Krakow is a destination unlike any other. With a deep history in its veins, it is the second oldest city in Poland and was home to the German General Government during World War II. Now bustling with culture, cafés, pubs, and stunning architecture, it is the European destination to visit. So, prepare yourself for an unbelievable day as you ramp up to explore everything that Krakow has to offer.
Guest post by Ela
What’s the best time to visit Krakow?
Strictly thinking about weather, the best time to visit Krakow will be June through August when the weather is in the 70’s. You’ll successfully avoid the 20s that hit in January. But, the summer months are also peak tourist season so crowds will be huge. So, I would recommend sometime between March and May or September and November. These shoulder months will provide you more open space, affordable rates, and shorter lines at the brilliant sites.
Most festivals will happen during the summer, so keep that in mind as you’re booking if that is the main attraction. But, the Main Market square can look absolutely breathtaking under a freshly fallen snow at Christmas time. So, weigh all the pros and cons before booking your flights.
Few facts about Krakow
Listen for the trumpet call played on the hour from St. Mary’s Basilica. This is a must-hear of Krakow. The call seems to stop just shy of the finish, which symbolizes a trumpeter who attempted to warn the townspeople of an encroaching enemy but was shot down before he could finish.
One major cultural player in Krakow is the Jewish influence. From the delightful food that fills the streets to the Stars of David still lining the Jewish quarters of Kazimierz, Judaism has a beautiful influence on Krakow.
Krakow has been a hub of trade, culture, and history for over 1,500 years. This has allowed numerous royal families to build here, almost be fully destroyed by a Mongol invasion, and even be flooded with Renaissance architecture. Rising out of World War II’s drama, Krakow has become the Silicon Valley of Poland and the cultural hub of Europe. The future looks undeniably bright for this still thriving city.
One Day in Krakow Itinerary
Top things to do in Krakow, Poland
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Krakow.
Start your day off in the Main Market Square
Start your day off in the Main Market Square. Walk around and take it all in for a half hour, and make sure to wander a few side streets for shopping at a lower price point. If you’re lucky and traveling during a busy tourist time, there may be street performers doing shows throughout the day.
It’s coffee time!
Stop by the Charlotte café for a coffee, fresh pastries, or breakfast when you’re ready. This will give you the perfect boost to get you through the day.
Visit the St. Mary’s Basilica
When you’re all fueled up, head over to St. Mary’s Basilica, one of the most famous churches in the world. The stunning murals and gothic architecture make it a staple of Krakow and even Poland itself. It’s free to enter the church to pray, but tourists must enter by the side and buy a ticket.
Walk trough the Planty Park and visit the Wawel Castle
Head south of the square to walk through Planty Park on your way to Wawel Castle. Whatever time of year you visit, Planty Park will have a beauty about it that captivates you. On the other side of the park, you’ll be able to spot Wawel Castle, one of the most iconic skylines. Home to Polish Royals for centuries, take a tour and learn all about the history of Krakow.
Lunch at the Pod Wawelem
When you’re ready for lunch, stroll just east of the Wawel Castle to Pod Wawelem, a local restaurant with a garden atmosphere. Serving traditional Polish food, I would always recommend the pierogies for a Krakow treat. A great selection of beer and wine also await as you take a break from your busy day.
Visit Kazimierz, the Jewish neighborhood
For the next step, you can take a taxi, costing around 10 – 15 zloty, or ride the public tram to Kazimierz. If you’re feeling more adventurous and still hungry, try out one of the many street vendors strolling around. But, take some time to walk the streets here. This is a fascinating neighborhood to walk around and take in the street art, Jewish synagogues, and simply quirky culture and cafés that abound. Take this time to scope out your dinner spot and get your eyes on the local happenings of the evening.
Spend an evening in Kazimierz
Kazimierz is the hot spot for good drinks, great dancing, and unforgettable nights. So, whether you start at Singer, the old sewing machine factory turned bar, or the grunge feeling of Propaganda, you’ll have a treat awaiting you. For live music, find Piekny Pies for some rock, jazz, or folk most nights of the week. Finish your night at the Opium Music Club where you can try a flaming shot, enjoy the sneaky beer garden, or keep it classy the signature Opium cocktail.
Where to stay in Krakow, Poland?
To stay in the Main Market Square to get the best start for your day, I recommend the Let’s Rock Hostel. They offer free breakfast if you’re hoping to save a few dollars, but have an incredibly helpful staff to help guide you through your day. There are three dorms to choose from, 8, 6, or 4 beds in each. This hostel is known for its homey, fun atmosphere to bring travelers together.
If you’re looking for a nice hotel for your Krakow adventure, check out the Hotel Indigo. This hotel is just a four-minute walk from the Main Square, with amenities abounding. Whether the sauna or in-house restaurant calls your name, you will be treated with the utmost care here. With rooms inspired by local artists and luxurious attention to detail, Hotel Indigo will set you up well for your full day of adventure.
Extra tips for visiting Krakow
– There is an abundance of fun – and strange – street art and sculptures in Krakow. Make sure to bring your camera along and don’t be scared to walk down some side streets in search of these fun additions to Krakow.
– Keep your ears open if anyone mentions the dragon of Krakow to you as well. There are some bones on display in the city said to have lived in a cave near the Wawel Castle and tormented the cities people. So, whether you believe that or not, there are a few stories surrounding this legacy.
– Make your trip to Krakow even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for all the activities and organized tours in Krakow or around the area. Make sure to purchase your tickets to all the attractions right away to skip the queues.
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