Kraków, Poland 5-Day Itinerary: Best Things to Do in Kraków

The former capital of Poland, a city of kings and students, Kraków remains an underrated tourist destination in Europe, though it is gaining popularity year by year. This city is full of incredible monuments as well as entertainment options. Discover a five-day trip plan focused on exploring Poland’s most beautiful city. 
Krakow Poland

Day One: Explore Kraków Old Town Through Main Market Square to Wawel Royal Castle 

Start your walk from Matejko Square, passing through the Barbican and St. Florian’s Gate to reach the Main Market Square – Krakow must-see. Here, you can admire St. Mary’s Basilica, the Cloth Hall, and the Town Hall Tower, which you can climb for a panoramic view. If you have more time, consider visiting the Rynek Underground Museum located beneath the Cloth Hall. 

Next, stroll down Grodzka Street, admiring the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Holy Trinity Basilica, and at the distinctive Saints Peter and Paul Church, detour through St. Mary Magdalene Square to Kanonicza Street. This charming street will lead you directly to the gates of Wawel, captivating you with its charm. 

At Wawel, don’t miss the arcaded courtyards. If you’re a fan of royal castles, be sure to see the “State Rooms” exhibition. It’s also worth visiting the Cathedral, its underground chambers, and the bell tower. Legend has it that touching the heart of the Sigismund Bell brings good luck, so give it a try! 

An interesting way to leave the castle grounds is to pass through one of the defensive turrets in the wall, leading to the cave beneath the castle. This is where the Wawel Dragon once lived, a legend you will undoubtedly hear about several times during your stay. It is the most famous legend associated with Kraków. 

After a tiring day of exploring the Old Town and castle hill, head to the well-known restaurant and bar area visible from Wawel Hill, located in the abandoned Forum Hotel. You’ll recognize it by the balloon and Ferris wheel, visible from the castle walls. This area includes restaurants, bars, a club, a beach with deck chairs overlooking the Vistula River, and a small amusement park in the summer. Alternatively, enjoy dinner on one of the river barges. You might even consider an evening cruise. 

Other places worth visiting in the Old Town include the Jagiellonian University area: Collegium Novum and the Jagiellonian University Museum Collegium Maius, where buildings of one of the world’s oldest universities can be admired. 

The Czartoryski Museum, which houses the famous painting “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as other masterpieces by Rembrandt van Rijn and Caspar Netscher. 

The Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, known for its beautiful eclectic building. 

The Small Market Square, a smaller square hidden behind St. Mary’s Church, away from the hustle and bustle of the Main Market Square. It often hosts smaller fairs, such as the Pierogi Festival. 

Day Two: Kazimierz and Podgórze 

A visit to Kazimierz (known as the Jewish quarter) must include a stop at Szeroka Street, where you can see original pre-war Jewish shop signs and service establishments. Nearby, it’s worth visiting the Old Synagogue, the Remuh Synagogue, and the Old Remuh Cemetery. Since Kazimierz is famous for street food, you can’t miss the famous zapiekanka at the New Square, also known as the “Okrąglak.” From there, head to Beera Meiselsa Street and the garden of Klubokawiarnia Mleczarnia (delicious caramel cheesecake!), which gives access to the alley known from the movie Schindler’s List, adding to its unique atmosphere. 

Visit St. Catherine’s Church and the famous St. Stanislaus Church on the Rock. Then, wander the charming streets to Podgórze, crossing the Vistula via the Father Bernatek Footbridge, a great example of combining art with functionality. 

In Podgórze, see the Sanctuary of St. Joseph, an amazing neo-Gothic building. Next, visit the Ghetto Heroes Square, characterized by the Empty Chairs Monument, and explore the Eagle Pharmacy, the first part of the Schindler Factory Museum, which you should visit afterward. 

At the Oskar Schindler’s factory you’ll learn about life in Kraków under Nazi occupation during WWII. This incredible interactive museum is designed to immerse you in history, and you’ll spend at least 1.5 hours there. 

After visiting the Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory, you can head to the Krakus Mound to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, a perfect spot for a picnic. Also nearby is the abandoned Liban Quarry, where the set for the movie Schindler’s List was left behind. 

If you’re visiting Kraków in the summer, you might want to relax by the water. You can take public transport or a taxi (not very expensive) to Bagry Reservoir or the Zakrzówek quarry-turned-swimming area. The area around Zakrzówek also offers great walking trails among the characteristic limestone rocks of this part of Małopolska. 

Other interesting places in Kazimierz and the vicinity include: 

  • The Galicia Jewish Museum: an exhibition that helps understand Krakow’s Jewish community culture before, during, and after WWII. 
  • The Museum of Engineering and Technology: a great place for fans of technological development, featuring old trams, cars, computers, and more. 
  • The Vodka Factory Museum: located on Fabryczna Street in an authentic historic building of the former Vodka Factory. You’ll learn how vodka was produced over the centuries and its significance in Polish culture and economy. For visitors 18+, a visit with a craft vodka tasting is available. 
  • Bednarski Park: a charming park for a pleasant walk. 
  • The Bricks & Figs and Wheels & Heels Museums: museums of Lego bricks and toy cars and Barbie dolls. Both have huge collections of unique exhibits. Although these are “just toys,” some are worth a fortune! It seems like these places are for kids, but adults, recognizing favorite sets from childhood, truly enjoy them. 
  • The Banksy Museum: housed in industrial interiors with reproductions of the famous street artist’s works. 
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow: located next to the Schindler Factory, featuring interesting and often thought-provoking installations. 

Day Three: Guided Tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp 

Staying in the somber wartime atmosphere after visiting the Schindler Factory, take the next step and visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Memorial, 80 km from Kraków. This is a place everyone should visit at least once in their life. It will be a heart-wrenching, dark experience but of great value. Let your visit be guided by George Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

Without saying more about the place itself, here are some tips to make your visit easier. First, reserve the whole day for the trip. Typically, from departure from Kraków to return, it takes 7 hours. Even if you leave in the morning and return in the afternoon, you won’t feel like doing more activities. Auschwitz is not only a mental burden but also a vast area to walk through. 

Book your Auschwitz Birkenau tour, whether with an organized group or on your own, as far in advance as possible. The number of visitors is limited, and the demand is enormous. 

Day Four: Wieliczka Salt Mine, One of the Greatest Attractions in Poland 

The next day, immerse yourself in the amazing history of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Located very close to Kraków, this mine is one of the oldest salt mines in the world. But that’s not what makes it unique; the place is simply beautiful. Over the centuries, people have transformed it into an underground city full of impressive chambers and chapels (including the breathtaking St. Kinga’s Chapel), where everything is made of salt – walls, floors, sculptures, and even crystal chandeliers. There are salt lakes and a ballroom. It’s a must-see. No wonder it was one of the first places on the UNESCO World Heritage list. 

If you visit Wieliczka in the morning, you’ll have half a day to explore. You can then get to know the Market Square and Kazimierz better and see interesting places mentioned earlier, visit the National Museum, the Botanical Garden, or the Kraków zoo, or take a tram to Nowa Huta to see communist architecture, the Aviation Museum, and possibly an atomic bunker. There are plenty of options. 

Day Five: Pure Fun at Energylandia, Literally One of the Best Things to Do, Especially If You Enjoy a Bit of Adrenaline 

This suggestion is not for everyone, but many will enjoy a day spent at one of the largest amusement parks in Europe. Energylandia offers attractions for families with children and thrill-seekers (with record-breaking height and speed coasters like Zadra, Hyperion, and Speed). Additionally, in the summer, the largest outdoor water park in Poland operates there. It’s great fun not to be missed. 

This is my proposal for the top things to do in Kraków. This city offers many attractions, and the region even more. If you have more time to explore, or if any part of this plan isn’t for you, you can choose from many other places. Around Kraków, there are many beautiful rocky valleys, ruins of medieval castles known as the Eagles’ Nests, and the impressive Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec, which you can reach by boat on the Vistula River. From Kraków, you can also go to Zakopane to admire the majestic Tatra Mountains and bathe in therapeutic thermal waters. The vacation possibilities in Małopolska are almost endless, so it’s worth visiting Kraków and enjoying the city and its surroundings, as it’s a hidden gem in Europe. 


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