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Plan Your Krakow Holiday: Best of Krakow

About Krakow
With its historic streets, delicious food, and buzzy nightlife, Krakow might well be one of Europe’s best hidden gems. For a refresher course on medieval history, explore the charming UNESCO-listed Old Town, which has the largest medieval market square in Europe (Rynek Glówny) along with the gothic St. Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Castle. Then fast-forward into modern times with local shops, bars, and a high-energy nightlife in Kazimierz, the city’s historic Jewish quarter. Krakow dining is another surprise, offering everything from hearty street food (pierogies, kielbasa, and so much more) to fine dining and international cuisine. Save time for UNESCO sites farther afield—Auschwitz can be a powerful day trip, while the Wieliczka Salt Mines is an astounding labyrinth of passages and shafts filled with rock-salt statues and underground chapels.

Travel Advice

Essential Krakow

How to do Krakow in 1 day

Horse-drawn carriages, a grand castle, and lively neighbourhoods
Read on

8 places to take in Jewish life in Krakow

In Krakow, every tour operator seems to offer a lesson on Jewish history. But on a recent trip, I went in search of the Jewish culture that remains today and was happy to discover there’s plenty of it across the city. Here are some of my favourite experiences to check out.
Joe B, Berlin, Germany
  • Kazmierz The Former Jewish District
    9,496
    When I was searching for Krakow’s Jewish heritage, my first stop was the neighbourhood of Kazimierz. Once the heart of Jewish life in Krakow, it’s thriving again. Centuries-old synagogues still stand on its cobblestone streets, joined by hip cafes and vintage shops. The neighbourhood is home to the Jewish Culture Festival—which some people call the “Jewish Woodstock”—a blend of traditional and modern Jewish culture that draws tens of thousands of people every summer.
  • Old Synagogue
    13
    Standing in front of the Old Synagogue’s humble red brick exterior made me catch my breath. This is a place that’s seen it all, triumphs and tragedies, since its construction in the 15th century. Poland’s oldest synagogue has been transformed into a museum memorializing those lost during the Holocaust, welcoming you into its restored interior with high-arched ceilings and a wrought-iron canopy surrounding the bima, the raised platform where the Torah is read aloud.
  • Cheder
    277
    These days it seems like every community has a hip coffee shop. This one in Kazimierz is different because it’s inspired by the concept of a cheder––an elementary school where students learn about Judaism. It's a cosy hangout with lectures, discussions, and film screenings on Jewish issues. I camped out for hours in an old folding chair, noshing on a sabich––a classic Israeli street food with flavours from across the Jewish culinary canon.
  • Schindler's Factory Museum
    19
    The legacy of Oskar Schindler, immortalized by Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, is kept alive in this factory-turned-museum. The photographs, documents, and artifacts you’ll see focus on the lives of the local population during the Holocaust and the story of Oskar Schindler himself, a German industrialist credited with saving more than 1,000 Jewish workers. He employed them in his enamelware and ammunition factory, thus protecting them from deportation by the Nazis.
  • Klezmer Hois
    561
    Some knock this eatery in Kazimierz for being too kitschy. But after spending a day learning about some darker chapters of Jewish history, I was happy to retreat to a happy, homey place that looks like it was designed by a committee of grandmothers. I devoured the cholent, a stew of meat and vegetables usually made for the sabbath, with glee while a klezmer band filled the dimly lit room with the music of my ancestors.
  • Galicia Jewish Museum
    613
    Galicia was a region in Central and Eastern Europe that stretched across much of modern-day Poland and Ukraine, home to a sizable Jewish population. Through a series of striking exhibits, this museum transports you back in time to the high point of life in the Polish Jewish shtetl, or village. The museum also serves as a cultural and educational centre, hosting various events related to Jewish life.
  • The Ghetto Heroes Square
    1,553
    Filled with sculptures of empty chairs, Ghetto Heroes Square stands as a haunting memorial to those lost during the Holocaust. The name refers to the Krakow Ghetto, an enclosed area where the city’s Jews were forcibly relocated before they were deported to concentration camps. For me, it was a place to reflect on the void left by a community that once made up a quarter of Krakow’s population.
  • Remuh Synagogue (Synagoga Remuh)
    311
    Walking between centuries-old gravestones that lean like tired travellers is what touched me most about my visit to Kazmierz's second-oldest synagogue. Despite being damaged by the Nazis, who used tombstones to pave roads, the cemetery beside this small synagogue retains a sense of solemn beauty and remains a place of pilgrimage for religious Jews. Built during the 16th century, the synagogue is still in use today.

Browse collections

Buildings with a backstory

Krakow’s must-see historic sites & landmarks

See Krakow’s artsy side

Contemporary art, classic concerts, and more to explore

Connect with Krakow’s Jewish heritage

Sights, museums, and tours that explore Kazmierz and beyond

Refuel like a local

Hearty pierogies, kielbasa, and so much more

Make a day of it

Incredible trips just beyond the city

Krakow Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips or experiencing Krakow

Małgorzata K

Eating out and attraction entrance fees are quite cheap in Krakow. You usually get great value for money. If you feel that prices in the Main Market Square are too high, try wandering into one of the adjacent streets and look for a bargain there.

Sasha H

Krakow is a sophisticated city and not a seaside resort, so don't dress as though you're bound for the beach! (And always dress respectfully when visiting the many churches. The Krakow Tourist Card offers two- or three-day packages of free travel on all public transport as well as free entry into up to 30 museums in the city.

Małgorzata K

You can get around the city center and the Kazimierz District easily on foot but I recommend taking public transport — it's cheap, easy, and you'll save time.

Sasha H

For its stature, Krakow certainly packs a sightseeing punch, with landmark architecture, medieval palaces and hard-hitting museums. It’s also blessed with a well-priced shopping scene, a buzzing nightlife and the best of world cuisines.

Małgorzata K

Krakow is known as the city of culture. Not only is it brimming with cultural events, from concerts to plays to lectures, but it also boasts renowned museum collections and fascinating temporary exhibitions.

Sasha H

Outside the lanes and cobbled squares of its historic Stare Miasto (Old Town), Krakow is a surprisingly green city. There are parks to laze around in, gardens to hide away in and forests to hike — all within the city limits. Plus, if you choose to travel further afield, you’ll encounter caves to explore, mountains to ski down and rivers to navigate.

What is the best way to get there?

flying

Krakow is served by the Krakow John Paul II International Airport. Trains run regularly from Krakow Airport to the centre of town and take around 20 minutes.

train

Trains from major Polish cities such as Katowice, Gdansk and Warsaw run regularly from Krakow Glowny train station.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting Poland from overseas, see if you need a visa using the following website.

When is the best time to visit?

Locals say that May and June are the best times to visit Krakow, when temperatures range between highs of 20-24° C (69-75° F) and lows of 9-13° C (49-55° F). Early October is another good option because between mid-October to March, “air pollution is a serious problem in addition to cold and often dreadful weather,” one said.

For more information on Krakow’s weather and when to go, check out some tips here.

Get around

bus and trams

Krakow has an integrated bus and tram system — tickets, which can be purchased at most major stops, can be used on both modes of transport. For timetables and route planning, take a look at this website and this interactive map.

taxis and ride share

Uber is readily available in Krakow on your smartphone. Download the app here.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

Central European Standard Time.

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz. The two associated plug types are C, which has two round pins, and E, which has two round pins and a hole for the earthing pin. For plug types, you can reference this international guide.

What is the currency?

Polish zloty (PLN).

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes.

Is it easy to find a bank?

Yes.

How much do I tip?

Restaurants

Around 10% is expected in Krakow restaurants; leave it in cash rather than adding the amount to your credit card bill.

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking

The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 years old. Drinking alcohol in public places is illegal.

Public transport

Though you buy your public transport ticket at the bus or tram stops, tickets need to be validated using the machines onboard the vehicles.

Crossing the road

It is illegal to cross the road at anywhere except at designated pedestrian crossings, which are identifiable by with white stripes on the road.

For more information on the customs and culture of Krakow, check out the following link.