Europe,  Poland,  Travels

What to do and visit in Krakow, Poland

Hey hey! As I told you in my previous post, I am starting to focus my blog on my other passion – travel photography. I am a huge fan of Instagram and I can spend hours looking at some creative pictures. This is also how I find inspiration and how I choose where to go in case I am wondering. My goal will be to show you the places I visit through my camera. And just admit it, in the digital era we all want to have some pretty pictures for our Instagram feed! By reading this article you will also find some fun facts and useful tips that I would have liked to know before going there. So let’s start with the most Instagramable places in Krakow, Poland and what to do and visit while there.

St. Mary’s Basilica
Few tips before/on arrival:
  • Jakdojade: public transport – this app is a life savor! As a person who is used to check all the transport connections in Google Maps, I was unpleasantly surprised that this function is not working in Krakow. Yes, you can use Google Maps to walk around but when you try to find a transportation from one place to another, it shows just a couple of really weird options. My host advised me to use Jakdolaje app and I absolutely loved it!
  • Bus tickets – you can find machines at some bus stops where you can buy tickets, but others don’t have it. You can buy your ticket inside some buses, it is shown on the bus whether it offers this option or not, so look carefully. Another interesting thing is that the price of the ticket varies depending on the time you spend there. There are options for 20 and 40 mins (maybe there is more, but I don’t remember). The time starts running from the moment you validate your ticket. Being said that, make sure to validate your ticket when the bus leaves, not when you get in, because if this is the first stop it might stay there for a while.
  • Don’t expect everyone to speak English – Even though it is a quite international city with many young people, don’t directly assume that everybody speaks English. I was not sure how to get from the airport to my flat and I asked a few people, but unfortunately they couldn’t understand me. Make sure to check how to reach your destination.
The Old town square

Every year I do a birthday trip and this year I wanted to do something different as I was turning 30. I decided to do my first solo trip ever to celebrate this anniversary. It was a combination of two destinations -first I met my friends in Prague and we had a big party there. Then I went to Krakow alone for 3-4 days. I should admit that I loved the city, but solo traveling is definitely not my thing. Or maybe Poland or even Europe is not the best place for solo travelers. Or it’s maybe just me…

I was in Krakow in the end of April and was really lucky with the weather, it was around 25 degrees and quite warm during the day.

Being solo there allowed me to walk around and do what I love the most – taking pictures. And believe me, Krakow is such a paradise for photography lovers!

Here is my list of most Instagramable places in Krakow:

1.Rynek Glowny central square.
Rynek Glowny central square

I visited the city on the last day of Easter and as you know Polish people are quite religious. There were some Easter markets with traditional food, wine, handmade souvenirs, flowers, etc. The central square was buzzing with people – local and tourists. It is quite a big square and there are several interesting buildings and monuments located there. I think half of the pictures I made were taken exactly on this spot!

2. Stare Miasto – the old neighbourhood
Stare Miasto

This is the old neighborhood of Krakow. It includes the main square and other interesting spots that I will mention below. I spent most of my time in this area, it is super picturesque and you can take really beautiful photos just by wandering around its narrow streets.

3. Bazylika Mariacka – St. Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary’s Basilica

This Basilica is one of the most famous buildings in Krakow and one of the most impressive ones. It is located on the main square in the old town. Taking a horse carriage ride is something quite popular in Krakow and you can usually spot tens of carriages waiting in line on the Rynek Glowny. A fun fact for me was that all the drivers were female and I really have no explanation, so in case you know, please comment below!

I had enough time to visit the city and more than enough time for being with myself, so I decided to book a free walking tour, learn about the city and potentially meet some people to hang out with. Well, the last one didn’t succeed that much because my tour consisted of old couples and families with children, so I could not socialize a lot, but I did learn a few interesting facts about the city. I used this company – Walkative and I too their free walking tour in the old town. I definitely recommend their services.

There is an interesting legend about the construction of the two towers. The story says that two brothers – the best builders in Krakow, were hired to build the towers. The older one was building the South tower and the younger – the North. The towers were supposed to be equal but at some point the younger bother realized that the South tower is taller. Filled with rage he killed his own brother. He ordered that the unfinished South tower to be crowned by a cupola and continued with the initial plan for the now taller North building. At the time he finished the construction he was consumed by guilt. He climbed to the top of the tower holding the knife he used to kill his brother, confessed and jumped. The murder knife hangs in the Clock tower on the Main square to remind of those tragic events.

St. Mary’s Basilica
4. The Cloth hall – Sukiennice
The Cloth hall

This spot is located on the Main square in front of the Basilica and it used to be an important market for silk, leather, spices,etc. during the time Krakow was the capital of Poland. Nowadays you can buy a lot of souvenirs, porcelain plates, leather bags, clothes, etc.

The Cloth hall at night
5. Town Hall Tower or the Clock tower
The clock tower

Another important monument located on the main square.

6. Adam Mickiewicz monument

He is a famous Polish poet who has never been to Krakow, but his remains rest in the city. The statue is located just in front of the Basilica at the Main Square.

7. St. Florian Gate

This is one of the entrances of the old city and the only place where the original city walls still remain.

8. Ulica Florianska
Florianska street

This street is connecting Florian gate with the Main square. It is full of bars, restaurants, stores and souvenir shops. It is famous as the shopping street of the Old town. Very colorful and cozy.

9. St. Peter and Paul church
St. Peter and Pau church

Taking the Gorodzka street from the Main Square you will reach a small plaza with two beautiful churches – St. Peter and Paul’s to the left and St. Andrew’s to the right.

10. St. Andrew’s church
St. Andrew’s church
11. Wawel Castle
Wawel castle

The Wawel castle is a relatively big complex located on a hill surrounded by the river. There are sevaral important buildings behind the castle walls – the Wawel church, the casle itself, Wawel Thief Tower, the Catherdral museum and a few more.

On the castle walls you can see the contribution wall. A wall full with plaques with the names of all the people donated or helped the revival of the castle after the Independence of Poland.

The contribution wall

The complex itself is absolutely amazing for photography purposes! My personal favorite is the cathedral, it is so mesmerizing! The entrance is free so you can visit it from the inside. For the rest of the attractions there are entrance fees.

Wawel selfie
12. Smok Wawelski – the dragon of Wawel
Smok Wawelski

Outside the castle there is the famous statue of the Dragon of Krakow which is now the symbol of the city. There is a legend about the existence of the dragon. Once upon a time there was a king and a happy kingdom. They all lived happily until one day terrible noises from the undergrounds disturbed their life. It turned to be a very hungry dragon who wouldn’t stop killing anyone who stands in front of him. As every legend tells, there was a prize for the one killing the dragon – the princess. A poor village boy managed to kill the monster by tricking him into eating a supposed to be sheep full of sulphur. The dragon got thirsty, went to the river and drank until exploded. The poor boy married the princess and they lived happily after. The end.

13. Bishop’s palace and Papal window
Papal window

This was the residence of the Pope John Paul 2 during his visits in the city. As you know the Pope was originally from Poland and every time he was visiting Krakow he used to wave to the believers through this window.

14. Kazmierz – the formal Jewish District

I really liked the Jewish neighborhood, it is so colorful and creative. It is full of small little cafes and restaurants, handmade stores, street art walls and many other interesting spots. Great for taking pictures indeed. Some of the best restaurants with the tasty food are located exactly there.

15. The Ghetto Heroes Square
Ghetto Heroes Square

This square is slightly far from the city center but it is an interesting place to see. There are 33 lonely chairs standing on the square. The monument was built as a memorial of the tragedy of the Polish Jews.

16. Wieliczka salt mine
Wieliczka salt mine

The mine you can find in a small town located outside of Krakow. The salt mine is easily reachable by bus 304. The ride takes no more than 30-40 minutes, depending on where you take the bus from. The entrance fee is around 20 something euros and includes a guided tour. You cannot enter the mine without a guide which kind of makes sense. The mine has 9 levels but only 3 are open for tourists. You can book a tour in English and in other languages, but make sure to check the timings because the other language tours happen just a few times per day. The whole tour takes around 2-3h and is reaaaally impressive. I’ve never seen such thing. There is even a ball room made entirely from salt where you can celebrate your wedding! It is a must visit place indeed!

The one of the most famous places around Krakow that I couldn’t visit is Auschwitz Memorial. I didn’t go because the only time I could visit it was on my birthday and I didn’t think that celebrating my 30s in a concentration camp is the best idea. I know that it is heavy and depressing there and I was not ready for this. But anyway, I decided to go to Wieliczka instead and I don’t regret at all. There are many tours that you can book to Auschwitz or you can organize the trip on your own.

Food and drinks

Just a few recommendations what to try and taste while in Krakow – typical food is Pirogi, something like meet dumplings. Another tasty meal is the Polish Goulash – a soup in a bread. And don’t forget the Polish vodka. You can find many bars around the city that offer vodka tasting – they give you several shots of different flavored vodka to taste.

Polish Goulash

Me – I booked a pub crawl tour for my birthday. It costs 15 euro and you visit 4 different bars/clubs. You stay 1h in each and in the first you have 1h free drinking. Every other bar gives you only 1 welcome shot and the rest is on you. I won’t share more details…because I don’t really remember. I am kidding…or am I?

This is from me and my Krakow photo walk, I hope you liked it!

For more travel inspirations you can visit my travel section.

See you soon when Tavelista goes to…


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