Pretty much everyone has heard of Krakow, but the vast majority of people either see Krakow as merely a base for visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps, or as a cheap boozy holiday destination, without realising that there are actually tonnes of things to do in Krakow besides these things.
Even after I’d spent months in this magical city, I still never ran out of cool and unusual things to do in Krakow (and there are still so many things I didn’t get around to!).
Now, before we begin, I should warn you that this is a long post, and I mean LONG, so I recommend getting a drink and a snack as you read, because 9000 words is NO JOKE (although it does make me confident that you will not find a more comprehensive list of things to do in Krakow on the entire internet, so you’re welcome.).
Why should you visit Krakow?
Is Krakow worth visiting?
Krakow is a real cultural hub of Poland, with over 50 art galleries and museums, the largest market square in Europe, one of the oldest universities in the world and stunning Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
It is also home to sights such as Wawel Castle and St. Mary’s Basilica, as well as over 40 parks and of course, hearty Polish cuisine.
What’s more, Krakow is the perfect place to base yourself if you want to explore more of Poland, with tonnes of day trips that you can take to the surrounding areas (Tatra Mountains anyone?).
In this post, I’ll be breaking down every single thing that I recommend doing while you’re in Krakow, from the standard tourist sights to the best Krakow nightlife, best cafes in Krakow, and so much more.
If you’re here because you’re looking for strange and unusual things to do in Krakow that other guides don’t mention, you’re in the right place – there are tonnes of crazy things to do in Krakow that most tourists never get to hear about, but I’m going to share them all with you today.
If you make it all the way to the end and want to know some of the boring logistical information about planning a trip to Krakow then fear not because I’ll also be including some frequently asked questions including how to get to Krakow, where to stay in Krakow, when to visit, how much things cost and other useful bits of information.
Are you ready?
Then let’s get into it.
56 Fun and Unusual Things to Do in Krakow 2023
The main things to do in Krakow
St. Mary’s Basilica
It is impossible to visit Krakow and not see St. Mary’s Basilica.
Located in the main Market Square in the heart of the Old Town, St. Mary’s Basilica is a Gothic style church that was rebuilt in the 14th century after Tartar raids in the 13th century left it a heap of rubble, and it is one of the main Krakow attractions.
It is possible to climb the watchtower and enjoy phenomenal views over Krakow Old Town, and you can also enter the church and marvel over the stained glass windows and wooden altarpiece.
Fun fact: Every hour, on the hour, the city’s famous bugle call is played from the watchtower, breaking off mid-melody in honour of the mythical trumpeter who was shot in the neck while warning the city of Mongol invaders!
St Mary’s Basilica Opening Times and Fees
The church is open from 11:30 – 18:00 and 14:00 – 18:00 on a Sunday. Admission is 15 PLN for adults, 8 PLN for children between 8 – 18. Kids under 8 go free.
The church’s Bugle Tower is also open seasonally for visitors (no children under 8), but a separate ticket is required – 20/12 PLN.
These tickets cannot be bought in advance and usually sell out early in the morning, so try and be there as early as possible. The Bugle Tower is open from March to December.
Tickets can be purchased from inside a separate building across from the side entrance of the church.
See the website for more detailed information.
Another one of the major attractions in Krakow is the magnificent Wawel Castle.
Overlooking the Vistula River, Wawel Castle is the most important buildings in Poland as it witnessed the formation of Poland as a state!
Wawel Castle complex is comprised of several buildings of Romanesque, Renaissance and Gothic architecture and most of the exhibitions are contained in the castle and the cathedral.
Highlights include the State Rooms, the jewels in the Crown Treasury and the Royal Crypts, as well as the open courtyards.
You can enter the complex and explore the castle grounds for free but a tour of the insides requires a ticket.
As there are only a limited number of tickets available each day, it is advisable to arrive early, or book your tickets in advance.
Inside the grounds of Wawel Castle is Wawel Cathedral, and buried within its tombs are some of Poland’s most important people.
You can actually enter the cathedral itself for free, but you will need a ticket to visit the paid sites, which include the Pope John Paul II Museum, the crypt, some small chapels, and the Sigismund Bell Tower.
Krakow Old Town
One of the easiest yet best things to do in Krakow is to simply wander around the Old Town.
Krakow Old Town is home to both the oldest university in Poland, and the largest medieval square in Europe!
As you meander though the cobbled streets admiring the old houses, churches and monasteries, allow yourself to be transported back in time and imagine what life was like hundreds of years ago in Krakow.
Florianska Street is one of the most popular walking streets in Krakow and is full of souvenir shops, jewellery stores and the more touristy bars.
When you begin to feel tired, just head to the main market square (RYNEK GLÓWNY) and buy a cold drink from one of the many bars and restaurants dotted around.
Church of St. Peter and Paul and St. Andrew’s Church
The St. Peter and Paul’s Church is lined with Baroque statues of 11 of the apostles (all except Judas), and it is truly a sight to behold. It is also possible to enter the church to admire the Baroque interior and venture into the crypts beneath.
Just past the Church of Saints Peter and Paul is St. Andrew’s Church, a Romanesque structure that was erected between 1079 and 1098, making it one of the oldest churches in Krakow. It has a pretty yet unassuming exterior, in sharp contrast to the striking Peter and Paul’s Church.
Spooky fact: It is said that sometimes a mysterious figure of an old woman deep in prayer appears in the choir of the church. This is Sister Cassilda, a nun who died leaving a debt she had incurred with a merchant to help her poor relatives. She retained peace after her death only when she managed to convince a rich aristocrat to pay her debt, and she promised to pray for them forevermore.
This church is only open during services.
Go shopping in the Cloth Hall
When visiting Krakow, it is impossible to miss the iconic Cloth Hall.
Located right in the centre of the main square, Krakow’s Cloth Hall is truly a sight to behold.
This 700-year old structure is basically a really old shopping mall, but it feels like so much more.
As you stroll through the Cloth Hall, stop and take a look at the various souvenirs on offer.
You can buy some really nice amber jewellery in Poland, and the Cloth Hall has amber jewellery by the bucket load.
St. Joseph’s Church
This Neo-Gothic church is definitely one of Krakow’s most beautiful buildings, complete with gargoyles and imposing sculptures of saints.
Some people even say that it looks like the Disney Castle!
Entrance is only allowed for mass but it is definitely worth walking by to admire the outside.
Planty Park wraps around Krakow Old Town like a moat (which was what it actually used to be!) and while there isn’t much to do here per se, it’s a nice alternative to walking along the main road, and it’s a lovely green space with lots of benches to sit and watch the world go by.
Stroll along the Vistula River
On a sunny day, one of the most popular things to do in Krakow for locals and tourists alike is to find a spot on one of the grassy banks by the Vistula River and sunbathe or have a picnic.
There are many restaurant and café boats docked along the river which make a lovely spot for lunch, or you can enjoy a slow cruise down the river yourself, taking in the sights of Krakow from the water.
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Krakow, an evening river cruise with wine is also an option.
The Father Bernatek Footbridge, complete with 9 crazy acrobatic sculptures by Jerzy Kędziora is also not to be missed.
Take part in a Free Walking Tour!
Free Walking Tours are my favourite way to explore a new city and Krakow has a tonne of them.
I’ve taken both the Krakow Old Town Free Walking Tour and the Jewish District Free Walking Tour and learnt SO much about Krakow on both of them.
Because there are so many companies offering Free Walking Tours in Krakow, it would be impossible for me to list all of the times and meeting points here but a quick Google search will bring up tonnes of results!
Of course, ‘Free’ Walking Tours are actually tip-based and this is how the tour guide makes their money so please bring along some cash to leave a tip at the end. I recommend leaving a minimum of 5 EUR (remember that the guide will have to give a couple of euros to the company so leaving any less won’t really benefit them).
If you prefer paid walking tours that can be booked in advance, this is a great option.
Barbican and St Florian’s Gate
Standing on the edge of Krakow’s Old Town is the Barbican, which used to be a strong medieval defence for the city.
A drawbridge that went from the Barbican over the city moat was the only way into the old town.
Across from the Barbican is St. Florian’s Gate, which is now the main entry into the Old Town.
UNUSUAL Things to Do in Krakow
Visit a Pinball Museum!
The Krakow Pinball Museum is actually more of a pinball bar.
To enter, you just pay the 8 EUR fee and then you have unlimited access to over 80 retro pinball machines with themes from Star Wars to Ghost Busters and so much more!
There’s a reasonably priced bar so you can get your pint and while away and entire day here (seriously, this is one of the best things to do in Krakow when it rains!).
The Krakow Pinball Museum is definitely one of the most fun and unusual things to do in Krakow (in fact, the first time I went I played for so long that my forearms were sore for days – I need to get out more, I know).
Krakow Pinball Museum is open from 2:00pm – 9:00pm every day. It stays open until 10:00pm on Fridays. You can also leave and re-enter after you’ve paid. Entry is 8 EUR for 1 hour or 12 EUR for the whole day.
Find out more on their website.
Visit an Absinthe Bar
I won’t lie to you – the Absynt bar in Krakow is not necessarily going to be a pleasant experience (just ask my mother!), but it will certainly be an experience!
Absynt describes itself as a place for ‘bold thoughts and good company,’ and prides itself on serving absinthe in the traditional way of burning a sugar cube into the drink before serving the flaming absinthe to nervous customers!
We visited during the afternoon and it was empty, so the bartender took the time to ask us questions to figure out which drinks she should give us.
With a menu of more than a dozen different types of Absinthe, not to mention Absinthe cocktails, this bar is not for the fainthearted but definitely one of the best crazy things to do in Krakow!
Explore The Former Jewish District
Kazimierz, also known as the Jewish District or Jewish Quarter, lies south of Krakow Old Town and was the centre of Jewish life in Krakow for over 500 years!
During World War 2, Kazimierz was systematically destroyed and its citizens imprisoned, starved and forced to live in squalid conditions before being carted away to concentration camps and killed.
In Kazimierz, you can visit old synagogues, wander down the cobbled street of Szeroka Street and see the monument dedicated to Jan Karski, and peer inside ul. Meiselsa, where you can see the passageway that was the backdrop for many scenes from Schindler’s List.
You can also peruse the countless independent boutiques, coffee shops, romantic candlelit bars and award-winning restaurants (I’ll share all my recommendations later!).
My favourite thing about Kazimierz is that every bar and café has its own unique vibe, making it one of the unique places to visit in Krakow!
Visit Ghetto Heroes Square
Ghetto Heroes Square (Plac Bohaterów Getta) used to be the main spot for socialising during the time of the Krakow Ghetto because it was such a large open space.
However, it was also the place where families were torn apart, beaten, executed and dragged away to death camps.
After all the residents of the ghetto had been deported to the camps, clothes, furniture and other personal belongings that the residents had been unable to take with them were strewn all over the square – this is the reason why today you will find a total of 70 metal chairs (33 large ones and 37 smaller ones, for the public to sit on), as a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Jewish Ghetto.
The majority of the chairs are arranged in rows to represent the way that the residents of the ghetto had to stand during roll-calls.
Three of them faced Lwowska Street, where a fragment of the original ghetto wall has been preserved, and a couple more face in the direction of the concentration camps where residents were taken and executed.
Enter the Dragon’s Den
I’m a sucker for a legend, and Polish legend has it that the caves and craggy chambers that form Wawel Hill were once inhabited by the Wawel Dragon!
This dragon terrorised the town before eventually being defeated, and its lair was used as a brothel and tavern in medieval times before being turned into the tourist attraction that it is today!
For a couple of bucks you can descend the steep staircase from Wawel grounds into the dimply lit caves that were once inhabited by the evil dragon.
Emerging from the cave brings you face to face with a huge statue of the dragon that actually breathes fire every few minutes, much to the delight of local kids and tourists alike!
The Dragon’s Den is open from April 23 until the end of October.
Situated in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, Plac Nowy may not be the prettiest part of Krakow, but it is always a hive of activity.
In the centre is a circular concrete structure, the Okrąglak, which was used as a poultry slaughterhouse up until Nazi occupation. Now, it has a dozen hole-in-the-wall (literally) fast-food hatches serving up Krakow’s signature street food – zapiekanki (we’ll talk more about zapiekanki later!).
Plac Nowy is also home to market stalls, whose goods change depending on the day of the week.
On Saturdays you can expect to find antique (mostly junk) goods, Sundays are for clothes, and, most oddly, Friday mornings play host to a pigeon market (?!?) – I mean hey, you were looking for unique things to do in Krakow!
Krakow Street Art
There is a tonne of quirky and interesting street art to see in Krakow.
Street art in Poland is very popular, with the kind of graphic art that it demands flourishing during Communism (you can go to the Poster Museum to see some cool graphic artwork by Krakow artists), and the city council have actually sponsored some of the larger murals you can find in the centre.
The best places to see street art is in Kazimierz, and the Art Nouveau piece you see below was created by an Israeli group of street artists called Broken Fingaz, in 2014 to honour the memory of the Bosak Family, who lived in the area for 400 years before it was transformed into the Jewish Ghetto in 1941, and Irene Sendler, who risked everything by smuggling medicine and aid into the ghetto.
You can find it at Plac Bawół 3.
Try all the Polish Vodka
From Żubrówka, the mythical Bison Grass vodka (drink it straight or with apple juice), to flavoured Soplica vodka and the infamous Mad Dog shot (Wściekły Pies) with Tabasco and raspberry syrup, you certainly won’t get bored drinking vodka in Krakow.
I never drink vodka outside of Poland – I can’t stand it – but trust me when I say that Polish vodka is something else (and I apologise to my Russian friends but it’s even better than Russian vodka).
If you want to try a bit of everything, head to Wodka Café Bar in the old town and order a tray of 6 shots of your choice.
My mum and I ordered cherry chocolate vodka, elderflower vodka, caramel vodka and some others, which I can’t remember (I wonder why…).
So as a museum, this technically should be in the ‘Museums’ section (duh), but as it is such an offbeat activity, I couldn’t not include it here!
Obwarzanki are a beloved Krakow street food that you can buy on pretty much every street corner, and they are kinda similar to bagels!
Yes, that’s right – Krakow has a bagel museum.
In this whimsical museum (that is not really) a museum, you will learn the 600-year history of the humble obwarzanka, and be taught how to make your very own, which you can take home with you.
English workshops are pretty infrequent and you have to book in advance, so it’s best visiting the website for opening times and bookings.
Lost Souls Alley
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Jump out of a plane?
Wrestled an alligator?
Well for me it’s paying a visit to Lost Souls Alley in Krakow.
And just what is Lost Souls Alley?
Well, Lost Souls Alley is part escape room, part interactive house of horrors where your worst fears are lying in wait around every corner.
I first visited Lost Souls Alley 5 years ago when it was an unknown, backstreet venue that nobody knew about, but now it has almost 3000 positive Google reviews and is one of the most famous scary things to do in Krakow!
Whether you dread coming face to face with Samara from The Ring, crazed farmers wielding chainsaws, demented clowns or pitch black rooms with unknown occupants, Lost Souls Alley will have something guaranteed to scare the bejesus (!) out of you.
Lost Souls Alley is in a different league to places of its kind in the UK, and you can even choose whether you want to up the ante by adding more frights and even physical pain!
According to the website, the ‘Red Version’ of the game, is geared towards people with ‘masochistic attitudes’ and promises that participants will ‘acquire sores, bruises and wounds,’ as well as ‘very close, aggressive and unceasing physical contact with the staff and a psychical abuse in connection with an attempt to break the participant.’
I’m not sure that this version (Level 4) is for me – I almost had a heart attack and I only did Level 2!
Make a reservation and find out more on their website.
Visit a Cat Café
Cat cafes are everywhere now, so I’m not sure visiting one can still be considered ‘unusual,’ but I’m still a sucker for cats so I visited this place as soon as I found out that it existed.
Cat Café Kociarnia is free to enter, has a simple menu of cakes and snacks, and lots of very cute cats.
Need I say more?
You can find out more on their website.
Dedicated to freedom fighter Tadeusz Kościuszko, the Kościuszko Mound stands 34M high, and although climbing to the top is hard work, the panoramic views of Krakow are definitely worth it – you can even see as far as the Tatra mountains on a clear day!
Cybermachina Game Pub
One of my favourite things to do in Krakow when it rains is to pass the time at Cybermachina Game Pub.
Cybermachina is a place by gamers, for gamers and it has every game imaginable, from old school Mortal Kombat to Guitar Hero, FIFA and more traditional board games, card games and table football.
It is totally free to enter and play the games on offer at Cybermachina (of course it is expected to buy a drink) and the bar has a huge themed cocktail selection, craft beers and bar snacks.
They also organise tournaments, ‘geek quizzes,’ cosplay parties, industry meetings and much more.
Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a gamer (I do love Mortal Kombat though), I’ve had many a fun afternoon in Cybermachina, and I highly recommend it.
During Krakow’s Nazi occupation in WWII, Liban Quarry was used as a Nazi labour camp and when filming Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg used it to film all of the scenes that took place in the Płaszów Concentration Camp (he didn’t want to film in the actual camp as a sign of respect).
Today the site lies in overgrown abandon and it is undoubtedly one of the eeriest places to visit in Krakow.
It is unclear which of the watchtowers, gravestones and barbed wire traces are remnants from the actual camp and which are leftovers from the movie set, but if you’re into abandoned places and urban escapism, visiting Liban Quarry should be top of your list.
To get to Liban Quarry, follow the trail from Krakus Mound toward Podgórze Cemetery.
Pijana Wiśnia translates to ‘Drunk Cherry’ and is the name of a tiny bar in Krakow Old Town that serves one drink and one drink only – a sweet cherry liqueur, which you can order hot or cold.
If you walk through the bar, you will find a large garden area, with a great atmosphere and lots of people huddled around tiny tables clutching steaming paper cups (or drinking elegantly from crystal goblets) of this unusual drink.
There are Pijana Wiśnia bars in most cities in Poland, and I also wrote about visiting the one in Lviv, Ukraine, where the chain began.
Zakrzówek is a former limestone quarry with crystal clear turquoise waters and it is the perfect place to have a stroll.
Unfortunately, due to two deaths in the summer of 2019, it is now prohibited to swim in the quarry (it used to be a popular location for cliff jumping), and even the scuba diving lessons that used to take place there have ceased.
However, swimming aside, the surrounding limestone bluffs and woods are a great place to go for a hike or have a summer BBQ!
Drink Butter Beer at the Harry Potter Café
Dziorawy Kociol (The Leaky Cauldron), is Krakow’s very own Harry Potter themed café.
Located in the cellar of a beautiful old building, The Leaky Cauldron serves magic-themed cakes and non-alcoholic drinks (I tried the Butter Beer and it was nice, albeit very sweet).
The rooms have low lighting, spooky sound effects and pictures of the HP characters on the walls.
However, I have to admit that despite its thousands of excellent reviews, I was pretty underwhelmed by The Leaky Cauldron, and I would have been even more so had I queued to get in.
Go there, make up your own mind, but don’t be expecting anything too special.
Funded by the Soviet Union, Nowa Huta is one of only two pre-planned Socialist Realism cities ever built and the goal for it was that it would represent a vision of a glorious Communist future.
Nowa Huta was built in such close proximity to Krakow so that it would be a ‘proletarian paradise’ that would overshadow the old, bourgeois city of Krakow, but ironically, it actually ended up being an anti-communist hub!
Visiting Nowa Huta is definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Krakow, and barely any tourists make it there.
If you’re interested in Socialist Realist architecture and city planning then you should stick it on your list!
Just off the main market square, Lustrzany Labirynt is an amusement centre with a mirror maze, laser-tag game, laser shooting range and some VR games.
I didn’t get around to going here when I visited, but I won’t lie – the Google reviews are very mixed.
With that said, I did speak to someone that visited and they said it was a fun time, so you’ll just have to make up your own mind, I guess.
Find out more on their website.
The Best Museums in Krakow
Schindler’s Factory is considered one of the best and most important museums in all of Poland, and definitely one of the most important places to visit in Krakow.
Contrary to what you may have been told, the museum is not actually Schindler’s Factory per se. It is housed in the former administrative building of the factory, not any of the production buildings.
The museum is also not dedicated to Oskar Schindler and his story, rather it is a day-by-day detailed account of Krakow during the war, with a permanent exhibition titled Kraków During Nazi Occupation 1939-1945.
Tickets to Schindler’s Factory for a self-guided tour can be purchased online or at the museum itself (though it is advisable to buy in advance because they are very limited). You can also book a guided tour of the museum if you want to delve a little deeper.
Entrance to the museum is free on Mondays.
Here you can find opening times for Schindler’s Factory Museum.
Under the Eagle Pharmacy
When the Germans established Podgórze, the largest ghetto in Kraków, they advised the Poles to leave the district.
However, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a Polish pharmacist and owner of the Under the Eagle Pharmacy refused to open another pharmacy on the non-Jewish side of town, and so Under the Eagle became the only pharmacy to remain open in the ghetto.
Pankiewicz would often give free medication to the Jews, and his pharmacy also provided Jewish leaders with a safe meeting point.
He also helped older Jewish people dye their hair to give them a younger appearance and save them from certain death, as well as giving sedatives to young children to help them remain hidden.
The pharmacy remained open until 1967, and it has since been transformed into a museum which tells the story of Pankiewicz and the people he helped.
Opening times and fees
The Under the Eagle Pharmacy is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is open every other day from 10:00am – 5:00pm.
Admission is 18 PLN.
Rynek Underground Museum
4 metres underneath the main market square, Rynek Underground is a museum that not many tourists actually know about.
This hi-tech museum full of touchscreens and holograms allows visitors to explore the recently excavated medieval merchant stalls underneath what is now the main market square in Krakow, as well as detailing Krakow’s entire history.
Tickets for Rynek Underground must be bought in advance, and you can do this via their website.
Alternatively, you can book a 2 hour guided tour here.
Muzeum Iluzji Kraków
Muzeum Iluzji is the Krakow Museum of Illusions, and is one of the best things to do in Krakow when it rains.
I visited there recently with my boyfriend, and we had a great time!
Spanning over 2 floors, the museum has the traditional picture illusions, lots of interactive things to mess around with, crazy mirrors, an upside down bedroom, 2D room and much more.
There are tonnes of cool photo ops, and you can easily spend an hour or 2 having fun with everything.
It’s also one of the only museums in Krakow that is open on a Monday!
Admission is 50 PLN.
Open since 2011 and nestled behind Schindler’s Factory, MOCAK is a contemporary art museum and it is unlike anything that I’ve ever been before.
Now full disclosure: I’m immature and uncultured and I couldn’t help but giggle and make fun of some of the pieces, but the ridiculousness was all part of the fun – my personal favourite piece was a video of a Dachshund eating a hotdog…
The exhibitions are ever-changing so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you go, but whether you’re an arty-farty or not, you’re sure to have quite the experience at MOCAK!
For those on a budget, the museum is free on Thursdays.
You can find the opening hours on the website.
The Princes Czartoryski Museum, usually abbreviated to simply Czartoryski Museum, is one of the oldest museums in Poland, and in it you will find everything from masterpieces of European painting to sculpture, applied arts, Egyptian artefacts, Far Eastern art, Polish historical memorabilia, priceless books and much more.
Its prized piece is Da Vinci’s Lady With an Ermine, which is one of only 3 oil paintings that Leonardo Da Vinci created, and the most important of all Krakow’s 2.3 million registered artworks.
Lady With an Ermine has a room in the museum all to herself, but if you want to go and see her in person, you’ll have to book online in advance.
Stained Glass Workshop and Museum
Definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Krakow, the Stained Glass Museum combines an active workshop with a ‘living museum.’
Built in 1906, the original interior and equipment have been preserved for visitors to admire, and the workshop is considered one of the best in Europe.
Not only can visitors to the museum see the original projects from the Polish Art Nouveau period masters but also witness how stained glass windows come to life.
A visit is always conducted by a guide who leads visitors through original workshop rooms. Each tour takes approximately about 45 minutes, and English tours are every hour, on the hour. The cost of an English tour is 32 PLN.
Foodie Things to Do in Krakow
One rite of passage in Krakow is eating a zapiekanka (or zapiekanki plural).
Zapiekanki are most popular in Krakow, kind of like a pizza bread (but way better).
The classic zapiekanka is half a baguette with sauteed white mushrooms and grated cheese, toasted until the cheese melts, although now you can buy zapiekanki with pretty much any topping imaginable!
You can buy zapiekanki ready-made at service stations and corner shops, but they are really nothing special.
HOWEVER, Plac Nowy in Kazimierz has turned zapikanki into an art form.
These zapiekanki are piping hot, made to order and worlds apart from the ones you can buy at gas stations.
Perfect as a lunch on-the-go or messy drunk food, zapiekanki are the soul of Krakow and they only cost a couple of euros.
A Polish food and Vodka tour
On my most recent trip to Krakow, my mum and I went on a Polish food and vodka tour that I booked through GetYourGuide.
This 3 hour evening tour was wonderful and featured Polish foods that were just ‘different’ enough to be interesting, but not scary enough to put anyone off their food altogether (I like Polish tripe soup, but I will admit that it isn’t for everyone).
We visited a handful of bars and restaurants and tried local specialities, as well as 4 or 5 shots of various Polish vodkas, all punctuated by our tour guide’s interesting stories about what we were eating and drinking.
Having spent a lot of time in Poland, I can definitely vouch for the quality of the food we tried and information we were given on this tour.
Plus, we met some super nice people who we went on to continue the night with in a bar when the tour ended.
If you’re interested, you can book your Polish food and vodka tour here.
It’s worth pointing out that the tour I took is also significantly cheaper than all of the other Polish food tours I found, making it even better!
Hamsa Hummus & Happiness
Hamsa was one of the first restaurants I found in Krakow and you can bet I’ve been back several times since!
Located in the heart of Kazimierz, Hamsa serves up modern Israeli cuisine and ‘positive vibes’ with slogans including ‘make hummus not war’ and ‘hummus and happiness.’
Priding themselves on using ecological sustainability, Hamsa promises to only use eco-friendly products and meat, and their menu includes a wide range of mezze hummus platters, Israeli shish kebabs, tagine, falafel and more.
I recommend Hamsa as a lunch stop before exploring the rest of Kazimierz.
Find Michelin-Approved Restaurants
While there is only one Michelin-starred restaurant in Krakow (Bottiglieria 1881), many Krakow restaurants have been featured in the official Michelin Guide, meaning they’re pretty damn good.
Here is a full guide to the Michelin recommended restaurants in Krakow.
Lunch With a View at Metrum Restobistro
Metrum Restobistro is a student restaurant on the 6th floor of the Krakow Music Academy, situated right on the edge of Krakow Old Town.
This delightful little café boasts two rooftop patios, giving incredible panoramic views over Krakow, with an indoor section that you can sit in during the winter months (the glass walls allowing you to still enjoy the view).
The menu changes daily and you will usually see a few different dishes written down on the board behind the servers.
For around 6 EUR you will get a soup starter, hearty main course and a fruit compote drink.
The menu is written entirely in Polish and the staff don’t speak English, so if you don’t have Google Translate to hand then you may just have to point and hope for the best!
However, I’ve never had a bad meal at Metrum Restobistro, and besides, the view is really what you’re there to see!
Metrum Restobistro is only open to the public on weekends at present.
Massolit Books & Café
Call me a nerd, but Massolit Books & Café is one of my favourite places to while away an afternoon in Krakow.
Massolit is an English-language independent book store and café located a few minutes away from Krakow Old Town and holds more than 20,000 titles in classic and contemporary literature and academic titles with large collections in Women’s Studies, Jewish Studies and Central/Eastern European History.
With ladders enabling book worms to reach the highest shelves and cosy armchairs scattered around for those who want to curl up immediately and enjoy their new book with a coffee and cake, Massolit Books & Café is a literature lover’s paradise.
Massolit Books & Café is also home to many English-language events including literary readings, book clubs, art exhibits and political discussions.
Visit a Prosecco and oyster bar!
Prosecco Oyster Bar in the Old Town of Krakow does exactly what it says on the tin – Prosecco and oysters!
Me and Ethan stopped by and ordered a carafe of fizz and some oysters on ice, including some fancy French oysters which the server assured us were limited edition!
We felt like it was a great pre-dinner spot, but if you want to stay for longer, they also have a selection of fried and grilled seafood.
Oh, and did I mention there’s a gigantic pink bath tub full of oysters?!
As far as Krakow nightlife goes, Prozak 2.0 up there with the best clubs in town.
Boasting top DJs and an underground maze of tunnels and hidden dancefloors, Prozak is not the place to go if you want a quiet night (and if you don’t want to lose your friends then forget it – once you descend the stairs and enter Prozak, you’re pretty much on your own).
Embarrassingly, the first few times I went to Prozak I stayed in the bar on the first floor, believing that this was all that there was, and I had no idea that there was a whole underground world going on below me – this is why I’m not cool enough for nightclubs.
Krakow Pub Crawl
What’s the best way to see Krakow nightlife?
On a pub crawl of course!
The pub crawl that I have personally been on (time and time again) is the Greg and Tom pub crawl, which I used to lead myself when I volunteered at the hostel, but if you don’t want to stay at Greg and Tom Party Hostel, then there are plenty of other great pub crawls in Krakow, such as this one, which has tonnes of great reviews.
Alchemia is one of my favourite bars in Krakow, and the best bit is that you can go at any time of day or night and have a great time!
With its rickety floorboards, flickering candles and antique furniture, Alchemia reminds me of a bar that you might find on Diagon Alley, and I have to hand it to them – they not only have the best hot chocolate in Krakow, but they have the best mulled wine as well, making it one of the more romantic things to do in Krakow.
At night, Alchemia gets even better as the bohemian café transforms into a haven for jazz-lovers, students and academics alike, with couples and groups of friends huddled together around the tiny tables, their faces dancing in the candlelight.
For music lovers, Alchemia’s cellar regularly hosts live music nights, so no matter what kind of evening you’re looking for, you will find it at Alchemia.
If you enjoy Alchemia, you’ll also love Singer and Eszeweria, which have similar vibes.
To see Alchemia’s programme, visit their website.
Pijalnia Wodki I Piwa
Pijalnia Wodki i Piwa are a chain of dingy bars famous around Poland for their cheap prices and no-frills vibe, and if you want the quintessential Krakow nightlife experience then this is where you should head!
With the walls decorated in newspaper clippings (a hark back to Communism, when they couldn’t afford wallpaper), the cheapest drinks in town and small plates of traditional Polish food costing a couple of euros, Pijalnia is a haven for broke students, alcoholics and tourists alike.
Pijalnia is almost always open (closing for just two hours in the morning), always brightly lit, always full of people and always fun.
Teatro Cubano is a nightclub that has created a real Havana vibe in the heart of Krakow.
Arrive early if you want to avoid the queues because Teatro Cubano is always packed.
With fantastic Latin music, reasonably priced drinks and a great atmosphere, Teatro Cubano is always a great night, and whether you want to show off your dance moves in the opera-house style venue itself, enjoy sliders from the attached Papito’s bar or simply hang out in the alleyway strung with fairy lights, Teatro Cubano is the place to be.
Day trips from Krakow
Auschwitz and Birkenau
You cannot visit Krakow without taking a day to pay your respects and learn about the tragic history of the Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps.
You can visit these camps either on your own, or with a guided tour. Having done both, I recommend opting for the guided tour as it works out at pretty much the same price when you take transport into consideration, and you get a much more in-depth understanding of the horrors that took place in these places.
One thing that I must stress when talking about visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau is that you have to behave respectfully while you’re there.
Too many tourists take selfies and pose for pictures on the train tracks, walk around loudly laughing and joking, and wear inappropriate clothes, and it really isn’t cool.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Visited by more than one million tourists every year, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Poland and is a great day trip from Krakow.
With 12 objects on the UNESCO World Cultural and National Heritage List, Wieliczka Salt Mine actually produced table salt until 2007, making it one of the world’s oldest functioning salt mines.
Wieliczka Salt Mine is a goldmine of interesting things all underground and made entirely from salt. These include impressive statues carved from salt, a ballroom, chapel and even an underground lake!
Admission to Wieliczka Salt Mine is via ticketed group tours only, and there are a few different kinds of tours to choose from.
You can opt for the standard ‘Tourist Route,’ or be a little more specific and go for the ‘Miners’ Route’ or ‘Pilgrim’s Route.’
Wadowice – Birthplace of Pope John Paul II
Wadowice is an especially important place to visit if you are a Catholic, as you can visit Pope John Paul II’s family home, place of baptism and see where he went to high school.
The apartment where he lived is on 7 Koscielna Street and has been turned into a museum where you can learn about the life of the late Pope.
The train from Krakow to Wadowice takes around 90 minutes.
Zakopane is a a mountain town near the Slovak border where you can go skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer.
If you’re more of a culture vulture, you can simply enjoy some traditional Oscypek smoked cheese with cranberries, washed down with a hot beer with cinnamon and some traditional highlander music in Zakopane town.
Tatra Mountain National Park
Considered the most Alpine of all National Parks in the country, Tatra Mountain National Park is a must for nature lovers, and adventure seekers will be pleased to learn that you can indulge in a spot of paragliding, skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, or cycling (whatever takes your fancy really).
There is also ample wildlife here, including bears, wolves, lynxes and wildcats, so be sure to tread carefully!
Ojców National Park
Ojców National Park is the perfect place to spend a day exploring abandoned castles and hidden caves, and the Ojców Castle is believed to have been a secret hideout for kings in days gone by!
What’s more, Ojców National Park is just a 15 minute drive away from Krakow, which makes it a really easy place to day trip to.
Morskie Oko (or Eye of the Sea in English) is the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains and is Poland’s most famous lake.
Nestled between the Tatra Mountain peaks, Morskie Oko lake is a sight to behold and for nature lovers it is a must-see.
A great way of visiting Morskie Oko is to combine it with a trip to Zakopane, as the two are only 30km apart from one another.
This tour on GetYourGuide combines a 4-hour hike around Morskie Oko with a trip to Zakopane, where you will take a trip up Gubalowka Mountain by funicular and spend time on the famous Krupowki Street, where traditional shops and taverns await you.
Planning your trip to Krakow
I hope that I’ve managed to give you more than enough ways to pass the time in Poland’s cultural capital, but what about all of the other stuff?
Chances are, if it’s your first time in Poland, you might be wondering what to expect.
Well, fear not because in this next section I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know when planning a trip to Krakow! and so by the time you’ve finished this article you’ll be all set for your trip to Krakow!
How many days in Krakow?
Krakow is the kind of city where there are so many things to see and do that you could spend an almost infinite amount of time there.
Personally, I think that 2 days in Krakow is not nearly enough time to experience this city.
3 days in Krakow is just about enough as it would allow you one day trip, one day exploring Krakow Old Town, and one day to discover the Jewish Quarter.
In order to fully make the most of Krakow, 4 of 5 days is perfect in my opinion.
Best time to visit Krakow
Krakow is one of those rare places that is magical in both summer and winter.
In the summertime the weather is beautiful, making afternoon cocktails in Krakow Market Square pretty much unavoidable, and sightseeing in the sunshine is also always good!
That said, the Krakow Christmas Markets are simply enchanting and the entire city feels magical in the build up to Christmas.
From children singing Christmas Carols to homemade gifts being sold in the market and cosy bars serving up hot mulled wine and hearty Polish food everywhere, Krakow at Christmas is a delight.
If you do decide to visit Krakow in the winter (or even in the autumn, let’s be honest), prepare for it to be cold.
Polish winters are fierce, and the temperature regularly drops below zero.
Where to stay in Krakow
Hostels in Krakow
Without a doubt, the Greg and Tom hostels are the best hostels in Krakow, especially if you’re a solo traveller looking to meet people and have fun.
I’ve stayed there countless times as a guest and even volunteered there for a short while!
Greg and Tom actually have three hostels in Krakow to suit every kind of holidaymaker:
Greg and Tom Party Hostel is the place to be if you want to party (as the name suggests!). This intimate 40 bed hostel has themed pub crawls every single night and the staff and the staff there love to party even more than the guests do. Expect unlimited vodka included in your pub crawl ticket, lots of crazy drinking games and an ‘anything goes’ vibe.
Greg and Tom Beer House Hostel also runs pub crawls every night but is a little different to the party hostel. It is much bigger and is located right in the middle of Krakow Old Town. Greg and Tom Beer House’s main draw is that is has free beer on tap!
Greg and Tom Home Hostel is for those who want top quality without the crazy atmosphere. Greg and Tom Home Hostel is still super sociable but a little more chill and with the option of private rooms (the other hostels only have dorm rooms).
Every single Greg and Tom Hostel offers free breakfast, daytime snacks and free dinner.
This is FANTASTIC is you are on a budget and also provides a great opportunity to meet the other hostel guests. What’s more, because Greg and Tom own a restaurant, the food that they serve in the hostels comes straight from the restaurant and is top quality. Think pasta bake, pizza, burritos and lots of chicken! Breakfast includes sausages, bacon, eggs and more (not your standard jam and toast brekkie that most hostels provide!).
To book your stay at Greg and Tom Party Hostel, click here.
If you want to check out Greg and Tom Beer House Hostel, click here.
If Greg and Tom Home Hostel sounds like something you’d enjoy, click right here.
If hotels are more your jam then you can’t go wrong with Booking.com. Booking.com never charges any booking fees and guarantees you the best rates on the market.
Hotels in Krakow
My pick for budget accommodation in Krakow is the place I stayed with my mum on my most recent visit, Salve Station. Salve Station is a set of apartments that share a kitchen and bathroom. Rooms have a lovely mezzanine floor where the beds are, with a living space below, giving it a much roomier feel than if you just had a double room. The location is a few steps from the main entrance to the Old Town and check-in is 24/7.
My pick for a mid-range hotel in Krakow is Liebeskind Boutique Hotel, which is just 600m from the main market square and and modern but cosy rooms. You have the option of a continental or buffet breakfast and there is a 24-hour front desk.
If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious for your stay in Krakow, you can’t go wrong with the 5-star Hotel Pod Różą, which is housed in a Renaissance Palace just off the main square.
Hotel Pod Różą is the oldest hotel in Krakow and the rooms are traditionally decorated, with Italian fittings and underfloor heating.
Wellness and spa access is included in the price of the room.
Getting to Krakow
Getting to Krakow from the UK is super easy given the number of direct flights offered from almost every major UK city from budget airlines.
I always use Skyscanner to find the best prices.
If you are flying into Krakow and would like to arrange an airport transfer, I recommend i’way. You can book your transfer here.
You could also rent a car with Qeeq. I recommend using Qeeq. Click here for a $50 coupon off your car rental and FREE Covid-19 protection!
If you’re travelling to Krakow by bus from another European city, my go-to bus travel in Europe is always FlixBus. Flixbus is the most extensive bus network worldwide and all Flix buses have Wi-Fi, extra legroom, charging ports and the ability to modify your booking just 15 minutes before departure! Click here to book your Flixbus to Krakow.
You can compare train and bus prices on Omio.
In terms of getting around Krakow itself, the Bolt taxi app is a great call, and Uber is popular as well. The tram and bus system are also super easy and will take you pretty much anywhere in the centre (although Krakow is also a very walkable city, if you’re able).
Poland is a very affordable country to travel to, and Krakow is no exception. A pint of beer will typically cost less than 3 EUR, and a meal in a nice restaurant with wine is usually around 20 EUR pp.
Krakow is an incredible safe city, even for solo travellers and single women. As always keep your wits around you and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do back home. The one word of caution I will give is to avoid Krakow strip clubs, as they are known for scamming tourists.
Krakow is both an EU member state and part of the Schengen zone.
No, the currency in Poland is the Polish złoty and 1 złoty is the equivalent of about 20 euro cents.
Poland is located in Central Europe, not Eastern.
Drinking on the streets is illegal in Poland, and you can be fined if caught.
Yes, absolutely. It may be touristy, but that’s for a reason, and this small city has a hell of a lot to offer.
Krakow is around 13% cheaper than the city of Warsaw.
Both cities have a lot to offer, but Warsaw is a lot larger and is a working Polish city. Krakow has a lot more to offer tourists and has a more beautiful old town than Warsaw.
Helpful Polish phrases
Polish words are notoriously difficult to pronounce for Native English speakers, but it’s still worth memorising a few key phrases before you go to Poland.
Although most people in Krakow speak English, locals are so used to people not bothering to try and communicate with them in Polish that they really appreciate it when you try and a few words will go a long way.
Some helpful Polish phrases include:
Dzień dobry – Good morning
Dobry wieczór – Good evening
Do widzenia – Goodbye
Proszę – Please
Dziękuję – Thank you
Tak – Yes
Nie – No
Ile? – How much?
Nie mówię po polsku – I don’t speak Polish
Na zdrowie! – Cheers!
Krakow, Poland | Final Thoughts
So there we have it – the ultimate guide to visiting Krakow.
I hope that in this guide to Krakow I have prepared you for a trip to one of the most magical cities in Europe and provided you with lots of food for thought when it comes to things to do.
That’s about it for now, but as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section below and I will get back to you!
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I always thought of Krakow as the place to base yourself when visiting Auschwitz, but I was definitely wrong! Amazing guide! Saved for when I go -now that I know I need to leave a few days for the city 🙂
I’ve always heard great things about Krakow…and this post just reiterates everything else I’ve read. Hope to get there soon!
I’m considering a few places in Eastern Europe and never considered Krakow. It looks like a pretty awesome city and it is definitely on my bucket list now.
This is perfect timing, I am off to Kraków on Monday and scarily behind with my planning! These are some great recommendations, thank you 🙂
Aw I loved reading this! I’m from Poland but don’t live there anymore, but Krakow is my absolute favorite city there! You explained it so well and I’ve been to many of these places, but I also found new ones to go to next time I’m there. Thank you for this post!
Alicia Kaye says
Thank you so much for such an exhaustive post! Although you have me slightly worried! We’ve scheduled just 3 days in Krakow for 2020 and now I feel like I need to add another 3 onto that – I had no idea how much there was to do! I guess that’s the great thing about living somewhere you get to know all of the best things to do!