What started as a Stone Age hamlet is now the second largest city in Poland and a center for culture in Eastern Europe. Immerse yourself in Polish history and culture as you explore this city. Follow the coronation path of Polish kings through Old Town and dig into local cuisine. From history to thriving nightlife, there are endless things to do in Krakow!
Eat: Things to Do in Krakow
Restauracja Pod Baranem
This popular restaurant combines solid Polish classics with folksy and fun decor. Restauracja Pod Baranem is the best place to sit down and savor delicacies like beet root soup and roasted duck. This family-style restaurant was established in 1997 but has plenty of old world charm. This is a wildly popular spot, so we recommend making a reservation.
Bar mleczny— which translates to milk bar— is like a Polish cafeteria. Milk bars first opened at the turn of the 20th century as an affordable place to eat authentic Polish cuisine. Milkbar Tomasza is a trendy take on the traditional Polish milk bar. Order at the counter, and a waiter will bring the feast to your table. Sample some of Poland’s top treats:
- Pierogi – dumpling stuffed with meat, spices, and vegetables
- Barszcz – Beetroot soup thickened with sour cream
- Kielbasa – Sausage
- Placki ziemniaczane – Potato pancakes served with beef goulash
Pączki are Polish pastries very similar to donuts. These tasty fried dough snacks are so popular in Poland that they have their own holiday. Pączki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins— a period of religious observance for many Christians. Pączki are sweet and often filled with jelly. Eating traditional rose-flavored pączki at Gorące Pączki in Old Town is one of the sweetest things to do in Krakow.
Pierozki u Vincenta
Widely loved and eaten across Eastern Europe, pierogis are especially popular in Poland. Pierożki u Vincenta is a popular spot in Kazimierz, Krakow’s former Jewish quarter, that serves up dozens of different pierogi. The extensive menu offers savory and sweet options, like lamb, rosemary, and thyme combo or good old fashioned potato-filled pierogi. Eating pierogi at this hoppin’ spot is one of the most popular things to do in Krakow.
The Bunkier Building
This trendy café is connected to the Bunker Sztuki Gallery, one of Poland’s most important contemporary art museums. Brunch at this beautiful eatery is one of the trendiest things to do in Krakow. The café originally opened in 1907, and the historic vibe of this space creates a unique atmosphere for breakfast or lunch.
Some historians suggest that vodka originated in 15th century Poland. Whether or not Poland is the birthplace of vodka, Krakow is an excellent place to sample the distilled beverage. Tasting vodka is one of the booziest things to do in Krakow! For a wide selection, head to Wodka Cafe Bar in Old Town. This cafe boasts over 100 different types of vodka. Sample some of the fancier flavors (like hazelnut vodka) or relax with a simple mixed drink.
History & Culture: Things to Do in Krakow
The main square of the Old Town of Krakow— also called Rynek Glowny— is the central point of the city and one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. Originally used as a public square where gruesome public executions were held, it is now a beautiful and lively square. The square is ringed with busy restaurants and cafes and entertainers of all kinds, including jugglers and living statues.
Important buildings include the 13th century town hall tower, the 14th century Gothic Basilica of the Virgin Mary, and the 16th century Cloth Hall. Due to its central location, it’s a great choice to begin or end your tour of the city.
The Royal Route
The Royal Route begins at the northern end of Krakow’s medieval Old Town and continues south towards Wawel Hill and Wawel Castle. Traditionally, this route was for coronation processions and royal parades. Walking along the Royal Route will take you past some of Krakow’s most revered (and lesser known) historical sites: The Academy of Fine Arts, Florian Gate, and St. Mary’s Basilica, just to name a few.
Wawel Royal Castle
The Gothic Wawel Castle in Krakow was built for Casimir III the Great, who reigned from 1333 to 1370, as his personal palace. Today, the former Gothic castle is a museum with five sections, including the Crown Treasury and Armory, the State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments, Lost Wawel, and the Exhibition of Oriental Art. Each section requires its own ticket. One of the most famous pieces of art on display here is Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Lady With An Empire”. Don’t miss the chance to admire the exterior architecture and the royal gardens while you’re here.
Kanonicza Street in Krakow was once part of the Royal Road which led from the city’s gate towards Wawel Royal Castle. Today, the street is filled with Renaissance architecture which makes it one of the most beautiful streets in Europe. Highlights include the Baroque Jesuit Church of St Peter’s and Paul’s, and the Romanesque Church of St Andrew’s. The cobbled lane is lined with 14th century buildings, and is a beautiful place to wander.
Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory was a former metal item factory in Krakow. Today, it houses a museum that portrays wartime experiences in Krakow during the five years it was under Nazi occupation. Visitors can look forward to fascinating exhibits, including artifacts, photographs, radio and film recordings, and documents that describe what life was like in Krakow between 1939 and 1945. Within these walls, you will also find a contemporary art museum with a variety of beautiful artwork on display.
Jewish District (Kazimierz)
Kazimierz is a historical district of Krakow that was once the center of Jewish life until it was destroyed during World War II. Today, it is one of the most popular districts in Krakow with a warm Bohemian vibe and plenty of coffee shops, art galleries, and synagogues. Highlights include the Corpus Christi Church, Temple Synagogue, and the Galicia Museum. Both cemeteries, the Remuh and the New Cemetery, are worth checking out. Fifteen years ago, Kazimierz was abandoned, but exploring this hip neighborhood is now one of the funkiest things to do in Krakow.
The Cloth Hall in Krakow is possibly one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, dating back to the Renaissance era. Today, the mall and is one of Krakow’s most recognizable icons, situated in the center of the market square. A beautiful Gothic building, the Cloth Hall beckons with twinkling jewelry, woodwork, sheepskin rugs, and more – making it the perfect place to pick up a reasonably priced Polish souvenir to take home with you. Shopping at the Cloth Hall is one of the best things to do in Krakow.
Day Trips: Things to Do in Krakow
The Auschwitz concentration camp complex included three main camps. The complex was the largest of its kind built by the Nazis. Auschwitz housed prisoners used for forced labor, and was located approximately 37 miles west of Krakow.
Visitors can reserve tickets on visit.auschwitz.org. Upon arrival, visitors receive a headset and are assigned a tour group with a trained guide. Be prepared to spent 90 minutes at Auschwitz I and 90 minutes at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. While touring the museum, dress appropriately and show appropriate respect and solemnity.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine
Eight miles from Krakow and 210-feet under the earth lies the sprawling labyrinth of The Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine opened in the 13th century and produced salt until 2007, making it the world’s oldest salt in operation. The Wieliczka Salt Mine was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Bochnia Salt Mines are located on the same geological rock salt deposit. Excavations in both mines have been transformed into four chapels, workshops, and storehouses, all filled with statues and other decorative elements. Deep inside the mine is a grand chapel that includes an altar, chandeliers, and sculptures all made with salt. Contemporary artists have also contributed to the works of art.
Enjoy your Krakow tour!
Krakow Tour Benefits
- Curated Sites
- Audio Tours
- Offline Map