Krakow travel guide

Krakow is one of the only Polish cities that has survived the ongoing bombardments during World War Two without losing many of its beautiful buildings. The old city center is almost perfectly preserved and is now on the UNESCO World Heritage list. According to many, including myself, Krakow is one of the nicest European cities.
In Krakow you find many cozy green parks and from the city you can arrange some interesting day excursions. History lovers, food lovers and shopaholics will undoubtedly also appreciate the city. Krakow is perfect for a cheap city trip and has a lot to offer.

wieliczka salt mine trip frm krakow

The Wieliczka salt mines. A subterranean walkway with beautiful underground sculptures!

  Average costs in Krakow

Stay – Krakow is very cheap. If you have been able to book your accommodation a bit in advance, you’ll find very cheap deals. A youth hostel starts at $6 / £4,5 / €5 a night. A budget single room costs about $25 / £17,5 / €20. For three stars, you pay at least $43 / £30 / €35 per night in Krakow. Four stars starts at $85 / £61,5 / €70 per night and five stars start around $120 / £85 / €100 per night.

Eat – In a good restaurant you pay between 55 and 60 zloty for a main course, dessert and a soft drink (about $19 / £13 / €15).
If you’re not too hungry, you can start with a sandwich. A baguette with mozzarella and vegetables will cost you around $1,5 / £1 / €1,20.
If you want to enjoy the Polish nightlife, you pay less than 15 zlotys for a 450 ml beer. Are you doing predrinks? Then you can already buy a bottle of (good!) Vodka for five to ten dollars.

Transport – Public transport in Krakow is excellent and often you don’t need more than a ticket that is valid for one zone. For this ticket you pay 3.80zł, about one dollar or eighty five euro cents. A ticket for two zones (e.g. to go to the Wieliczka salt mines) costs 4 zł.
A twenty-four hour ticket costs 15 zloty, 48 hours cost 24 zloty and 72 hour ticket cost 36 zloty.
Don’t forget to download the Uber app in Krakow. It’s very cheap here and you travel quickly and comfortably to your final destination. (Via this link you get your first ride for free.)
For a taxi you pay six zloty as starting amount and then another 1.80 zloty per kilometer (about 0.6 miles).

Excursions – There are many trips or tours that you can book from Krakow! You can schedule a van that takes you from the airport to the city center of Krakow for barely $5 / £3,5 / €4 per person. A day trip to Wieliczka can be arranged for $33 / £24 / €27, and the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau can be visited together with a guide for $37 / £25 / €30 per person. Look for all excursions, prices and availability on websites such as Getyourguide or Viator.

krakow stare miasto shopping streets

The shopping streets in Stare Miasto, the old part of Krakow.

 Saving money in Krakow

Drink tap water – Most tourist attractions aren’t too far apart, but if you want to see everything in Krakow you still have some miles to walk! In order to keep you hydratedt, you’d better drink enough water! The water that flows through the Polish pipes is perfectly drinkable, so why not just fill up and reuse your bottles?

Free museums – Fans of history and art can indulge in Krakow. With dozens of museums you can consider Krakow as a culturally interesting city. During your stay, keep in mind that there is a free entrance day / moment for certain museums. For example, the Schindler’s factory museum, the old synagogue and the pharmacy museum is free on Mondays (10:00 am to 2:00 pm). On Tuesdays or during special events, many museums open their doors for free as well. Check out the official websites of the museum you’d like to visit to check if there are date where you can enter for free.

Use public transport – From the airport you can commute to the city center with lines 208, 292 and 902. A ticket costs four zlotys. A taxi or private transfer will quickly cost 100 zloty.
You can also visit Auschwitz or the Wieliczka salt mines much more economically by using buses or trains.

Milk bars – A milk bar is a typical Polish phenomenon. It’s a kind of cafeteria where the locals come to lunch or snack on some typical Polish specialties. The dishes here are very cheap and it’is the perfect time to immediately immerse yourself in the typical cuisine of the Polish empire.

sukiennice krakow

Sukiennice or the cloth hall of Krakow with in the foreground some of the romantic carriages that walk through Krakow.

  Things to do in Krakow

Stare miasto or the old town – Almost all the highlights of Krakow are bundled together inside the old city walls. Stroll around and see the monumental buildings from the inside and out. Be sure to visit the cloth halls (Sukiennice) and the Mariakerk opposite of them.

Wawel Castle – Just on the edge of the old town lies the Wawel Castle. An impressive fort that was placed on an elevation. On this large domain you can visit several museums, but personally I found the Wawel cathedral the most beautiful. With an interior reminiscent of the Vatican churches it’s a shame that you can’t take any pictures inside.

Kazimierz – The old Jewish neighborhood underwent a terrible fate during World War Two and you still see some remnants of it. Find historical places or just walk around in this nice neighborhood. Here you can also find many nice clubs, pubs and some of the best restaurants in Krakow.

Planty park – Around the old town lies the green lung of Krakow. The Planty park is a gigantic city park that mainly revives during the summer. Enjoy a picnic or watch people and breathe in some of the fresh air at the same time.

Oscar Schindler’s factory – You probably already heard of ‘Schindler’s list’. This film was based on the story of Oscar Schindler, a man who first used the Jewish community as a huge economic advantage but stopped the pursuit of profit because of the war. He tried to save as many Jews as possible. In the former factory of this man, you can now find an informative museum about the Holocaust and the Nazis in Poland during WW II.
Access costs 21 zloty. On Monday, the museum is free to visit until 2 pm.

Auschwitz-Birkenau – Auschwitz  is one of those memorials that you must see when you’re visiting Krakow. From Krakow it’s still an hour’s drive, but it’s absolutely worth the ride. In the first camp (Auschwitz I) the notorious ‘Arbeit macht frei’ sign leads you to the scary bunkers where so much suffering has taken place. Now the stone bunkers have been converted into interesting museums that sometimes make you gasp for breath. From Auschwitz I you can take the bus to Auswitch II (Birkenau) for free.
This extermination camp is a lot bigger and shows much less information, but the grim atmosphere and the memorial monuments that you do see, make it all too clear that this degrading piece of history never can. be repeated.

Wieliczka salt mines – Immensely popular among the Polish and tourists at the same time, is the Krakow Salt Mine, also known as Wieliczka. This underground network of hundreds of miles long, can be visited with a guide. But beware, because it can get very busy. The salt sculptures and of course the beautiful underground cathedral of salt guarantee that you’ll be amazed!
Excursions cost a little over $36 / £25 / €30 (transport and admission ticket), if you travel by public transport you pay $25 / £17 / €20 entrance fee and $2 / £1,3 / €1,5 for the bus.

auschwitz birkenau concentration camp excursion from krakow

The Auswitch Birkenau (image) camp is an hour from Krakow. Unbelievable what human kind is capable of!

  Things to avoid in Krakow

Not validating bus tickets – There is no universal system for bus tickets, so just a quick warning. Don’t forget to validate your bus ticket on the bus when you get on. Are you on the bus and your ticket hasn’t been validated? Then you’ll get a hefty fine.

Crossing next to the pedestrian crossing – In Belgium there is a tolerance policy against pedestrians crossing next to the pedestrian crossing. In Poland… Not so much! If you commit this terrible offense, you need to pay 500 zloty.

schindlers factory krakow

Schindler’s factory, a hero during World War Two! A beautiful museum with interesting exhibitions.

 Excursions to Krakow

Krakow has some top things to do! I’ve already mentioned some in this article, but there is much more to see and discover. Tickets, tours and excursions can be arranged online. Look at these trips:


» All tours and excursions in Krakow

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