Krakow is undoubtedly one of Poland’s most vibrant town, with loads of top-notch restaurants, wonderful architecture, hedonistic nightlife, and art at every corner. If you’re traveling to Krakow for the first time, it might be hard to navigate and breathe while surrounded by crowds of people.
To avoid touristy traps while making the most of it, take our advice on everything and check-out our top tips for visiting Krakow.
Best Time to Visit Krakow
Krakow is one of the most favorite tourist spots in Europe. No doubt you want to join millions of people who have already had the pleasure of traveling to Krakow, though you are probably wondering when the best time to go to Krakow is?
If you don’t want to squeeze through the crowds on the main streets, then an ideal time to visit Kraków is from March to May and between September and November. The weather is pleasant, the prices are lower, and the streets are mainly filled with locals.
Should I go to Krakow in December?
Krakow looks really pretty during Christmas time; streets are covered with snow, time slows down, and both tourists and locals can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere. The drawback of the visiting Krakow in winter are short days, low temperatures when the people wrapped up in big scarves and warm coats, and pollution but don’t let that put you off. Visiting Krakow in winter is a magical and memorable experience you won’t soon forget.
And finally, the summer is perfect for those who enjoy many music festivals, easy days out of Krakow, beautiful greenery, and rooftop bars. This time of the year, it’s nearly impossible to escape crowds, and any popular attractions should be booked in advance to skip the queues.
To summarize, Krakow can be visited at any time of year; just remember to be prepared for your journey.
Getting Around the Town
Krakow is a city with a fantastic public transport network, but the plethora of choice can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. Luckily for travelers, many of the most popular attractions are all located in the town center, making Krakow very compact, easy to explore on foot. Walking is also the best way of reaching the many hidden corners of Kraków.
Districts situated further away from the center are easily reachable by public transport or car. Rather than driving a car around looking for the parking lot, opt for public transport, which is fairly easy with the app jak dojade.pl. Tickets for the journey can be purchased at vending machines, designated points of sale, shops, and “kiosks” or directly from the bus or tram drivers (with exactly right change).
Once you get in, be sure to validate your ticket. Alternatively, for the peace of mind, you can get yourself Krakow City Card and enjoy unlimited travel on the buses and trams 24/7. You just jump on and off, no hassle of buying tickets and validating them. Card also provides access to 40 museums in Krakow.
The town itself is quite big and offers lovely restaurants, shops, and vibrant nightlife. Those who want to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife to the fullest might find themself in the middle of the night waiting for a bus/tram that “never comes.” So waiting at the bus stop late at night might not be a good idea, and then uber or bolt apps become handy. Be sure not to hail a taxi from the rank as they will drain your wallet.
Book Your Stay & Activities in Advance
Millions of tourists visit Krakow every year, so plan your trip thoroughly in advance to enjoy your time here. Krakow is besieged by tourists, particularly throughout summer; the city is bustling with life, festivals are in full swing, and the most significant attractions are fully booked. To avoid disappointment, Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz should be booked in advance; hence there are hugely popular amongst tourists.
The truth is that the best hotels and hostels in Krakow fill-up quickly, mainly during peak season. It’s always good to do some research, then you don’t miss out on the best options in town, as nobody wants to end up in a terrible hotel. Krakow offers a wide array of interesting hotels that won’t blow your budget. So for peace of mind, you should book your stay in advance.
Learn Polish Phrases
When you are traveling to Krakow, you really should try to learn a few words before you set off. Knowing basic Polish phrases can make a good impression, whether you go there for business or sightseeing. Most Poles will appreciate you trying language- you may even melt their hearts and make some friends. You can get yourself a book with polish phrases which can become handy on your trip.
Here are some basic Polish phrases that will make your vacation more fulfilling.
Hello/hi/bye – Czesc
Goodbye – Do widzenia
Good morning- Dzien dobry
Good evening – Dobry wieczor
Good night – Dobranoc
Yes/no – Tak
Thank you – Dziekuje
Sorry – Przepaszam
In Pub/ Restaurant
One more, please – Jeszcze raz proszę
Another round, please – Jeszcze jedną kolejkę proszę
When is closing time? – O której zamykacie?
Poproszę piwo – Can I have a beer, please
Poproszę czerwone/białe wino – Can I have red/white wine?
Ta potrawa bardzo nam smakuje – we love this dish
Chcielibyśmy zamówić deser – We would love to order a dessert
Dziękujemy za wspaniałą obsługę – Thank you for a great service
A table for one person/two people, please – Poproszę stolik dla jednej osoby/dwóch osób
Take a Free Walking Tours
Krakow seems to have it all – arts, culture, lovely landmarks, and even vibrant nightlife. Krakow is filled with many iconic buildings, historical sites, and many hidden gems. The best way to see Krakow is by foot; hence, you should join one of their free walking tours and experience the best that Krakow has to offer without breaking the bank!
Basically, you join a group at a designated meeting point, and the tour is 2.5-3 hrs long. This is a perfect way to explore the city while learning history; anyone can take part, just remember to tip at the end.
Try Traditional Polish Food
Are you one of these travelers who want to experience everything the Krakow has to offer? One of the best ways to get Krakow’s authentic taste is to try its gastronomical delights.
You should 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
- Obwarzanek – 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
- pierogi- filled dumplings
Make Use of Happy Hours in Krakow Bars
Happy hours can get a bad reputation, although there are plenty of quality venues in Krakow offering reasonable prices. You don’t have to spend a fortune on drinks while partying in town. A happier hour is usually between 4 pm to 7 pm when most people want to relax after a day’s work. This is a great time to meet locals, have premium-priced drinks, and enjoy an amazing atmosphere.
If you in need of cheap drinks in Krakow’s head to one of these spots:
- Movida Cocktail Bar
- Pod Wawelem
- Budda Drink and Garden Bar
- CK Browar
When traveling abroad, you might opt-out from using your phone data to surf the web and hunt for free Wi-Fi spots. Luckily free Wi-Fi is widely available around town, so a break from technology is not needed. We live in such times that we need to stay connected with our loved ones, friends, and businesses. In Krakow, free Wi-Fi is available at around 21 hot-spots, at the airport, and in bars and restaurants. Look for a network called “FreeWiFi-Krakow.”
When using public Wi-Fi on your smartphone or notebook hackers, may try to steal your data. You should consider buying a VPN to securely access apps, websites, and entertainment platforms from anywhere in the world.
A Few Final Tips
- Tipping in Krakow – Tipping in Poland is neither mandatory nor expected, but you should tip 10% of the total bill if you do decide to do so. If a 10% service charge is added to your bill, you should definitely not tip.
- Currency exchange – you can do it in Kantor, but the best way to save money is Revolut, a prepaid travel card and app with no fees. Carrying cash when you’re abroad is never as safe as using cards or traveler’s cheques.
- Free museums- culture freak should take advantage of Krakow’s free museums. The only downside is that museums are jam-packed on days with free admission.
- Airport Transfers- from the airport to the city center, you can get by bus (208, 252, and 902 – a nightline) either train operated by Koleje Malopolskie. Alternatively, you can hire a car (lowest price guarantee) or pre-book a private transfer.
- Last but not least, Travel Insurance – It’s a good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong.