Although the Oscar-winning ‘Schindler’s list’ brought to attention all the atrocities and the unbeatable strength of Krakow inhabitants during the Nazi occupation. Krakow today is a beautiful European capital offering great, fun, and relaxed times to its visitors. Visit Krakow, Poland to experience the old Europe’s charm, enjoy the rich culture, food, and history of this proud nation!
Complete Krakow Walking Map
A cathedral of Krakow’s bishops and a traditional site of the coronation of Polish monarchs sits graciously on Wawel hill as a Gothic structure. Upon entering the cathedral take note of the big animal bones hanging on a chain to the left. It is believed as long as the bones are there, the cathedral will remain.
If you are religious or you simply like sacral art, there is plenty of sarcophages, tombstones, and altarpieces to enjoy. Being also the main burial site of Polish monarchs over the centuries, it contributed to the expansion of the cathedral where many chapels with burial chambers have been added.
The most famous chapels are Holy Cross Chapel and Sigismund Chapel. Sigismund Chapel is often touted as the most beautiful Renaissance chapel north of the Alps whereas for the views and to see the largest historic bell in Poland, climb the tower of Holy Christ Chapel via 70 steps of the sacristy.
The Cathedral of Krakow is open with the following hours:
- April to October:
- Monday through Saturday from 9AM to 5PM
- Sunday from 12:30 PM to 5PM.
- November to March:
- Monday through Saturday from 9AM to 4PM
- Sunday from 12:30 PM to 4PM.
Last entrance is 30 minutes before closing. Entrance is free.
Wawel Royal Castle Complex
A symbol of Polish patriotism and national pride, the Polish version of Buckingham Palace, Wawel Royal Castle complex is composed of four separate buildings: The Castle, Cathedral, Crown Treasury, and Royal Crypts. The complex had a tumultuous past with different invaders trying to occupy it over the course of years.
Built in different stages from the 14th century onward, today the complex is a truly amazing showcase of Medieval, Romanesque, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque architectural work. To see the whole complex, it can take an entire day.
- November to February: 6AM to 5PM.
- March and October: 6AM to 6PM.
- April and September:6AM to 7PM.
- May and August: 6AM to 8PM.
- June and July: 6AM to 9PM.
Ticket prices depend on what you would like to visit, so check the website for complete ticket information.
St Mary’s Basilica
Built on the ruins of the church dating from 13th century, St Mary’s Basilica was rebuilt in Gothic style. Its most striking features are two side towers of different heights and a beautifully carved wooden altar. Do we need to say how for the views you should climb the towers?
Also, make a note of hejnal tradition, a bugle call played every hour from the east, west, north, and south of the left tower. The widely accepted legend traces this tradition to the year 1241 when Tartars tried to invade the Krakow. A man on guard was shot in the neck and thus sang the warning song in mid-melody
As a tourist, enter through the side door to the southeast and as a worshipper through a Baroque portal on the southwestern facade which was added in the 18th century.
St Mary’s Basilica is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 AM to 6PM and Sunday from 2PM to 6PM. Entrance to the church is 10zł and to the tower is 15zł.
Museum of Pharmacy
Jagiellonian University Medical School’s Museum of Pharmacy located inside of a five-storey 15th-century building is one of the largest museums of its kind in Europe with a 22,000-piece collection. Here you can see wonderful reproductions of several pharmacies back from the 19th and early 20th century.
The most interesting is the Pharmacy Under the Eagle that bravely operated in the Jewish ghetto during the German occupation. Noteworthy is also a display of traditional herbal medicines, rare pharmaceutical instruments, old laboratory equipment etc.
The Museum of Pharmacy is open Monday from noon to 6:30 PM and Tuesday through Sunday from 9AM to 5PM. Tickets are 10zł per adult.
The Collegium Maius, part of the Jagiellonian University is one of the oldest Gothic buildings in Krakow. It was built in 14th century as the university’s main campus with an impressive arcaded courtyard. You can visit the university only by guided tours beginning every half an hour when you will be able to see the lecture halls attended by famous Copernicus. You can also see rare 16th-century astronomy instruments used by him, the oldest existing globe showing the American continent and rooms with wonderful centuries-old portraits of universities’ benefactors.
A great stop and curiosity in the courtyard is the courtyard clock with wooden historical figures appearing and parading past to music dating from the mid-16th century every two hours between 9AM and 5PM.
Collegium Maius is open Monday through Friday from 10AM to 2:20 PM and Saturday until 1:20 PM. Tickets to the full exhibit are 16 zl.
The interactive museum interactive dedicated to the German occupation of Kraków in WWII is situated in the former enamel factory of Oskar Schindler, the Nazi industrialist who saved the lives of his Jewish workers during the Holocaust.
The permanent exhibition ‘Kraków During Nazi Occupation 1939-1945’ tells the story of everyday life under the Nazi occupation, the city’s underground resistance and much more. A big part of the museum is MOCAK– Kraków’s contemporary art museum opened in 2011.
- Winter season (November to March)
- Monday from 10AM to 2PM
- Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 6PM
- Summer season (April to October)
- Monday from 10AM to 4PM
- Tuesday to Sunday from 9AM to 8PM
Tickets are 24 zl per person, but advanced online booking is suggested. Last entrance is 1.5 hours before closing.
National Museum, Main Building (Gmach Główny Muzeum Narodowego)
Housing and paying tribute to previous generations of Polish artists, the National Museum in Krakow holds yet another world treasure – Leonardo da Vinci’s famous oil painting Lady With an Ermine.
The National Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10AM to 6PM and Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. Admission for permanent exhibits is 11zł and free on Sundays. Admission for temporary exhibits, and joint admission for permanent and temporary exhibits, varies depending on the exhibit.
Old Town Krakow
Included on the first-ever UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978, Old Town Krakow is truly a feast for the eye filled with many historical buildings, cellar bars, and literary cafe bars. The center of the Old Town is Main Market Square (Rynek Główny) surrounded by elegant townhouses from where most of the tours start and where they finish.
Interestingly, Rynek Glowny is noted as one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. The central feature of the square is Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), once a major place of international trade. Today, on the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum with a largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture. And lastly, a visit to Old Town Krakow is not whole without a visit to one of its marketplaces Stary Kleparz and Hala Targowa.
Town Hall Tower
The only element of the 14th century Town Hall (Wieża Ratuszowa) remaining is this 70 meters high tower, proudly standing next to the Cloth Hall. It is also known as the ‘leaning tower’ because the structure leans nearly 55cm thanks to a very strong wind back in 1703.
Town Hall Tower is open daily from in the summer from 10:30 AM to 6PM and winter from 12PM to 6PM. Last entrance is 30 mins before closing. Tickets are 9 zl per person.
Oddział Muzeum Historycznego Miasta Krakowa
Located on the main market square, Krakow’s History Museum maps the urban development of the city from its earliest times onward.
The History Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10AM to 5:30 PM. Tickets are 12 zl per adult.
Church of St. Wojciech
Krakow’s oldest church at the southeast corner of market square dating from the 11th century is an incredible example of pre-Roman, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Royal Chamber Orchestra often has concerts held inside the church and that is the best way to experience the atmosphere of the church.
The Church of St. Wojciech is open Monday through Saturday from 9AM to 3PM and 4PM to 6PM and on Sunday from 1PM to 6PM.
Four meters beneath the main market square in Old Town Krakow is situated a hi-tech, one of a kind underground route taking you through medieval market stalls and some 6,000 meters of multimedia exhibits on what basically is an archeological site.
Hours depend on the day and season, so check the website for the most up to date hours. Last entrance is 75 mins before closing. Tickets are 19 zl per person and entrance is free on Tuesday.
The lungs of the city is Planty Park, three kilometers of public parks, gardens, and historical monuments encircling the center of the Old Town. It is a great green way to see the city. Even if you see others doing so, drinking alcohol in the park is not allowed and can result in a fine.
Part of the city’s medieval defense system, Krakow Barbican was built in Gothic style at the end of the 15th century to protect Krakow’s main entrance. It is graced by seven turrets and 130 defensive slots used by archers and riflemen. Krakow Barbican can be visited as an outdoor museum from April until the end of October.
St. Florian Gate
Across Barbican stands St. Florian Gate. The two were once connected by a wooden drawbridge. Erected in 1307 at 34.5 meters tall, today the Gate serves as the main entry to Krakow Old Town.
Czartoryski Museum – Arsenal
A branch of National Museum and part of Czartoryski Museum that itself has been closed, Arsenal was once a place where city stored its munitions and armory. Today, the Arsenal is being used to showcase parts of the famous Czartoryski collection.
The Arsenal Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10AM to 6PM and sunday until 4PM. Tickets are 17 zl per person.
Smocza Jama is a well known limestone cave in Poland with three large chambers is situated in the Wawel Hill. It is 276 meters long and has a vertical range of 15 meters. The site is connected to a legend of Wawel Dragon who used to reside in the cave.
A monument of Smok Wawelski or Wawel Dragon on the Wisła riverbank is honoring a dragon who – according to legend – once resided in the large cave behind him when not out in town in search of virgins and sheep. His final hours were he was tricked into eating a bag of sulfur. Do not look down his throat as from time to time the dragon has his fits of fire-breathing bliss.
Pałac Biskupi w Krakowie
After Wawel Castle Complex, the Bishop’s Palace as the residence of Krakow’s bishops since the 14th century is the second largest palace in Krakow. The Bishop’s Palace’s most famous resident was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla from 1958 to 1978, before he became Pope John Paul II.
Probably the most famous part of the Palace is the ‘papal window’, a window from where the John Paul II would address the crowds of his followers below.
The courtyard is open daily from 9AM until dusk.
A very modern train station fully equipped with everything a modern traveler could ask for – a tourist information office, currency exchange, luggage lockers, showers, food and refreshment, along with the Galeria Krakowska shopping mall.
The Bernatek Footbridge across the Wisla river gives a modern feel to what used to be the border into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Stained Glass Museum (Muzeum Witrazu)
This museum houses an active stained glass workshop and amazing examples of design from a 100-year-old history of the studio.
St. Peter and Paul Church
St. Peter and Paul Church is a Jesuit church with a striking feature of the twelve disciples standing at the gates outside. Every Thursday inside the church at 10AM, 11AM and 12PM is a demonstration of Foucault Pendulum. This 46.5 meter pendulum, a device invented by French physicist Leon Foucault in 1851, proves the earth’s rotation.
Kościuszko Mound (Kopiec Kościuszki)
A site commemorating a Polish man, Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817) who fought in the American War of Independence. Thomas Jefferson described him as ‘the purest son of liberty that I have ever known.’ The year 2017 has been proclaimed as the ‘Year of Kościuszko.’ Panoramic views of the Krakow from the site are well worth the hike to the site.
The prehistoric monumental mound that once upon a time served as a site for pagan rituals. It offers great panoramic views of the city from its sixteen-meter high summit.
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