The 5 Best Things to Do in Krakow
1. See the Main Market Square
Krakow’s Main Market Square is a constant hub of culture. Whether you sitting at a café, listening to live music, or checking out the souvenir market, there is always something to do in Krakow’s downtown. There are free walking tours that leave from the Adam Mickiewcz Monument (a huge statue in the middle of the square, you cannot miss it) every day. Just look out for big blue umbrellas that tour guides hold. There is also a pub crawl that leaves from the same monument every night at 9:00 P.M. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage around the square. However, in all honesty, they are a bit overpriced. Perhaps take pictures of the horses instead (that’s what I did)! Bottom line, if you go to Krakow’s Main Market Square, you will surely find something worthwhile to do.
2. Explore Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle, one of the largest castles in Europe, lies at the heart of the city, overlooking the Vistula River. You can walk through the central courtyard of the castle for free and even stop for a coffee at a small café in the courtyard. Additionally, you can pay for a ticket to the castle’s museum which holds a vast collection of art, armor, textiles and more! For tickets, head to the ticket booth located just before the entrance of the castle courtyard. There are multiple different ticket options depending on what exhibits are open and what exhibits you would like to see. Generally, tickets will cost somewhere between 16 to 38 PLN ($4.25 to $10). The ticket office attendees will able to help coordinate what ticket are best for your visit. If you are a student, be sure to ask for a student discount.
3. Go to the Salt Mines
When you arrive in Krakow you will hear more and more people talking about the famous salt mines. What they are referring to is the Wieliczka salt mines, an ancient salt mine still in operation today, located just outside the city. You will also see many offers for all-inclusive trips to the mine that pay for the ride and tour, do NOT take one of these deals. It is much cheaper to get there by taking public transport and buying your ticket at the door.
Take the 304 bus to a stop called Wieliczka Kopalnia Soli. Then walk about six minutes to the salt mine entrance. The bus ticket will cost you 3.80 PLN ($1), I recommend bringing some change with you so you can simply buy the ticket on the bus (it only accepts coins). However, you can get a ticket with a card at the bus stop if need be. The station is a bit difficult to find, so here is a link to its location via google maps, bus 304 Krakow.
Once you get to the mine itself, head to the ticket booth to get your ticket. All tours are guided, but at the end of the tour you are free to roam around a portion of the mine on your own. Standard tickets cost 89 PLN ($23.50) or 69 PLN for students ($18.25). If you want to take pictures inside the mine (which I highly recommend), you have to pay an extra 10 PLN ($2.65). I know, a little pricey, but it is well worth it for such a unique experience!
4. Visit Auschwitz
If you are in Krakow, going to Auschwitz is a deeply unsettling but ultimately worthwhile part of your Polish experience. Auschwitz was a collective of concentration camps including Auschwitz-Birkineu, the largest Nazi concentration camp during World War II. About 1.3 million Jews were killed at the camp. For details about the camp and the best way to get there, please read my full post on the topic, here.
5. Go for a Walk at Zakrzowek Quarry
Located on the outskirts of the city (but still in walking distance), Zakrzowek Quarry is a picturesque local spot to enjoy a picnic or a walk. Zakrzowek Quarry is an abandoned quarry now filled with crystal clear water, surrounded by sheer ridges and trees. You can walk around the entire quarry, at some points even getting views of central Krakow. I highly recommend visiting the quarry, especially if you like relaxing walks through nature. I could keep talking about how beautiful it is, but I think I’d be better off letting the pictures do the talking:
For more about Krakow, click here.