Lisa Brown, Excursions Specialist

"Krakow is a treasure trove of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. No other city in Poland can boast so many historic buildings and monuments or such a vast collection of artworks. Wawel Castle is Krakow’s centrepiece and a must-see, but visitors will also find themselves drawn to the Old Town, with its soaring Gothic churches Krakow also has many attractions of a more modern variety, with hundreds of restaurants, bars and music clubs tucked away down its cellars and narrow alleyways. Visitors are sure to discover something exciting in this vibrant, cosmopolitan city. "

Krakow at a glance

Krakow is a city marked by a glorious and tragic history. Awe inspiring Gothic and Renaissance architecture makes for enchanting cityscapes, while sobering historic sites such as Kazimierz mark where a once thriving Jewish population made the city their cultural centre before the devastating consequences of World War II.

Reigning as the capital of Poland for 500 years enabled Krakow to collect and preserve a wealth of historical artefacts and buildings. Today these historical treasures have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include the enchanting 14th century Wawel Castle and the Wieliczka salt mines.

There are several famous performing arts theatres in Krakow. The city is also home to a wealth of museums and galleries. The pedestrianized Old Town is a towering history museum all its own with beautiful Gothic structures, a market dating back to the 14th century still in use today and a vibrant, crowding of restaurants, pubs and cafes humming with activity.

Perfect if you’re looking for:

  • Historic Attractions
  • Art and culture
  • Stunning architecture

Getting around

The majority of Krakow's historic areas are located within pedestrianized zones, making it easy to get to many of the city’s sites by foot. There is also a thorough network of bus and tram routes throughout the city.

Shopping

With a pervasive and prominent trade history, it comes as no surprise that Krakow is home to a large variety of shops, markets and shopping centres. Venture to the Old Town for an eclectic mix of stalls selling home-made wares, religious icons, flowers and souvenirs.

Dining in Krakow

Traditional Krakow cuisine consists of foods rich in protein such as sausages, cheeses and potatoes, but a variety of world-wide culinary influences can also be found in the city.

Must-try local dishes:

  • Pierogi – dumplings, filled most often with pork, chicken, mushrooms or vegetables
  • Golabki – cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and meat such as beef or pork
  • Potato pancakes – a popular favourite, often served with sour cream

Osprey Holidays top tips

Explore the magnificent Wawel Cathedral, Poland’s most important church. Walking around the numerous royal sarcophagi is like a tour through Polish history itself.

Also a must for any visitor is Rynek Glowny, the enormous mediaeval square which is the fascinating social and commercial hub of the old town.

Get your tailor-made city break itinerary

Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Krakow designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:

  • All travel and transfers on days of your choice
  • Accommodation from our handpicked range of Krakow  hotels, to suit your budget and requirements

Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us now for your tailor-made itinerary.

Important information
Population 755,546
Languages Polish
Currency Polish Zloty
Visa Information No visa required for EU citizens
Average temperatures

(monthly highs °C)

Interesting facts

On cold evenings, visit the Alchemia bar in Nowy Square for great atmosphere and a good selection of drinks and bar snacks.

Distance from airports
Krakow 11 km
Railway stations
Dworzec Glówny (Main Station)

Things to do in Krakow

  • Rynek Glowny: Square at the heart of Krakow and the largest in any of Europe’s medieval cities.
  • Wawel Royal Castle: The centre of political and cultural life until the end of the 16th century, this impressive Gothic castle is perched on Wawel Hill.
  • Cloth Hall: Dating from 1555, this historic market features many food, jewellery and leather stalls.
  • Kazimierz District: This atmospheric old Jewish quarter is well worth a stroll around. Dragon’s Cave Located under Wawel Castle and said to be the lair of a legendary dragon linked to the mythic beginnings of Krakow.
  • The Czartoryskis Museum: Best known for Leonardo's painting Lady with an Ermine, houses works by other Old Masters such as Rembrandt, and Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities 

Tours and Excursions

Krakow City Tour

Discover the beautiful, historic, and culture-packed city of Kraków on a bus and walking tour. Visit the Jewish District of Kazimierz to explore the area which used to be inhabited by one of the most diverse Jewish communities in Europe. A short drive will take you up Wawel Hill, the embodiment of Poland's former monarchical glory. On its summit is the Royal Castle and a 14th-century cathedral which hosted nearly all the Polish monarchy's coronations and funerals. From Wawel Hill, take a stroll along Kanonicza and Grodzka Streets to reach Collegium Maius (Great College), the oldest building of the Academia Cracoviensis. After visiting the charming Gothic courtyard continue to the Main Market Square. This bustling heart of the city is the perfect place for picking up souvenirs, especially in the Cloth Hall which has been the local market place for centuries. Complete your tour by visiting St Mary's Church, where the stunning medieval altar sculpted by Veit Stoss is located and a bugle call sounds towards the four corners of the world every hour on the hour.

Wieliczka Salt Mine - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Prepare to be amazed at the devotion and superstition that drove miners to carve figures, monuments and altarpieces into the walls of an 800-year-old salt mine. As you walk down the 360 steps into the salt mine, you have the impression you are entering a vast underground city, complete with huge caverns and underground lakes. This underground world has earned a place on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list thanks to the creativity of the miners who carved chapels out of the walls, hundreds of metres below the surface. You will visit the largest of the chapels, dedicated to St Kinga, the patron saint of salt miners. This subterranean church is richly decorated with chandeliers, sculptures, and religious figures carved out of salt. 

Please note that there are many steps and uneven terrain in the salt mine and the tour may be unsuitable for those with walking difficulties

Auschwitz-Birkenau - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Auschwitz camp was established by the Nazis in 1940 in the suburbs of the city of Auschwitz, which was integrated into the Third Reich. It is the most infamous of the death camps and in the decades since World War II has become synonymous with the Holocaust and other atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Today the camp serves as a museum and memorial to those who lost their lives there. The tour comprises both parts of the former concentration camp - Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau - and a documentary film showing the first moments after the camp was liberated.

Dunajec River Gorge and Niedzica Castle

Usually referred to as ""the raft trip down the Dunajec river"", this is in fact a rather leisurely drift in large wooden punts. Highly experienced guides make sure you have a smooth ride and keep you informed about the sights. The voyage down the winding Dunajec offers breathtaking views of mighty limestone cliffs plunging into the water as well as stunning native vegetation both protected by the second oldest international national park in the world. Niedzica Castle was originally built in the 14th century by the Hungarians to protect an important trade through the Dunajec valley. Nowadays the castle towers over a large water reservoir and an impressive dam built in mid 90s. While visiting the castle you can admire the delightful view over the artificial lake and learn an amazing story of Inca refugees that found shelter there.

Zakopane - the vibrant heart of the Tatra Mountains

In the 19th Century the beauty of the Tatra Mountains attracted artists and high society to the sleepy village of Zakopane.  Now a popular winter resort, Zakopane can no longer be described as sleepy, but the surrounding area still reflects the charm of the past and the beauty of nature. This day tour includes a ride on the Gubalowka cable car, offering breath taking views, and museum entrance.

We would be happy to arrange an excursion for you. To discuss options with a member of our knowledgeable team or to book, please contact us on 0131 243 8098.