relax on their beautiful gated patio. They have a big kitchen/dining area with a great breakfast and serve tea and coffee all day. Their rooms and bathrooms are also really big which made you feel more like you were in a hotel environment. The front desk was really helpful with giving us recommendations as well able to book any trips you wanted.

Address: Skawińska 7, 31-066 Kraków

secret-garden-hotel

Traveling to Krakow? Book a package with Expedia and save.

xoxo Ania Travels 💜


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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Secret Garden Hostel. All opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links which will earn me a few cents to contribute to the running of this site if you make a qualifying purchase at no extra cost to you.

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  • Wow! That is so much good information about Krakow. I haven’t been to but I plan on visiting soon, your tips will come in handy then. 🙂

  • BuildYourOwnEmpire

    I totally get what you mean when you say it holds a special place in your heart, I have the same feeling when I go to Piran, a city an hour and 30 minutes away from me..
    I would LOVE to try the vegab, I’d probably visit Poland just for that 🙂

  • Tania Potter

    Krakow looks amazing, I would so love to see the Dragon Den amongst all the other wonderful things to do. It’s beautiful, there is so much history and even the food sounds divine.

  • Beate Parfitt

    Stunning photographs – nice to see a city from a different perspective. Thank you for sharing all these tips. I hope to visit soon!

  • Prateek Goel

    Totally stunning photography and great tips. Truly it will capture every heart. I think it is rightly termed “Secret garden hostel”, its pics so much about it.

  • Shelley Coleman

    Love the idea of a fire breathing Dragon. The food definitely sounds like something I would try x

  • Karyn Locke

    Wow, there’s so much gorgeous art and architecture in Krakow! I need to visit pronto!

  • Nellwyn

    My parents have been to Krakow a few times and they always talk about how lovely it is! It’s definitely on my bucket list.

  • I might be going to Krakow in the winter as my friend is from out there. The art scene is beautiful but knowing their is a fire breathing dragon makes me want to go even more !

  • Jhilmil Bhansali

    wow, beautiful , it looks stunning. Didn’t knew much about Poland, but you post has ensure that it indeed is lovely

  • Rose Mont

    All those building are beautiful what a nice tour of that alone would be great. Of course I’m interested in this fire breathing dragon for the childrens sake.

  • Great post as usual, I will for sure reference your blog when I start my travel. Thanks for sharing.

  • Claire Lee

    Wow sounds like an adventure! I have never been to Poland, only read in books or movies as a background scene. Would love to visit sometime!

  • Chelf Chelfdom

    I was thinking of doing a home exchange in krakow this year maybe, I will definitely bookmark this guide for future reference! What a unique place!

  • Krakow looks like a town with beautiful buildings and stunning riverside. Walking on the bridge over Vistula river must be so romantic. Also the main Square is so lively.

  • Shibani Sharma

    Being a WWII buff, Poland is on my top lists to visit. I would surely include the Concentration Camps whenever I’m there. Really a detailed post.

  • I’ve never been to Poland but it is definitely on my bucket list! I think my husband would love it too, especially all the history.

  • I have never been to Poland but a very good friend of mine moved there and I am planning to visit soon. Krakow looks like a charming city to visit, with great food and lovely sight to explore.

  • chakrap2

    Super useful guide. Bookmarking it since I might travel to poland for work this year. Will squeeze out a few days to visit Krakow.

  • Patricia Steffy

    I’ve always wanted to visit Krakow. This is super helpful! I know right now that I want to start with Wawel Castle. I love combining history with stunning architecture — plus, how could I pass up the dragon’s den? But I’d also love to explore the Mocak museum and spend a day in the main town square. And while I’m sure it would be hard, I think a reflective trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau would have to be on our itinerary. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jen S

    Great post thank you! I’ve been wanting to visit Poland for a while and this just made me want to go all the more.

  • Chloe Gibson

    I’ve thought about booking flights to Krakow for agesss but there’s never been a right time… some day I’ll get there! Would love to chill in the main square and just watch the world go by. Great photos and post!

  • Poland has been on my list forever! Your pictures make me want to book a trip right away, haha.

    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com

  • Elena Stevkovska

    I have never been to Krakow before. This is a great guide of things to see and do and I must say that hostel really looks amazing.

  • Made Adayasa

    A fantastic article tips about Poland . I will put this place on my bucket list but not the Concentration camp .

  • Natasha Smuts

    This so in my list of places to visit when I have enough money to go traveling.. amazing place.

  • Mayuri Saxena

    Beautiful photography! I am planning to visit Poland next year…so I am pinning this post to refer to it later. Thanks 🙂

  • Rosie Fluskey

    I’m not really sure what has stopped me visiting Poland before. It is rapidly becoming my next top visit, and Krakow looks beautiful. What time of year do you think would be best to visit?

  • Angela Milnes

    I never been there but this is one of my bucket lists it is a beautiful place and I want to explore there

  • Kim Bui

    Very thorough guide! Will definitely be sure to reference this when I visit Poland. Krakow seems like a great city to visit, I love all the intricate architecture.

  • Thanks for sharing. I’ve only been to Europe twice. Perhaps my third visit should also include Krakow. Sounds like it would be a great trip with lots of fancy things to do.

    -Alethea

  • I have never been to Poland, but always here great things from friends. Looks like a beautiful city.

  • My husband’s family is from Poland and one day I hope to go there with him. If we’re ever lucky enough to, I’m sure we’d make stops at Mocak Contemporary Art Museum (for her) and Wieliczka Salt Mine (for him). x

  • Aisha Sylvester

    I’ve always been curious about Poland. I’m planning a Europe trip for 2018 and it’s a contender as one of my destinations, this guide really helped open my eyes to some of the things I might experience. Thanks!

  • Kimanis Ome

    What a great review of Krakow. Poland is one country I’m really curious to explore. This guide does a great job of highlighting what to see and do. The MOCAK museum as well and visiting the concentration camps would be on list. Gorgeous photos and hope to get there soon!

  • Krakow is a lovely place to visit and it should be more exposed to people. We are in Vienna so not far from Poland. We enjoed our visit a lot.

  • Christine Ann Dela Cruz

    We all have one place that remains memorable in our heart. That feeling when we are there we always feel nostalgic and at home. Nice to know you Krakow.

  • I have been trying to get to Poland the past two years and for one reason or another I am unable to schedule it into my trips for the year. I need to make it more of a priority this year. It’s so beautiful and lots of history. Great post.

  • Poland is definitely on my list! We’re looking into going this year, but it’s looking more likely that it’ll happen next year!

  • I would consider licking a wall Ania….until I realized and processed how many other folks did the same thing LOL. I am fascinated by salt mines though. Especially the fact that goods were created with salt in this mine under Krakow. Bonus points for housing a fire breathing dragon. Big Game of Thrones fan here. I’d have to visit 🙂

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    Omg just lovely photos!!! I would love to visit Poland one day!!! Such an awesome country that’s for sure

  • You did an fantastic job sharing your perspective and photos of one of the famous, historic cities. It has a history that is rich and also painful…