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Krakow attractions

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Top 5 things to do in Krakow

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
#1
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is a living memorial to the 1.3 million people who were imprisoned in Nazi Germany's largest concentration camp, of whom 1.1 million perished. Visitors can learn about the camp's history and see original exhibits and documents from the camp's operation during the German Nazi regime. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is located close to the industrial town of Oświęcim in southern Poland, just outside of Krakow.
Schindler’s Factory Museum
#2
Schindler’s Factory Museum
Located in Oskar Schindler's former factory, the Schindler’s Factory Museum is a poignant look at life in Krakow during World War II. It's located in Central Krakow and easily reachable on foot and by public transport.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
#3
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the oldest salt mines and listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. It makes a salty treat for those who love exploring underground! Visitors can discover chambers, lakes, galleries, sacred art, and a big dose of Polish history, 135 meters below the surface of Krakow.
Wawel Castle
#4
Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle, just south of Krakow's Old Town, was the political and cultural heart of Poland through the 16th century. It's now a museum, where visitors can learn about Krakow's history and past royal family members.
St. Mary's Basilica
#5
St. Mary's Basilica
St. Mary's Basilica is known as the most famous church in Krakow, thanks to its stunning interior and magnificent altar of Veit Stoss. It's located in central Krakow and is easily reached on foot or with public transport.
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All things to do in Krakow

Planning your Krakow visit

Language

Polish

Currency

Polish Zloty (zł)

Dialing code

+48

Time zone

Central European Summer Time (CEST)

When and why to go

Bursting at the seams with historical treasures, affable people and of course, cheap food and beer, Krakow is one cool place for a city break. From WWII relics to its infamous Milk Bars and, of course, Auschwitz, exploring it all would take forever. But no matter how long you spend in Krakow, you can't fail to notice one of Europe's most culturally rich cities has risen from its dark past like a phoenix from the flames and become something of a cosmopolitan dream. The best times to go are autumn and spring when the tourist hordes have disappeared and the weather is mild enough to walk around in comfort.

A history lesson at Auschwitz

The sobering Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is a must-see when you're in Krakow. It’s not exactly a cheerful activity, but for a real life history lesson that you'll feel forever afterward, it's worth it. Roundtrip tours from Krakow include a guide who'll explain the history of this UNESCO World Heritage site, and how 1.5 million people from all over Europe perished at the hands of the Nazis. Tour its protected exhibits, documents, 150 buildings and 300 ruins, because it's better to see a site like this with your own eyes, rather than try to comprehend the tragedy of the Holocaust from a history book.

Food and drink

One of the highlights of Krakow is stuffing your face with fine Polish cuisine for a price so cheap it's almost frustrating. Try Pierogi (dumplings), delicious pasta shells stuffed with meat, spices and veggies. The Kotlet schabowy is breaded pork served with mashed potatoes and sprinkled with dill. In fact, most things here are covered in dill, so get used to it! Another fave is Placki ziemniaczane, potato pancakes served with beef goulash. Most dishes go great with beer, and the craft beer revolution is in full swing here. Start with local beers Zywiec and Warka Jasne Pelne and then follow your boozy heart. Get involved!

What to do in Krakow for 3 days

The Rynek Glowny (Main Square)

As the throbbing heart of Old Town Krakow, The Rynek Glowny (Main Square) is a mighty 10-square acres and stakes its claim as Europe’s biggest market square. It's also one of the best places in the city for some breakfast. Order the Polish breakfast special: a hot plate of kielbasa sausages, sliced ham and creamy soft cheese. Then work it off with a stroll and admire the stunning yellow and peach pastel-coloured buildings. Don't miss a selfie opportunity by the 13th-century Gothic Town Hall Tower either. There are plenty of squares in Europe, but this is undeniably one of the most beautiful.

Schindler’s Factory Museum

German industrialist Oskar Schindler was a spy and a member of the Nazi party. He bought an enamel factory in Krakow before the German invasion. As the war continued and death tolls rose, Schindler used his connections to save the lives of more than 1,200 Jews who worked for him. His story was told in Oscar-winning movie Schindler’s List. This factory is now a museum telling the story of life in Krakow during World War II. And of course, how Jewish communities were systematically eliminated. It’s a heavy but important part of any trip to Krakow.

Eat at a traditional Bar Mleczny (Milk Bar)

For a proper Krakow dining experience you need to pop into a Milk Bar. These unpretentious local diners have always been the places to come for cheap meals. Even more popped up after WWII as a result of communism, subsidised by the Polish state. Prepare your ears for 90s rock music, which always seems to be blasting from a set of ancient speakers. But if you don't mind Livin’ on a Prayer while eating your sausages, you’ll be fine. You won’t get authentic Polish cuisine in a place like this anywhere else. Just remember Milk Bars don't serve alcohol, so it's a place to line your stomach first... just like real milk is supposed to do.

Hang out in the Jewish Quarter

For over 500 years, Kazimierz (the Jewish Quarter) was the bustling centre of Jewish life in Krakow. Destroyed in the war, it fell into disrepair and became one of Krakow’s least salubrious districts. Thanks in part to Spielberg's Schindler's List its fortunes took a turn for the better in the 90s. Now this bohemian ‘hood boasts some of Krakow’s hippest bars and eateries. It's a great place for wandering around and to get a sense of how far the city has come since WWII. If you visit during the summer Jewish Culture Festival, expect Kazimierz’s streets to be pounding with live music and much celebration of modern Jewish culture.