I love Poland. Have I mentioned that before? Probably. It’s a great country, seriously. We go there a lot since it’s so close to Berlin, but we didn’t go to France or Switzerland much when we only lived an hour from their borders. This year Andy and I planned a trip to Krakow and Gdansk for a little over a week, and while the trip did have its ups and downs, the destinations did not disappoint. Here are some of the best things to do in Krakow.
Explore Krakow’s Old Town
Old Town Krakow is gorgeous. It’s no wonder this is the most popular city in Poland. The main square is rather large, with a cathedral in one corner and a covered market building in the middle. Around the edges you’ll find lots of colorful buildings housing shops and restaurants. Beyond the main square, there are pieces of the old city walls and towers, and a few other churches. And don’t forget to check out the square at night for a different look and feel.
A short walk from the main square is a huge castle called Wawel Castle, and it’s definitely worth exploring. It consists of several different building styles for different sections of the complex. Tons of Polish history lives within the walls of the castle museum. And there’s a tower you can climb for some great views, one of our favorite things to do anywhere.
Krakow Vodka Tour
When Andy and I visited Warsaw awhile back, we took a vodka tour that was so much fun we just had to do it again in Krakow. A couple Andy knows from when he lived in North Carolina happened to be traveling in Poland at the same time as us, so we booked the vodka tour together.
Our guide told us about Polish vodka as it relates to Poland’s history. She introduced us to Polish food, some Andy and I had eaten before, some new to us, both good and bad dishes. (Seriously, pickled herring is NOT good.) And she took us to several places where we got to try a variety of vodka, from unflavored to fruit flavors to a strong black pepper flavor.
Once again, the Eat Polska vodka tour didn’t disappoint. I highly recommend taking their vodka tour (or one of their other food tours, which we haven’t tried yet) to learn more about famous Polish food if you’re in Warsaw, Krakow, or Gdansk.
Views of Krakow from above
Andy and I love views from above. In just about every place we visit, we seek out towers or other structures where we can get a different perspective of the city we’re visiting. Krakow’s old town hall building was once located in the main square, but now all that remains is a tower you can climb for views of Krakow from above.
Where to eat in Krakow
One of the things I love most about traveling in Poland is eating Polish food. It’s simple, delicious, usually hearty, and almost always inexpensive.
Poland is well known for its milk bars, which are traditional restaurants that serve simple food at a low price. They stem from the communist days, and today many either still exist or have been revived for the sake of nostalgia. You order at the counter at some, while many others are buffet-style, and in general the food changes every day. It’s like getting a home-cooked meal from the Polish grandmother you didn’t know you needed. Andy and I found one we loved and at lunch there several days while in Krakow.
Polskie Smaki Restauracja, Świętego Tomasza 5, 31-014 Kraków, Poland
We also lucked out by finding many of the best restaurants in Krakow old town for our dinners. Usually we ordered a sampling of our favorite Polish cuisine, like smalek, bigos, pierogi, and soup.
For breakfast, there were a couple cafes near our hotel with good food, and they both had good smoothies. Bonjour Cava had lots of breakfast options, while Kahawa Kawa was more of a coffee shop with a few baked goods.
Bonjour Cava, Józefa Piłsudskiego 5, 31-110 Kraków, Poland
Kahawa Kawa, Józefa Piłsudskiego 7, 33-332 Kraków, Poland
We also went to a cafe in the Jewish quarter to relax one day, and it had tasty smoothies and a great atmosphere. I wish this place was in Berlin so we could go again.
Cytat Cafè, Miodowa 23, 31-055 Kraków, Poland
Day trips from Krakow
Krakow is a wonderful city, but you might be interested in some day trips from Krakow to get some different experiences and learn about the history of the region. Here are a few good ones to choose from.
- Auschwitz: One of the most well known Nazi concentration camps was located not too far from Krakow. A visit here will teach you some of the history of the Nazis, WWII, and the horrors of what people went through. Consider this tour from Krakow.
- Wieliczka salt mines: The region near Krakow has a deep history of salt mining. And while that might not sound so exciting, going underground to see these mines and the fascinating salt formations can make for a seriously interesting day trip from Krakow. Click here to book a tour.
- Combo tour: If you have limited time, why not visit Auschwitz and the salt mines in one day? Check out this combo tour that leaves from Krakow and takes you to both.
- Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains: Get out of the city for a day! Southern Poland has some of the most gorgeous landscapes, and a day trip to Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains is the perfect way to add something different to your Krakow trip. Here’s a good tour to add to your itinerary.
You might also enjoy:
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Warsaw, Poland
- Scenes From Warsaw
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Poznan, Poland
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Gdansk & Krakow, Poland