15 AMAZING Things to Do in Krakow [2018 Bargain Guide]

A medieval Polish gem, Krakow is one of Poland’s oldest cities. Known for its beautiful architecture, Jewish heritage, significant historical sites, and affordable travel costs, Krakow attracts many visitors throughout the year.

After the headline sights, however, it can be difficult to know what else to do in Krakow. Which is exactly why we wrote this guide of the most amazing things to do in Krakow!

Written by our travel experts, we’ve put together a guide that makes sure you can see Krakow’s must-see sights, while also being able to experience it like a local!

These are some of Krakow’s hidden gems and best kept secrets, aimed to keep you busy in this amazing city – no matter your budget!

Let’s jump right into the coolest things to do in Krakow, Poland.

Additional reading – the 17 Coolest Hotels in Krakow, and Where to Stay in Krakow, Poland

Things to do in Krakow

Quick Answer – Best things to do in Krakow

 

Fun Things to do in Krakow

Some of Krakow’s must-visit attractions couldn’t be described as “fun”, but they are interesting and offer important lessons about the past. The tragic historical sites in and around Krakow should be on everyone’s travel itinerary.

Pay Your Respects to Holocaust Victims at Former Nazi Camps

Pay-Your-Respects-to-Holocaust-Victims-at-Former-Nazi-Camps

  • Dark History
  • War History
  • Sightseeing

A trip to the former Nazi centres of Auschwitz and Birkenau is a haunting, emotional, and moving experience. A trip is unpleasant, but one that everyone should do to fully appreciate the scars that Krakow bears.

Built in the 1940s, the complex was the biggest Nazi concentration/detention/and extermination camp and it played a major part in the horrific Holocaust. More than one million people, mostly Jews, were killed here, with many more dying from disease, starvation, torture, and other major health complaints.

You can see small train carriages that were crammed to capacity with detainees, shipped here from other parts of the continent. See where people lived and learn about the terrible conditions, treatment, and work on the camp. You’ll also discover more about the atrocious medical experiments that took place and are sure to shudder when you step into the gas chambers.

Moving displays, including containers of human hair, clothing, prosthetic limbs, and spectacles, humanise the victims, making events a lot more relatable. The ghastly site has been preserved as a memorial to all of those that perished during the Holocaust.

It’s definitely not fun. But a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau is a must.

Explore Krakow’s Old Town

Explore-Krakow’s-Old-Town

  • History
  • Sightseeing
  • Walking Tour

Step back in time to the Middle Ages and walk in the footprints of royalty as you trace the course of Krakow’s historic Royal Route.

Admire beautiful buildings in the medieval core of the city and marvel at the glorious 14th-century Gothic façade of St. Mary’s Basilica. Every hour a bugle player sounds a call from the high tower. Cross the thick paving slabs of the Main Market Square and look inside the Cloth Hall, a trading place of old.

As you make your way to the castle you’ll pass through the lush Planty Park, constructed on the old city walls and now an important leisure spot for locals. At Wawel Hill, visit more historic spots, including Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral.

Visit the Moving Schindler Factory Museum

Visit-the-Moving-Schindler-Factory-Museum

  • Movies
  • History
  • Holocaust

The Schindler Factory Museum is another essential Krakow attraction that will stir your emotions and shock you to the core.

Learn more about Krakow’s Jewish population, pre, during, and post WWII. Go behind the famous movie, “Schindler’s List”, and discover the true story behind the film. See the very place where the brave Oskar Schindler worked hard and plotted to save more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

The efforts of one man were phenomenal, and your knowledgeable guide will explain to you past events in great detail as you see interesting memorabilia.

Romantic Things to do in Krakow

With its medieval charms, a lovely market square, and an abundance of cute restaurants and bars, couples can enjoy lots of romantic moments in Krakow.

Soothe Your Body and Mind at Chocholowska Baths

Soothe-Your-Body-and-Mind-at-Chocholowska-Baths

  • Relaxation
  • Thermal Baths
  • Water Rides

Pack your bathing suits and head to Chocholowska Baths to relax, unwind, and soothe your senses alongside your love.

Located in Podhale, the Polish Highlands at the base of the soaring Tatra Mountains, there are plenty of scenic vistas to enjoy.

The large Chocholowska Baths have thermal baths filled with naturally heated mineral-rich water sourced from more than 3,000 metres beneath the ground. Swim in the outdoor pool or saltwater pool, feel a sense of bliss in the whirlpools, and relax in the sauna and salt cave.

Couples can also share plenty of giggles here, with a variety of rides and cool water-based activities such as slides (including a double slide that you can take on with your partner), the wild river, and climbing walls.

See Krakow from the Back of an Electric Car

See-Krakow-from-the-Back-of-an-Electric-Car

  • Quirky
  • Sightseeing
  • Romantic

Cuddle up next to your beloved in the back of an electric car and relax as you hit Krakow’s highlights in an unusual style. Don’t worry if there’s a chill in the air—you’ll be given a blanket to cover up with and keep warm, making your experience that bit more romantic.

Watch local life as you pass through the city’s various areas and see a range of beautiful architecture as you cover much more ground than you would by walking. Not only will you visit the major districts of the Old Town and Jewish Quarter, but your driver will provide interesting anecdotes and information.

Stroll around the Former Jewish Quarter

Stroll-around-the-Former-Jewish-Quarter

  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Local Life

Today a charming part of Krakow, Kazimierz (the old Jewish Quarter) is filled with life. The historic streets are home to quaint cafes, restaurants, and bars, many housed in old buildings. We recommend this for couples because of the area’s appeal and its historic value.

The area has a long and interesting history, once the home of Krakow’s sizeable Jewish community. Learn more about the past with tales of individuals who used to live here. Some stories will inspire you, others will fill you with a deep sense of sorrow. Yet all tales help you understand the Kazimierz and Krakow of yesteryear.

Interesting landmarks in and around the old Jewish Quarter include Europe’s largest synagogue, the Jewish Ghetto, and the Schindler Factory Museum.

Things to Do in Krakow with Kid

Children can bore quickly of walking city streets and looking at buildings, no matter how beautiful they are! A ride in an electric car or in a horse-drawn carriage can make sightseeing heaps more fun for little ones. Here are some other ideas for family-friendly things to do in Krakow.

Visit Wawel Castle and the Dragon’s Den

Visit-Wawel-Castle-and-the-Dragon's-Den

  • Unusual
  • Architecture
  • Culture

Few children can resist the allure of ancient castles and they can really let their imaginations run wild as they explore Krakow’s beautiful UNESCO-listed Wawel Castle. While adults admire the blend of architectural styles, children can get a cultural overview in the museums. With rich tapestries, stunning Renaissance artwork, sculptures, ceramics, and more, there’s certainly plenty to look at. The heavy suits of armour and displays of old weapons are usually favourites with kids.

The real delight for young visitors is, however, usually entering the dragon’s lair. Yes, Wawel Castle is steeped in legends of fearsome dragons, and you can explore the fascinating cave known as the Dragon’s Den. There are underground pools, interesting rock formations, and a large dragon statue guards the entrance. Even better? The dragon actually breathes fire!

Descend into Wieliczka Salt Mine

Descend into Wieliczka Salt Mine

  • Salt Cave
  • Art
  • Unusual

Old and young alike are sure to be impressed by the intricate and unusual details in Wieliczka Salt Mine. Created some 100 years ago, the complex has 20 intriguing chambers. But first, you need to descend 135 metres underground!

Climbing down the wooden steps, complete with viewing platforms where you can admire details and take a breather, is often part of the thrill. Families with smaller children will be relieved to hear that there’s also a bumpy elevator down into the belly of the earth. (Top tip: save your legs and ride the elevator to get out of the cave after your adventure!)

Spend a Day at Krakow Energylandia

Spend-a-Day-at-Krakow-Energylandia

  • Amusement Park
  • Rides
  • Shows

What kids don’t like amusement parks?!

The varied rides and attractions at Krakow’s Energylandia are suitable for the whole family, and a day here promises to be heaps of fun for all. You can refuel at a wide selection of eateries too, with something to cater to even the pickiest of eaters.

Poland’s largest theme park, Energylandia is divided into different cool zones. For younger members of the family, the Little Kids Zone has carousels, tame rollercoasters, a sightseeing train, mini dodgems, slides, slow boats, and more. The Family Zone offers even more laughter and joy, with splash rides like Anaconda and the Golden Mine Ride, the charming Swiss Village and beautiful Viking Village, rollercoasters, and other rides.

Older children and adults can get the adrenaline pumping at the Extreme Zone, with fast and thrilling roller coasters, drop rides, and extreme swings. Cool down in the sunshine at the water park and watch a variety of entertaining and exciting shows, including a fire show, pirate show, and cute fairytale shows.

Free Things to do in Krakow

Krakow is generally an affordable place to visit, but it’s still great to come across fantastic attractions that won’t cost a single Euro!

Admire the Views from the Town Hall Tower

Admire-the-Views-from-the-Town-Hall-Tower

photo credits:travel4pictures.com

  • Views
  • Landmark
  • History

You can enjoy some of the best views across Krakow from the top of the Town Hall Tower and you won’t need to pay a cent.

The stone and brick structure stands proudly in Krakow’s Old Town, all that remains of the historic 13th-century Town Hall. The tower is 70 metres tall and the viewing platform is reached by climbing 100 uneven stone steps—watch your footing! The panoramic city views from the top make the effort worth your while though.

Browse at Market Square

Browse-at-Market-Square

photo credits:karnet.krakow.pl

  • Local Life
  • Market
  • Window Shopping

Market Square was once at the trading heart of Krakow, a vibrant place where people would come from all around to buy and sell, barter and haggle.

Dating back to the mid-13th century, it’s still one of the city’s most central meeting points and a bustling place for retail and leisure. Various events have been held here throughout the ages, including auctions, shows, rallies, and parades, and it’s the scene of the annual Christmas Market today.

The 200-square-metre square is surrounded by pretty townhouses, many of which have been converted into accommodations, cafes, and shops. The 14th-century Cloth Hall stands at the heart of the square and it is often said to have been the world’s first shopping centre.

It still attracts locals and tourists looking for some retail therapy, and stalls sell an assortment of handicrafts, clothing, accessories, and all manner of souvenirs.

Unwind in Planty Park

Unwind-in-Planty-Park

photo credits:Stefania van Lieshout

  • Nature
  • Outdoors
  • Park

Built on the old medieval city walls, the green Planty Park is a major recreation spot for locals. It provides a pleasant green belt around the Old City. You can stroll around the park and enjoy the views of the city and there are plenty of benches where you can sit and relax in the shade of the trees.

Made up of diverse gardens with different themes, the park is filled with natural beauty. You’ll also find interesting fountains, statues, and monuments, and younger visitors can let loose in the kids’ play areas. Refreshment stalls help you to keep your energy levels topped up.

Best Things to Do in Krakow at Night

With more than 20 universities around the city, Krakow is a lively city both by day and by night. The nightlife is youthful and diverse, and you’re sure to have a great night out. There’s a reason why Krakow is a popular destination for hen and stag parties! With a great mixture of bars, restaurants, and clubs, here’s how to enjoy Krakow after the sun has gone down.

Go Underground

Go-Underground

photo credits: lloyd campbell(Flickr.com)

  • Bars
  • Quirky
  • Music

Other than people spilling out onto the streets and signs pointing the way to various bars, it can be difficult to fully appreciate Krakow’s fantastic night scene from ground level. Many bars and clubs are located in medieval cellars and so most of the action takes place, literally, underground.

Live music, ranging from piano players, jazz bands, and up-and-coming local guitar bands and singers, are often a major feature in Krakow’s bars, and you’ll also find those where DJs keep the tunes pumping until the early hours of the morning. From dive bars to swanky places where people go to see and be seen, Krakow’s underground night scene is not to be missed.

Feel Chills on a Ghost Walk

Feel-Chills-on-a-Ghost-Walk

  • Spooky
  • Unusual
  • Paranormal

Uncover Krakow’s creepy, gruesome, and eerie past, learn about urban legends, and step off the beaten path on a chilling evening ghost walk around the Old City. You’ll also uncover secrets that are hiding in clear sight, the city appearing more sinister after the sun has gone down.

Feel a shudder as you listen to grisly tales of murder, torture, and spine-tingling medieval pagan rituals. Learn more about Krakow’s darker past, visiting sites associated with Nazi atrocities and Communist horrors. Dare to explore the most haunted spots in Krakow. This is definitely a great evening activity for fans of the paranormal and dark history, and people who love a good scary thrill.

Enjoy a Colourful Folk Show and Dinner

Enjoy-a-Colourful-Folk-Show-and-Dinner

  • Local Cuisine
  • Folk Show
  • Fun

Polish cuisine is often under-rated, so it’s great to sink your teeth into local specialities and find that the nation does indeed have some mouth-watering treats to offer. From dumplings and stew to soups, salads, and sausages, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised by Polish cuisine!

While there are many top restaurants in Krakow, nothing can quite beat a dinner show with both delicious food and terrific entertainment. Dig deeper into Polish culture at a captivating folk show, complete with singing, dancing, and traditional outfits. You can even join in if you like!

Last Thoughts on the Coolest Things to Do in Krakow, Poland

Whether you’re into history, culture, art, food, or nightlife there’s something for everyone; the best things to do in Krakow really do offer so much fun and diversity!

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author Aaron Radcliffe

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