Krakow is an old and grandness city, but at the same time, vibrant with life. The past mixes with the present, history with modernity. It is worth coming here at least for the weekend and feels the unique atmosphere of the place. If you are visiting Krakow yous should consider taking a day trip from Krakow and explore one of the following locations on our list:
Lanckorona, the magical village of angels, is a very charming place in the Lesser Poland province. Lanckorona – a small village located about 40 minutes drive from Krakow. The biggest and most famous attraction of Lanckorona are the wooden huts surrounding the upwardly rising Market Square.
The history of wooden rural buildings dates back to the 19th century. Huts covered with shingles are a symbol of a town which for years has been treated as a small summer resort for the residents of Krakow and slowly becomes an attractive place for a short trip from the city.
In a characteristic cottage at Rynek 133 in Lanckorona there is the Museum of Antoni Krajewski. It consists of archaeological monuments excavated in the ruins of the castle in Lanckorona, a village chamber with original equipment and a village model showing the state before the fire from 1868 is also presented.
On the Lanckorona Mountain there are ruins of the castle, the history of which dates back to the times of Casimir III the Great, who erected a stronghold defending the border at that time. A few steps from the Market Square in Lanckorona there is a church Nativity of St. John the Baptist, whose history dates back to 1336. The founder of the building was also Casimir the Great.
The building was destroyed during the Swedish Deluge. Unfortunately, today’s state of affairs is the state after the reconstruction of 1878 and 1891. The biggest attraction of the church is the altar from the 18th century. In a small village you can not expect too many cafes and restaurants, but a few fortunately work here. Lanckorona is at first glance a sleepy little town in Lesser Poland, but under this shell there is a place bustling with history and artistic spirit.
2. Ojcowski Park Narodowy
The park is located very close to Krakow and is a perfect place of rest for the inhabitants of the city or tourist seeking relaxation and contact with nature. Tourists are tempted by stories about the creation of famous Jurassic rocks – such as the famous Hercules Maczuga or the Krakow Gate, which closing the announcement of the end of the world.
The area occupied by the Ojców National Park is touristically attractive due to the numerous occurring caves formed in the limestone rocks of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. So far, over 700 cave sizes have been added to the park, but only two of them are available for tourists: Jaskinia Ciemna and Jaskinia Lokietka. In the Ojców National Park there are wooden buildings dating from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Fortunately, we can still admire two medieval castles (Castle in Ojcow and Castle in Pieskowa Skala) lying on the famous Eagles’ Nests Trail. Both fortresses were built to protect the trade route extending along the Prądnik Valley. Ojcowski National Park, located just outside of Krakow, is the smallest national park in Poland, but it conceals extraordinary wealth and plenty of geological, natural and cultural attractions. It delights with beautiful rock forms, caves, old buildings and castles. Definitely worth visiting.
Recommended Tour: Ojców National Park and Pieskowa Skała Castle From Kraków
Tyniec is a historic village nearby Krakow. The location is famous for Benedictine Abbey which stands on the rocky riverbank of the Vistula River. Founded in 1040s by King Casimir I. Tyniec’s Benedictine Abbey is the oldest of its kind in Poland.
It can be safely admitted that the monastery witnessed a turbulent history. Well, it was destroyed during the invasions of the Tatars first, then the Swedes and Russians. After the closing of the abbey in 1816, the Benedictines were to return only after more than a hundred years.
The monastery was restored and regained its former glory. A mixture of architectural styles the abbey was also used as a protective fortification during attacks. Today Abbey sightseeing tour is a unique spiritual experience and a wonderful opportunity for history lessons of this magic place.
Recommended tour: Tyniec Abbey Private Tour
4. Zakopane City and Tatra Mountains
Winter captal of Poland, full of unique local folklore. Zakopane and the surrounding area is a region of scenic views and breathtaking landscapes, where you can get to know the local culture and openness of people, try traditional dishes, visit nearby museums, churches and monuments.
Other attractions that await you here include: a cable car ride to Gubałówka, the Zakopane Museum, the amazing nature of the Tatra National Park, and excellent conditions for skiing and other winter sports in the winter season.
Wadowice is a city located in the southern part of Poland, 50 km from Krakow. Wadowice is known as the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II). In this city you can visit places directly related to one of the most important people in Polish and world history.
In Wadowice, you’ll see the house where the Polish Pope was born – now the place is transformed into a museum that illustrates his life and work in Poland. After visiting the museum, you can see the parish church and stroll through the charming John Paul II Square. Best way to get there is a bus transport, you can hop on the bus in Krakow and trip will take about 1h.
It is located about 65 kilometers west of Krakow, established by Nazis in 1940, symbol of terror and Holocaust. Built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during WW II.
It is estimated that Nazi Germany deported at least 1.3 million people to the Auschwitz camp complex between 1940-1945 and approximately 1.1 million of people were murdered. This is really interesting museum that reminds us of sad moments in history. However, it is definitely worth the visit to learn more about its past.
Recommended Tour: Auschwitz-Birkenau Full-Day Guided Tour from Krakow
7. Wieliczka Salt Mine
One of the largest tourist attraction in Poland, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978, the Wieliczka Salt Mine attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Discovered in the 15th century, you need to see the salt mine firsthand. The Wieliczka Salt Mine will blow your mind away.
The cavernous mine is about 327 meters below ground level and nearly 300 kilometers long. The salt mine is beautified with fascinating statues and chandeliers. As you explore the mine, you’ll come across a beautiful underground lake. It is one of the world’s oldest salt mines. Also, you’ll find galleries featuring rooms and chapels made from salt.
Even if you’re in the city for the weekend, Wieliczka Salt Mine is not to be missed. Admired for centuries by its visitors, including numerous personalities from the world of politics, science and culture, Wieliczka belongs to the most important places of both Polish and world cultural heritage.
In addition, concerts and exhibitions take place here, as well as film photos. Remember about warmer clothing while sightseeing, the temperature in the Mine is about 15 degrees Celsius. Tickets should be booked in advance, because numerous crowds of tourists wanting to visit this wonder of technology line up in long queues under the Mine.
Recommended Tour: Wieliczka Salt Mine: Guided Tour from Krakow
A city that is located about 25 km east of the center of Krakow. The biggest tourist attraction is the 14th-century gothic Royal castle built by King Casimir the Great.
Castle called the “second Wawel” formerly known as the place of hunting escapades for Polish rulers. The other very famous attraction of this area is the Niepołomicka Forest. The surrounding primeval forests are a great place for hiking, cycling or horse riding.
Tomasz2706 Wikmedia Commons
9. Zamek Ogrodzieniec
Ogrodzieniec Castle is located about 60 km from Krakow. The majestic ruins of the castle lies in the central parts of the Krakow-Czestochowa upland. The King of Poland Kazimierz the Great started strengthening Polish borders in the 14th century by building so-called ‘Eagles’ Nests’ – the defence system of castles and fortresses.
Legendary Ogrodzieniec castle and its scenic surrounds are on this trail. Castle was built on the hill and destroyed several times by Swedes troops. Absolutely worth visiting wonderful ruins in the beautiful scenery.
10. Zator Energylandia
Energylandia is the biggest amusement park in Poland located about an hour from Krakow in a charming and picturesque town Zator. Energylandia comprises four main zones: Fairyland, Family Zone, Extreme Zone, Water Fun.
Park offers full of attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, carousels, and others. It is a massive complex with a large area of 30 hectares, which includes over 30 various modern and advanced devices and attractions. Energylandia day trips from Krakow to Zator are engaging and enjoyable for everyone regardless of their age.
photo credit: Energylandia Zator
Krzeszowice lies 25 kilometers west of the center of the city of Kraków. With numerous tourist routes, caves and valleys are a lovely place for tourists. Visitors are spoilt for choice in and around this destination.
You can visit there many interesting objects, including the Potocki Palace built in the Renaissance style, old synagogues, and the former buildings of the spa complex (Vauxhall spa house) as well as the old railway station and the Park Urban with nature monuments.
In the surroundings, it is worth visiting the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Scapular in Czerna and the famous castle “Tęczyn” in Rudno. In nearby Paczółtowice, there is a wooden church and a modern golf course complex.
Spars Wikimedia Commons
12. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is a small town located in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship about 15 km from Wadowice and 3 km from Lanckorona, on the international Cieszyn – Krakow route.
Kalwaria is known all over the country and even abroad due to the craftsmanship of an excellent reputation. Its traditions date back to the 17th century. The second thing that makes this place famous is a lively religious cult — Poland’s second-most important pilgrimage site after Jasna Góra in Częstochowa.
The Calvary Sanctuary, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the biggest sanctuary in Europe. Its founder was Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, a voivode of Krakow. The sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska consists of a basilica, combined with a miraculous image of the Mother of Calvary, a monastery, and a complex of over 40 churches and chapels of various sizes in the Baroque style.
Scotch Mist Wikimedia Commons
13. Dunajec River Gorge
The Dunajec river runs through the Pieniny Mountains in the south of Poland and the north of Slovakia. Flowing through the Pieniny, the Dunajec river forms a curving, rocky gorge of about 9 km. It is featured on UNESCO’s Tentative List of World Heritage Sites in Poland.
The unique landscape of the area attracts crowds of tourists from all over the world each year, and rafting on the Dunajec is, without a doubt, the most prominent tourist attraction in Pieniny National Park. Another attraction in the area is Niedzica Castle, built in the 14th century by the Hungarians to protect an important trade route leading through the Dunajec Valley. Undoubtedly Dunajec River Gorge is a great day trip from Krakow and a unique way to see some of the most scenic views in Poland.
14. Wooden Architecture Trail
The high artistic and historical value of 253 architectural ensembles included in the Route in Lesser Poland alone – from Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, chapels, and belfries to granaries, country cottages, and noble mansions, of which eight are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In Lesser Poland, Wooden Architecture Route has a length of more than 1500 km. It is the most significant tourist and cultural trail in the region. The Polish Chamber of Tourism appreciated its importance and beauty, and in 2013 the Wooden Architecture Trail in Lesser Poland received the Gold Certificate for the best tourist product in Poland.
Tomasz Bienias Wikimedia Commons
15. Salt Mine in Bochnia
The Salt Mine in Bochnia is one of the oldest salt mines in the world, and the oldest one in Poland established between the 12th and 13th centuries. In 2013 the mine was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as an extension of the Wieliczka Salt Mine inscription of 1978. The town of Bochnia is located 40 kilometers (25 miles), driving East from Krakow.
Tourists have a choice of several sightseeing routes of varying difficulty. The Bochnia mine offers many opportunities and attractions. The world’s only ferry crossing of an underground chamber flooded with brine is, without a doubt, the biggest attraction of the Bochnia mine.Tourists cross the distance of 120 m in chamber flooded with brine, accompanied by two raftsmen, who spin colorful tales of the mysterious recesses of the Bochnia mine.
Bochnia salt mine is worth a visit because, unlike Wieliczka, it’s not crowded with tourists and offers a unique experience and presents all of its beauty.
Zalipie is known as a painted village in Poland, located approximately 70 kilometers from Krakow. The tradition of painting houses comes from the 19th century. The villagers began to decorate their homes with tissue paper flowers, cut-outs, and floral paintings. Felicja Curyłowa was the precursor of folk artwork.
She was the first to decorate her home. Currently, there are 20 painted houses in Zalipie. Every year there is also a competition “Painted Cottage,” which aims to maintain tradition and renew paintings on the houses. Visit the country town of Zalipie, admire the lovely painted cottages, learn the history of this tradition, and shop a unique hand made souvenirs.
17. Czestochowa Monastery
Częstochowa is the spiritual capital of Poland, and every year, millions of pilgrims flock to its monastery to visit the shrine to the Black Madonna, a painting rumored to have miraculous powers.
Jasna Gora monastery is a historic site miraculously saved from a Swedish invasion. Everyone should at least once in their life go to the holiest place in Poland, see a beautiful fortress and learn about the history of this magic place.
18. Grodek nad Dunajcem
Grodek nad Dunajcem is located less than 100 kilometers from Krakow. The artificial Rożnowskie Lake created by the damming of the Dunajec river waters is one of the best tourist attractions. Gródek nad Dunajcem also offers a perfect view of the “Monkey Island.”
It is a protected landscape complex, and public access is not permitted. Due to the well-developed accommodation base together with the 5-star hotel built here, the area is also suitable for a more extended, several-day trip from Krakow. In addition to water attractions in the area, you can enjoy picturesque views, relax on the beach, explore the area, and get to know more about local traditions and culture. It takes about 1.5 hours from Krakow to Gródek nad Dunajcem.
Click here to find out more about Lake Roznow
19. Babia Gora National Park
Babia Góra National Park is one of the 23 national parks in Poland, located in the southern part of the country. In 1977, the Park was adopted by UNESCO to the international network of Biosphere Reserves.
Babia Góra, also called Diablak (1725 m a.s.l.), is the highest peak of the Żywiec Beskids and the entire Polish Beskids. Climbing Babia Góra takes about 2 hours, 30 minutes. The whole route to Babia Góra runs through the Babiogórski National Park and is very well marked.
Due to the quite high popularity of this summit, it is worth going on a weekday trip when there are slightly fewer people on the trail. A peak is popular among tourists who often go to Babia Góra to watch the sunrise and sunset.
Babia Gora is called the Mother of Bad Weather (Matka Niepogód). It’s also the region in Poland famous for its fogs, rains, and temperature on average slightly lower than in the rest of the country. There are many rare plant species and animals such as deer, lynx, wolves, and bear. Another great trip and easily accessible from Krakow.
Tarnow is a town located 80 kilometers from Krakow. This small town boasts a rich history, dating back to the Piast times and the IX century. Tarnów is one of the few cities in Poland that has preserved the classic, medieval urban layout with the market square in the center.
The entire Old Town, featuring 16th-century tenements houses with original colored facades, Renaissance town hall considered as a real pearl among other monuments in Poland and gorgeous XIV century Cathedral. Tarnow seems to be very similar to Krakow but less crowded, and tourists find there plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants.
What else attracts tourists from all over the world? Wooden architecture, Jewish cemeteries, castle ruins, and museums. This incredible town with Galician atmosphere, unique charm, impressive architecture it is definitely an essential while visiting Krakow.
Jakub Halun Wikimedia Commons