So, you’ve found some cheap flights to Krakow (thanks Ryanair). You’ve just booked your Krakow hotel. Now you need to find out the best things to do in Krakow in 3 days.
Sure, a few friends might have been and that guy from the office who won’t stop talking about the stag party 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, we are only too happy to share our wealth of knowledge of the best things to do when you visit Krakow. Let’s get stuck in with our Krakow 3-Day itinerary.
Krakow itinerary – Day 1:
GET TO KNOW KRAKOW CITY 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.
BREAKFAST IN KRAKOW
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.
JOIN A FREE WALKING TOUR OF KRAKOW OLD TOWN
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 Wawel 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 Old Town is fairly small and 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 a lot of fascinating Polish history. Far from being a boring history lesson, guests are entertained with exciting stories and legends from Krakow’s long and rich history.
Our Krakow Old Town free tour covers the top attractions in Krakow and includes:
- Krakow’s Planty Park
- The Town hall tower
- Krakow main market square
- Wawel Royal caste and castle grounds
- Former home of Pope John Paul II
- The Renaissance Cloth Hall
- Krakow city centre and historic buildings
- The Krakow Dragon and Vistula river
- How Krakow survived World War II
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 City Walks Krakow Old Town and Wawel castle walking tour takes you through the cobbled streets to the largest medieval market square in Europe to discuss how Krakow became the first UNESCO world heritage site city. See the famous cloth hall and Wawel royal castle. Get tips on the best places to eat in Krakow and the best time to visit the museums in Krakow, including the Schindler Factory and the Rynek underground museum. Or for art lovers, you’ll pass the Czartoryski museum which houses a Leonardo DaVinci painting, Lady with an Ermine. The best way to see this beautiful city and learn about Krakow’s rich culture.
The tour starts every day at 11 am from St. Mary’s Basilica. Look for the blueumbrellas, or book online.
Visit Krakow Castle & Wawel Cathedral
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.
VISIT KRAKOW CASTLE & WAWEL CATHEDRAL
The Krakow Old Town free tour finishes inside Krakow castle’s grounds, where Wawel Cathedral and the former Royal residence are located. If there’s not much of a queue, take the opportunity to take a quick look inside the buildings. The beautiful Wawel cathedral is the Royal church of Poland where kings were crowned and buried. 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!
VISIT JEWISH QUARTER KRAKOW & GHETTO HEROES SQUARE
While Krakow 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 area is filled with great restaurants, street art, and popular street food trucks. The Jewish Quarter is not far from Krakow Old Town and the distance is only a short walk from the Old Town.
This area is filled with great bars and coffee shops, but its history, including the Nazi occupation of World War Two, is what makes this area most compelling. For this reason, a tour is a must.
Why you should join a walking tour of Krakow’s Jewish Quarter?
Every day tourists wander the picturesque streets of Kazimierz, Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, ducking in and out of the area’s many bars and eateries. While this is a great way to spend an afternoon, what makes the area significant is its history, and the best way to learn about this is to join a walking tour of the area.
The City Walks Krakow – World War Two in Krakow Jewish Quarter & Krakow ghetto tour starts at St. Mary’s church in the Old Town and covers:
- Ghetto Heroes’ square
- Old synagogue
- Krakow ghetto
- Remuh Synagogue
- Krakow ghetto wall
- Second world War History
See Krakow Old town and Jewish Quarter in one day
We recommend you to join the Jewish Quarter Krakow free tour on the same day 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.
What does a free tour of Krakow Jewish Quarter include?:
The City Walks Krakow Jewish Quarter free tour offers a poignant insight into the city’s World War Two history. Looking back at the history of Polish Jews in the area and the turbulent past of Kazimierz. See the historic building of the Old synagogue, and visit the former Krakow ghetto created during the Nazi occupation in 1941.
Kazimierz started as an independent Royal city to Krakow in the late middle ages and developed into the largest Jewish community in the world. In a 2.5-hour tour, you can cover learn about Jewish life in the area before and during World War Two. As well as hearing about the former Jewish Ghetto, Schindler’s factory and the escalation of Nazi tyranny that led to the holocaust at nearby concentration camps.
The Jewish Quarter free tour meets in the Old Town main market square and finishes in the heart of Kazimierz, where you are surrounded by some of the best bars, restaurants and street food in Krakow. Perfect to lead onto our next suggestion in your 3 days in Krakow itinerary.
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!
Read about ‘Fat Thursday,’ Poland’s famous day of doughnuts.
DAY 2: KRAKOW SALT MINES AND AUSCHWITZ
Day 2 of your 3 days in Krakow itinerary has to be a visit to Poland’s two busiest tourist attractions. When thinking of things to do in Krakow, two of the most popular options by far, are a trip from Krakow to Auschwitz concentration camp, and a trip 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
VISIT THE BEST MUSEUMS 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 Schindler Factory ticketsin advance.
If you fancy something a little different, the Rynek 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.
EAT GOOD LOOD ICE CREAM
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.
VISIT ST MARY’S BASILICA KRAKOW
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.
Eat dinner at a Traditional Polish restaurant
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….
Join a Krakow Food Tour
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.