If you’re on the market for a budget-friendly weekend break in Europe, look no further than Krakow.
Whether you’re after a fun weekend full of good food and cheap alcohol, a cultural experience in one of Europe’s most historic cities, or a romantic break with the one you love, 3 days in Krakow is your answer.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about what to see in Krakow, what to do in Krakow and, most importantly, what to eat in Krakow (because we all love dumplings, amirite?!).[WPSM_AC id=11498]
In hindsight I wish I had more than just 3 days in Krakow. It’s safe to say that I truly fell in love with the city.
It’s absolutely gorgeous, it’s welcoming, the food is divine and, best of all, it’s super affordable. And I say that in an “I only spent about £50 for the whole weekend because I’m very poor” kind of way.
If you’re in the beginning stages of planning your trip to Krakow, you may be wondering what there is to see in and around Krakow beyond Auschwitz.
There are so many things to do in Krakow that even after following this jam-packed 3-day Krakow itinerary to the tee, you’ll still be hankering for an even longer trip to Krakow.
3 Days in Krakow – Day 1
You know when you first mention you’re going on a trip somewhere, and then your best friend, grandma and next-door neighbour Dave all suddenly become experts on the city, giving you a list the length of your arm about things you absolutely can’t miss?
My advice for Krakow?
Squeeze it all in on the first day.
All the main highlights are so close together that if you only have 3 days in Krakow, you’d be best off seeing them all in one day.
Old Town Krakow (Stare Miasto)
Begin your 3 days in Krakow on a high with a stroll around Krakow’s Stare Miasto (Old Town).
If beautiful architecture and bright colours are your thing, you will absolutely love mindlessly ambling around Krakow’s Old Town. One of the very first places to be selected as a Unesco Heritage Site, it really is a sight to behold.
Although, like many of the world’s great cities, in recent years it’s become overrun with souvenir shops and over-priced restaurants serving traditional tourist favourites such as the old Spaghetti Pomodoro and burger and chips, there is still a delightful kind of old world charm about the place.
Start your day with a stroll around this area of Krakow, and get to grips with the place.
The main highlights of Krakow Old Town include Rynek Główny, known to be the oldest medieval market square in all of Europe.
When you find yourself standing in the square, it’s easy to imagine life as it happened all those years ago, when public executions were still a thing and people traded goods with one another.
At the very centre of the market square is the Krákow Cloth Hall.
On the upper floor is a section of the National Museum, housing a beautiful display of Polish art and sculptures, known as The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art.
Underneath this, in the part of the structure level with the floor, is a small market where locals sell their wares to their neighbours and tourists alike.
If you want to take back a few souvenirs from your 3 days in Krakow, check out this market before any of the souvenir shops!
There’s also a rather unique sculpture of a giant head, if you’re into that sort of thing! One of the most popular things to see in Krakow, Eros Bendato (informally known as The Head) is a bronze sculpture created by Polish artist Igor Mitoraj.
It’s a popular climbing frame for children and adults alike, and you’ll inevitably spot somebody crawling inside during your 3 days in Krakow.
Another noticeable building in the main square, and one thing you can’t miss during your 3 days in Krakow is St Mary’s Basilica, a beautiful 13th-century church which is also described as one of the best examples of Polish gothic architecture of this age.
Aside from being incredibly stunning both inside and out, the basilica is particularly interesting because, on the hour, every hour the Hejnał mariacki, a traditional five-note anthem played on the trumpet, sounds from the tallest of the church’s two towers. T
he tune is played out of each of the four windows of the tower, and breaks of mid-tune in honour of the trumpeter who, in the 13th-century, was shot in the throat while playing the tune to warn of an oncoming Mongol attack.
Krakow Old Town Free Walking Tour
If you want to really get to grips with the Old Town, and learn its history in the process, I’d definitely recommend the Old Town Krakow Free Walking Tour.
As is the case with all free walking tours, the tour is free! You just need to tip at the end – but the size of the tip is up to you. B
Be warned, this tour is very history rich so you need to bring your thinking cap along with you.
The tour runs every single day at 10am and 2pm (and again at 4pm between March to October!) and the meeting point is between St. Florian’s Gate and Barbican.
Even if you don’t plan on taking part in the Free Walking Tour, St Florian’s Gate is a great place to check out local artwork. And if you visit between April and October you can even check out the City Defensive Walls Museum.
Aside from the places already mentioned, the tour also visits the building of the Jagiellonian University where Pope John Paul II (formerly Archbishop of Krakow) himself studied, as well as where he lived between 1951 and 1964 on Kanoniczka Street and the window of Bishop’s Palace where he would often sit and speak to the crowds below.
Wawel Castle and Cathedral
The walking tour ends at Wawel Castle and Cathedral where, not to lose the relevance at the last hurdle, Pope John Paul II performed his first ever mass.
Aside from that fact, the cathedral itself is absolutely beautiful and something you should definitely take a peek at during your Krakow trip!
The interior doesn’t quite live up to the outside but, as it’s free entry, it’s definitely worth a wander around. My friend, who’d never set foot in a cathedral before, was more than impressed with it.
The castle is one of the largest in Poland and uniquely represents the European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods.
As it is considered part of Krakow’s historic Old Town, Wawel Castle is also a UNESCO heritage site.
To see the inside of the castle residency you have to pay a fee (click here to book your entry ticket + guided audio tour in advance) – which I sadly did not do – but entry to many parts of the exhibit is completely free every Sunday from November to March and every Monday from April to October.
Depending on the weather conditions (and how much your feet hurt after the walking tour), Planty Park is the perfect place to go for a stroll during your 3 days in Krakow and just enjoy the fact that you’re there.
It perfectly circles the Old Town, meaning that there’s no way you could get lost there! There are benches scattered around the place, and random statues here and there for you to admire.
Macabre Krakow Free Walking Tour
One of the highlights of my 3 days in Krakow, if you’re not too exhausted from all the walking around you already will have done by this point, the Macabre Krakow free walking touris only 80 minutes long and 100% worth the blisters!
A little glimpse into the lesser known but equally as fascinating dark side of the city, the tour features everything from vampires to serial killers and is a must for anyone with a keen interest in the more macabre things in life. It runs every day except Saturday at 8pm and begins at the same place as the Old Town tour (between St Florian’s Gate and Barbican).
Krakow Itinerary Day 2
Although not technically in Krakow, Auschwitz is only a short hour and a half bus ride away and arguably the most important day trip from Krakow.
While I completely understand that visiting one of the most horrific historical sites in the world isn’t high on everyone’s holiday bucket list, I really do think if you have the opportunity to go during your 3 days in Krakow, you absolutely should.
A visit to Auschwitz is both a humbling and heartbreaking experience and, in actual fact, is quite difficult to put into words.
There is an eery silence about the place, even though there are countless tours happening at the same time, and an endless sound of chatter.
Read about my visit to Auschwitz: Auschwitz-Birkenau
You can visit Auschwitz with or without a tour, and regular, non-concessionary entry passes start at 45PLN (approximately £9.50).
It’s recommended to book entry to Auschwitz in advance, which you can do by clicking this link.
Other day trips from Krakow
If you’re not keen on spending one of your 3 days in Krakow visiting Auschwitz, but still want to escape the city to see a bit more of what Poland has to offer, you might want to try one of these day trips – each of which would be the perfect addition to your Krakow itinerary!
A lot of people visiting Krakow manage to combine a visit to Auschwitz with a half-day trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Otherwise, Wieliczka Salt Mine is a great day trip on its own. The site attracts more than 1 million visitors a year, and is one of the most interesting things to do in Krakow.
Day 3 – More Things to do in Krakow
Situated a little south of the Old Town is Kazimierz (named after Kazimierz the Great), otherwise known as the Jewish Quarter and absolutely packed to bursting with synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other remnants of pre-war Jewish culture.
Learning more about the history of Judaism in Poland is one of the most important things to do during your 3 days in Krakow, so a visit to Kazimierz can’t be missed.
Some of the main points of interest in Kazimierz are the Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery, one of the smallest but most important synagogues in the whole area, which still hosts Shabbat services every Friday and the Old Synagogue which, although no longer an active place of worship, is Poland’s oldest standing example of Jewish religious architecture. Over the years the Remuh Synagogue has actually become somewhat of a pilgrimage site for Jews all over the world.
Some other synagogues of interest in the area (most of which are no longer active, instead housing various different exhibitions or other businesses) are the Isaac Synagogue, High Synagogue, and Temple Synagogue.
There are plenty of other things to see in Kazimierz, and it has a wonderful cafe culture about the place, as well as some really interesting museums for you to pass time (specifically the Ethnographic Museum) and, of course, the unmissable historical mural painted outside of Pub Wręga.
It’s no secret that both world wars hit Poland hard, and the Jewish community in Krakow particularly suffered post-World War II.
By the end of the war, the Jewish population in Krakow had dropped from more than 30,000 to somewhere between 3000-5000, most of them survivors thanks to one man – Oskar Schindler.
Schindler’s Factory is actually part of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków and is housed in what was actually Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory.
Through photos, interactive displays, sculptures, and words, the museum captivates your every sense, and really drills into you the true magnitude of what happened right there, in the exact spot you’re standing in.
Much like Auschwitz, I don’t think this museum should be missed during your 3 days in Krakow.
The museum doesn’t solely focus in on the history of Schindler, nor does it focus on how the war affected Krakow; it is a perfectly-balanced combination of the two.
It’s insightful, it’s thought-provoking and it’s informative.
In short, it’s everything you could hope for in a museum of such historical and cultural importance.
Other things to do in Krakow
If you haven’t already got enough to keep you going for your 3 days to Krakow, you may want to consider some of these alternative things to do in Krakow:
Don’t forget to purchase your Krakow City Card to make the most of your trip to Krakow.
What to Eat in Krakow
Pierogi, pierogi, pierogi!
How many times can I say pierogi?
If there’s one thing you make sure you eat during your 3 days in Krakow, make sure it’s pierogi.
Warning: If you’re anything like me you may become addicted to those little dumplings of deliciousness and scoff them 3 times a day.
If you’ve already tried momos, Chinese dumplings or any other variety of dumplings, you may be thinking “tried one dumpling, tried them all”.
DON’T BE FOOLISH!
Pierogi are quite honestly the best variation of dumplings I’ve ever tried, and during my 3 days in Krakow I ate them for 5 out of 9 meals.
Common variations of savoury pierogi are potato and cheese, mushroom and sauerkraut (delicious) and some sort of pork concoction.
You can also get sweet pierogi, filled with strawberries, cherries, cream and all sorts.
Pierogi are common all over Krakow and Poland in general, but the best I have was at Marmolada, which served 9 pieces of pierogi for a bargain 19 PLN and Goscinna Chata, a dimly-lit delight with traditional decor.
Zapiekanka looks like homemade pizza.
You know the type you’d make at home as a kid using a cheap French baguette instead of the more expensive pre-made pizza base?
Zapiekanka is typically loaded with sauteed mushrooms, a ton of cheese and topped off with lashings of ketchup. Sometimes you’ll find it with other toppings too (right outside of Auschwitz there was a van selling zapiekanka with bacon on, which I thought was quite poor taste).
Barszcz is the Polish version of borscht, a sour beet-based soup. In Poland they also have a white borscht, known as barszcz biały, which doesn’t use beets and instead is made from fermented rye flour or oatmeal mixed with water.
Hands up who loves hash brown?!
Placki ziemniaczane are Poland’s delicious potato pancakes, and have a rich history especially in Krakow.
Similar to hash brown but with no onions, placki ziemniaczane are delicious on their own or as a side accompaniment to your meal.
Placek Z Jablka
I can’t put into words how good placek z jablka (Polish apple cake) is. There’s also a similar apple dessert called Szarlotka, and if you get the chance to try either of these during your 3 days in Poland, make sure you do it! For dessert lovers everywhere.
Want to discover even more delicious Polish food? You might want to check out this Krakow Food Tour.
Where to eat in Krakow
Most cafes and restaurants in the city won’t disappoint, but here’s a select few of the best affordable restaurants for you to try during your 3 days in Krakow.
Szewska 23, Krakow
Pirozki u Vicenta – best for pierogi
Bożego Ciała 12
Bonerowska 14, Krakow
Babcia Malina – best for traditional Polish food
Ul. Szpitalna, 38, Krakow
Ogniem i Miezcem
Plac Serkowskiego, 7, Krakow
Bar Mleczny “Pod Temidą” – best for cheap eats
Grodzka 43, 31-001 Krakow
Glonojad – Vegetarian & vegan restaurant
Plac Jana Matejki 2, 31-157 Kraków
Psst…If you want to have a cosy evening in during your visit to Krakow, the Polish equivalent of JustEat is pyszne.pl and has loads of places to choose from in Krakow.
Getting around Krakow
A lot of people worry about public transport in a foreign country. With Krakow, you don’t have to worry!
Public transportation in Krakow is extremely easy to navigate, and most of the tram and bus drivers will speak at least a little bit of English.
If you arrive into Krakow by plane, Krakow International Airport is only around 10 miles out of the city. To get to the city centre all you need to do is walk straight outside of the terminal to the bus stop and get bus number 252 into town.
It runs every half an hour and takes about 40 minutes to get almost right to the city centre. A single ticket costs just 4 PLN and can be purchased from the ticket machine at the stop.
Otherwise, if you’re not keen on public transport, Uber is an extremely popular option for getting around Krakow.
I used Uber to take me to the airport on my final day in Krakow, and the driver was absolutely lovely
As well as flights, Krakow is also well-connected to the rest of Europe by bus and train.
Where to Stay in Krakow
No matter what your budget, there’s bound to be some great accommodation for you!
For my 3 days in Krakow I stayed at Emaus Apartments. A fully-furnished apartment with a well-equipped kitchen, it cost £20 per night for 2 of us. Which is an absolute steal!
The only downside of Emaus Apartments is that it was a little way out from the main centre, so involved a lot of walking to and from the main highlights of Krakow.
If you’re spending 3 days in Krakow on a budget, check out The Secret Garden Hostel, located in the Kazimierz district.
For those on a mid-range budget looking for a peaceful place to stay, try Topolowa Residence.
And finally, if you want to spend your 3 days in Krakow in luxury then of course you can’t look over the Sheraton Grand Krakow, situated right by Wawel Castle.
Things to Know Before Visiting Krakow
In Krakow, like the rest of Poland, the official language is Polish. Polish is a West Slavic language and, as such, is significantly different to English.
Basic English is widely spoken in Poland, especially by the younger generation, but you may wish to plan in advance for your 3 days in Krakow and purchase a Polish phrasebook.
Poland is one of those confusing EU member states physically located in the continent of Europe that chooses not to use the Euro. In Poland the currency is the Polish złoty, and it’s not a closed currency so you should be able to purchase currency before leaving your own country. Alternatively ATMs accept all major credit and debit cards, and in most restaurants and shops you can pay by card.
One of the cheapest countries in Europe, you can easily get by in Poland on less than £50 a day by staying in budget accommodation and avoiding expensive restaurants. For my 3 days in Krakow I spent a total of £60 after accommodation, and that’s including all food and transport.
The legal drinking age in Poland is 18, and drinking on streets, town squares, and in parks is illegal regardless of age.
You also need to be 18 to buy tobacco products and to smoke. The legal driving age in Poland is 18.
Hiring a car in Poland
Like most countries in Europe, to hire a car in Poland you need to be 21 years of age and have held your licence for at least a year.
Kraków has so much more to offer than what’s been mentioned here! Spending 3 days in Krakow was a great introduction to Poland for me, and I can’t wait to head back and explore more some day. Have you been before? Anything else worth a mention that I’ve missed out?
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