The Ultimate Travel Guide: Three Perfect Days in Krakow

Krakow is definitely one of the most amazing European cities that I’ve visited. This was my first time visiting Poland, and what an introduction it was. Krakow remains a perfect blend of the old and the modern with its fascinating history, sprawling metropolis, charming neighborhoods and world class cuisine, Krakow is truly a treasure.

With three days in Krakow, there’s plenty of time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Old Town, visit the city’s top museums, and see more of Poland’s historic sites and natural wonders. Here are some ideas on how to spend 72 wonderful hours in and around Krakow.

Krakow Old Town

Start your city exploration in the Krakow Old Town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. Follow our outline for a self-guided Krakow walking tour or join one of the Krakow sightseeing tours (suggested tours at end of post).

Main Market Square

A stroll down Ulica Florianska (St. Florian’s Street) leads directly into the Krakow Main Market Square – one of the largest medieval squares in all of Europe. On the square are some of the city’s most historic sights. Link to Google Maps for sights on the Main Square.

St. Mary’s Basilica

Rising above the Main Market Square are the mis-matched towers of St. Mary’s Basilica.

Note: a ticket is required to climb the tower – and only a few people are allowed to climb it per hour – so purchase in advance if going to the top is on your list of Krakow things to do.

A ticket is also needed to enter the church to take photos. If you would simply like to enter to pray – and take a look around from the back of the church, you can enter through the door facing the square.

Town Hall Tower

The 230-foot-tall Town Hall Tower is all that remains of the Krakow Town Hall (the rest of the building was torn down in 1820), but an interesting fact about the tower is that it leans slightly, hence its nickname, “The Leaning Tower of Krakow.”

Another fun fact is that the basement of the tower was once a prison and torture chamber!

Krakow Cloth Hall

At the center of the square is the iconic Krakow Cloth Hall – a long, covered hall lined with vendors that dates to the 1300s. Goods, like spices and wax, were brought from the east and exchanged for local products, like textiles and salt from the mine.

Today, the shops sell traditional souvenirs such as Amber jewelry from the Baltic’s, lavender, handmade soaps, magnets etc. to passerby’s and tourists.

Rynek Underground

Below the Cloth Hall is the Rynek Underground – a fascinating museum detailing the history of the market and lengthy history of the city of Krakow. Opened in 2010, the museum incorporates the original excavated merchant stalls into hi-tech displays. Tip: Admission is free on Tuesdays.

Wawel Castle

Visiting the castle at the top of Wawel Hill tops the list of things to do in Krakow!

There is evidence of a castle on the hill dating to the 11th century. The castle was expanded and destroyed several times throughout history, resulting in an interesting blend of architectural styles. Today, the castle is a UNESCO Heritage Site and a museum.

Entrance to the grounds is free, but tickets are required to visit certain exhibits such as: The State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments, Crown Treasury, The Lost Wawel (I saw this room and it was VERY cool), Oriental Art, and The Dragon’s Den.

The Cathedral is free to visit, however, tickets are required for the underground tombs, the Bell Tower and Cathedral Museum.

Grab a Beer

Get a taste of Krakow’s buzzing craft beer scene at one of the many multitaps. Some popular suggestions for craft beer in Krakow’s Old Town:

Multi Qlti Tap, Viva La Pinta, House of Beer, Wielochmiel and Relaks Craft.

Interested in trying Polish vodka? You can get that at the craft beer bars, too! It’s cheap and pungent and is best used for its original purpose – to stay warm in the freezing winter months!

Jewish Quarter

Plac Nowy

Sometimes referred to as the Jewish Square, Plac Nowy is the market square in Kazimierz in the center of the Jewish quarter. Although it is slightly run down and fairly small for a market square, it remains very popular.

Market vendors line the outskirts of the square and sell their goods every morning at the market.

The building in the center of the square was originally used as a chicken slaughterhouse. Today it has a number windows from which vendors sell the traditional Polish snack, zapiekanka (a pizza baguette.)

Each vendor offers their own unique combination of toppings – and they are all cheap and filling, making for a great snack or dinner-on-the-go.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine dates to the 13th century and was continuously used to mine table salt until 2007. Today, visiting the mine is one of the most popular Krakow day trips. There are a number of guided tours (in several languages), as well as a health spa.

The Tourist Route takes visitors down 800 steps into the mine and traverses multiple corridors that tell the history of the mine. Throughout the mine there are statues of Poland’s most famous residents – all made of rock salt – as well as four chapels.

The most impressive chapel, St. Kinga’s Chapel, is a cavernous space complete with bible stories carved along the walls – and an altar and chandeliers… all made of rock salt. Visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the top things to do in Krakow, Poland.

Tip: Many Krakow Tours offer trips to the Wieliczka Salt Mine (you can check them out on Viator), but we organized the trip on our own using the train.

Lake Zakrzowek

Spend an afternoon at Zakrzowek; an old stone quarry which was closed and filled with water. Zakrzowek offers a turquoise oasis almost right in the city center. It’s truly only about a 5-10 minute drive from the Jewish quarter, but you feel like you’re in the countryside once you get to the lake.

There are paths around the lake and hiking trails in a nearby park. You can even take scuba diving lessons here as the water is 30 meters deep and the school has permission for diving.

See a Live Jazz Show

I had the pleasure of seeing a jazz show on my birthday in Krakow! It was such a special, memorable experience. After traveling for such a long time, it had been a hot minute since I’d seen a jazz show, and it was so worth it.

Steps from the Old Town Square, underground you’ll find Harris Piano Jazz Bar. It is a truly lovely atmosphere in this underground cozy cellar. You can purchase food, snacks, drinks, or just hang out by candle light until the music starts.

Where to Eat

There are a TON of restaurants to choose from in Krakow of all different types of cuisine. I typically ate breakfast in the Jewish quarter every morning, as I loved wandering around the (less crowded) streets and having a bit of peace to start the day.

These 3 cafes boast traditional Jewish breakfast food, typical American style breakfasts, delicious tea and coffee, and let’s not forget croissants, pancakes, and crepes.

Breakfast: Hevre, Urban Coffee, Le Scandale

For lunch every day, I found myself in the Old Town as I was in between sight-seeing. I found one of these restaurant, Chimera, on Trip Advisor, and I can honestly say I don’t think I would have found it otherwise. It looks like a tiny diner from the outside.

Upstairs is a buffet-style serve yourself lunch. Downstairs is an actual cave that as you enter you feel like you’re stepping into a different world. They serve Polish/French cuisine, homemade soup, bread, and delicious local wine and beer. Such a fun way to break up your afternoon.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Sissi is a cute outdoor patio tucked away from the Main Street. They serve fresh salads, charcuterie, cocktails, and local fish and other meat dishes.

Lunch: Kolanko No 6, Chimera, Sissi

Dinner is always a hard meal for me if I only have 3 nights in a city. Trezo was the first dinner we had in Krakow and it did NOT disappoint.

Similar to Chimera with the style of food, but in a much more modern, upscale restaurant in the Jewish Quarter. There was live music and a lovely atmosphere to enjoy our first meal in Krakow.

For a more casual dinner, Hamsa served traditional Israeli cuisine – hummus, fresh pita, kebabs, you name it. It was all delicious.

Dinner: Trezo, Ristorante Sant’Antico, Hamsa Mediterranean

Overall Krakow was such an amazing introduction to Eastern Europe – a part of the world I had never been to before! I hope that these suggestions and ideas will inspire you to arrange your own trip to Poland!

Ciao!

The Traveling Yogi

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