Kraków, which celebrated its 750th birthday in 2007, is by far Poland’s biggest drawcard, and it’s immediately apparent why. As the royal capital for 500 years, the city was able to absorb much history and talent over the centuries and is today a treasure trove of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Miraculously, this jewellery box emerged largely intact after WWII. As a result, no other city in Poland can boast so many historic buildings and monuments or such a vast collection of artworks, with some 2.3 million registered.
Wawel Castle is Kraków’s centrepiece and a must-see, but most visitors will find themselves drawn to the Old Town, with its soaring Gothic churches and gargantuan Rynek Główny (Main Market Sq), the largest in the nation. Just outside the Old Town lies the former Jewish quarter Kazimierz, its silent synagogues reflecting the tragedy of the recent past.
Kraków is well endowed with attractions and diversions of a more modern variety, with hundreds of restaurants, bars and music clubs tucked away down its cellars and narrow alleyways. Though hotel prices are above the national average, and visitor numbers are very high in summer, this vibrant, cosmopolitan city is an essential part of any visit to Poland.
Give yourself at least several days or even a full week to do Kraków justice. This is not a place to rush through; the longer you stay, the more captivating you’ll find it. And without even trying, you’ll discover something pretty, old, curious or tasty around every corner.
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Best places to stay in Kraków
Poland - Krakow (Chapter)
If you believe the legends, Kraków was founded upon the defeat of a dragon, and it’s true a mythical atmosphere permeates its attractive streets and squares.
Communism Tour in a Genuine Trabant Automobile from Krakow
The Wall may be over and done with, but many of Krakow's most famous communist artifacts are alive and well! Visit Nowa Huta, the district that still bears testament to the power of the Soviets.
Kraków destination guides
The Best of Eastern Europe
From fairytale Czech towns to Budapest, the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, experience the unique culture, food and history of Eastern Europe. This 2-week trip through six Eastern European countries offers an intriguing combination of urban centres, village life and outdoor pursuits. Visit castles, churches and romantic town squares.
Mini guide to Krakow, Poland
Poland’s medieval capital has miraculously endured wars and oppressive regimes, to become one of Europe’s cultural treasure troves. The city is a delight to explore on foot, from its medieval Old Town to the scores of cellar bars and restaurants...
Lajkonik Festival: guide to celebrating folklore in Krakow, Poland
'Kościół Mariacki w Krakowie' by Klearchos Kapoutsis. Creative Commons Attribution Location: Rynek Glówny, Krakow, Poland Date: Thursday after Corpus Christi. 6 June 2013; 26 June 2014; 11 June 2015...
Europe's 8 best night trains
The midnight thump and clunk of railway carriages being uncoupled and shunted in a station somewhere in central Europe is not in itself romantic. But add in that this is the night train between Paris and Venice, and that you’re tucked up in bed six feet off the floor, and everything’s somehow more exciting. ...
Dunajec River Gorge and Niedzica Castle from Krakow
Undoubtedly Dunajec River Gorge is one of the Poland's prime tourist attractions and this great day trip from Krakow gives you the chance to admire some amazing scenery as you float down the river, as well as a visit to Niedzica Castle in the Dunajec Valley.