Sightseeing in Krakow

It’s one of the most popular cities in the country for tourists. Here are the best things to see and do in the Polish city of Krakow.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

Updated:

Things to do in Krakow, Poland

I’ve written a fair bit about Poland in the past few weeks and a lot of that has referenced Krakow. Not surprising really, seeing as it’s Poland’s second largest city and its most popular tourist destination.

The history draws some people and the culture others. For most, it’s the combination of the two.

As well as being a great cheap place for a night out, it’s also a good base to visit places like the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Auschwitz Museum.

It was a grey day when I toured Krakow with the wonderful guide, Kasia, (you can check out her website here) but it’s one of those cities that seems to shine regardless of the weather.

As you’ll gather from these highlights, there’s a lot to see.

Main square

The main marketplace is a perfect place to start any sightseeing in Krakow. It’s full of activity – from the food vendors, to the market stalls and even the pigeons (when I was there, a woman holding breadcrumbs found herself entirely covered in birds!).

There are some nice cafes, bars and restaurants around the outside which is a great place to sit and watch the local atmosphere.

Things to do in Krakow, Poland
Things to do in Krakow, Poland

St Mary’s Church

This is the main church in Krakow and has an elaborately decorated interior. It’s right off the main marketplace square and easy to find.

If you’re there on the hour, you’ll hear the trumpeters playing from the tower.

Don’t be surprised if they stop before the end… this is done every time as a tribute to a trumpeter who was shot by an arrow in the 13th century while sounding the alarm of an attack on the city.

Things to do in Krakow, Poland
Things to do in Krakow, Poland

Speaking of churches

There are more than 180 churches in Krakow and it doesn’t matter how much time you spend walking around the city – you’ll keep finding new ones.

The Wawel Cathedral at the top of the hill is definitely one you shouldn’t miss. Partly because it has… (keep reading…)

Things to do in Krakow, Poland
Things to do in Krakow, Poland

The Dragon

…dragon bones! At first I laughed when someone told me about the dragon of Krakow. What silly superstitions these Polish people have – pfft!

But then I saw the dragon bones hanging at the top of Wawel Hill and I saw the sign pointing tourists to the dragon’s lair at the bottom.

Maybe I was foolish to dismiss the idea so quickly… maybe there really was a dragon nearby. Eek!

Things to do in Krakow, Poland

Wawel castle

Also at the top of Wawel Hill is the Wawel castle. When Krakow was the capital city, this was the official residence and one of the finest castles in Europe.

The central courtyard is massive and you can imagine how impressive (and intimidating) it must’ve been to arrive as a foreign dignitary.

Things to do in Krakow, Poland
Things to do in Krakow, Poland

Underground

Not all of Krakow’s highlights are above the ground. You can also go underneath the main marketplace to see the excavations of the old city… the really old city.

In the Rynek Underground museum you can see the what’s left of buildings from more than a thousand years ago. There are even a couple of creepy skeletons there (perhaps left over from the dragon’s dinner).

Things to do in Krakow, Poland
Things to do in Krakow, Poland

Modern Art

The old historic sights of Krakow are great but there’s always something cool about the recent touches. You’ll find a lot of art instillations around town that, although modern, fit in with the general feel of the place.

Take this enormous head, for example. The best thing about it is that it’s hollow, so you can climb in and have a bit of a rest if you’re feeling tired (disclaimer: I don’t know if you’re actually allowed to climb in, but other people were doing it, your honour).

Things to do in Krakow, Poland

Time Travel Turtle travelled to Poland as a guest of the Polish National Tourist Office but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

UNESCO logo

This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

18 thoughts on “Sightseeing in Krakow”

    • Good point, Laura. Krakow has a bit of a reputation for being a party city, but it’s also great for families. I just wouldn’t take the kids out too late at night when things start to get a bit rowdy…

      Reply
  1. Are you going to Krakow? Looking for good places to experience an unforgettable night? And also want to know the best places in town? We can help you! 3 friends specialize with organizing evenings in our city for everybody who don’tt want to waste time searching for the best events. Regardless of the type of holiday, we will show you the best side of Krakow 🙂
    Contact us by the e-mal adress or find us on facebook.
    Katarzyna Bednarczyk
    Zośka Bednarczyk
    Agata Karpiel

    Reply
  2. We really loved Krakow. Thought the city was cutely medieval:-) Loved the churches and walking the town, and the salt mines were really great. Visited it two years ago along with Slovenia (loved Llubliana (sp?), Budapest, Krakow and Prague. Also went to Salzburg but left after our first night- thought it was boring.

    Reply
  3. oh, Krakow is such a lovely place to visit. I think there is no other such beautiful city in whole Poland. Going there even for a week is not enough – outsider Krakow there places like Wieliczka, Zakopane where you can admire art of nature.

    Reply
    • Yes – it’s a great place to use as a bit of a base. I would definitely recommend Wieliczka as a day trip – it’s absolutely stunning. And you could easily just spend time relaxing in Krakow and enjoying the restaurants and bars.

      Reply
  4. It’s really the great post about Poland. I’d recommend you to visit neighbor country – Ukraine.
    There are also many beautiful ancient cities and medieval castles, which you’ll certainly like.
    May be you’ll interested in this tour – 5-day grand tour of the western Ukraine 😉

    Reply
  5. Last photo looks like Mitoraj’s sculpture. I know this dragon legend is a bit strange, oh well. Anyway Krakow is a great city to explore. I love those monuments! We had a project to write in Polish about the monuments. Pretty tough, but accomplished.

    Reply
  6. Krakow is the best place to visit in Poland. There are a lot of attraction to see like Wawel Royal castle, Main Square, Kazimierz district, Schindler museum, Cloth hall etc. Close to Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, Salt Mine, Wadowice (Where John Paule II was born). There is the best and cheap place to go for a short weekend.

    Reply
  7. Krakow is the best place to visit in Poland. There are a lot of attraction to see like Wawel Royal castle, Main Square, Kazimierz district, Schindler museum, Cloth hall etc.

    Reply

Leave a comment