header loader
5 Top Places to Visit in Krakow
By May 7, 2024

5 Top Places to Visit in Krakow

With its royal castle, church spires, and renowned museums, Krakow seamlessly blends history with modernity. The streets of the former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, and nearby Auschwitz serve as poignant reminders of 20th-century tragedies, while the bustling main square and charming lanes of the Old Town exude contemporary vitality. Beyond the major attractions, Kraków offers simpler pleasures like riverside strolls, traditional dining in retro cafeterias, live music at dive bars, and coffee in trendy neighborhoods like Tytano. Here are the top places to visit in Krakow.

1. Wawel Castle

Perched on Wawel Hill, overlooking Old Town, stands the former seat of Polish royalty—a symbol of national pride and the country itself. This 16th-century Renaissance Wawel Castle, with its red roofs and turrets, has seen many transformations over the centuries, surviving fires, expansions, and conflicts with Swedish and Prussian armies. Inside, marvel at the 16th-century tapestries, royal apartments, crown jewels, and the historic Szczerbiec sword. Adjacent to the palace is Wawel Cathedral, where Polish monarchs are laid to rest, alongside the legendary Wawel dragon’s alleged bones. While entry to the grounds is free, it’s advisable to book tickets for exhibits in advance due to high demand.

2. Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter)

To the southeast of Old Town lies Kazimierz, once the heart of Poland’s Jewish culture for five centuries until the devastating Nazi deportations and exterminations during World War II. Neglected during the Communist era, Kazimierz has experienced a revitalization in recent years.

Exploring its streets offers insight into its historical landmarks, including the restored Old Synagogue, a 19th-century Jewish cemetery with preserved tombstones, the Moorish-style Temple Synagogue, and the poignant Galicia Jewish Museum, which chronicles Kraków’s Jewish history. Visit the flea markets on Plac Nowy during weekends or attend film screenings and concerts at Cheder during the Jewish Culture Festival for a deeper immersion into Kazimierz’s rich heritage.

3. Oskar Schindler’s Factory

Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, located at Ulica Lipowa 4 in Krakow, was seized by Schindler during World War II. Initially an economic venture, it became a sanctuary for over 1000 Jewish workers, saving them from deportation and certain deaths. Schindler’s factory, immortalized in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” symbolizes hope amidst tragedy. Today, it houses a branch of the Museum of Krakow, showcasing Schindler’s heroic deeds and the lives he saved. The museum’s exhibits shed light on Kraków’s complex history during the Nazi occupation. Visitors urged to be at least 14 years old, can explore temporary exhibitions and learn from this poignant chapter of history.

4. Explore Market Square

The Rynek Glowny, Europe’s largest medieval market square, captivates visitors with its blend of medieval, Renaissance, and baroque architecture. As warm weather arrives, outdoor café tables fill the square, inviting visitors to soak in the atmosphere while observing horse-drawn carriages traverse the cobbled streets. The square’s enchanting ambiance also makes it the perfect location for Krakow’s Christmas market. Additionally, every hour, a lone trumpeter atop one of St. Mary’s Basilica towers plays a historic bugle call, a tradition dating back to 1392.

5. Krakow Cloth Hall

The standout attraction on Market Square is the impressive Sukiennice, a Renaissance building that traces its origins to the 13th century when it served as Krakow’s trading hub. Today, its vaulted arcades house stalls selling souvenirs, crafts, and jewelry, contributing to the hall’s charm. Enjoy a meal at the Sukiennice Restaurant or relax with a drink on the café terrace, while soaking in views of the square. Afterward, explore the Gallery of 19th-century Polish Art upstairs to view captivating depictions of Polish history.

Explore Krakow’s rich history through its charming streets, historic landmarks, and vibrant cultural scene, offering a captivating blend of medieval architecture and modern attractions. Book your custom tour to Poland with Acqua Travel, now!