The former capital of Poland is famous for its architectural splendour, exciting modern art and a fascinating history, with castles, ruins and museums. Known for its turbulent history, and as one of the oldest cities in Poland, Krakow's museums, housed in former decadent palaces of the Renaissance, are full of royal treasures and tell the city’s storied history. But Krakow lives as much in the present as in the past, and has active contemporary art circles, hip weekend markets and a vibrant nightlife.
The city is more than 750 years old and for five centuries it was the capital of Poland. Successive generations of monarchs built castles and cathedrals and gave the city a royal prestige that now you can still recognize.
It is not difficult to find your way around Krakow, thanks to the reliable network of trams and buses. Many of the main attractions are located within the compact Old Town and are easy to explore on foot. In the ornate St. Mary's Church you'll find one of the most spectacular altarpieces in Europe and the old city gate, the Barbican, is one of the most impressive sights in the park.
The Wawel Castle is perched high above the city, a castle that has protected Krakow against intruders since the 16th Century. Nowadays, the castle instead displays its stately halls, exhibitions of lavish jewelry and armor collections. For more about Krakow’s storied history, visit the historic Wawel Cathedral and Dragon’s Den, a limestone cave which, according to legend, a dragon once called home.
Krakow's history is intertwined with that of the Jewish community. Visit the Oskar Schindler Factory, made famous by the film Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg, to learn more about their struggles during the Second World War. The former factory has been converted into a large museum with Holocaust images that you’ll not soon forget. The Galicia Jewish Museum shares what it’s like to be Jewish in contemporary Krakow.
In the summer, the Krakow city parks alive with outdoor concerts and festivals. Enjoy a picnic in Jordana Park or enjoy a cruise across the city on the River Vistula. In winter you’re likely to see Krakow blanketed by a layer of snow, making the buildings in the historic city exude a romantic atmosphere.