There are no shortages of things to do in Krakow. I’ve visited the city three times now and every time, this picturesque, affordable and friendly city blows me away. It’s one of Poland’s most well-known destinations for a reason!
Many people know Krakow for two reasons: either from History lessons in school – ours did a trip there, although I didn’t get myself on it sadly! – or as an affordable destination for a bachelorette, hen or stag party.
Honestly though, it’s got so much more than cheap beer and shooting ranges (although they’re there too if it takes your fancy!) so in this guide, I’ll be taking you through all the best things to do in Krakow and how to get the most out of your city break.
Where to stay in Krakow
Krakow city centre is extremely walkable, with tons of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops all located around the Stare Miasto (Old Town) and Kazimierz (Jewish quarter). For that reason, I’d recommend staying around one of these areas, or just slightly outside them, particularly if you’re only visiting Krakow for two or three days on a city break.
I usually book via Booking.com (love me a Genuis discount) or Airbnb, depending on what is more affordable for my needs.
The best things to do in Krakow on a city break
1. Wieliczka Salt Mine
A salt mine – really? Seriously, hear me out.
While it might not instantly sound like something special, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is hands down one of the best things to do in Krakow. Located 101 metres underground. You can a tour of three levels of the mine, learn some history about the miners and even spy an underground lake! The lake is said to help with ailments such as asthma and a restaurant. The highlight is undoubtedly the underground cathedral carved entirely from salt. Yes even the chandeliers! The massive space holds up to 400 people for weddings, religious services and even music concerts!
Located around 30 minutes outside Krakow, you can hop on the train at Krakow Główny station and get off at the Wieliczka Rynek Kopalnia station – the mine is just a couple of minutes away. Alternately, you can book a taxi for around 100 PLN or secure a guided tour in advance. Students can receive discount entry fees too.
2. Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory
If you’re interested in your WWII history, Krakow is a fascinating (and sad) place to visit with a number of significant sites in the city. The main exhibition in Schindler’s factory is of course, all about Krakow under Nazi Occupation between 1939 – 1945, and they also feature rotational exhibits too.
You can get to Schindler’s Factory on foot – although it is a bit of a walk! – by public transport, or by taking a taxi.
Whether you’ve watched Schindler’s List or not, this is undoubtedly somewhere you’d like to add to your Krakow sightseeing tour.
3. Marvel at Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle is stunning, there’s no getting around it. Each time I’ve been to Krakow, it’s one of the places I make a beeline for and it’s well worth the short walk from the main square to see it.
You can walk around the outside for free or buy a ticket to visit areas of the inside – these are time-limited, so pick a slot you know you’ll be punctual for! Admission prices vary depending on the exhibition but two key things to note are: admission to selected exhibitions is free on Mondays too and you can get a guided tour for an additional 20 PLN.
Get your Guide also offer combo tours where you can see Wawel Castle and the cathedral, along with a number of other sights in the area – a tour isn’t essential by any means, but it’s a great way to explore if you’re short on time!
4. Bernatek Footbridge
Once a lesser known attraction, this bridge over the Vistuala river is now adorned with padlocks engraved with couples names. Many of the tourist buses take a route by the bridge en route to Schindler’s factory but on my latest visit, we found it by chance when strolling the riverbanks after a morning exploring Wawel Castle.
It is a gorgeous place to look at the river on a sunny day and you can enjoy a pleasant walk back through the Jewish quarter.
This is another one that feels wrong to list this as a tourist attraction but visiting Auschwitz was the main reason that I wanted to visit Krakow originally. World War II is a period of history that I’m particularly fascinated with and a trip here makes for an emotional and really worthy visit.
At certain times you can make your away around without a tour guide but I’d definitely recommend the guided tour. It’s incredibly informative and gives a lot of interesting detail about the camps. Both Auschwitz and Birkenau are included in the tour as they are a mere five minute shuttle apart: be prepared for a lot of walking in Birkenau and some shocking, sad stories.
5. Planty Park
Surrounding the Main Square in Krakow Old Town is a gorgeous circular park where the city walls used to stand. If you want a break from the square and a relaxed stroll, you can’t miss it – just head outwards through any of the streets. There’s some gorgeous monuments and fountains to admire (or to run through if that takes your fancy).
6. Grab a dessert
You cannot visit Krakow without sampling one of the amazing bakeries around the area. Their cream-laden cakes are famously decadent and delicious but after a weekend pounding the city streets, you’ve earned it!
I particularly recommend Cafe Mini on the road leading from the Main Square to Wawel Castle! If you fancy something with a bit of a kick however, there’s a small cafe right on the square that has cakes laced with rum. Try it for yourself – we certainly got more than we bargained for!
7. In fact, just eat your way around the city
There are no shortages of amazing places to eat in Krakow.
Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter, is absolutely full of hand roasted coffee joints, veggie hotspots and even street food like Zapiekanki – a type of local pizza bread covered in delicious toppings. You’ll find the best spot for this located in the centre of Plac Nowy – it shouldn’t cost you more than 15 PLN.
Don’t miss out on Hamsa, the best falafel-filled mezze restaurant in Krakow and Alchemia, a quirky hipster bar that serves food all day long.
I’ve also written about all the best photogenic places to eat in Krakow in another post here.
8. Try your hand at shooting
Travellers from the USA, this might not be one for you but for us living in countries where guns are illegal, it feels crazy to test your aim with professional firearms!
We headed out to Shooting Cracow, where we got to experience shooting four different guns – including an AK47! – in an indoor, controlled environment, supervised by a professional who guided you through the entire process. Not everybody will enjoy this experience – I didn’t! However if you’re heading on a weekend away with friends, you could consider it.
9. Visit a hidden speakeasy bar
One thing I can’t get enough of is quirky places that you couldn’t experience anywhere else. Mercy Brown is one of those destinations in Krakow.
Mercy Brown is hidden away behind another restaurant – you’ll find clues online to help you guess where it is! Once you find it, you’ll head through a cloakroom then emerge into the most beautiful cocktail bar. Try to catch one of their shows – you can expect anything from burlesque performances to swing and live jazz nights – but even if you’re just there for a couple of drinks, it’s undoubtedly one of the best bars in Krakow.
If I could give one tip, it’s to be prepared for the wild menu. It’s full of whacky choices I’d never have seen before but the staff are pros and give you advice on the best options to try!
10. Try an escape room
Think you’re smart? You’ve got one hour to escape Maze Krakow! We tried this for my mate’s hen do and while we sadly didn’t escape – we got so close! – it was a really fun experience. The rooms are actually pretty creepy and really well made, with English-friendly puzzles throughout.
11. Head to the main square
Last but not least, you’ll no doubt spend a lot of time in Krakow’s main square. Whether you’re just passing through, decide to take a scenic ride in a horse-drawn carriage (that one’s not for me) or stop for a browse in the market stalls, it’s the hub of all Krakow’s goings on.
At Christmas, this is where you’ll find the city’s stunning markets and I couldn’t think of a more festive location!