Winter is a time of the year when people flock to the most popular resort to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or even ice climbing. While others will squeeze through the crowds, you can be smart by choosing Krakow as your winter destination and easily explore the town full of magical places, Christmas decorations, and culinary delights. Check out our list of best winter attractions in Krakow.
1. Christmas Market
Krakow’s Christmas market is teeming with life; stalls scattered around tempt visitors with many specialties such as roasted nuts in caramel, cakes, gingerbread, honey, chocolate, and marzipan products, or regional oscypek, dumplings, and grilled meats. However, the biggest draw is the wooden barrels of Grzaniec Galicyjski (mulled wine) scattered all over the square. Make sure to taste the seasonal mulled wine and other delicious Christmas treats.
At the fair, vendors are also selling Christmas decorations, folklore handicrafts, wooden toys, ceramics products, and many other souvenirs. The omnipresent sounds of Christmas carols, the smell of a Christmas tree, and many colorful lights create a magical atmosphere. Krakow’s Christmas market usually lasts from the end of November to the end of December, then changes its name to the New Year’s market.
2. Paczoltowcie Ski Slope
Fans of winter madness won’t be disappointed; just half an hour from Krakow, the small village of Paczoltowice offers ski slope with lifts, cross-country ski runs, and even snowmobile rental. I recommend an organized sleigh ride with bonfires and firework displays for those who’d like to explore the local area.
After a busy day devoted to sports or sightseeing, it is worth taking a rest in the cozy and charming guesthouse, Przy Dolinie. This perfectly located house, away from the hustle and bustle, offers peace with a beautiful view of the valley.
3. Village of St. Nicholas’ in Zator
If you are traveling with kids, give them a pleasant surprise over visiting this charming place. When you cross the gate of Saint Nicholas Park, you will be transported to a world of fantasy and magic, where amazing things happen.
Wander along the Fairy-tale Path, illuminated by 3 million lights, meet the fairy-tale heroes and real Santa Claus who sits next to the fireplace in a fairy-tale cottage. Anyone who visits Santa’s hut will be simply delighted, and the atmosphere there is beyond your imagination! Besides, there are attractions such as an ice rink, a huge pontoon slide, a Ferris wheel, or a 3D cinema.
At designated times, fairy-tale characters organize a parade, during which your kids can take a photo with them. You will find there a souvenir shop where you can buy a broad range of products with the park’s logo, coins, or Christmas gadgets. You should also pop into River Park Inn, where hearty food dishes are served. For those who want to warm up, there is a wide selection of hot drinks like Grzaniec Galicyjski. If you’re going to plan your visit to Krakow, make sure to include Santa village on your list.
Kazimierz is a unique part of Krakow, linked with Jewish culture and history. The district is packed with lively bars, discos, and restaurants that will satisfy the nightlife’s hotheads. But Kazimierz is not only about partying; rich culture is visible at every step in the form of many monuments, mainly those related to the Jewish population.
The narrow cobbled streets, nicely decorated squares, cozy restaurants, and cafes with delicious Jewish dishes create a romantic atmosphere that is hard to find anywhere else. Each of these lovely places has a unique character, and there are dozens of them in Kazimierz.
The tourists throng to the district, not just in summer – Kazimierz teeming with cultural and artistic life all year round, attracting those who want to feel the spirit of Krakow’s bohemia. Oh, and don’t forget to try the famous Kazimierz casserole, which is delicious.
5. Ice Rink Blonie
The Krakow open-air ice rink set up in Jordan Park near Błonia is the largest ice rink of this type in Poland. Why not spend some free time skating at night in a snow-covered park? Sounds appealing; grab the skates, go stargazing, and take advantage of winter in Krakow. Great place to have fun before getting ready for some crazy nights out on the town.
6. The Krakow Nativity Scene (Szopki)
The Krakow nativity scene competition was organized for the first time on December 21, 1937. It has been an annual tradition since then. The most beautiful nativity scenes can be seen at the beginning of December at the Main Square. You can also find them in churches that compete in inventing exiting architectural styles of Szopka.
The characteristic style of Krakow nativity scenes began to develop in the second half of the 19th century when bricklayers and builders started making Szopka. Apparently, they were looking for alternative sources of income in the autumn and winter period. Nativity scenes flourished, and some of these ancient works are still kept in Krakow museums.
You can also take part in the Living Nativity Scene organized every year by Krakow’s Franciscans. On December 24-25, on the square at ul. 4 Franciszkańska Street, locals gather together to sing Christmas carols, watch the performances of nativity playgroups and watch over the stable. It is a truly unique experience.
7. Take a Stroll Through Planty Park or Wisla Boulevards
The Krakow Planty is a unique park surrounding the entire Old Town. In the snowy scenery, especially in the evenings with heavy snowfall, it is a lovely place. It is also worth taking a stroll along the Vistula boulevards near Wawel. You can see the city from a different perspective while catching some fresh air yet feeding ducks and swans like when you were little.
Cracovians, students, and tourists’ iconic place is rather crowded in summer, so don’t worry and take a nice break after exploring a city. All in all, you can feel like on a trip outside the city.
8. Visit The Biggest Shopping Center in Krakow – Bonarka
Shoppers flock to the Bonarka City Center all year round, but shopping madness can be seen here during the winter, just before Christmas.
If you visit Krakow during winter and plan some crazy shopping, then Bonarka City Centre is the place to be. Bonarka is home to over 270 shops, so don’t get overwhelmed by the enormous array of shops to visit.
You can buy here anything you want really, from high-end winter clothes, Christmas gifts to electronic devices. Need a barber, beautician, or maybe you are looking for an engagement ring? Yeah, you find all those things here. If you need a short break from the shopping madness, just pop into one of the eateries for a lovely meal or cup of coffee. Do you want to see the latest hits from world cinema? Cinema City Bonarka has 20 air-conditioned screening rooms that can accommodate over 3,200 viewers.
Those looking for an upscale experience should pick tickets to the VIP zone. You will find here luxurious armchairs that will delight every cinema lover, also take advantage of the extensive gastronomic offer – an open bar and a point with hot and cold dishes from around the world.
If you are traveling from the city center, take these bus lines: 144, 164, 169, 173, or 179 southwards and get off at the “Bonarka” or “Puszkarska” stop (line 164).
9. Wawel Royal Hill
Visiting Wawel Castle in winter is an amazing experience which you won’t soon forget. Picturesquely situated on the banks of the Vistula River, Wawel castle is the most valuable monument of national history and culture in Poland. The Wawel hill was inhabited around 100,000 BC, and from the early Middle Ages, it became a center of secular and ecclesiastical power.
Since 1978 Wawel has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For peace of mind, take advantage of going on the offseason tour, see exhibits, and discover the royals’ secrets. Wawel Hill has many excellent viewing points, so keep your camera handy and snap pictures of beautiful surroundings.
10. The Wieliczka Salt Mine
Winter is a perfect time to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine; you won’t waste your time waiting in queues or beat the crowds. The Wieliczka Salt Mine dates back to medieval times and has a long history of salt exploitation. The tourist route through the mine is located 135-meters underground and is accessible by stairs or by elevator.
You should also pop into the graduation tower to take a deep breath and experience the healing, preventive, and relaxing properties of this form of rest. After a long day exploring the city, relief from polluted air may be needed.
Don’t miss out on this year-round attraction. You can buy your tickets here.