A Quick Guide to Kraków

Krakow Poland
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn

Although in photos Kraków looks like a small old town, it is in fact a very large city with several districts. Most photos you will see as a visitor are of the Old Town Centre, which is a great place to base yourself if visiting Kraków to see the main sights and attractions. It is also from here where day trips will leave from to nearby Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, a must do for visitors to Kraków.

krakow city

Flickr / Nick Moulds Creative Commons 

Population: 759,131 +
Known for: One of Poland’s prettiest cities with an incredible charm
Climate: Oceanic Climate – winters can be very cold!

A Quick Guide to Kraków

Prior to Arrival

Before you arrive, it is important to know that Kraków is a large city with a population nearing 1 million. It is one of the oldest cities in Poland and the capital of Lesser Poland in the south of the nation. Summers are hot, winters are cold and sees the city covered in a blanket of snow, so be sure to come prepared.

On Arrival

The main modes of transport for arriving into the city are by aeroplane or train. Others include bus or car.

For arrivals at the airport, it is good to know that the airport is a mere 12km from the city centre if planning to travel by taxi. Be sure to agree on a price before entering the vehicle, or at the very least ask for a fare estimate. If looking for a cheaper (and sometimes more reliable) option, take Bus #292 or #208 to the last stop, which will take you to the main train/bus station. From there it is a reasonably short walk to the city centre.

If arriving by train, the station is not too far from the old city centre.

Getting Around

The best way to get around is on foot. Of course this can become a little harder during the cold months with a thick layer of snow on the ground, so be sure to pack the appropriate footwear!

Getting By

While Polish is the official language, many workers in the tourism industry will speak basic English, however it is not uncommon for people to not speak English, so here are a few words to get you by:

Hello: Cześć

Excuse Me, Sorry: przepraszam (sher-prash-am)

Thank You: dziękuję (djen-kyoo-yeh)

Bye: Pa

Krakow Poland

Flickr / Nick Moulds Creative Commons

What to See

Main Square – The main square is the hub of the city, where you will find a great atmosphere. Be sure to visit the town cloth hall for meaningful souvenirs to take home.

Wawel Castle & Cathedral – Whilst in the city be sure to make a visit to Wawel Castle and nearby Cathedral as it is a great insight into the history of Poland.

St. Mary’s Basilica – This impressive basilica is incredibly stunning from the inside, so be sure to take a look.

Auschwitz & Birkenau Concentration Camps – If you are interested in gaining a better understanding and appreciation for the terrible history of Nazi occupation in Poland, you simply must visit the Auschwitz concentration camp and nearby Birkenau camp. Each of the camps offer a very insightful look through a retrospective lens, though can be quite confronting. Day tours to both depart daily through multiple companies.

Wieliczka Salt Mine – Another popular day trip is to visit the nearby Wieliczka salt mine.

What to Eat & Drink

While in Poland, be sure to take up the opportunity to try Polish cuisine! While it is typically heavy in comparison to a Western diet, there are some great options available! Definitely give the Polish dumplings a try (Pierogi), as well as the zapiekanka (open loaf bread with all the trimmings – cheese, mushrooms, ketchup, garlic sauce, etc!) For drinks, don’t miss your chance to try Polish vodka in the motherland.

Why You Should Visit Wroclaw, Colourful

Get Out

While most travellers head straight for Krakow as their only stop in Poland (which is understandable given it is such an opportunity to experience Auschwitz concentration camp and better understand history), there is still much more to see and do in Poland beyond this city alone. A two and a half hour drive will land you in Zakopane (ski town), a three hour drive will land you in Wroclaw, while a four hour drive will land you in the polish capital, Warsaw.

You Might Also Like

    December 12, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I’ve been twice to Krakow and I really love it. It is one of my favourite cities (with London and Amsterdam)! Last time I went there waz in May this year, can’t want to go back!!!!!!

    Clipping Path Service
    November 27, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Wow ! so nice and great article posting it’s also helpful information all of us so thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

    October 14, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Brooke I’m so glad that you finally wrote about Kraków, but you should see it yourself (because I can see that photos aren’t yours so probably you weren’t there). This is undoubtebly the most beautiful city in Poland and in addition it’s really cheap.
    But PLEASE CORRECT THAT MISTAKE YOU WROTE ABOUT POLISH HELLO! We don’t say “Halo” as Hello but we say “Cześć” (prenounced like” chesh”)… “Halo” is “Hello” but in GERMAN.

    October 7, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Good to hear you’re writing about Kraków as well :))

    I’d like to tell you that there’s an error – we Poles don’t say HI as HALO (we only say HALO when we pick up the phone), if you want to say HI you have to say CZEŚĆ.

    And if we’re talking about cuisine, you should add Polish soups as well – Poles eat soup almost every day, so it can’t be missed when visiting Poland.

    That’s it :)))) Next time if you need some help with articles about Poland, just drop me a line, I’ll be more than happy to help 🙂

    September 26, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I love Kraków, so much to see, and much of it is walkable. I’ve a post about it on my blog, with more on Auschwitz, Wielicka and Schindler’s Factory if anyone is interested.

    September 24, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Auschwitz Concentration Camp was incredible when I visited. The salt mines were great and located only 20 mins away from Krakow. The only thing I wish I had seen was Schindler’s factory but it was closed when I was there. I also stayed in Zakopane for four days and it is such a magical little place, I hiked Morskie Oko. 😀

    Miles of Happiness - Marie
    September 22, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    It looks fabulous! Can’t believe I have family there and I’ve still never been… That should be part of the 2016 bucketlist! 😀

    September 22, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Love to read about both my favorite city and the place I live ! 🙂 If I can add something interesting to your description, I would mention the Kazimierz district – the Jewish quarter , really close to the Main Market and Old Town . It is great place to eat some amazing food , have some drink in the evening and try best zapiekanka in the city – the atmosphere is marvellous there ! 🙂

    Hannah Louey
    September 22, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    I was in Krakow a couple of months ago and I fell in love! Easily the most beautiful town square of anywhere in Europe.

    September 22, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Oh Poland. I’m a huge history buff, especially World War II history so will definitely be heading to Krakow during my upcoming trip to Europe.

    I feel like Auschwitz is one of those things that everyone needs to do. Memory is super important when it comes to preventing those types of atrocities in the future.

    HedgeFund Girl
    September 21, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Krakow is one of my favorite European cities, I found it so pretty and the history behind it all was overwhelming! Was lovely to hear about your experiences as well.

    September 21, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    It’s such a great thing to start monday from WoW article about Kraków – city where I live. I was born in Zakopane nd lived there for 18 years and I truly recommend to visit it. Tatra Mountains are stunning, I’m sure U will love it!

    September 21, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Hi! As a Polish girl who know Cracow pretty good I’d like to recommend some places:
    *Eat at “Polakowski” if you are into traditional, homemade Polish meals or “Groszek i Marchewka”
    *Visit “Jagamakota” gallery
    *Etnogrpahic Museum and Musem of Photography – both of them very interesting
    *Kościuszko Mound as an outside attraction, if you enjoy nature
    *See a buliding theater of Juliusz Słowacki – it’s flawless
    *Asian gallery “Hana Gallery’ in Grodzka Street which presents amazing art from India, Tibet and nenraby coutries.
    *Relaxing walk around Old Town through “PLANTY” or sitting nearbay Vistula (for example on boat restaurants or simply grass, espiecially during sunset) – kind of magic atmosphere.
    You can also try reading some legends about the city to feel its essence 🙂
    and muuuch more, but these are not so obvious essentials for me 🙂

    ps. Translating Hello to halo isn’t equivalent. If you want to greet someone you should say “cześć” or “hej” (like English hi/hey) 🙂

    September 21, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I loved visiting Krakow! This description is so accurate! 😀 I would say also to visit Oskar Schindlers factory that is also related with the Nazis horror.

    September 21, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Definitely saving this, I would love to go there!