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If there are two things I took away from my trip to Krakow last January it’s that 1) I could win a pierogi eating competition, hands down! and 2) Weekend breaks are pretty alright. Which, coming from someone who has always preferred throwing as few things in a backpack as possible and setting off for as long as her bank account would allow, is pretty high praise. 

In hindsight, I wish I had more than just three days in Krakow. It’s safe to say, I fell in love with the city. It was gorgeous, it was welcoming, it had great food and, best of all, it was affordable. And I say that in an “I only spent about £50 for the whole weekend” kind of way. 

I had a blast and managed to squeeze so much into a relatively short three days. Based on that, here’s my three-day itinerary on what to do in Krakow:

Day One: Everything you absolutely can’t miss

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.

Old Town Krakow (Stare Miasto)

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 chosen 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 Spaghetti Pomodoro and burger and chips, there is still a delightful kind of old world charm about the place.

photo of building in main krakow square

Start your day with a stroll around this area of Krakow, and get to grips with the place. The main highlights of the 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.

Another noticeable building in the main square 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. The 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. 

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. 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. 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 Cathedralwhere, 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.

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 – 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.

Planty Park

macabre krakow

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 and just enjoy the fact that you’re in Krakow. 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 stay in Krakow, if you’re not too exhausted from all the walking around you already will have done by this point, theMacabre 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).

Day Two: Auschwitz-Birkenau

Although not technically in Krakow, Auschwitz is only a short hour and a half bus ride away and, 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, you should.

auschwitz-birkenau

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.

You can visit Auschwitz with or without a tour, and regular, non-concessionary entry passes start at 45PLN (approximately £9.50).

If you’d rather not visit Auschwitz, an alternative day tour you could take is to the Wieliczka Salt Mine which, although I haven’t tried out myself, have heard great things about.

Day Three: Schindler’s Factory and Kazimierz

Situated a little south of the Old Town, Kazimierz (named after Kazimierz the Great), otherwise known as the Jewish Quarter and is absolutely packed to bursting with synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other remnants of pre-war Jewish culture.

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.

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.

Non-discounted entry costs 21PLN (approx. £4.50) per person.

Where to Eat in Krakow

Now, if we rewind our minds all the way back to the beginning of this post, I mentioned how I am now basically the undisputed queen of pierogi eating. Challenge me to a contest, I dare you.

As a vegetarian, travelling can be oddly difficult, but I will tell you here and now that Poland, and its abundance of different flavour pierogi, was an absolute dream! Having spent only three days in Krakow, that meant I only had 9 meals there, and I ate pierogi for 5 of those 9 meals. No shame.

The top of the crop in the pierogi stakes for me was Marmolada, which served 9 pieces of pierogi for a bargain 19 PLN and also served the most delicious traditional apple cake with cinnamon. Situated just off the main square, the place was quiet, and the staff pleasant and not at all pushy.

Other places worth a mention are Goscinna Chata, a dimly-lit, traditionally-decorated place and Restaurajca Max 18 which, although frustratingly noisy due to being located right underneath a hostel, had dessert pierogi on their menu. I repeat, dessert pierogi.

How to Get to Krakow 

Krakow is actually crazy accessible and affordable to get to from almost anywhere in the UK. If I, situated in the back and beyond of nowhere, managed to snag my return ticket from Bristol for £40 plus £10 coach trip, anyone can.

Ryanairfly from Bournemouth, Bristol, Belfast, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester and London Stansted, andEasyjetfly from many of the same airports: Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and London Gatwick.

Krakow International Airport is only around 10 miles out of the city, and on landing 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.

Where to Stay

During my three days in Krakow, I stayed at Emaus Apartments which, at just £10 per person per night for a fully-furnished apartment, was an absolute steal.

Search all hotels in Krakow

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, Grand Hotel is all you need. Situated right at the centre of the Old Town, and with the most friendly and welcoming staff (even to people like me who weren’t staying and just wanted to be nosy), it truly is a taste of luxury.

Kraków has so much more to offer than what’s been mentioned here! It 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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What to do, eat and see on your 3 day trip to Krakow, Poland. Including the Stare Miasto, Auschwitz and Schindler's Factory museum.

30 Comments

  1. This trip looks absolutely incredible…adding to my travel bucket list because I need a trip here asap! Thanks for sharing!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Thanks Sierra! It’s a really great city, and super budget friendly.

  2. This is a brilliant and informative guide to Krakow. I’d definitely be up for that free walking tour of the Old Town, and plus I never realised it was so cheap there! I know that most people visit Auschwitz, but I just don’t think I could go. I’ve seen so many documentaries on it, and tear up every time. A lovely read, and a great weekend guide.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Thanks Lisa! I always opt for free walking tours where they’re available – such a great (and budget friendly!) way to see the highlights.
      I totally understand your feelings about Auschwitz – a few people I’ve spoken to have felt the same way, understandably.

  3. I spent four days in Krakow last summer! I’d been wanting to go there forever, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations! I used Couchsurfing while I was there, and my hosts were incredible. One took me out for pierogis, and when I couldn’t decide what filling to get, I just ordered the same as her: venison. YUM!!! Great post, you made me relive all my wonderful Polish memories. Cheers!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Aww I’m glad you enjoyed reading! My friend had venison pierogi at one of the restaurants we visited and said they were amazing! As a veggie I opted out but was happy enough with my potato pierogi 🙂

  4. Nice comprehensive coverage of Krakaw and surrounding important sites. Brings back memories of our visit to Auscwich a couple of summers ago. We need to go back to Poland and visit the rest.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Thanks Jyoti! I also really want to go back – there’s so much more of Poland I want to see.

  5. Wonderful three day itinerary with so much to see and do. The architecture is stunning! Thank you for sharing all your tips and suggestions. Krakow looks like a beautiful city to visit.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Thanks for reading Jodie – it really is so beautiful, would recommend to anyone.

  6. Love this Krakow itinerary! It’s very similar to what we did while in the city (definitely get all those city center sights in on day one!). I would suggest adding the Wieliczka Salt Mines on day three, though–they’re so stunning! One of the highlights of our Krakow trip. 🙂

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I really wish I had enough time (and money ha!) to do the Wieliczka Salt Mine tour, but due to crappy plane timings we couldn’t quite squeeze it in 🙁

  7. I love places with good food, old town feel and that are affordable and Krakow seems to fulfil all three! You’re right, it seems like taking a FREE walking tour around the old town is one thing that you cannot miss, it would be at the top of my list! We have a direct, affordable flight going from Dubai to Krakow and I’ve often considered going for a long weekend. Seems like your itinerary might come in handy!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oh wow, I didn’t even know they did Dubai – Kraków flights! Curious which airline that is…
      Free walking tours are always a good idea, even in sub zero temperatures!

  8. I am always fascinated with great architectures like that of the Old Krakow. Aside from that, I am also always interested in History. Would definitely include this in my bucket list. Thank you for sharing these information to us.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      If you’re interested in that sort of stuff you’d definitely love Krakow! Thanks for reading!

  9. Quite an interesting post. Once I get my multiple entry Schengen VISA, am going to take your cue and head out for weekends to places like Krakow, which have so much to explore and experience., all which can be covered in a weekend.
    Despite the dark history associated with it, Aushwitz, is on places to visit, specially after getting a taste of dark tourism from the killing fields in Phnom Penh.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      You definitely should! We have so many great budget airlines in Europe which means you can get return trips for as little as £10 sometimes. “Dark tourism” – I haven’t come across that phrase before, but it seems apt to describe somewhere like Auschwitz.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Best part is… Easyjet fly from Bristol 😉 No longer than the actual flight to Poland bus journeys to London!

  10. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience. Lots of history in this place good and bad. I’m glad you were able to give me a taste of that. Lovely photos of the architecture as well. Look forward to more from you.

  11. I’ve always had an interest in Poland for its historical architecture and solemn history. Your photos really captured the beauty and intrigue of Krakow. Will definitely keep this post in mind if I make it there.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Thank you Ling! 🙂 Hope you do make it some day, it’s beautiful.

  12. Krakow looks really impressive both in terms of its rich culture and heritage as well as the amazing architecture all around the Old Town. I recently just watched a travel vlog series that visited Auschwitz and the Schindler Museum, both of which were really harrowing but educational about the horrors that the Nazis committed towards the Jews during the Holocaust. I would love to pay Krakow a visit in the near future when I visit the area. Thanks for the amazing itinerary!

  13. Planty Park looks beautiful. And it’s good that one can circle round it and see many of the places, buildings etc. around the market square. The architecture of the buildings in Krakow really reminds me of the ancient European architectures. And the 3 days itinerary just sounds perfect to have a wonderful time exploring here.

  14. I have always wanted to visit Poland. My family is Polish so its been pretty high on my list of places to visit for a while. I’m not sure why I haven’t been yet. I’ve pinned this post for when I do finally make it to Poland. It sounds like you had an incredible trip! PS. I would totally kick butt at a pierogi eating competition as well. They are definitely one of my favourites.

  15. If you think Krakow, you always end up thinking of Auschwitz and Schindler’s factory. But of course, there is so much more to Krakow. The old town looks really fascinating. I was particularly intrigued by St. Mary’s Basilica. The sound of the trumpeters tune every hour sounds really something one must listen to, and what a poignant tribute to the trumpeter who was shot, by cutting of the tune mid-way.

  16. I am following some one who lives in Krakow and I just love her pictures 🙂 I would love to visit the Schindler’s factory. So much history in such places that I cant wait to walk through them. And the best part about it is that’s affordable.

  17. I am planning to visit Krakow this summer and I am pretty sure I’ll be doing all the things you mentioned above. I am a sucker for history and I am sure I’ll enjoy a lot over here. You have given a good curtain raiser to my wanderlust. The old town, Wawel Castle and Cathedral look great to explore.

  18. I haven’t been to Krakow, but it tops high on my must visit list. The city has so much history and it certainly has retained its beauty through the years. Auschwitz and Schindlers Factory are my top picks when I visit Krakow. Thanks for sharing the detailed guide.

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