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Everything You Need To Experience In Krakow, Poland

Posted by Abbey Krzymowski on 3/5/19 1:04 PM

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Getting ready to spend some time in Krakow, Poland? Here is our list of the things you cannot miss out on! Get ready to fall in love with this beautiful and unique city. 

Not only is Krakow a very charming city, but it also has a pretty incredible history. One of the best parts about visiting is that since not much of the landscape has changed in the past few hundred years, you'll really get to take a step back in time as you walk these streets. Nicknamed the "City of Kings", Krakow is one of the most culturally rich cities in Europe.  


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As you'll find, there is so much in Krakow to fall in love with! Since it can be pretty hard to figure out where you should spend your time in this city, here's our list of favorites so you can pick and choose what you want to do. Of course, we absolutely recommend experiencing as many of these things as possible! 

Oh and don't miss all our tips for planning a trip to Krakow including how to get to Krakow and where to stay.

Everything To Experience in Krakow

  • Eat the Best Food
  • Visit the Museums
  • Explore the Churches
  • Attend a Concert
  • Take a Carriage Ride
  • Participate in a Festival
  • Tour Wawel Castle
  • Walk Through the Dragon Caves
  • Shop for Souvenirs in the Cloth Hall 
  • Put a Lock on This Bridge
  • Find All the Street Art 
  • Wander the Jewish Quarter
  • Hike the Mound
  • Outside of Krakow

Eat the Best Food

Chimney Cakes

Chimney cakes are made with strips of sweet dough, wrapped around a circular tube, and then roasted over charcoal coals. They are coated in melted butter and topped with cinnamon and sugar. You can find these throughout Krakow but the best ones are at the Chimney Cake Bakery. It's a tiny shop, just outside Old Town, and the selection of toppings (including ice cream) you can have them put inside the middle of the chimney cakes are mouthwatering. Our personal favorite? Nutella and chopped nuts. Divine. 

Address: ul. Basztowa 26A Small Green Kiosk, Krakow 31-156 Poland
Hours: 9 AM to 9 PM, but open until 10 PM on Friday and Saturday. 

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Pizza 

Of all the delicious pizza you can enjoy in Krakow, our personal favorite is found at the Pizza Loft. There are over 35 different kinds of pizza on their menu, with everything from margarita, to pear and blue cheese. They also have plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options. An added bonus? The decorations inside the restaurant are vintage, colorful, and so fun! 

Address: Stradomska 23 Kraków, Poland 31-071
Hours: Daily for 1 PM to 10 PM 

Fruit Tarts and Pastries  

There are bakeries on every corner in Krakow, and they are all amazing. By far some of the best things they make are the fruit tarts. Availability depends a bit on the time of year you are there, but we recommend the tarts filled with mascarpone cheese and topped with fresh raspberries. We could eat those all day. No joke. 

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Bagels

Fun fact: bagels actually originated in Poland. You will see them being sold in little vendor carts all over the city, usually topped with cheese, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. They are really tasty! For less than a dollar, these make the perfect morning, afternoon, or evening snack.

Zapiekanka 

These baguettes, covered in a variety of toppings, are the Polish version of fast food and they were first introduced in the 1970s. You'll usually find them smothered in cheese, vegetables (almost always corn), some kind of meat, and sauce. They are delicious! And huge. Our favorite spot to get these is found at Plac Nowy in the Jewish Quarter, right next to what we think is the best ice cream in all of Europe: Good Lood! 

Address: plac Nowy 4A, 31-056 Kraków, Poland

Pierogies 

There's a reason these dumplings are the longest enduring of all the Polish culinary traditions. If you want the authentic experience, try them stuffed with potatoes and cottage cheese. We are also big fans of the fruit ones served with sweet cream. Any Polish restaurant in Old Town will serve this specialty. Check out this blog post for a few restaurants we recommend!  

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Visit the Museums

Schindler’s Factory

Oskar Schindler, originally a member of the Nazi Party, owned an enamelware factory in Krakow and employed hundreds of Jews. Over the years, he used his own fortune to bribe Nazi soldiers and keep his Jews from being taken to concentration camps. Because of this, Schindler helped over 1,000 of his Jewish employees to survive WW II.

In this museum, you can learn about how the war affected Krakow specifically during the 5 years of the Nazi occupation. One of our favorite rooms has the good deeds and kind acts performed by many brave Polish citizens during WW II written in different languages across all of the walls. It is very touching and overwhelming to see how these people helped each other through one of the most tragic periods of their history. 

Buy tickets here well in advance to avoid long lines. Entry is free on Mondays, but you'll have to get there early because they have a fixed number of guests they will allow in for safety reasons. A standard ticket costs about $5. But you can also get this ticket package if you are interested in seeing a couple of other historically significant sites as well: Eagle Pharmacy and the Old Synagogue. 

Address: Lipowa 4, 30-702 Kraków, Poland
Hours: April-October it's open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 AM to 8 PM . November-March it's open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Always open on Mondays from 10 AM to 2 PM. 
 

Note: visitors aren't let in later than 1 1/2 hours before closing time.

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Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art 

This is one of our favorite museums in Krakow for a couple of reasons. First, it's pretty small (only 4 rooms), so you can actually enjoy every piece on display. Plus, it's also located on the top floor of the Cloth Hall, so as soon as you're done admiring the art, you can head downstairs to get some great Polish souvenirs. 

Also make sure you take a peek at the view of Old Town from this museum's balcony. The carriages, restaurants, men making bubbles for kids, musicians, pigeons, and everything else make you feel like you're overlooking some kind of fairytale. 

Tickets will be around $4.50, but we recommend visiting on Sundays when entry is totally free! 

Address: Cloth Hall, Rynek Główny 3
Hours: Open Tuesdays-Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM, on Saturdays from 10 AM to 6 PM, and on Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM. Closed on Mondays. 

Museum of Contemporary Art

Known as the MOCAK, this museum has some unique and creative displays. It is actually located on the site of Schindler's old warehouse, so if you're already stopping by that museum, make sure you check this one out as well. 

Tickets are about $4, but entry to all permanent exhibitions is free on Thursdays. 

Address: 4 Lipowa St 30-702 Krakow
Hours: Open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 AM to 7 PM. Closed Mondays. 

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Explore the Churches

Another nickname for Krakow: "The City of Churches". As you can guess, there are so many all over the city, especially around Old Town. Here are just three of our favorites, but they are all unique and you could honestly spend hours wandering in and out of many more. 

St. Mary's Basilica 

Located in Market Square, the inside of this church is painted in vibrant colors and houses a stunning altarpiece of Gothic design. It is from these towers that a trumpet is played every hour. You'll notice that the song stops suddenly, which is in commemoration of the trumpeter from the 13th century who was shot in the throat while alarming the city of an attack from the Mongols. 

Tickets are about $1.50. 

Address: plac Mariacki 5, 31-042 Kraków, Poland
Hours: Open on weekdays from 11:30 AM to 6 PM and on Sundays and holidays from 2 PM to 6 PM. 

Church of Saints Peter and Paul

The crypt of this Jesuit church now serves as the final resting place for some of the Poles who have made distinguished contributions in the arts and sciences. Lining the gates to the entrance are statues of the twelve apostles. The baroque interior of this church is much less colorful than some of its neighbors, but is still worth a visit. 

Address: ul. Grodzka 52a, Krakow 31-044, Poland
Hours: Open Mondays-Saturdays from 9 AM to 5 PM, and on Sundays from 1:30 PM to 5 PM.

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

You'll see a lot of cathedrals in Europe, but this one is especially breathtaking. The intricate stained glass and colorful ceilings in the main hall are captivating, but don't forget to also walk through the side rooms to see these detailed depictions of scenes from the last week of Christ's life. 

Address: Pl. Wszystkich Świętych 5 
Hours: Daily from 7 AM to 8 PM. 

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Attend a Concert

You'll see performers all over the streets of Old Town, but if you want to catch an evening concert, then head over to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul where they are held daily starting at 8 PM. A small chamber orchestra performs different programs every night of the week. Buy your tickets for about $15 on site and check online for more info. 

Address: ul. Grodzka 52a, Krakow 31-044, Poland

Take a Carriage Ride

As soon as you take a step into the area surrounding Market Square, you'll see these antique horse-drawn carriages everywhere. For about $50 (per 30 min), a group of 4-5 people can catch a pleasant ride around Old Town. The drivers won't tell you about anything you're seeing though, so just enjoy the peace and quiet. A little pricey, but worth the experience, especially if your feet need a break from walking. 

Tour Wawel Castle

Constructed during the 13th and 14th centuries, this castle is a collection of many structures built around an Italian-style courtyard and features several different architectural styles. It has been the residence of kings and presidents for hundreds of years, but since the end of WW II, the interior has functioned as one of Poland's grandest museums. It is definitely one of the most important sites in Krakow, and you can come here to see various sculptures, tapestries, paintings, armor, furniture, or simply enjoy the beautiful gardens outside. 

Visit the official website for all the information about exhibitions and ticket sales. 

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Walk Through the Dragon Caves

Yeah, yeah, we know dragon caves sound a little ridiculous. But the legend of the Wawel dragon is a big part of Krakow's history! And these limestone caverns are actually pretty neat. They are dimly lit inside and after going down a winding staircase inside the hill, it only takes about five minutes to walk through them.

Tickets are less than $1, but you can only use coins in the machine outside the caves' entrance. 

Participate in a Festival 

The Poles love traditions and holidays, so there are often festivals in the heart of Old Town and around the castle with vendors, music, and so much more. Check out the list of festivals here because you wouldn't want to miss out on any of them, like Rękawka, the annual medieval fair that includes sword fighting, archery, and delicious food! 

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Shop for Souvenirs in the Cloth Hall 

The Cloth Hall, at the center of Old Town, has been the location of a trade hall since the 1300s. It's one of  the best places to stock up on souvenirs. The building is full of little stalls run by different vendors selling leather purses, mugs, chess sets, nativities, lace, amber jewelry, wooden toys, and a lot of other authentic gifts and trinkets. 

Our advice: walk all the way around the hall before you purchase anything because a lot of the vendors will be selling the same items for different prices. And if you don't find something you love inside, then just stop by each of the small shops around the exterior of the hall as well. 

Address: Rynek Główny 1-3, 30-001 Kraków, Poland
Hours: Daily from 10 AM to 6 PM, but closed every Wednesday. 

Put a Lock on This Bridge 

Known as Lovers' Bridge, it spans the Vistula River, connecting North and South Krakow. You can stick your own lock on the bridge, or just look through the ones already attached to it.  

Address: Kładka Ojca Bernatka, 31-061 Kraków, Poland

Find All the Street Art 

Since Krakow is home to so many talented artists, there is fun street art all over the city! Some of our favorites, like Don Lockwood from "Singing in the Rain", are found in the Jewish Quarter, but you can find many other colorful walls (and doors) in other surprise spots.  

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Wander the Jewish Quarter

Since we've already mentioned this place a few times, we should probably just tell you to do yourself a favor and spend a few hours walking around one of the most beloved areas in all of Krakow. It's artsy, quirky, vibrant, and a perfect mix of old and new thanks to its complicated history. Make sure you check out our guide to the Jewish Quarter before you head over there! 

Hike The Mound 

Built in memory of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish military hero, this artificial hill was constructed with dirt brought from people all over Poland. It now offers some of the most amazing views of Krakow and the surrounding areas. You can also visit the wax figure museum inside called, "Polish Road to Freedom". 

Tickets are about $4. Visit the official site to get all additional information. 

Address: al. Waszyngtona 1, 30-204 Kraków, Poland
Hours: Daily from 9 AM to sunset. 

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Outside of Krakow

Tour Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

While in Krakow, we recommend taking a trip out to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site. You've probably learned about concentration camps, but visiting one is a very unique and memorable experience. There's something about honoring those who suffered that is a great reminder to appreciate the lives and freedoms we have. 

Auschwitz is about an hour outside of Krakow, so plan on it taking at least half of your day. You can book a tour, or figure out transportation yourselves. Here's everything you need to know about visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau

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Visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines

First established in the 13th century, these mines were in full operation until 2007. Now you can take tours through them and explore the many different chambers and chapels that are all stunning and a little eerie. You'll definitely feel like you're walking through something straight out of a book, like The Lord of the Rings. Read our guide for the Salt Mines to get more info about what to expect, transportation, and ticket costs. Plan on spending several hours on your tour. 

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