Travel Poland

Is Krakow Worth Visiting? 5 Reasons to Visit Krakow

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Krakow

When you think of the most popular cities for tourism in Europe, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, London, and Berlin come to mind. Krakow, Poland’s second city and former capital, is a bit under the radar, but it shouldn’t be.

Set on the banks of the Vistula (Wisla) River, a trip to Krakow will make you fall hopelessly for its beauty, charm, and wonders. It is one of Poland’s centers for arts and culture and boasts lots of significant buildings, religious sites, and attractions to keep visitors busy and entertained.

That’s not all. There is a fascinating history and great food culture to discover as well. Krakow is a city where you can easily relax and blend in.

But first, why visit Krakow?

Here are five reasons why you should plan your trip to Krakow:

Krakow

1. The Sights

There is no shortage of interesting to see and do in Krakow.

Right next to Wawel Castle is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you’ll find massive sized halls filled with intricate salt carvings.

Make sure you visit the grand hall to see a replica of da Vinci’s Last Supper. It may surprise you to know that the walls here are made of salt, hence the name. You can lick the walls to confirm if you’re in doubt.

Learn more about the rich history of Krakow with a focus on WWII by visiting Oskar Schindler’s factory. The city is also home to important structures such as Florian’s Gate and the Barbican. These buildings, which date back to the 14th and 15th century were designed to protect the city and its inhabitants from foreign attacks.

Just outside of Krakow lies infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camps, the site where more than 1 million people perished, with Jewish people making up 90% of the number. This is one of the greatest tragedies in the world. Plan a day trip this site to learn more about its history and pay your respects.

Auschwitz

2. The History

Krakow holds a rich past – from being taken over by the Mongols to the heroics of Schindler’s factory, this Poland city is indeed a perfect destination for history enthusiasts. Regardless of the mysteries and setbacks, Krakow has grown stronger and better.

Krakow is considered by many as the world place to be during the Second World War. Just before the war, Poland was home to the highest population of Jewish people in Europe. During WWII, the Nazis invaded, took over the city, and made it a central location for the vast majority of their operations.

Many people had difficulty finding food, and for these reasons, they moved to local concentration camps built outside the city. Unfortunately, their hope was cut short as the concentration camps eventually became their death ground. These people who relocated in the hopes of better living were sent to their early graves.

Visit Oskar Schindler’s Factory, now a WWII museum and Auschwitz for a true understanding of the part Krakow played in the Second World War.

3. Food

Polish cuisine goes beyond pierogi (filled dumplings). There are lots of delicious local foods guaranteed to fill your taste bud. Other local specialties include obwarzanek (a thin bagel) and zapiekanka (a cousin to baguette pizza).

Krakow is home to lots of restaurants that serves both local and international delicacies. The food and desserts on display are designed to look like work of arts.

For an authentic experience, visit one of the many milk bars, otherwise known as bar mleczny. They are the best spots to enjoy traditional Polish food like potato pancakes with creamy mushroom sauce.

Regardless of where you dine, be sure to look for

  • Bagels – these twisted bread rings can be found anywhere in the city
  • Kielbasa – Sausages with a different taste – no other place does it better than in Poland
  • Zapiekanka – Polish pizza with an array of toppings

A visit to the Stary Kleparz market, Krakow’s oldest market, is highly recommended. It is within easy reach from the old town. The market is popular among locals who come to shop for groceries. Take a walk around the market and blend in with the locals.

Sausage

4. Bars

Krakow holds a great reputation for its energetic nightlife. You’ll find bars at virtually every corner. The bars in Krakow promises to be fun. Regardless of your budget, there’s something for everyone ranging from Bania Luka – a favorite spot among students for its low prices, to the beautifully designed rooftop cocktail Taras Widokowy.

For the best nightlife, visit the Kazimierz Jewish quarter. Here, you will be spoilt for choice with its countless number of places to drink. For a traditional feel and charming atmosphere, be sure to visit spots such as Alchemia and Dawno Temu Na Kazimierz. These bars are in a different world of their own.

Dawno Temu Na kazimierz Krakow

5. It’s Absolutely Beautiful

With many big cities in Europe, none can compare to the beauty of Krakow. Surrounded by medieval castle walls, beautiful parks, squares, and cobbled streets, Krakow will leave you spellbound with its beauty. The best part is that you can explore the main sights of the city on foot.

Majority of the top sites are within walking distance of each other. Even if you’d like to explore a site located outside of the Old Town, getting there is easy and convenient with the city’s extensive tram and bus networks.

When it comes to accommodation, the city goes one step beyond – from luxury to budget accommodation, you’ll find a place to suit your budget.

Bottom Line

With cobbled streets, rich history, and magnificent buildings, a stroll around the sites of Krakow promises to be an exhilarating experience. The people of Krakow are friendly, welcoming, and are willing to help you in times of need. What’s more, the weather is mild and pleasant all year round. The city is extremely affordable.

Delicious dishes, trendy bars, fascinating past, and beautiful attractions make Krakow a vacation destination that shouldn’t be missed. Though underrated, Krakow is definitely on the path to becoming a top tourist destination in Europe, just like Paris and Amsterdam.

The Best Travel Resources

Booking.com –  very good global booking engine, they have a very comprehensive database of locations and hotels to choose from.

HotelsCombined – hotel booking site focused on finding you the best variety of rates.  Save you time by looking at hundreds of providers.

Get Your Guide – great platform to book endless
activities, tours and tickets for attractions across the world.

Discovercars.com – price comparison and bookings website for cars, at very affordable prices, one of the best on the market.

World Nomads – If you’re going for a trip abroad, it’s good to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong.

Omio – great platform for booking trains, buses and flights in Europe.

NordVPN – With NordVPN you can securely access apps, websites, and entertainment platforms from anywhere in the world.

7 Comments

  • Evelin

    I haven’t been out of the country but I’m dying to visit Poland! 

    Thanks for adding all the beautiful images. It makes the entire experience look incredible, especially with all the details included. I’d definitely visit for all the sights and as I’m a photographer, I can enjoy taking pictures of every stop I make. Thanks for the ideas for when I do visit! 

  • Nate Stone

    Hey Bartosz, 

    I’m organising a stag do for next July, I’m trying to decide on the final location. Krakow is definitely one of my top options, as the groom is a massive history buff! 

    One thing I do need to make sure is that the nightlife is decent, as we like to party quite hard lol. What sort of times do that bars close & in your experience is the nightlife good all week long?

    • Bartosz

      Hi Nate,
      Krakow has stunning architecture, medieval castle and UNESCO world heritage sites. Nightlife in Krakow is awesome, most of the bars are open to the last customer. Check out my post for more information about the nightlife in Krakow. I can assure you that all of you will enjoy the groom’s stag and will not be disappointed there.

  • Michael

    Hello. Thank you for this article. I learned a lot from this article and will definitely put it on my list of places I still need to visit. It sounds like Krakow is a place where you can have a great time and not go bankrupt in the process. I do have one question. I only speak English and I was wondering, is English spoken by many Polish people as a second language?

    Thanks again and I will keep checking back to learn more about Poland.

    Michael

    • Bartosz

      Hi Michael
      yes, under the age of 50, nearly everyone speaks English at least to a degree. Finding someone who could understand you wouldn’t be hard.

  • Rodarrick

    The love of history and exploration of the world is the reason I have heard a lot about Krakow and how exceptional the place can be. Simply aesome to see here are benefits attached to having the honour of exploring this beautiful city. The history, the sites, the culture and the foods. Everything I st contributes to the reasons I want to explore here. Very interesting one you have

  • Carol5162

    What a great mention. I am already in love with the beautiful historic buildings and the food culture. Now salt buildings are to die for sights. I am very intrigued at how this came to be. Thank you for highlighting the great history of WWII happenings in Krakow. A great feature is the ability to access the areas by foot. I love taking a stroll in the markets and collecting all the souvenirs I could. This is a great recommendation.

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