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36 Amazing Things to do in Krakow in 2019 – Don’t miss it!

36 Amazing Things to do in Krakow

There are so many things to do in Krakow (Poland). Before you set out on your trip, you might wonder what to expect from Poland’s No. 1 destination.

Krakow is cultural, creative, and dynamic - it has many faces to discover. In this travel guide, we will point out some of its most interesting things to do. From its architectural monuments to a bustling nightlife, from communist relics to the modern music festivals – let’s explore the kaleidoscope of sites, events, and entertainment that Krakow has to offer.

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Things to do in Krakow: visit Krakow’s Main attractions

Krakow has managed to preserve the heritage of each epoch it witnessed. And because Krakow is over a thousand years old, it has seen a lot. The city represents a harmonious fusion of pre-Christian myths and legends, over 120 Christian churches of different styles, 7 synagogues, 1 former Jewish and 1 communist district.

Depending on your preferences, you can broaden your horizons at one of the numerous museums (the city over 50 various galleries and exhibitions) and if you want to commune with nature, visit one of the parks (there are 43 of them)! Because Krakow abounds in attractions, make sure you don’t miss the major ones.

 

1) Take a stroll in the Krakow Old Town 

things to do in Warsaw: stroll in the old town

Being the cultural capital of Poland, the city boasts a significant number of architectural and artistic landmarks, the oldest university of the country and the biggest medieval square in Europe. Poles call it „the city of kings” because it used to be the capital of the country in its heyday (from 1038 to 1569). Back then, the rulers, the nobles, and the bishops were all located here.

The layout of Krakow’s old town has hardly changed since the city was chartered in 1257. This part of the former royal capital is still imbued with the atmosphere of the past. Let a line of old houses, cobbled streets, impressive churches and monasteries representing various architectural styles carry you back in time.

The main Market Square (Rynek Główny) is the heart of the city from which the arteries of streets disperse. It is the largest medieval square in Europe and a place with some of the most prominent landmarks: the magnificent St. Mary’s Basilica (its present look has been preserved since the 15th century ) and a predecessor of the modern shopping malls Cloth Hall (built in the 1400s but the last complete facelift was given to it in the 16th century). Here you can enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many restaurant terraces, listen to a traditional bugle call that can be heard every hour from the tower of St. Mary’s Basilica and then visit the oldest “supermarket” of Poland. There you can choose among a wide variety of souvenirs: from amber jewelry to hip-flasks with strong local drinks, from hand-made jewelry to leather and furs.

2) The Wawel Royal Castle and the Dragon’s Den

things to do in Warsaw: visit wawel castle

Just a stone's throw away from the Market Square you must visit the most valuable monument of the country -  Wawel Castle. It witnessed the formation of Poland as a state, and for a few centuries was the country’s political and clerical center. Located on a picturesque hill overlooking the Vistula river, the castle is an architectural ensemble made up of the castle itself, a cathedral and the towers that overlook the site.

We recommend that you visit Wavel Cathedral (14th century) – the gem of the assemblage. It is extraordinary in its beauty, consists of 18 chapels and includes Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classicist and Modern objects of art. It also serves as a burial place of the Polish royalty including the late president Kaczynski and his wife.

Descend the Wawel hill  - and you can find the symbol of the city  - a Dragon which once upon a time inhabited the tunnels inside the hill and disturbed the local population by eating its cattle. The monster was, of course, destroyed but its den still remains intact and makes the myth seem plausible.

3) Discover Kazimierz - former Jewish district

things to do in Warsaw: visit Kazimierz
Fot. Bogusław Świerzowski

 

Kazimierz is a very special part of the city that magically combines a party vibe, synagogues, and Catholic churches, dilapidated buildings, and hipster antique shops, museums, and murals.

When visiting this district of Krakow, you will notice some lifeless houses and feel the turbulent history of Kazimierz. There’s a sad lesson about the Holocaust to learn here, but at the same time, you can enjoy yourself in some of the best local restaurants, pubs, and clubs. You might find that Kazimierz is like a phoenix: it shows that after a great upheaval and pain something beautiful can be born. Here is the district’s short history.

Kazimierz was home to the Jewish community since 1493 when Jews were banned to live in Krakow (back than Kazimierz was a separate town). It used to be a flourishing borough with a lot of artisan workshops. Before World War II, the population of Kazimierz was 60 thousand which constituted almost 1/3 of the total population of Krakow. After World War II broke out, the Jewish people were forced to leave their houses and were moved to a ghetto and from there – to the concentration camps. Less than 3 thousand of the local inhabitants survived the war, and Kazimierz remained depopulated for decades.

The revival of the district after the decay of communism was possible in part thanks to the film Schindler’s List which was filmed in Krakow, in part owing to the Jewish Culture Festival and partially thanks to the bars, clubs, and restaurants springing up here in the 1990s.

 

4) Visit Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory

Lipowa 4, 30-702 Kraków

Opening hours: Mon 10:00-14:00, Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00

This is another special place where you can learn bitter lessons of the past. Oskar Schindler Factory is a museum dedicated to the history of Krakow during WWII (1939-1945). The premises of the former enamelware factory became world-famous thanks to the film Schindler’s List. Oskar Schindler, the owner of the factory, employed over 1000 Jews from the Krakow ghetto and did everything possible to save their lives from the atrocities of the Holocaust. Thanks to his actions, over a thousand people escaped an otherwise impending death in the concentration camps.

A moving exhibition at Schindler’s factory tells the history of the place, the conditions in which the Jews lived in the ghetto, how they were treated, etc. It also portrays the life of the occupied Krakow and conveys the atmosphere of those times. The interactive exhibits and various artifacts organized in the chronological order will not leave you indifferent.

Things to do in Krakow: Eat like a local

When visiting Krakow, you should discover the gastronomic delights that will make an inevitable part of your journey. The fact that the European Academy of Gastronomy awarded it a title of the European Capital of Gastronomic Culture in 2019, proves that Krakow is also a perfect foodie destination.

There is an abundance of wonderful eateries in this city. We recommend trying the local cuisine which in short can be characterized as meaty, filling and hearty. But in case you have other culinary preferences, there are myriads of places serving vegan, Asian, Italian and whatever food to suit any budget.

Here’s our list of Krakow restaurants not to be missed.

5) Czarna Kaczka

 

Poselska 22

31-002 Kraków

Opening hours 12:00-23:00

This is the ultimate destination if you want to try the local cuisine. The Polish name of the restaurant stands for “black duck” and suggests a considerable variety of dishes made of duck.

Apart from the poultry menu, there is a great choice of starters, main courses, and desserts. Some of the typical dishes offered at Czarna Kaczka include Polish "tatar" (or tartare in English there’s even one made of herring), traditional soup called żurek which is served in bread, pork knuckles, breaded pork chops, a good assortment of dumplings, potato pancakes, coleslaw, and typical Polish desserts (Cracovian cheesecake, apple pie, carrot cake, etc.).

Here you can also discover a new way of having a beer by ordering a mulled one (hot beer with spices) which is a common drink in Poland.

At Czarna Kaczka the food is very good, the portions are hearty, the design is simple and the atmosphere is nice. You should keep in mind that the place can get quite busy and we recommend booking in advance.

6) Tytano

Dolnych Młynów 10

33-332 Kraków

Opening hours: varies depending on a venue

In fact, this is not a single restaurant but a complex of eateries established at a former tobacco factory. This relatively new district of venues serving food and drinks has a special vibe. It is quaint. The mixed synergy of somewhat scruffy facades and creative modern design makes for a great urban hangout place.

Some of the recommended restaurants here are Veganic  where vegan lovers will appreciate the variety of choices on the menu,  Cargo Grill & Deli that offers a wide selection of steaks, homemade fries and burgers, excellent seafood, an extensive wine list, and delicious desserts all made and served with great attention to detail, and Mr. Pancake & Pizza Boyz serving American pancakes, burgers, good breakfasts till 13:00 p.m., smoothies and a variety of beverages.

No matter which place at Tytano you choose, you can be sure that it is spacious and very atmospheric. With 15,000 square meters of space and 6 buildings, there is room for everyone there!

7) Bar Mleczny Górnik

Czysta 1

33-332 Kraków

Opening hours: 08:00-18:00

This is one of Krakow’s best milk bars. A milk bar is a Polish phenomenon that appeared late in the 19th century as a place where representatives of the working class could have a cheap meal. During socialist times, there were over 40 thousand milk bars in Poland.

These days, these affordable eateries are scarce. There are only about 140 of them left in the whole country. They are subsidized by the government, are located in very simple state-owned buildings and that’s why offer food at really low prices without compromising on quality.

You should visit Bar Mleczny Górnik to get a glimpse of the socialist past, try some of the best dumplings (pierogi) in town at a very low price, and get a unique foodie experience. Because it’s a tiny place, it can get a bit crowded there but you can always ask for a takeaway.

8) La Baguette

Beera Meiselsa 8

31-058 Kraków

Opening hours: Mon-Thu 09:00-20:00, Fri,Sat 09:00-21:00, Sun 09:00-19:00

No holiday is complete without a good dessert. At La Baguette, the desserts are top-notch. All the cakes, muffins, gingerbread, tarts, pastries and meringues are not merely eye candies. They taste even better than they look! And they are all fresh and made of natural ingredients. The place takes pride in the fact that no artificial flavors, colors or taste intensifiers are used in their bakery.

Although the confectionery is small it is very stylish and has a couple of tables. You can pick your favorite dessert, grab a coffee and please your taste buds at the coffee shop or get a beautifully wrapped takeaway. If you choose the latter, walk to the Vistula river just a few hundred meters away, enjoy the views of the city and the ultimate sweetness of life! You will see for yourself that this place deserves a top rank on the sweet map of Krakow.

Things to do in Krakow:  Head to these Breathtaking viewpoints

Strolling around the narrow streets of Krakow and soaking up the city’s atmosphere is gratifying. Even more so is standing on a hill or a viewing platform on a clear day and observing intricate rows of pastel houses, churches with domes of diverse shapes, and scattered squares. There are a few places in Krakow that offer spectacular views of the city. Choose any of them, relax and enjoy the city skyline.

9) Metrum Restobistro

  1. Świętego Tomasza 43, 31-027 Kraków

Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 08:00-20:00, Sun: 10:00-18:00

Located on the roof of the Music Academy, this resto-bistro has 2 terraces with breathtaking views that bring a new perspective of the city. Close around, you will see pitched roofs, loft mezzanines, and chimneys of various shapes. Rising in the distance, you will notice the towers of St. Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Castle. Staying above a stream of people continuously crowding the streets, you will get to see a landscape of a still city and feel its welcoming atmosphere.

Metrum Restobistro specializes in Polish cuisine. Here you can order breakfast, lunch, desserts or a coffee. A significant advantage of the restaurant is that it offers priceless picture-perfect cityscapes at a low price: the dishes served here are affordable. It also has got a romantic feel. Just pick a seat with a magnificent view and get lost in reverie.

 

10) Krakus Mound

30-543 Kraków

Opening hours: 24/7

Credits: https://www.facebook.com/krakowzdrona/

This is one of the oldest mounds in Krakow. Its history is rather vague and possibly dates back to the times of the first Krakow king. Located at an altitude of 271 m above sea level, this 16-meter green mound rewards its visitors with amazing panoramic views of the whole city.

 

The mound is situated about 2,5 km away from Wawel Castle. Walking there and climbing the top is a great way to stretch your legs and do some cardio. If walking is not your cup of tea, you can take a tram (No. 6 or No. 73) from Wawel Castle. The ride will take about 20 minutes. A short stroll  - and you will see the whole city spread out before you. The admission there is free, and it’s a great place to chill out and enjoy pure nature around and the distant panorama of the city.

 

11) Tower of St. Mary’s Basilica

Opening hours: Sun-Sat: 11:30- 18:00 (with exception of special days)

This is a must-see attraction if you like bird's eye views and don’t mind ascending steps.

To get to the top of the tower (54 m), you will have to climb almost 250 winding steps. Once you have reached the viewing terrace, you will get a bird’s-eye view of the old town and the whole Krakow.

 

Depending on the time of entry, you might be able to see a bugler who plays the famous bugle call every hour. The first written record of the melody, which ends abruptly, dates back to 1392. This means that apart from the lovely views, you will be able to experience the only remaining in the world bugle call played just in front of you.

12) Zielone Tarasy

aleja Juliusza Słowackiego 64, 31-000 Kraków

Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 09:00-21:00, Sat-Sun:12:00-20:00

This restaurant offers not only freshly made seasonal breakfast, lunch, desserts, and dinner but also it boasts lively views of the city which you can enjoy from its terraces. Apart from the traditional meat dishes, you can order there vegan and gluten-free food. All the portions are hearty and the food is healthy and delicious. The selection is varied and the prices affordable.

Zielone Tarasy is a bit away from all the touristy places. It is hidden in an office building. After you reach the place by elevator you will find yourself in a peaceful and quiet surrounding where you will be greeted with a friendly smile. The views of the city by night are particularly stunning and romantic. However, you should be aware that the restaurant closes at 8/9 p.m.

 

Things to do in Krakow: Out for a drink

Krakow is not only a good destination for delicious dining. The city is brimming over with pubs, cocktail- and vodka bars. Pub crawling is quite popular with students and young people who visit Krakow for partying. With its great variety of beers and strong drinks, affordable prices and bustling nightlife, Krakow is a place to paint the town red. However, unless you have a very strong stomach, stay reasonable and conserve some energy if you plan to go sightseeing the next morning.

13) Mechanoff

Estery 8, 31-056 Kraków

Opening hours: 24/7

Located at the heart of bustling Kazimierz, this is a pub with a character. Although the atmosphere might be perceived as dungeonlike because of the dim light, eclectic decor and candles on antique candlesticks, it has a special charm and creates a perfect setting for a good chat. You don’t have to shout across the table to be heard, and the pub is lively but never totally crammed with people.

As far as the selection of drinks goes, you can order a great variety of beer (including on tap),  cocktails, wines, spirits, flavored vodka, and shandies - all reasonably priced. You should visit this place if you want to have a quiet chat with your friends over a glass of beer or a cup of coffee, relax after a day full of sightseeing and watch the bustling nightlife scene of Plac Nowy just outside the window.

 

14) Strefa Piwa

Józefa 6, 31-056 Kraków

Opening hours: Sun-Thu 16:00 - 00:00, Fri-Sat 16:00-02:00

Strefa Piwa (Beer zone) is a place No. 1 in Krakow if you consider yourself to be a beer connoisseur. The pub offers 18 different kinds of craft beer on tap produced by small Polish and Czech breweries. There is also a wide choice of some of the best bottled beer from across the world and a limited selection of Czech snacks. The seating options inside are plentiful, and a beer garden is open in spring/summer. The music is not too loud and, just like in Mechanoff, you can have a chat there while idly sipping some fantastic beer.

15) Strefa

Dolnych Młynów 10, 31-124  Kraków

Opening hours: Tue-Thu 14:00-23:00, Fri 14:00-02:00, Sat 12:00-02:00, Sun 12:00-23:00

Located at Tytano complex, this place is worth a visit if you are looking for a hipster atmosphere, great cocktails, or a nice wine adventure paired with savory snacks.

You can order a variety of pizzas (there are 4 vegetarian options as well), various plates and "piadina'. There’s also a varied range of excellent lemonades, fresh juice, tea, and coffee.

The things that you should be aware of: you can place an order at the bar only, and coffee is served until 19:00.

Whether you come here for a romantic chill-out or some fun with a large group, there are plenty of seating options on the two floors of the venue. In summer, you can also sit outside and enjoy the continuous buzz of Tytano.

16) Dobry Kumpel Pub

Floriańska 47

33-332 Kraków

Opening hours: 13:00-02:00

This is a small cavern pub located close to the Market Square. The cellar in which the bar is located is over 650 years old! The place is famous for its awesome live music, a wide variety of drinks, and intimate atmosphere. There’s a great choice of shots, vodka, beer, blended and single malt whiskey, cocktails, liqueurs, cognac, rum, tequila, gin, and vermouth on the menu. You will like the place if you want to experience a typical underground local pub, listen to some of the best live concerts and mix with the international crowd. The things worth mentioning are: the place is a bit pricey; if you’re very tall, you have to bow your head when entering not to hit the ceiling.

Another precaution: although the law in Poland allows serving alcohol to those who have reached 18, at Dobry Kumpel only customers who are 21 and older can buy drinks.

 

Things to do in Krakow: Shopping in Krakow

If you are a shopping lover, you will be in your element while visiting Krakow. The city boasts 15 shopping malls that feature international and Polish brands. The largest shopping centers such as  Galeria Krakowska, Galeria Kazimierz and Bonarka have as many as 250-260 stores each. If you are looking for great discounts, Factory Outlet located about 30 minutes away from the city center offers goods at a 30-70% discount. However, if you find mass brands plain and unimaginative or you’re looking for a unique present from Krakow, perhaps you should consider some of these places.

 

17) Flaming Vintage & Second Hand

Starowiślna 16

Starowiślna 37

Starowiślna 38, Kraków

Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 11:00-19:00, Sat: 11:00-17:00

Do you fancy retro clothes, unique jewelry, cute pins, and cool second-hand stuff? If yes, you might find some old-school clothes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s at one of the three Flaming Vintage shops located in Starowiślna street.

Whether you are looking for true mom’s jeans or simply want to sharpen your identity, you will find what you need there. The rich assortment of second-hand goods is regularly renewed and you can spot an item that will perfectly fit your personal style. Why not go ahead and give clothes a second life? If you’re lucky, you might find that some of them have the original price tags! Nifty tote bags and T-shirts with creative prints are not to be missed either.

18) Opa&Company

Bocheńska 5, 31-061 Kraków

Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 10:00-18:00, Sat: 12:00-17:00

In case you are a firm believer that it is details that create authenticity, you will find shopping at Opa&Company a rewarding experience. In that store, you can find cool kitchenware, home décor and creative ideas for gifts. Cute cups, plates, mugs, and candlesticks, wooden letters, and souvenir boxes – these are some of the things you can find there.  If you visit the store, time will slow down and you might find yourself carried away when looking at the adorable little things. Whether you would like to touch up your home décor or look for a nice gift – Opa&Company is there for you.

19) Uni Targ

Grzegórzecka 3, 31-532 Kraków

Sun: 06:00-14:00 (the rest of the week the regular market with stalls operates)

Uni Targ is the largest and the most known flea market in Krakow. Without exaggeration, it has become a cult place where everything – and more can be found. Old books, antique porcelain, coins, stamps, paintings, religious icons, pictures, clocks, pottery, and home décor accessories – these are only some of the things that can be found there. If you are a bargain hunter and love buying some trifles on holidays, you might find something interesting at Uni Targ. If your visit there is not that much success as far as finds go, you will be able to soak up the atmosphere of a lively flea market that reflects a small part of the Cracovian life. You can also find fresh vegetables and fruit directly from the farmers there. Our piece of advice to you: if you want to find the best deals, come to the market early in the morning on Sunday before the place becomes crowded with people.

20) Mapaya

Józefa 3, 31-056 Kraków

Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 11:00-18:00

Unique style, geometric prints, and intricate patterns, comfortable and non-restricted movement – that’s how handmade Mapaya clothes, inspired by the spirit of Asia, can be characterized in short. Martyna Wilde, the concept creator, says that the hippy style of the outfits represents the brand philosophy: freedom, joy, and curiosity. Clothes sold at Mapaya are the product of artisan work and sustainable business model.

Apart from handcrafted garments, Mapaya offers a range of bamboo bags, authentic jewelry, yoga accessories, and body art tattoos.

This shop is an ideal destination for you if you like the grunge style, cherish comfort and freedom above all and are looking for a truly unique piece of clothing. Because fabric dyeing and articles sewing are designed and created by hand, every print and every dress is one-of-a-kind.

 

Things to do in Krakow: Seasonal Krakow

Although the majority of tourists come to Krakow during the warm months (early summer through early autumn), the city makes for a sophisticated city break in any season. Its cultural life is marked by hundreds of events throughout the year, including theater, festivals, concerts, cinema, literature, and arts. The city also organizes nights of museums, theatre, dance, jazz, poetry and sacred places during which admission to various venues of cultural value is free. Let us explore the most prominent seasonal events that Krakow has to offer.

21) Market Square Christmas Fair

Come to Krakow around Christmas time – and you will be enchanted by its festive spirit. Every year, Krakow’s main square hosts a Christmas market that takes place from the end of November to the end of December or beginning of January. Filled with Christmas music and performances, decorated with lights and traditional wooden stalls selling various ornaments, souvenirs, delicious food, and warming drinks the place reminds of fairy tales and makes believe that a miracle is about to happen.

On the first Thursday of December, there is a competition of nativity scenes (szopka krakowska) handcrafted by local citizens. Cracovian nativity scenes are so magnificent that in 2018, the tradition of constructing "szopkas" was inscribed on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. If you come to visit the place in December or January, you will be able to see nativity scenes throughout the city including its parks, squares, and shopping centers.

 

22) Krakow Film Music Festival

If you love film soundtracks as I do, this festival is an absolute must-attend event. Organized in May and lasting for a week, it offers a series of live music performances devoted to the music created for movies. The festival combines the best of cinematography and music. You can listen to your favorite soundtracks from cult movies performed by leading musicians and orchestras. You will also have a chance to watch movies and movie scenes accompanied by live music. This unique experience is called “film live in concert”. Passionate, creative, and daring, this festival gives an interesting interpretation of various soundtracks: from Oscar-winning to blockbusters, and the visual components add to the awesomeness of the event.

 

23) Summer Jazz Festival

In June, July and August, it gets really hot in Krakow. Not only because of the heatwave, but also due to the Summer Jazz Festival that has been organized for the past 22 years and has become the biggest jazz event in Poland. During this time, hundreds of jazz concerts are performed in Piwnica pod Baranami – a cult jazz café that gave birth to the festival. Other places where you can enjoy jazz music include concert halls, the Philharmonic, the opera house and on the radio. The festival has become one of the most prominent events of this kind in Europe. Such internationally renowned musicians as Charles Lloyd, Alfredo Rodriguez, Karen Edwards, Take 6, etc. visit Krakow to attend the happenings. If you visit the city during the summer months, you should go and see at least 1 jazz performance.

24) Sacrum Profanum

Held every September since 2003, this international festival plays an important role on the musical map of Poland and the whole of Europe. It gathers musicians from across the world who specialize in modern classical and alternative music. The event is amazingly versatile. There you can discover a wide range of performances: from classical phenomena and modern tunes to avant-garde gems. The festival is all about free expression, independence, and musical improvisation. Since 2016, the event is not limited to music only but also includes workshops, discussions, exhibitions, and audio art installations. If you like meeting creative people, listening to original music while gaining a broader perspective, you will find this festival a beneficial and enriching experience.

Things to do in Krakow: Get off the beaten path

Apart from the tourist-packed sights, there are a lot of less known attractions that are worth a visit. Whether you are a nature lover or appreciate architecture, whether your strong point is history or you like sentimental stories revolving around a place of interest – Krakow holds a lot of hidden gems. Time permitting, we advise you to discover the most prominent of them.

25) Zakrzówek

Zakrzówek is an oasis of serenity not far from the center of Krakow. It is a former 12-hectare limestone quarry with amazing turquoise waters where you can relish pure nature, make a picnic, sunbathe, and take a swim in the cool crystal-clear waters. If you are brave enough, you can dive by jumping from the 10-12 m high cliffs or check out the local diving center – the most impressive of its kind in Poland. The water here is calm, very clear and always cool due to the considerable depth of the quarry. At certain places, it reaches 32 meters.

If you visit this place in autumn, you can marvel at the flamboyant trees growing on the edge of the white cliffs. The mirror-like surface of the reservoir and meditative silence around it have a calming effect. You can also wander along the winding paths around the quarry and observe its beauty from above.  At its furthermost point, you will notice Wawel and the old town stretch out in the distance.

26) Nowa Huta

When visiting Krakow, you will not only experience its medieval feel but also comprehend the atrocities of war and perhaps get a  throwback to the communist times because the place was under the Nazi and then the Soviet occupation. Both periods have left their scars on the city’s buildings and on the inhabitants’ souls. But despite its dark eras, Krakow has revived and proudly lives up to the title of the most attractive Polish city.

Nowa Huta is a district that represents the city’s communist past. It was created in the 1950s as a separate city for proletarian blue-collar workers employed by the largest steel mill in Poland. The layout of the city was created by the socialist government. Like other communist metropolises, it consists of wide avenues, grey block buildings with a line of socialist shops on the ground floor, and spacious squares all of which are the quintessence of the Soviet architecture.

Nowa Huta is still imbued in an air of social realism and its 100% communist-era unimaginative buildings made of concrete counterpose the fascinating mix of styles characteristic of the rest of Krakow. The settlements that surround Central Square – the main square of Nowa Huta – don’t even have street names. They are simply called Centre A, B, C, and D.  You can immerse yourself into the socialist ambiance by going on a tour in an old Trabant, visiting a communist flat, eating at a local milk bar and learning about the Soviets’ communist plans for Poland that never came to effect.

27) St. Joseph’s church

Located a short walk away from Kazimierz, this church is an architectural gem. It was built in 1909 as a replacement for another church which had had construction flaws and had been too small for the local parish. Some tourists compare this neo-Gothic cathedral to the Disneyland palace whose pointed spires seem to pierce the sky. The cathedral interior is equally magnificent. Altogether, the church boasts 67 effigies of saints represented in sculptures and paintings both outside and inside. In my opinion, this church, that majestically dominates the quiet and spacious Podgórze Market Square, deserves a title of the most beautiful sacred place in Krakow.

 

As you go across the pedestrian bridge from Kazimierz, grab a coffee or an ice-cream in one of the numerous cafes nearby, walk to the Podgórze Market Square, sit on a bench and marvel at this beauty while trams rumble down the tracks behind you.

28) Statue of a dog named Dżok

Most probably you’ve heard about the loyal Japanese dog Hachikō and the faithful Skye Terrier from Edinburgh that spent years waiting for their owners who had passed away. Krakow also has a story of remarkable loyalty of a dog to his master. The hero’s name was Dżok and he was a plain mutt. His owner died at the Rondo Grunwaldzkie roundabout from where he was taken away by the ambulance. The animal waited for the master for a year (1990-1991) before he was adopted by an old widow. After the old lady passed away 7 years later, Dżok ran away. He tragically died after being hit by a train.

Cracovians decided that the animal deserves a statue and erected a memorial in 2001. Back then that was the third dog statue in Europe. The memorial created by Bronisław Chromy (who also designed Wawel Dragon statue) symbolizes human togetherness with animals: the dog sits on the human palms and stretches its left paw.

You can find the statue at Czerwieński boulevard, close to Wawel and the Grunwaldzki bridge.

Things to do in Krakow: Discover the active side of Krakow

Sports events in Krakow start in January and end on December 31st when the New Year’s Eve Run takes place. This and the fact that Cracovians have easy access to a whole range of sports and outdoor activities account for the fact that Krakow has been titled as the sportiest city in Poland. If staying buff is of paramount importance to you, here are some of the outdoor- and indoor pursuits to keep you physically active.

29) Scuba diving

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Zakrzowek is famous not only for its clear waters and some of the best conditions for scuba training but also for the numerous attractions that can be found at the bottom of the quarry. Apart from the underwater rock shelves and flooded trees, at different depths, you can discover a bus, an old Polish van, a house, an old Fiat car, a computer desk with a chair, 2 memorials to Pope John Paul II who worked at the limestone quarry in 1940, and some other wrecks.

Here you can take a variety of courses: from the basic OWD, PADI, P1 CMAS to the advanced AOWD, Rescue, and P2. Winter is the best time as far as visibility is concerned (it reaches 10-15 m) while the busiest months are May and June.

30) Cycling

Bike lovers have over 220 km of cycle tracks to their disposal. If you would like to explore the city by bicycle, you can rent a city bike using Wavelo app. Thanks to this service, you get access to over 150 bike stations generously scattered across the city. All you need to do is visit Wavelo website or download the app, choose a rental plan, pay by a bank card and find the closest hub where you can rent a bike.

 

We recommend going on a picturesque bike trip along the Vistula river. It starts from the cycle path that runs opposite  Wawel castle and ends at Tyniec Abbey – a magnificent ancient monastery located just outside Krakow. The length of the route is about 13 km, the track is easy and the views are truly rewarding. Once you reach the abbey, you must visit this place where peace abounds. Before setting off on a return trip, you can refuel yourself at the local abbey restaurant or have street food or ice-cream from the trucks located down at the river.

31) Climbing

For the Poles, there has never been too much climbing. Krakow’s proximity to the Tatra mountains means that mountaineering is particularly popular here. From quarries to climbing centers, you can choose a few places to exercise your muscles. Generations of Polish climbers were raised on the traverse of Zakrzowek. Apart from this quarry, Krakow has alternative climbing spots (link in PL): Krzemionki and Liban (another reason to visit the latter is the fact that Schindler’s List was filmed here).

If you are new to climbing or prefer an indoor venue, Krakow has 6 climbing centers all of which are highly rated. Whichever place you choose, you will have terrific fun!

32) Krakow rope park

Located in the oasis of green, the rope park has trails for adults and kids. You will have to balance on the ropes hanging 5-9 m above the ground when completing the 200-meter trail with 20 obstacles. Whiz down a zip line, try the water walking ball and jump on the trampoline to reclaim the joy of childhood. There is also plenty of space to play football, volleyball or do archery.

The park is easily accessible by bike from Wawel (about 5 km) and is located on the route from the Krakow center to Tyniec Abbey. It’s an excellent place for an enjoyable pastime. One thing to note: payment is possible in cash only, no credit cards accepted.

Things to do in Krakow: Discover the area surrounding Krakow

There are a lot of things to do near Krakow. And there are a few places of historical, natural and cultural significance that definitely deserve being put on your bucket list! Whether it is the sense of oneness with nature, sensitization of your humane instincts, understanding the 20th-century history or an unusual pastime you are looking for – here are a few valuable experiences that you must not miss when visiting Krakow.

33) Wieliczka Salt Mines

Wieliczka salt mines were in uninterrupted operation for over 700 years, and its unique tourist route was established at the beginning of the 19th century. It leads through underground winding corridors with salty walls, grand chambers with intricate statues and sacred objects carved out of the “white gold”. During an over 3 kilometer journey on the tourist route, you will go down 135 m below the ground, see saline lakes, listen to Chopin’s music and learn a lot about the history of salt mining.

In case you are an adventure lover, you can embark on the miner’s route with the full mining equipment and take on the role of a miner. You will walk in the absolute darkness along the excavations, corridors, and chambers that have been almost unchanged for centuries, push carts with excavated material and use the tools.

Whichever route you choose, excitement is guaranteed.

34) Auschwitz-Birkenau

 

You might have heard of Auschwitz-Birkenau as a gruesome place where Jewish, Polish, Romani, and people of other ethnicities, as well as political, “asocial” or homosexual prisoners, were exterminated. But unlike a book or a documentary that provide bare facts, a visit to this place will give you a profound insight into the dark side of human nature born out of the ideology of superiority.

 

When you find yourself surrounded by the barbed wire fence, enter exhibitions inside barracks, learn how the prisoners of the camp were treated, and see piles of their personal belongings you will feel a shiver down your spine. The fact that over a million people were tortured to death here seems inconceivable.  Although you might find it hard to take, Auschwitz-Birkenau is a must-see place. It teaches the value of freedom and human life and reminds of the gruesome crime against humanity that should never be repeated.

35) Zakopane

This all year round mountain resort is the lungs of the whole region and a favorite active holiday destination for the Poles. In winter, people come here to ski. The warm months are perfect for hiking and trekking. You can take an 8-km walk to Morskie Oko – a great mountain lake hidden amid the sharp-peaked mountains. Or you can embark on a bit more demanding trek to the Dolina Pięciu Stawów. Your effort will be rewarded with babbling brooks, waterfalls, crystal clear lakes and magnificent mountains.

If hiking is not your cup of tea, there is a cable car that can take you to the top of Kasprowy Wierch (1987m) offering dramatic landscapes.

The town of Zakopane itself has a relaxing atmosphere with plenty of good quality local eateries, a row of mass market stores, and the quaint traditions of gorals – local highlanders. Pure nature, jaw-dropping views, great food, folklore music – these are Zakopane’s recipes for your mental reset.

 

36) Tyniec Benedictine Abbey

As we mentioned earlier, this ancient monastery can easily be reached by bicycle from the center of Krakow. And without exaggeration, it is the icing on the cake of the whole cycling trip.

Located on a steep cliff overlooking the Vistula river, Tyniec is the oldest abbey in Poland. It was established in 1044 and, although on a number of occasions, the monastery was wiped out, it resurrected again and again. Today Tyniec Benedictine Abbey is an architectural complex made up of a basilica, a museum, an ancient well, a coffee shop, a restaurant, and a store where you can buy products created by the monks. Once you enter its premises, you will plunge into a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. This is a great place for pondering and enjoying ecclesiastical architecture.

As you descend down to the river, you can grab local sausages and fries or a zapiekanka – Polish famous fast food. Enjoy your food, watch the river flow and succumb to the inner and out serenity.

 

Things to do in Krakow: Conclusion

Krakow is amazingly versatile. It represents a fusion of tradition and modernity. With its bustling nightlife, it makes for a popular scene for bachelor parties. Yet it remains a worthwhile destination for those who are setting out on a cultural trip. UNESCO World Heritage Sites, medieval architecture, Jewish cultural heritage, the site of the former concentration camp, etc. make Krakow an ideal destination for an educational escape. Cafes and restaurants, extensive local vodka varieties, alluring shops, natural sites, and numerous entertainment and artistic events will satisfy the needs of those who enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Krakow is a place where everybody will find amazing things to do. Come and see it for yourself.

 

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On OddUrbanThings, we provide up-to-date info about the coolest events and the best stuff to do in Warsaw & Krakow.