What to do, what to see?
Anyone who has spent even a few days in Krakow, Poland knows how much the city has to offer. Many tourists leave the city with the majority of her treasures left undiscovered. There simply isn’t enough time to cover them all. If you are in Krakow for a limited time, then below you will find our recommendations for things to do in Krakow and places that you should visit.
- Walk the entire Royal Way, from St. Florian’s Gate, down Florianska, across the Rynek Glowny, down Grodzka to the Wawel castle.
- Listen to the Hejnal Mariacki (Trumpet Signal) while sipping a coffee in the Rynek Glowny. The signal is played live every full hour and is cut suddenly in memory of a trumpeter shot and killed by a Tatar arrow in 1241.
- Walk around the Planty, a large park that surrounds the entire Old Town.
- At Wawel Castle, lounge and take in the sun on the banks of the Vistula river, or take a cruise down the river. See the Dragon’s Lair and see the dragon breathe fire.
- Early on Sunday, go shopping at the open air flea markets at Plac Nowy and Hala Targowa.
- See a bit of Unesco World Heritage and do Auschwitz and Salt mine tours.
Town Hall Tower
Town Hall Tower is one of the main focal points of the Main Market Square in the Old Town district of Krakow. The Tower is the only remaining part of the old Town Hall demolished in 1820 as part of the city plan to open up the Main Square. Its cellars once housed a city prison with a Medieval torture chamber. Built of stone and brick at the end of the 13th century, the massive Gothic tower of the early Town Hall stands 70 meters tall and leans just 55 cm, the result of a wind storm in 1703. The top floor of the tower with an observation deck is open to visitors.
Churches of Krakow
The metropolitan city of Krakow, former capital of Poland, is known as the city of churches. The abundance of landmark, historic Roman Catholic churches along with the plenitude of monasteries and convents earned the city a countrywide reputation as the “Northern Rome” in the past. The churches of Krakow comprise over 120 Roman Catholic places of worship, of which over 60 were built in the 20th century. They remain the centres of religious life for the local population and are attended regularly.
The Krakow Barbican is a fortified outpost and gateway leading into Krakow’s Old Town. It is one of the few remaining relics of the complex network of fortifications and defensive barriers that once encircled the city. It currently serves as a tourist attraction and venue for many multidisciplinary exhibitions. Based on Arabic rather than European defensive architecture, this masterpiece of medieval military engineering, with its circular fortress, was added to the city’s fortifications along the coronation route in the late 15th century.
Church of St. Casimir the Prince
The Church of St. Casimir the Prince with the adjacent Franciscan monastery and the catacombs is located at ul. Reformacka 4 in the Old Town district (Stare Miasto). Members of the Catholic Order of Franciscans known as “Little Brothers” arrived in Krakow in 1622 and settled at the outskirts of the town in Garbary (1625). Their church was completed in 1640 thanks to a donation from Zuzanna Amendówna, bequeathed around 1644 along with the miracle painting of Madonna displayed today at the side altar of the new church.
Krakow Old Town
Krakow Old Town is the central, historic district of Krakow, Poland. It is the most prominent example of an Old Town in the country, because for many centuries, Krakow was the royal capital of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa relocated the court to Warsaw in 1596. Krakow’s historic centre was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1978. Medieval Krakow was surrounded by a 1.9 mile (3 km) defensive wall complete with 46 towers and seven main entrances leading through them. The fortifications around the Old Town were erected over the course of two centuries. Today the Old Town attracts visitors from all over the World and should definitely be on your things to do in Krakow list.
The Renaissance Sukiennice (Cloth Hall, Drapers’ Hall) in Krakow is one of the city’s most recognisable icons. It was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, Sukiennice was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the East – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Krakow itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The Hall has hosted countless distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries.
Main Market Square
The Main Market Square in Krakow is the main square of the Old Town and a principal urban space located at the centre of the city. It dates back to the 13th century and at roughly 40,000sq m (430,000sq ft) it is the largest medieval town square in Europe. The centre of the square is dominated by the cloth hall Sukiennice, rebuilt in 1555 in the Renaissance style, topped by a beautiful attic or Polish parapet decorated with carved masks.
The Royal Road or Royal Route in Krakow begins at the northern end of the medieval Old Town and continues south through the centre of town towards the Wawel Hill, where the old kings’ residence, the Wawel Castle is located. The Royal Road passes some of the most prominent historic landmarks of Poland’s royal capital, providing suitable background to coronation processions and parades, the kings’ and princes’ receptions, foreign envoys and guests of distinction traveling from a far country to their destination at Wawel. The Royal Road starts outside the northern flank of the old city walls in the medieval suburb of Kleparz, now a central district of Krakow.
For further information about the city of Kraków, please visit our travel partner, Poland Travel Agency.