20 Must-Visit Attractions in Krakow

Igor Mitoraj's huge hollow statue of Eros's head rests in Krakow's Market Square
Igor Mitoraj's huge hollow statue of Eros's head rests in Krakow's Market Square | © Egil Korsnes / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Joseph Francis
29 April 2021

Krakow, the second largest city in Poland, delivers fairytale views, with the towering Wawel Castle, as well as people-watching meccas such as Florianska Street and the Market Square. Dark times in the city’s recent history are evident in the Jewish ghetto memorial and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and green spaces such as Planty Park offer plenty of headspace. Get some inspiration with our guide to things to do in Krakow.

Market Square

Market
Map View
Krakow, Poland : People walks towards the Cloth hall building and old Town Hall Tower at the center of the main market square in the Krakow Old Town (
© Luis Dafos / Alamy Stock Photo
The buzzing heart of the Unesco-attested Krakow Old Town, the Market Square, is where all the action has played out since the Middle Ages. Come here for bars packed into the cellars of Medieval buildings, on-street cafes and restaurants, and landmarks including the central renaissance Sukiennice, or Cloth Hall, and Town Hall Tower (the hall itself was demolished in 1820).

Wawel Castle

Building
Map View
Krakow - Wawel castle at day
© TTstudio / Alamy Stock Photo
You can’t visit Krakow without exploring the medley of gothic, renaissance, rococo and romanesque architecture that is the great Wawel Castle. The muddle of buildings is on a high point in the city, giving it an imposing presence. It was the home of the Polish kings and queens until the 1600s, and has also been used as a barracks, a military hospital and the official residence of the state governor following World War I.

Planty Park

Park
Map View
Summer morning in Planty Park, Krakow, Poland.
© Slawek Staszczuk / Alamy Stock Photo
The green belt Planty Park rings the whole area of Krakow’s historic Old Town. Pathways weave this way and that past sculptures, babbling fountains and brick towers, while locals walk their dogs and cafes spill on to the surrounding streets. It’s filled with life in the summer and a veritable winter wonderland during the colder months.

Barbican

Building, Museum
Map View
The Barbican in Krakow is the largest extant Barbican in Europe, built from 1498 to 1499, Lesser Poland, Poland, Europe
© Gunter Kirsch / Alamy Stock Photo
The Barbican is the only remaining gatehouse of the Medieval fortifications that once encircled the whole city. Its redbrick bulwarks and formidable turrets helped to fend off the Mongol hordes during the 13th century and its circular design was on the cutting edge of engineering at the time. Today, occasional theatre productions and other art shows are hosted inside.

St Florian's Gate

Building
Map View
Florian Gate Brama Florianska ul. Florianska street Cracow Krakow Stare Miasto Old Town Poland tourism travel
© Slawek Koziol / Alamy Stock Photo
Looking wonderful in its Polish gothic shell, St Florian’s Gate marks the start of the so-called Royal Route. Pass through and listen to buskers play everything from highlander folk to Dylan-esque country in the echoing tunnel, before heading into the Old Town in the footsteps of the erstwhile Polish kings.

Kościuszko Mound

Building
Map View
Kosciuszko Mound (Kopiec Kosciuszki). Krakow landmark, Poland. Erected in 1823 to commemorate Tadedeusz Kosciuszko, and the chapel of St. Bronislawa.
© Krzysztof Nahlik / Alamy Stock Photo
Built in the image of the prehistoric mounds of Krakus and Wanda, the soaring hill of Kościuszko was raised in 1823 to honour its namesake national hero, Tadeusz Kościuszko, who fought for Poland against the Russians and the Prussians in the 18th century. From the top, travellers enjoy sweeping panoramas of the city, while clear days even reveal the Tatra Mountains to the south.

Florianska Street

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Krakow, Poland - July 29th 2018: Tourists walking down Florianska street in the old town of Krakow, Poland, near St.Florian's Gate
© SnapTPhotography / Alamy Stock Photo

Cutting through the very heart of the northern half of the Old Town district, the bustling drag that is Florianska Street hosts craft beer bars, souvenir emporiums and vodka tasting joints. You’ll need to be in the mood for ambling and taking in the atmosphere during the high season, as it’s often packed with tourists making their way from St Florian’s gate to the Market Square.

The Sukiennice

Building
Map View
Sukiennice aka The Cloth Hall or Drapers' Hall in the main Market Square of Krakow, Poland, Europe
© Sergio Azenha / Alamy Stock Photo
Hailed as the world’s oldest shopping centre, the Sukiennice, or Cloth Hall, has stood in the middle of Krakow Market Square for centuries. It was once full of international traders, selling silk, spices, leather and wax during its heyday in the 15th century – not just cloth. Even if rummaging through souvenir and food stands is not on your list of what to do in Krakow, pause outside to wonder at the handsome renaissance architecture.

St Mary's Basilica

Church
Map View
A part of Adam Mickiewicz Monument and Church, St. Mary's Church, Krakow (Cracow), Poland, Europe (UNESCO)
© Mark Delete / Alamy Stock Photo
The redbrick facade and great twin spires of St Mary’s Basilica have become symbols of the city. The Basilica was founded in the 13th century, but was destroyed during a Mongol invasion, and its various replacements have been through a lot, including an earthquake, which hit the presbytery in the 1400s. It still hosts the hourly bugle call – the Hejnał Mariacki.

The Jewish Quarter

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Kazimierz Jewish Quarter Krakow,Poland, Europe.
© jozef mikietyn / Alamy Stock Photo

Set within walking distance of the Old Town, the historic Jewish Quarter of Krakow was once a separate city in its own right, founded in the 15th century, and considered a model Jewish community. Jews were forcibly moved to a ghetto shut off from the rest of the city in 1941. Today, it retains a unique vibe with its crumbling tenement blocks, great synagogues and cool bohemian beer joints.

The Dragon's Den

Natural Feature
Map View
Dragon's Den (Smocza Jama) - a limestone cave in the Wawel Hill where the legendary dragon resided, Krakow, Poland
© Nathaniel Noir / Alamy Stock Photo
Touring a dragon’s den is one of the quirkier activities in Krakow. Legend has it that the Smok Wawelski dragon used to live beneath the mound of Wawel Castle and terrorise the city’s residents, before coming to a grizzly end thanks to a shoemaker and a sheep stuffed with sulphur. There is also a statue of the dragon that breathes real fire.

Vistulan Boulevards

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Cracow. Krakow. Poland. Vistula River waterfront boulevard. Barge restaurant
© Grzegorz Kozakiewicz / Alamy Stock Photo

As the winding courses of the Vistula River snake through the heart of Krakow, its banks host wide spaces of greenery, ad hoc summertime markets, beer bars and bobbing boat cafes. Hire a bike or go jogging, stop and watch passing boats on the river, or stroll along as you decide what to see in Krakow next.

Slowacki Chamber, Wieliczka Salt Mines

Natural Feature
Map View
Wieliczka Salt Mine, The Chapel of St. Kinga, Cracow, Poland UNESCO. Image shot 2016. Exact date unknown.
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo
For hundreds of years, the miners of the Wieliczka tunnels fuelled Krakow’s growth, pulling tonnes of valuable rock salt from the earth below the city. Today, their gift continues in the form of sculptures carved in subterranean passages and St Kinga’s Chapel – an underground cathedral made of salt.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Memorial, Museum
Map View
The railway track and main SS guard house at the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz Birkenau.. Image shot 06/2007. Exact date unknown.
© Maurice Savage / Alamy Stock Photo
Dark, emotional, moving and sobering in the extreme, there’s really nowhere in Europe quite like Auschwitz-Birkenau. It remains one of the most important things to see in and near Krakow, offering an informative and sensitive insight into the horrors of the Holocaust and the destruction wrought by the Nazis on the Jews and other minority groups. The memorial and museum are around an hour from the city centre.

Wawel Cathedral

Cathedral, Church
Map View
Wawel Cathedral, the part of Wawel Castle complex in Krakow, Poland
© Olena Buyskykh / Alamy Stock Photo
Hidden behind the old walls of Wawel Castle, arguably the most important church in Poland can be found looming high with its baroque and gothic frontispieces. There is so much to see, from the soaring lookouts of the belfry to the national crypts under the main basilica.

Cmentarz Rakowicki

Cemetery
Map View
Rakowicki Cemetery (Polish: Cmentarz Rakowicki) in Krakow, Poland
© Endless Travel / Alamy Stock Photo
Packed to bursting with the graves and grand sepulchres of Polish artists, politicians, poets, film actors, generals and more, the sprawling grounds of the Rakowicki Cemetery are Krakow’s answer to Paris’s Père Lachaise. Head down on All Saints’ Day, November 1, to see thousands of twinkling candles in honour of the dead.

Ojców National Park

Forest, Park, Ruins
Map View
Ojców National Park | © Mark Delete / Alamy Stock Photo
The bulbous stone peaks and forest-clad valleys of the Ojców National Park can be found just 20 minutes by car outside of Krakow. Criss-crossed by walking trails and peppered with deep caves, they also boast allegedly haunted castle ruins and traditional country taverns. If you’re visiting Krakow for more than a long weekend, the park is a great choice for a day away from the city.

Błonia

Park
Map View
Krakow, Poland. 10th Oct, 2018. A woman seen roller skating between Autumnal trees at Blonia Park. Credit: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
© ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
The great wedge of a green space that is the Błonia meadow sits on the western haunch of the city. It’s not much to look at in the winter, when it becomes caked in ice and snow, but summertime brings runners, dog walkers, roller-skaters, cyclists and open-air music festivals.

Plac Bohaterów Getta

Building
Map View
Mahnmal, Platz der Ghettohelden, Krakau, Polen, Memorial, place of the ghetto heroes, Cracow, Poland
© Bildagentur-online/Schoening / Alamy Stock Photo
Cut through by rattling tram lines and fringed with shops and cafes, this central square of the Podgórze district is home to one of the most sobering memorials in the city. A series of large and small chairs have been placed in a grid across the cobbles, designed as a memorial to the people of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow, which was once located here. There is also a plaque marking the meeting place of the Jewish Combat Organization, a resistance unit that staged acts of sabotage against the Nazis.

Market Hall Unitarg

Market, Polish
Map View
Krakow, Poland - September 21, 2018: Polish looking for Cheap second hand Books at Krakow's Unitarg plac targowy flea market
© Thiago Figueredo Lopes / Alamy Stock Photo
Hit the lively Unitarg on the weekends to experience a bona fide Polish flea market. Ramshackle stalls overladen with everything from band patches to age-stained metal tankards await. Haggle for everything, of course, and be sure to get in early for the best deals.
These recommendations were updated on April 29, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"