Top things to do in Krakow, Poland
1) Stroll around the Krakow Old Town
Taking a walk around Krakow’s Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is one of the top things to do in Krakow. The city’s historic part is home to the Main Market Square – the largest medieval square in Europe. This mandatory stop takes all the glory not only due to its size, but also because it is home to some significant buildings like Kościół Mariacki, Sukiennice (eng. the Cloth Hall), and the Town Hall Tower.
While in this area, step into the museum located beneath the main square – yes, you’ve read that correctly. Rynek Underground is an interactive museum where you can go back in time, see excavated medieval merchant stalls, and discover the city’s long history. For souvenirs and handmade crafts, as well as a dose of art, go into the Cloth Hall. Make sure to stroll down Floriańska street, probably the most famous street in Krakow’s Old Town, which leads to the Florian Gate and the Barbican.
2) Step into St Mary’s Basilica
While there are quite a few noteworthy buildings on the previously mentioned market square, the one that tends to get the most attention is undoubtedly St Mary’s Basilica. Although it’s quite spectacular to look at on the outside, make sure to venture inside to see the largest gothic altarpiece in the world. Don’t be surprised when you hear a trumpeter playing from the tallest tower of the church. Hejnał Mariacki (eng. St. Mary’s Trumpet Call) is deeply connected to the city’s history and traditions, and it is played every hour.
3) Learn about Polish history and kings at Wawel Castle and Cathedral
Home of the Polish kings until the 1600s, the Wawel Castle is located on Wawel Hill next to the Vistula River. The complex also includes the Wawel Cathedral, where most Polish kings were coronated and buried. The royal castle offers some great views and the museum located inside gives a great look into the lives of royalty centuries ago. Wawel, a place of great significance for Poland, is undoubtedly one of the best places to learn about the country’s history. It is also associated with a legend that every Polish child knows – the legend of the Wawel dragon. If you’re visiting Krakow with kids (or not), remember to stop by the dragon’s den.
4) Take a walk around the Jewish Quarter
Known as the place where Steven Spielberg filmed his movie Schindler’s List, Kazimierz was once a separate town, which later became the Jewish Quarter of Krakow. Before World War II, Krakow was home to a big Jewish community that lived there since the 13th century. Although the district suffered during the war, you can still notice its Jewish past and visit a few of the remaining synagogues. Today, Kazimierz tends to be the locals’ favorite place in Krakow thanks to its unique atmosphere, cobbled streets, quaint cafes, street food and street art.
5) Visit Krakow’s Jewish Ghetto
In 1941, the city’s Jewish population was moved to a ghetto established in the district of Podgórze (across the river from Kazimierz). Not surprisingly, you can find many sobering memorials in this area. One of the most important ones is Plac Bohaterów Getta (eng. Ghetto Heroes Square) which commemorates the victims of the ghetto.
5) Visit Oskar Schindler’s Factory
If you’ve watched Schindler’s List and would like to find out more about Oskar Schindler, the Jewish people’s plight, and the Nazi occupation of Krakow, you can visit Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory which today houses a museum. If you’re looking for even more insight, Schindler’s factory is one of the stops on our Krakow Memorial Route tour.
6) Take a trip around Krakow and see a utopian city
Meant to be a utopian city straight from a communist dream, Nowa Huta is great for those who want to see a different side of Krakow. Designed from scratch, it was supposed to be a representation of Soviet power and superiority. Although hated by some and loved by others, Nowa Huta will be interesting for those interested in history, particularly the communist era and its impact on society. If you’re not sure what to do there, check out our list of things to do in Nowa Huta.
7) Take in the view from the Kościuszko Mound
If you want to go a bit outside the Old Town and enjoy nice views, add the Kościuszko Mound to your itinerary. It was erected to commemorate Tadeusz Kościuszko, a national hero. The site includes a museum where you can learn a lot about Kościuszko and the period in which he lived. After taking a short walk to the top of the mound, on a clear day you can enjoy a nice view of Krakow.
8) Go underground at Wieliczka Salt Mine
One of the best things about Krakow is how close it is to other must-visit sites in Poland. One of them is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, an underground world made of salt. If you want to find out more, check out our post about the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
9) Learn about the Holocaust at Auschwitz Birkenau
A somber and sorrowful spot on the map of Europe, Auschwitz is among the must-see places for visitors to Krakow. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum located on the grounds of the former concentration camp is dedicated to the victims of heinous Nazi crimes. Auschwitz is located around 40 miles from Krakow and you can find information on how to plan your visit here.
10) Take a peaceful respite in the Ojców National Park
Nature and hiking enthusiasts on a longer stay in Krakow should consider a day trip outside the city. Ojców National Park is the smallest national park in Poland, but it makes up for its size with lush forests, rocky valleys, mysterious caves, and medieval castle ruins.
Things to do in Krakow with MrShuttle
At MrShuttle, we love Krakow, and we want people to enjoy it to the fullest. Because of that, we offer a wide range of tours and transfers to make your stay in Krakow comfortable and unforgettable. With us, you can take a tour to some of the places mentioned above like Ojców National Park, Auschwitz or Wieliczka Salt Mine. See all the Krakow tours we have on offer and choose the ones that interest you the most.