Top 10 Best Things to do in Krakow Poland

Krakow is the 2nd largest cities in Poland. It is regarded as one of the most important cultural cities in Europe. Its unique cultural and artistic life attracts millions of tourist every year. In your visit in this city, you don’t have to worry about what to see in Krakow but what you can’t in your time schedule.  It gains the first place in the Top city-break destinations 2014 (organized by ‘British Which?’).

Established around 7th century, the city never loses attention and always a leading centers of Polish culture. Its historical and cultural backgrounds give it a rare attraction. Every street of this city will amaze you.

10 Best Things to do in Krakow:

There are a lot of places to visit in Krakow. There is a list of top 10 best things to do in Krakow you might want to follow in your first visit in this city.

10. Planty Gardens

Top 10 Best Things to do in Krakow Poland, Planty Gardens
Planty Gardens | image credit – Wikimedia/Zygmunt Put

The largest city parks in Krakow should be in your list of what to see in Krakow. Visiting Planty Gardens is one of the best things to do in Krakow. The park has something unique that make it so special. Most historic sites of the old Kraków are situated inside the Planty-park-belt. The spectacular Royal Road is among them. Walking through the road could be one of the best experiences of your life. This is certainly among the top things to do in Krakow.

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9. Oskar Schindler’s Factory

Oskar Schindler's Factory, what to see in Krakow
Oskar Schindler’s Factory | image credit – Wikimedia/Jennifer Boyer

Who would not keep Oskar Schindler’s Factory in the list of what to see in Krakow after watching Schindler’s list? Who may not see the film perhaps can’t comprehend the significance of the factory. This single factory saved a lot of Jews in 2nd World War. The owner Oskar Schindler hired Jews for his company and used his power to protect them strategically against Nazi although the factory was not profitable at all. The factory stands for humanity. Now it becomes a museum. This is one of the best places to visit in Krakow.

8. Auschwitz

Auschwitz, things to see in Krakow
Auschwitz | image credit – Wikimedia/Michel Zacharz AKA Grippenn

Auschwitz shares the horror of Nazi troop against the Jews. Just over 50 kilometers west of Krakow lies the small town of Oswiecim, a place nothing special but Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. This are among some of few places that where the world can’t erase its shame. After the end of the war, the place has been preserved as a museum and memorial.

Millions of visitors come to visit this site and this is one of the top things to in Krakow. Not only Jews were the victim of the concentration camp but also a considerable number of non-Jews. Visiting Auschwitz is one the curriculum the Polish schools.

7. Bar Culture

Podgorze, places to visit in Krakow
Podgorze | image credit – Wikimedia/Zygmunt Put

Krakow’s Bar culture must be something special for putting it in the list of top things to do in Krakow. Krakow offers some of the excellent bars in the world. But you have to keep in mind that Krakow bars are infamous for their high concentration of alcohol. So brace yourself and ready to get some high kick. A special feature of the Old Town is the “cellar bar”.

Those special bars have innumerable varieties and they are in virtually every street. Those showcase of liquor is one of the best things to see in Krakow. Modernist lounge bars have somethings more to offer you than a drink. Alchemia, Podgorze are some of the finest examples of modernist lounge bars.

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6. Polish Cuisine

Visiting Krakow without taking a test of Polish cuisine would be a great loss. Evolved over the centuries, Polish cuisine has gained worldwide fame for its eclectic taste and unique representation. It is definitely one of the top things to do in Krakow. Influenced by many culinary tradition like German, Austrian and Hungarian as well as Jewish, French, Turkish and Italian. It proves how rich Polish cuisine could be.

The ingredients that are commonly used in Polish cuisine are meat, especially pork, chicken and beef, winter vegetables and herbs and various kind of noodles. The tradition was a bit slow down during communist times but regained its old form. There are some excellent restaurants which you might want to keep in your list of best things to do Krakow. Pierogi, Zurek, Golonka, Bigos are some of the restaurants that can fill taste bud with some new experiences. These are some superb places to visit in Krakow.

5. Jewish Quarter

Jewish Quarter, what to see in Krakow
Jewish Quarter | image credit – Flickr/Adam Jones

Quite familiar as Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz is a historic district of Krakow that should be on your list of the best thing to see in Krakow. For centuries Catholics and Jews existed peacefully side-by-side, giving the place a distinctive feature. Jews contributed a great deal to flourish this district before they were forced by the Nazis into a crowded ghetto in Podgórze and killed in death camp. Later Kazimierz was gradually falling into despair due to the negligence of communist authorities.

However, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning film Schindler’s List largely shot in Kazimierz in 1993 and got an international attention. Since then, the district again gained its lost fame. Now it has become the most important cultural life of the city and visiting Kazimierz is one the best things to do in Krakow.

Your list of what to see in Krakow should be considerably short after visiting Kazimierz. If you watched   Schindler’s List, maybe I don’t have to use too many words to make Kazimierz in your list of best things to do in Krakow. Since 1988 the hugely popular Jewish Culture Festival has filled Kazimierz’s streets and cafes with music and distinctive Jewish culture.

4. Wieliczka

Wieliczka, things to see in Krakow
Wieliczka | image credit – Flickr/Alexander Johmann

The picturesque Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines is one of the best places to visit in Krakow. It is one of the oldest operating salt mines. It has been since prehistoric time. The current town was founded in 1290. No wonder why UNESCO declared Wielicką salt mine as a world cultural heritage. It also should be usual to be one of the best places to visit in Krakow. About twenty million years ago with the evaporation of the sea and subsequent upwards forcing by the nearby Carpathian Mountains, the huge salt deposits were formed.

The mines have hundreds of kilometers of galleries with works of art, underground chapels and statues sculpted in the salt. It illustrates the stage of development of salt mining from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Visiting Wieliczka is not only one of the top things to do in Krakow but also an important subject of observation in European gradual development over technologies.

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3. Czartoryski Museum

Czartoryski Museum, places to visit in Krakow
Czartoryski Museum | image credit – Wikimedia/Danuta B.

Established in 1878, Czartoryski Museum and Library is the oldest museum in Poland. The museum has developed from the private collection, collected by Princess Izabela Czartoryska nee Fleming. The museum displays countries most precious collections of art, ancient handicrafts, and memorabilia connected with historical personas.

Visiting the painting The Lady with an ermine by Leonardo da Vinci which displays at the museum is one of the best things to do in Krakow. It is the only private collection of this great Italian artist. Other remarkable collections are two works by Rembrandt, Renaissance tapestries, decorative arts, and paintings by Luca Giordano, Pieter Brueghel the Younger and the Master of the Female Half-Lengths.

The museum also has a collections historical artifacts from the Royal Castle, the recovered treasures of the Wawel Cathedral and other objects donated by Polish noble families. Art connoisseurs never forget to pay a visit to Czartoryski Museum. It is one of the best things to do in Krakow for them.

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2. Rynek Glowny and St Mary’s Basilica

Rynek Glowny, what to see in Krakow
Rynek Glowny | image credit – Flickr/David Berkowitz

Rynek Glowny is one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe. Placed at the heart of the Old Town, this massive medieval market square is still the city’s social hub. Although its appearance looks like neoclassical but the basic structures are much older. Who will not keep this oldest shopping mall in the list of best things to do in Krakow? On the north-east side of the town square is St Mary’s Basilica. It is about 600 years old and one of the best architectural examples of Poland. UNESCO placed the Main Square on the list of World Heritage Sites.

You can pass a jolly time besides watching the architectural beauties of the town square. There are some excellent café around the mall. Don’t forget to listen “the famous trumpeter”. Well, you will only hear the recording as the original trumpeter was shot in the throat when trying to warn citizens of an attack in the 13th century. The town square is the center of of many public events and festivities and roaming around the town square is one of the best things to do in Krakow.

1. Wawel Hill

Wawel Hill, places to visit in Krakow
Wawel Hill | image credit – Wikimedia/FotoCavallo

Wawel Hill should be on the top of your list of best things to do in Krakow. It is a fortified architectural complex erected over a Jurassic limestone rock on the bank of the Vistula River.   Wawel is associated with the legend of mythical ruler Krakus who is according to legend the founder of the city. Among the many buildings of the complex, the Royal Castle and the Wawel Cathedral are the most notable.

The historical importance of Wawel Hill to the Polish people is great as it was the center of political power for centuries. Its artistic elegance, century old historical background and a picturesque position make it one of the best places to visit in Krakow. After facing a lot of political turmoil, it has become a national museum and a place of worship. The complex is special for its combination of Romanesque, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque style. It contains a vast of wealth of treasures.

The interior design of the complex is one of the must things to see in Krakow. Beside the beautiful complex, the hill itself has a prehistoric significance. It was formed nearly 150 million years ago. For all these rare combinations, visiting Wawel Hill is one of the top things to do in Krakow.

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