Have you ever wondered how to spend a weekend in Krakow? Below I have put together your very own Krakow City Guide to help you plan your next trip to Poland.
Recently I was offered the chance to spend a few days in Kraków so of course I jumped at the opportunity! Kraków has a long and varied history, once being the capital, but did you know the country of Poland wasn’t an independent country until the 20th century. Kraków has seen much influence from other cities and countries across Europe, including Germany, Lithuania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia and even Turkey.
During World War I, Kraków was the political centre of Poland. The provisional government established a Provisional Council of State in the city. The Germans made the city their headquarters and created a pro-German Polish state. Poland has an extremely interesting war history and many visit to explore the many fascinating museums on the matter.
After World War I, during the negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Poland finally regained its independence. However, during World War II, Nazi Germany created the Kraków Ghetto. Nearly 80,000 Polish Jews had lived in Kraków since the thirteenth century and were shut behind large concrete walls in the city.
Kraków was later freed by the Soviet troops at the end of World War II and would remain under Soviet control until the Soviet Union collapsed. Because of this history, Kraków also has an interesting Communist history and contains one of the largest and best preserved communist model town in the world, the only other to match it is one in Russia.
The city today is the second largest in Poland and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1978 by UNESCO, thankfully it avoided mass destruction during WWII unlike the capital of Warsaw.
Getting to Krakow
Travelling to Krakow is pretty inexpensive. There is no time to go that is particularly better than others but it is helpful to note that it can get very cold in winter and summer can get pretty hot too!
I flew with Ryanair from Stansted to Krakow, however you can also travel from all major airports in the UK. The quickest flight (from Stansted) takes just 2 hours and 15 minutes.
A private airport transfer starts from £16 and can be booked here.
Where to stay in Krakow
Mercure Kraków Stare Miasto
I had the pleasure of staying at the Mercure Kraków Stare Miasto, not only was it just a 10 minute walk from the heart of the old town, it is directly opposite a great shopping mall too!
The hotel is modern whilst giving a nod to the history of the city, staff are welcoming and warm and breakfast was delicious! It offers everything you could want from a 4* hotel, it is clean and stylish, the in house restaurant ‘The Winestone’ provides a sumptuous gastronomic experience in the evening, creating the perfect spot to enjoy a meal with your loved ones.
Prices start at £56 per night.
The Bonerowski Palace
The Bonerowski Palace is a breathtaking 5* hotel situated in the heart of Kraków. the building dates back to the Middle Ages and has been sympathetically restored to preserve the historic charm whilst creating an elegant home from home just steps from the Main Square.
The hotel offers guests the choice between 8 beautiful deluxe guest rooms and 8 apartments offering views over the surrounding streets and Main Square. Rooms boast opulent marble bathrooms, spacious bedrooms and luxurious wooden furniture,
Prices start at £140 per night.
Stylish Apartment in Kazimierz
Located in one of the most sought after neighbourhoods in the city, this Air BnB property is ideal for those wanting to explore the local art scene, learn about Polish Jewish history, and be a short walk from the old town.
The property offers one double bedroom but can sleep up to four guests thanks to the sofa bed in the living area. It also offers free high speed wireless Internet, a spacious balcony, hair dryer, iron, heating, a washing machine. The host Andrzej is happy to make personal recommendations throughout the city and to arrange tours to places such as Auschwitz or the Salt Mine.
*Please note this property is a third floor apartment with no lift so not suitable for those unable to climb stairs.
Prices start at £24 per night.
Things to do in Krakow
Auschwitz-Birkenau Full-Day Trip
Auschwitz, just one hour from Krakow, it was established by the Nazis in 1940 in the suburbs of Oswiecim, a Polish city that was annexed to the Third Reich. The reason for the establishment of the camp was the fact that mass arrests of Poles were increasing beyond the capacity of existing “local” prisons. The first transport of Poles reached KL Auschwitz from Tarnów prison on June 14, 1940
Auschwitz-Birkenau is now a memorial and museum to WWII and those who lost their lives here, from here you can see the original buildings and the haunting personal artifacts left behind. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the atrocities and dark history of the Holocaust during World War II and commemorate the camp’s victims and also hear stories of survival.
Prices start from £28 per person.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is 20 minutes from Kraków and has actually been welcoming tourists since the 1700s! The mine is comprised of a subterranean maze of 300km of tunnels and chambers spread across 9 levels, the deepest being 327m underground.
One of the main sights within the mine is the Chapel of St Kinga which is in a chamber of 54m by 18m, and 12m high! Everything you see in this chapel has been created out of salt, including the chandeliers and altarpieces, it took over 30 years to create.
Prices start from £16 per person.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory
Reopened to the public in 20210, Oskar Schindler’s Factory is a world-renowned museum, telling the story of Oskar Schindler and his employees that was made famous by the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler’s List. The museum shows the individual histories of Kraków’s wartime inhabitants, covering the everyday life under occupation, the fate of the Jewish people, and the city’s underground resistance.
Prices start from £6 per person.
Crazy Guides Communism Tour by Trabant
Visit Nowa Huta, Krakow’s centrally planned socialist district in a genuine, vintage Trabant automobile, one of the most recognised and well loved vehicles in Poland. Your guide will keep you amused with stories about how the average Pole lived, worked, and played under Communism. Enjoy Communist refreshments!
Not only can you immerse yourself in the old communist way of life, but you can even visit a real life Cold War underground bunker that is accessible only by the key of your guide. The bunker is left just as it would have been in the 1950s, the phones still work, the beds are still made, and you can even snoop through the notebooks of those who were first there… The tour will take you past the largest factory in Europe, the old Lenin Steelworks which was the beating heart of Kraków’s utopian socialist new town.
Prices are €133 per person on the Deluxe tour which offers access into the bunker.
Rynek Underground Museum
Dive deep down under the market square and be read to explore the excavated medieval merchant stalls that predate today’s Cloth Hall, and to experience the city’s entire history, from its first settlers up to the death of Pope John Paul II.
The museum is extremely popular and visitor numbers are limited to 300 persons at any one time so it is highly recommended you book in advance so you are not left disappointed on the day.
Prices start from £17 per person.
Creepy Krakow Ghost Tour
I can’t be the only one who likes to spook myself with a ghost tour! Visitors to Krakow can enjoy a 2-hour post sunset walking tour that uncovers the dark secrets of the city. All stories are based on true events and the tour offers an exciting opportunity to see a different side to the famous landmarks of the city.
Prices start from £10 per person.
Places to eat in Krakow
Overlooking the Main Square, Szara Restaurant and Bar offers diners one of the best locations in the city, the perfect place to enjoy sunset after a busy day exploring. However, if you don’t manage to get a spot outside, you won’t be disappointed, because the inside is just as beautiful! Inside you can enjoy beautiful painted ceiling arches, crisp linen and outstanding service which has created a reputation for have one of the most elegant evening atmospheres in Krakow.
Dishes are largely European with a significant Scandinavian influence, the main menu is offered alongside a sophisticated seasonal menu also.
Kazimierz is well known for its eateries so its no surprise Bistro Bazaar is on this list. The restaurant is a combination of a bistro, bakery deli and wine bar,, it sounds a bit much, but it works! Service is friendly and all meals are served to a high standard.
You can expect to find seasonal dishes that take influence from cuisines all around the world. The bakery offers homemade bread using flower from local mills, alongside both sweet and savoury treats.
Klimaty Poludnia is one of the best places in the city for wine lovers, the food is great too! Wines are chosen to pair perfectly with meals served, and meals offer superb flavour within dishes we like to enjoy every day.
Klimaty Poludnia translates to “Southern Climates” and it will all make sense once you arrive and enter a hidden courtyard that offers terrace seating that has been created to transport you to ta quiet Mediterranean village surrounded by vineyards.