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Highlights

Top Things To See In Krakow

With its gorgeous medieval architecture and reputation as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, there's a wealth of things to see in Krakow. The city's famous for its rich history, its nightlife, and its grand artistic and cultural traditions, meaning there are masses of things to do in Krakow. Just click through our 360° views to take a virtual visit.

Rynek Glowny
  • Rynek Glowny
  • Rynek Glowny, also known in English as the Grand Square, is pretty much the heart of Krakow. Vast and majestic, it's got a reputation as one of the most beautiful city squares in Europe. It's full of monuments and surrounded by ornate buildings, but its two most iconic features are St Mary's Basilica and the 15th-century Cloth Hall, which is also home to a museum on the upper floors. Many of the old townhouses round the edge of the square contain restaurants, bars and shops, but what isn't quite so obvious are all the underground basements. A glass of beer in one of these medieval cellar bars is a classic Krakow experience.

  • Rynek Glowny, also known in English as the Grand Square, is pretty much the heart of Krakow. Vast and majestic, it's got a reputation as one of the most beautiful city squares in Europe. It's full of monuments and surrounded by ornate buildings, but its two most iconic features are St Mary's Basilica and the 15th-century Cloth Hall, which is also home to a museum on the upper floors. Many of the old townhouses round the edge of the square contain restaurants, bars and shops, but what isn't quite so obvious are all the underground basements. A glass of beer in one of these medieval cellar bars is a classic Krakow experience.

  • Grand City Segway Tour
St. Mary’s Basilica
  • St. Mary’s Basilica
  • This stately brick-built church was constructed in the 1500s on the site of an earlier building. Architecturally, it's famous for its two high towers of differing heights, while among the many highlights of the beautiful interior is the ornate altarpiece. Carved in wood, then painted and decorated with gold, this medieval work of art was ten years in the making. One of the quirkier traditions at St Mary's is its unfinished trumpet fanfare, which is played every hour from the high tower. The legend goes that it was sounded as an alarm call by a lookout during a medieval invasion, and he was shot with an arrow before he could finish.

  • This stately brick-built church was constructed in the 1500s on the site of an earlier building. Architecturally, it's famous for its two high towers of differing heights, while among the many highlights of the beautiful interior is the ornate altarpiece. Carved in wood, then painted and decorated with gold, this medieval work of art was ten years in the making. One of the quirkier traditions at St Mary's is its unfinished trumpet fanfare, which is played every hour from the high tower. The legend goes that it was sounded as an alarm call by a lookout during a medieval invasion, and he was shot with an arrow before he could finish.

  • Guide to Exploring St. Mary's Basilica
Auschwitz Birkenau
  • Auschwitz Birkenau
  • Few names in the world are so synonymous with human atrocity as Auschwitz Birkenau. Approximately an hour and a half's drive from central Krakow, this concentration camp and extermination centre saw more than a million people murdered during the Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War. These days it's a museum and memorial centre, spread across two main sites. The grounds and many of the remaining buildings are open to the public, and among the most poignant exhibits are the personal objects seized from prisoners on arrival. One of the best ways to try and understand the place is by booking onto a guided tour.

  • Few names in the world are so synonymous with human atrocity as Auschwitz Birkenau. Approximately an hour and a half's drive from central Krakow, this concentration camp and extermination centre saw more than a million people murdered during the Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War. These days it's a museum and memorial centre, spread across two main sites. The grounds and many of the remaining buildings are open to the public, and among the most poignant exhibits are the personal objects seized from prisoners on arrival. One of the best ways to try and understand the place is by booking onto a guided tour.

  • Small-Group Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum Tour
Wawel Cathedral
  • Wawel Cathedral
  • Set in the fortified hilltop complex of Wawel, overlooking the city, Wawel Cathedral was begun in the 1500s, though there's been a place of worship here for the better part of 1,000 years. Historically, this grand cathedral was where the kings of Poland were crowned, and it's still proud of its royal links. Apart from religious services, the cathedral also includes a museum full of state treasures. Underneath the cathedral, Leonard's Crypt is a sort of who's who of famous Poles. Not only does it contain the remains of many of Poland's monarchs, it's also the burial spot for more modern dignitaries like President Lech Kaczynski.

  • Set in the fortified hilltop complex of Wawel, overlooking the city, Wawel Cathedral was begun in the 1500s, though there's been a place of worship here for the better part of 1,000 years. Historically, this grand cathedral was where the kings of Poland were crowned, and it's still proud of its royal links. Apart from religious services, the cathedral also includes a museum full of state treasures. Underneath the cathedral, Leonard's Crypt is a sort of who's who of famous Poles. Not only does it contain the remains of many of Poland's monarchs, it's also the burial spot for more modern dignitaries like President Lech Kaczynski.

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Wieliczka Salt Mine
  • Wieliczka Salt Mine
  • Located a 40-minute drive from Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is among Poland's most quirky and brilliant attractions. In operation for more than 700 years, this vast complex of tunnels and chambers is about 180 miles long. Over its long history, the miners didn't just haul out innumerable tonnes of rock salt, but they also carved statues and even vast chambers and chapels into the walls of the mine. Some of the sculptures are humorous or mythological, while others are devotional. The most famous chamber is the Chapel of St Kinga, and this 'underground cathedral' comes complete with a pulpit and chandeliers, all made from salt.

  • Located a 40-minute drive from Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is among Poland's most quirky and brilliant attractions. In operation for more than 700 years, this vast complex of tunnels and chambers is about 180 miles long. Over its long history, the miners didn't just haul out innumerable tonnes of rock salt, but they also carved statues and even vast chambers and chapels into the walls of the mine. Some of the sculptures are humorous or mythological, while others are devotional. The most famous chamber is the Chapel of St Kinga, and this 'underground cathedral' comes complete with a pulpit and chandeliers, all made from salt.

  • Wieliczka Salt Mine Half-Day Tour
Krakow Barbican
  • Krakow Barbican
  • Once part of the city's medieval fortifications, the turreted brick bastion of the Krakow Barbican remains an awesome and intimidating sight. With walls 3 metres thick, and more than 100 arrow slits, this gothic fortification was built at the end of the 15th century, and has seen a lot of action in its time. One of its most famous stories concerns a Krakow local who, in the 1700s, shot an attacking Russian commander dead with a coat button. These days, the Barbican functions as a museum, and during the summer season it frequently hosts exhibitions and events, many of which are themed around the medieval period.

  • Once part of the city's medieval fortifications, the turreted brick bastion of the Krakow Barbican remains an awesome and intimidating sight. With walls 3 metres thick, and more than 100 arrow slits, this gothic fortification was built at the end of the 15th century, and has seen a lot of action in its time. One of its most famous stories concerns a Krakow local who, in the 1700s, shot an attacking Russian commander dead with a coat button. These days, the Barbican functions as a museum, and during the summer season it frequently hosts exhibitions and events, many of which are themed around the medieval period.

  • Guide to Exploring Krakow Barbican
Kazimierz
  • Kazimierz
  • For many hundreds of years Kazimierz was the district of Krakow where Jewish people and ethnic Poles lived side-by-side. Despite being emptied of Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland, and the subsequent privations of Communism, it's emerged in more recent decades as a district with a distinctive sense of identity, and is often referred to as the 'Jewish quarter'. There are still a number of synagogues, and the various Jewish shops and restaurants are complemented by the massive Jewish Culture Festival each year. Kazimierz has a bohemian vibe, with plenty of cafes, bars and antique shops, plus a thriving arts scene.

  • For many hundreds of years Kazimierz was the district of Krakow where Jewish people and ethnic Poles lived side-by-side. Despite being emptied of Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland, and the subsequent privations of Communism, it's emerged in more recent decades as a district with a distinctive sense of identity, and is often referred to as the 'Jewish quarter'. There are still a number of synagogues, and the various Jewish shops and restaurants are complemented by the massive Jewish Culture Festival each year. Kazimierz has a bohemian vibe, with plenty of cafes, bars and antique shops, plus a thriving arts scene.

  • Jewish Heritage Half-Day Tour with Schindler's Museum
Tatra Mountains
  • Tatra Mountains
  • The Tatras are a mountain range in Poland and Slovakia, and since the 1990s they've been becoming increasingly popular with hikers and climbers looking for something a bit special. The tallest peak in the Tatras, Gerlach, is in neighbouring Slovakia, though Poland's highest peak, Rysy, is wildly popular. At 8,200 feet, the main summit features awesome views, though it can get very crowded in the summer months. One of the most popular bases for exploring the Tatras is the mountain town of Zakopane, a couple of hours' drive from Krakow. Good cable-car access makes certain areas very accessible, opening up some impressive routes to day hikers.

  • The Tatras are a mountain range in Poland and Slovakia, and since the 1990s they've been becoming increasingly popular with hikers and climbers looking for something a bit special. The tallest peak in the Tatras, Gerlach, is in neighbouring Slovakia, though Poland's highest peak, Rysy, is wildly popular. At 8,200 feet, the main summit features awesome views, though it can get very crowded in the summer months. One of the most popular bases for exploring the Tatras is the mountain town of Zakopane, a couple of hours' drive from Krakow. Good cable-car access makes certain areas very accessible, opening up some impressive routes to day hikers.

  • Day Tour to Zakopane & the Tatra Mountains
Pieskowa Castle
  • Pieskowa Castle
  • Perched on top of a dramatic limestone cliff, this elegant Renaissance castle started life as a defensive outpost in the 1300s. It took on its present distinctive Italianate character during a 16th-century rebuild, and has been embellished and restored a few times since. Pieskowa Castle is known not only for its fine architecture, but also for its dramatic setting, with wide views into Ozkow National Park. As well as a museum on the history of the castle, there are also two on-site galleries. Pieskowa is a 45-minute drive from Krakow, and is one of a number of clifftop castles in the area.

  • Perched on top of a dramatic limestone cliff, this elegant Renaissance castle started life as a defensive outpost in the 1300s. It took on its present distinctive Italianate character during a 16th-century rebuild, and has been embellished and restored a few times since. Pieskowa Castle is known not only for its fine architecture, but also for its dramatic setting, with wide views into Ozkow National Park. As well as a museum on the history of the castle, there are also two on-site galleries. Pieskowa is a 45-minute drive from Krakow, and is one of a number of clifftop castles in the area.

  • Pieskowa Castle & the "Black Madonna" of Czestochowa

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