How to spend spend 4 days in this fabulous city!
Krakow is the second largest cities in Poland as well as one of the oldest dating back to the 7th century. It was even the capital of Poland between 1038 to 1569. Today tourists flock to this beautiful city, its easy to see why. The historic centre is filled with colourful streets all leading to the huge main Rynek Glowney square. It has an abundance of budget friendly restaurants, bars and so many historic sites. The following guide will give you the perfect 4 day Krakow itinerary to give first time visitors a great introduction to the city.
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Krakow: How to get there
Krakows international airport is approximately 10 miles from at the city centre. Once at the airport the city centre can be reached easily by public transport. For the best deals on flights I recommend using Skyscanner!
Krakow Glowny is Krakow’s main train station situated just a short walk from the old town. Trains run direct from the airport as well as other cities within Poland and Europe.
Situated next to the train station is Krakows bus terminal. Just a the trains, bus run from both other areas of Poland and Europe.
For the best deals and to help with planning a trip to Poland or anywhere else in Europe I recommend Omio. Whilst travelling around Poland earlier this year I was able to use Omio to pick out the best available tickets between different operators making my travel between cities extremely easy. They even have a great app for booking on the go.
Krakow: Where to stay
What ever your budget there are a multitude of hostels and hotels within the city centre and most of its attractions. I recommend staying close to the old town within walking distance of the main market square known as Rynek Glowing. However the area in and around Kazimierz is also a great option.
If on a budget there are lots of hostels that only cost around £10 a night. On my last trip to Krakow I stayed in a great hostel just across the road from the Barbican called Bubble Hostel. It offered clean comfortable dorms, great showers and a small kitchen and siting area, perfect for solo travellers. If unsure about staying in hostels check out my guide for newbies here.
For finding the best deals on hostels or hotels in Krakow I recommend using booking.com
Krakow 4 day itinerary:
For the purpose of this Guide I will assume that will have a full 4 days to explore Krakow.
Historic old town
One of the first things you should do when arriving in Krakow is to check out the fabulous main square and surrounding area. This area has been clarified as an UNESCO World Heritage site since 1978 and is absolutely stunning!
There are many walking tours available, however its easy to see most of the interesting sites independently using an online map such as Maps.Me. This is a great option as you can download maps whilst having wifi and then use offline.
I suggest starting at The Barbican and then walk into the city through the St Florian’s gate, down the popular Floriańska Street towards the Market Square. As you walk down Florianska street you will be greeted with views of the beautiful St Mary’s Basilica. If you fancy taking the 239 steps up its tower then its worth checking early if tickets are available. They are only usually available on the day and book up quickly. You may have to book tickets for later in the day and come back. Tickets are available for the tower and basilica from the ticket office opposite the site entrance.
St Mary’s Basilica is stunning, and probably one of the most well known buildings in Poland. Be sure to arrive on the hour to hear the famous bugler that plays the herjnal from one of the windows in the tower. Time your visit well up the tower and you may even get to see the bugler play.
Across from the St Mary’s basilica is the fabulous Cloth Hall or known locally as The Sukiennice. This hall is a fabulous indoor market with traditional selling all things polish. Its a great place to pick up some souvenirs.
Above the Cloth Hall you will find the Krakow National Museum and downstairs you will find the fabulous Underground Museum. I recommend visiting the unique Underground Museum especially if you fancy getting out of the summer heat for an hour or two.
Most visitors don’t even realise this museum is even here, completely oblivious to what is underneath the square. Back in 2005 excavations took place on the eastern part of the square which took 5 years to complete. Today the Underground Museum displays a treasure trove of artefacts and findings of Krakow’s historic past. This is a great museum especially for those interested in local history. It gives an insight on medieval Krakow including how best to bury vampires! Its definately something different to do whilst in Krakow!
By this point its probably time to grab some lunch. why not choose one of the fabulous restaurants lining the square, have a bite to eat and maybe a beer or two.
After lunch take a walk along Grodzka and check out the magnificent baroque church of St Peter and Paul. Afterwards continue walking and you will arrive at Wawel Hill, home to Wawel Royal Castle and Krakow Cathedral.
Wawel Royal Castle grounds are free to enter, however you will need to pay a fee to visit each of the individual buildings. If you want to buy tickets I recommend skipping the first ticket office as there are usually large queue. Instead walk into the grounds and you will see another ticket office at the opposite end.
If short on time I recommend at least visiting the beautiful Krakow Cathedral. Its absolutely stunning! Probably one of my favourite cathedrals I’ve ever visited. Built in the 11th Century, the cathedral holds a special place in Polish history. Today you can visit the many chapels and sarcophagus of past Polish Kings as well as admire the beautiful architecture within.
By now you will probably be a little worn out so its probably time to head back to the hostel, have a rest, refresh then head back into town for dinner and enjoy some of the lively nightlife on offer.
Krakow 4 day itinerary:
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Only 14km from Krakow you will find one of Poland’s most visited attractions, the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine has been welcoming visitors since 1722 and became only one of twelve objects on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage list in 1978.
This place is amazing! You will marvel at the sheer scale of the place, as well as the precise detail gone into building these stunning chambers. The site is a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers over 300km long. In places its 327 meters deep with the first mine shafts dating back to the 13th century.
You will find tunnels and chambers all carved out of rock salt as well as incredible wooden structures. The chapels in particular are astounding, all adorned with statues and monuments. There is also an underground lake!
There are a couple of different tours you can take. Most visitors take the ‘Tourist Route’ however there is also a more immersive tour called the ‘Miners Route’ which lets you get a first hand view of what it would have been like working in the mine. On my next visit to Krakow I would definitely like to return to the mine and take the ‘Tourist Route”.
The mine is also known to have therapeutic qualities which can help cleanse the respiratory tract. If you want to take advantage of this then why not book an overnight stay in the mines very own spa.
You can visit the mine independently or via an organised tour. For more detailed information on visiting the mine check out my Wieliczka Salt Mine guide here.
After returning back to Krakow, why not spend the afternoon revisiting some of the places around the Old town or Wawel Hill. One of my favourite things to do in Krakow is to just wander around all the side streets, checking out some of the unique shops and architecture along the way.
Krakow 4 day itinerary:
Auschwitz – Birkenau Memorial Museum
I believe visiting Auschwitz whilst in Krakow is a must for everyone. it may not be the most enjoyable experience when on holiday but it’s important that these places are never forgotten.
Auschwitz and Birkenau was the largest concentration and extermination centres of the Nazi regime. At times a visit can be extremely overwhelming but I believe it’s important to learn about such events in the hope that they don’t happen again!
You can visit the memorial independently or by organised tour, either way expect to spend around 90 minutes visiting Auschwitz and another 60 minutes to visit Birkenau. I personally choose a an organised tour which included a guide inside providing detailed information about certain aspects of the camps. However the only drawback was there wasn’t much opportunity to freely walk around and reflect on what you were seeing as well as feeling rushed at times. Although if sort on time most tours have you bank in Krakow in time for lunch.
For more information about visiting Auschwitz – Birkenau check out the official website here.
After visiting Auschwitz you will probably be feeling quite subdued so I recommend getting out in the fresh air and relaxing on one of the scenic boats that sail up and down the beautiful River Wisla.
If you head to the banks of the river close to Wawel Castle you will find various boats offering leisure trips down the River Wisla. Many of these boats have a bar on board and have a informative commentary giving information on the different sites along the river. It’s the perfect way to unwind after an intense day!
Krakow 4 day itinerary:
Krakow’s Jewish History
Head out of the old town towards the River Willa and you’ll find a lovely little district called Kazimierz. This place has a completely different feel to the rest of Krakow. Filled with lovely little streets, boutique shops and a unique laid back atmosphere. It’s a great place to wander around and explore as well the option to visit some museums and memorials to jews who were persecuted by the Nazi during WWII.
Originally the area was a separate city until it merged with Krakow in the 19th century. Before 1939 Kazimierz had a population of 60,000 Jews that lived in the area, however after the Nazi’s occupied the city most of these were forcibly moved to ghettos across the river. Gradually the Nazi’s deported these Jewish people from the ghettos into various concentration camps, many of which ended up in Auschwitz. Today it is thought only around 1000 jewish people live in the area.
Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory
The story of Oskar Schindler and his enamel factory was made famous by the 1993 film Schindler’s List. It tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a nazi supporter who arrived in Krakow to make his fortune. However after staffing his factory with jews, he soon learnt of exterminations happening at the camps and arranges to have his workers protected.
The factory is now a great museum. Not only telling the story of Oskar Schindler but the everyday life of the Jews in Krakow throughout the Nazi occupation in 1939 to 1945. This is a very well thought museum and has many different displays as well as interactive exhibits to explore. It’s defiantly a must if interested in history. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours here, its bigger than you think!
Eagle Pharmacy & Hero’s Square
In the heart of what was once the Krakow Ghetto lies Hero’s square and the Eagle Pharmacy.
Hero’s Square as its been called since 1948 is situated at the entrance of what was the Krakow ghetto. It is now a memorial to the Polish Jews who lose their lives between 1941 to 1943. The square holds 33 Iron and bronze chairs varying in size symbolising the tragedy.
Also on the square you will find the Eagle Pharmacy. The one and only non-Jewish inhabitant of the Krakow Ghetto was Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who had a pharmacy within the ghetto walls. During the existence of the ghetto he and his personnel provided all kinds of help and aid for the Jews imprisoned there. Today the Pharmacy has been kept almost exactly as it was in that time and is now open as a museum. Only small it provides information on what happened within the pharmacy as well as some of the personal stories of those it helped.
Krakow 4 day itinerary – Final Thoughts:
Of course this is only one itinerary of many, but it gives in my experience a good way of experiencing a bit of everything that Krakow has to offer. You could change things around, leave things out or even add other things in but I hope this guide gies you a starting point when planning a visit to Krakow.
For those who wish to take part in some organised tours, I recommend using Get Your Guide. I have used these on many occasions including to visit Auschwitz and Wieliczka Salt Mine whilst in Krakow. All tours booked have been extremely professional and made it very easy to visit these places as a solo traveller.
So there you have it my 4 day itinerary of Krakow. Of course there are plenty more things to do whilst in Krakow, so if you fancy changing a few things and looking for inspiration then check out my other guide 13 Best things to do in Krakow.
Have you been to Krakow, do you have anything you would add to this list? if so let me know in the comments below.
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Thanks for reading,