So, you’ve found some cheap flights to Krakow (thanks Ryanair). You’ve just booked your hotel. Now you need to find out the best things to do in Krakow for 3 days.
Sure, a few friends have been and that guy from the office who won’t stop talking about the stag do he came on last summer. Really though, how much do you know about Krakow?
The majority of tourists visiting for the first time, don’t know too much about Krakow, or Poland before they arrive. This is one of the most underrated cities in Europe and you’re about to find out why.
Luckily for you, we are only too happy to share our wealth of knowledge. Let’s get stuck in with our things to do in Krakow: 3 Day itinerary!
Day 1: Things to do in Krakow- Get to know Krakow Centre
Day 1 of your 3 day Krakow itinerary, is to get to know the main parts of the city. The best way of getting around is to walk. First though, let’s make sure you’ve got plenty of energy.
The first thing you’ll need is a good breakfast to start off your day. If you want to treat yourself head to Charlotte in Plac Szczepanski. For some further options, check out our post on some of the best cafes in Krakow.
Each week we pass countless tourists looking at maps on street corners, unsure where they’ve been and where they are going next. Get some help!
After breakfast start your first day with a free walking tour of Krakow Old Town and Krakow castle (Wawel). It is the best (and cheapest) way to familiarize yourself with the city and learn a few things. Krakow city tours aren’t boring history lessons. They’re fun and entertaining trips, guided by knowledgeable guides. They offer you valuable advice on the best things to do n Krakow, not to mention saving you a lot of time wandering aimlessly.
Krakow’s Old Town is fairly small and is mostly pedestrianised. Walking is really the best option if you want to see it properly. Within a few hours you can explore the Old Town and Wawel castle, as well as learn all about the history of Poland. Not a bad start.
Free walking tours are very popular around the world and the system is very simple. Join the tour for free. If you enjoy it, leave the guide whatever you think the tour was worth as a tip. A simple and affordable way to see any city. You only pay what you’re happy to.
The Krakow Old Town free tour finishes inside Krakow castle’s grounds, where Wawel Cathedral is located. If there’s not much of a queue, take the opportunity to take a quick look inside. This is the beautiful Royal church of Poland. You can buy a ticket at the office opposite, which also includes entry to the tombs of the kings.
Try some local Pierogi
Next, you’ll want some lunch and a relaxing sit-down. Tourists are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants in Krakow. There are tons of great places to eat in Krakow Old Town, and most are very affordable.
The restaurants in Krakow main square tend to hike up the prices a little. However, head just off the main square and there are plenty more options. Take the opportunity to try some local Polish pierogi at any one of several places on Ulica Sławkowska. Otherwise, check out our list of the best budget restaurants in Krakow.
In the afternoon, once you’re fed and rested, it’s time to head back out again. There are far too many things to do in Krakow to sit around all afternoon relaxing. Come on, let’s go!
While Krakow’s Old Town is the most famous part of the city; it is the charming and historic Kazimierz, Jewish Quarter Krakow, where many visitors spend their time. The Jewish quarter is not far from Krakow Old Town and is perfectly walkable.
This area is filled with great bars and restaurants, but its history is what makes this area most compelling. For this reason, a tour is a must to really get the most out of it.
If your feet are up to it, join the Jewish Quarter Krakow free tour on the same afternoon as your morning Krakow Old Town tour. There are a few reasons for this:
By joining both the Krakow Old town and the Jewish quarter Krakow free tours on the same day, you will see both of the major parts of the city straight away. Thus, freeing up valuable time later in your trip. More importantly, you will have learnt a bit about both very different areas.
Furthermore, if you’re planning a trip from Krakow to Auschwitz concentration camp, (see below) it is particularly recommended to join a free tour of the Jewish Quarter the day before. This way you learn what happened to Jews prior to them being taken to Auschwitz; as well as what happened at the camp itself. Hearing the events in chronological order will help with your overall understanding of the topic.
The City Walks Krakow Jewish Quarter free tour offers a poignant insight into the city’s World War Two history. Past the synagogues, to the former Nazi ghetto. In 2.5 hours you learn about Jewish life before and during World War Two. As well as hearing about Oskar Schindler and the escalation of tyranny that led to the holocaust.
The Jewish Quarter free tour meets in Krakow main square, in the Old Town and you walk to the Jewish quarter from there. It finishes in the heart of Kazimierz, where you are surrounded by some of the best bars, restaurants and street food in Krakow. Perfect for our next suggestion…
Try a Zapiekanka
At Plac Nowy in the Jewish Quarter, crowds of people tuck into one of Krakow’s most famous street food offerings. Zapiekanki are long, baguette-like pizza breads, topped with cheese, mushrooms and a whole host of various other toppings. These popular Polish snacks hark back to Communist days. Each window of Plac Nowy’s Okrąglak (octagonal) building offers a cheap and filling snack that is part of the local culture.
Drink a Mad Dog Shot
There are plenty of great bars around Kazimierz and Krakow Old Town. For a true Polish experience, wash your Zapiekanka down with a quick (and hot) ‘Mad Dog’ shot in one of Poland’s famous shot bars. Pijalnia Wódki I Piwa is located in Plac. Nowy. You can try Poland’s most notorious vodka shot, complete with tabasco!
Drink in a famous Kazimierz cafe/bar
Cool down your burning mouth after your Mad Dog shot, with a cold drink in one of the Jewish Quarter’s most famous drinking spots. All around Kazimierz are great places to sample some proper Polish vodka, or a cold craft beer. Close to Plac Nowy there are several typical Kazimierz bars, famous for their darkened corners and atmospheric, candle-lit rooms. Alchemia, Eszeweria and Singer are all favourites in that department and all are close by.
Eat Pączki (Polish doughnuts)
Forget everything you ever knew about doughnuts and try Polish pączki. These huge, warm doughnuts the size of your fist, are a traditional Polish sweet snack, bursting with flavours like rose jam or nutella. There are several pączki bakeries dotted around the city, but the most famous chain in Poland is Dobra Pączkarnia. If you’re still in Kazimierz, the closest one is at Stradomska 18. Be quick though, it closes at 8pm!
Day 2: Things to do in Krakow- Krakow Salt Mines and Auschwitz
When thinking of what to do in Krakow, by far two of the most popular options are a trip from Krakow to Auschwitz concentration camp, or to see the Krakow Salt Mines.
If you managed to see both Krakow Old Town and Jewish Quarter on your first day, then you’re doing well. That means you’ve already seen most of the centre. Now it’s time to explore a little further afield.
Ironically, neither of the two most popular things to do in Krakow, are actually in the city itself. Both visits require a trip outside the city. One of the most common questions asked by tourists is, ‘How to get from Krakow to Auschwitz?‘
Firstly, yes it is worth visiting both. The (Wieliczka) Krakow Salt Mines and Auschwitz concentration camp are both UNESCO world heritage sites. Together they are two of the most popular and important visitor attractions in Poland. The Krakow Salt Mines get around 1.5 million visitors a year and Auschwitz around 2 million. That means you need to book your place.
You can book directly through the official Auschwitz or Wieliczka Salt Mine pages, but you will need to make your own way there. Krakow to Auschwitz is around 1.5 hours and the Krakow Salt Mines are around a 40 minute drive. Alternatively book a private tour, including entry, guided tour and transport there and back. Krakow tour prices for these vary, but there’s no need to pay more than 160zl per trip (£31/€35).
Auschwitz- Birkenau & Wieliczka Salt Mine (One-Day trip)
A ‘One-Day’ option, allows you to visit both Auschwitz concentration camp and the Wieliczka Salt Mine on the same day. This will be a full 11-12 hour day. It will include transport, entry to both sights and a full-guided tour of both Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine. It can be a long day, but often this is the only way to see both without missing out on anything else. A one-day ticket for both usually starts around 320 pln per person (£62/€70).
The main advantage of the one-day trip is it’s a real time saver. If you want to do both attractions and only have a limited amount of time then this might be the way to do it. However, the disadvantage of the combined trip is that it can be a very long day. A round-trip from Krakow to Auschwitz and back, is around 6-7 hours. Combining this with a Krakow Salt Mines trip means an early start and a long day. For some it’s exhausting, but for others the addition of the Salt Mines offers a much needed lift after a somber visit to the camps. It really depends on how much time you have in and how much you would like to fit in.
For the purposes of this post we have opted for the one-day trip. You spend only one day outside of the city and have another day free to explore.
If you do opt for the one-day trip you’ll be pretty exhausted by the time you get back. Grab yourselves a quick dinner and get some well earned rest ready for day 3.
Speak to your guide on the free walking tour for where to find the best price for trips to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines.
Day 3: Things to do in Krakow
There are so many great museums you just won’t have time to do them all. Prioritize your favourite areas of interest.
One of the most popular and famous museums in Krakow is the Schindler Factory. Memorably depicted in Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece Schindler’s list. The museum tells the story of Oskar Schindler’s enamel factory during World War Two. Certainly more than just a continuation of the film, the museum is helpful to learn more about World War Two in Poland. Much of the content will be similar to that covered by the Jewish quarter free tour and your trip to Auschwitz combined, but the museum is well worth a visit nonetheless. You’ll want to book tickets in advance.
If you fancy something a little different, the Underground museum, the National Museum and the Czartoryski museum are all excellent.
Eat in a Polish Milk Bar
No trip to Poland is complete without a trip to a local milk bar. Self-service, no-nonsense cafes left over from the Communist days. Back then a lot of the menu consisted of dishes made from dairy, leading to the name. Nowadays they’re a great place to try traditional Polish food. Milk bars are as much a part of Poland as vodka or pierogi. They’re also great for a cheap lunch. There are several milk bars in Krakow, but our favourites are Milkbar Tomasza and Polakowski. Check out our list of the best budget restaurant in Krakow.
Poland loves ice-cream! It is not uncommon to see queues forming at the most popular ice-cream parlours in even when the sun isn’t shining. None are more popular than Good-Lood. With unique flavours and branches popping up all over, this place is pretty popular.
By this point on your three day itinerary you will have no doubt stood in the Krakow main square and looked up at the two towers of the Mariacki church. St Mary’s basilica Krakow is the most famous church in the city. It is definitely worth paying the entry fee, a steal at a mere (10zl/ €2.50), to get inside. The interior of St Mary’s basilica Krakow is beautifully decorated. You can see stained-glass windows, designed by famed Polish artist Stanisław Wyspianski. If it’s not under renovation, you can also see the gothic Veit Stoss altarpiece, which the German artist carved by hand in the 15th century.
It is also worth paying an additional 15zl to climb the 82m (282 steps) of the bugle tower. Here you can get a fantastic view of the city. If you time it just right, you can see the famous trumpeter playing to the city below.
Tip- Buy tickets in the morning so they don’t sell out, but opt to visit the tower in the afternoon. Then come back to climb up later.
Drink Polish Hot Chocolate
Forget the weak cocoa drink you’ve had before. Polish hot chocolate is actually thick, rich chocolate melted down into your cup. You can find it in several of the best cafes in Krakow (including the chocolate cafe Karmello). Our favourite spot is Nowa Prowincja on Bracka 3.
Polish food is hearty and filling, but also a little unknown as world cuisine goes. There is much more to Polish food than pierogi, so make sure you get stuck in. There are great dishes and some great restaurants in Krakow. From ‘Oscypek’ sheep cheese, to Bigoś ‘hunters’ stew. Make sure you leave some room for Szarlotka apple pie too! Alternatively….
People often want to try Polish food, but don’t know what to order, or worry they won’t like it. One of the best ways to try some Polish cuisine is to join a Krakow food tour. The Full Polish Dining and vodka experience is a Krakow food tour that allows you to try a variety of the best dishes Poland has to offer. You will visit a few of the best restaurants, try some tasty Polish food and learn about the fascinating history behind the dishes.
No trip to Poland is complete without some Polish vodka! Food tours also offer the chance to wash your food down with something a little different to the vodka you might get at home. You can raise a glass to Poland and toast to three great days in Krakow. Na zdrowie!
So there you have it. Plenty of things to do in Krakow to keep you occupied for your full 3 days itinerary. If you have any further questions or would like some more recommendations, please get in touch with us.