In a nutshell, you should aim to spend at least two days in Krakow to get a real feel for the city. But, if you can we recommend staying for at least four days. That should be the perfect amount to see most of the things Krakow has to offer.
In this article, we’ll explore all the factors that will influence the duration of your trip and offer some sample itineraries for one, two, three and four days trips. Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a good idea of how long you will want to stay in Krakow. We love Krakow and we hope you will love it too!
Factors to Consider when deciding how long to stay in Krakow
When planning a trip to Krakow, there are several factors to consider that can impact the duration of your stay. Some of the most important factors include:
- Budget: Your budget will obviously play a big role in how long you can stay in Krakow. Unfortunately, not all of us have unlimited budgets so we have to be careful with how long we actually stay. Accommodation, food and activities add up quickly so it’s important to have a clear idea of how much you’re willing to spend before planning your trip! If you’re curious about how much it costs to visit, check out our budget-friendly guide to Krakow.
- Interests: Everyone has different interests. Some of us love museums, some of us love galleries, and some of us love wandering around sampling the local food and drinks. These are all huge factors in deciding how long to stay. Some of the most popular museums, Auschwitz and Wieliczka Salt Mine, are outside the city, so travel time must also be considered.
- Time constraints: Not all of us have unlimited holidays to take from work. I’m sure most of us would love to just book a one-way ticket and come home whenever we felt like it. Wouldn’t that be nice? Your trip to Krakow might be part of a bigger trip too. So you may only have a small window before you move to your next destination.
Once we take into account all these factors, you can start to get a sense of how long you’ll need to stay in Krakow to do everything on your list.
One Day in Krakow
One day in Krakow is better than none! You’ll still be able to see some of the city’s attractions and get a taste of its culture. As well as eat some fabulous Polish Cuisine.
Wawel Royal Castle
Start the day with a visit to the Wawel Royal Castle, one of the most iconic landmarks in Krakow. The castle was the home of Polish kings and queens for centuries. There are multiple exhibits and different parts to visit. Entry to the castle grounds is free but each exhibit requires paid tickets. The views over Krakow are spectacular, so if you’re not into history, just go for the views.
After exploring the castle, head to Wawel Cathedral. Situated on the castle grounds, this is one of the most important churches in Poland. Entry costs PLN 22 (£4.50) but is well worth it. Getting around the cathedral takes 1-2 hours, depending on how much you stop and read. There’s a tourist route that takes you through the cathedral, including going up to the bell tower.
The stairs to the bell tower are very narrow and steep. So maybe avoid this part if you have mobility issues or small children.
Next, take a stroll through the Old Town. Full of historic buildings, beautiful squares and picturesque streets, it’s very charming. Don’t miss the main market square (Rynek Glówny), Europe’s largest medieval town square. Home to St. Mary’s Basilica and the Cloth Hall, it’s well worth spending an hour or two wandering around.
The cloth hall is full of little shops that are great for souvenirs. Entry to St. Mary’s Basilica is PLN 15 (£3) and worth it if you like churches. You can also go up to the top of the bell tower for PLN 20 (£4) but this is closed from December to April.
For lunch make sure you try some of Krakow’s famous street food. Zapiekanka (imagine a pizza on a baguette) and kielbasa (sausage) are both delicious and can be found throughout the city.
In the afternoon, head to the Kazimierz district. Once the centre of Jewish life in Krakow, it’s now a trendy area full of cafes, bars and art galleries. There’s an abundance of independent shops selling vintage clothing and art. Stop for dinner at one of the many restaurants filling the area. Los Gorditos is definitely worth trying for great Mexican food!
While a one-day trip to Krakow may not give you enough time to see everything, this itinerary will provide you with a taste of the city’s history, culture, and food. If you have more time available, consider extending your trip to see more of what Krakow has to offer.
Two to Three Days in Krakow
With two to three days, you’ll be able to see much more of Krakow’s top attractions and experience its culture in greater depth. There’s plenty to do still. It really isn’t just a weekend destination.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
On day two we highly recommend taking a day out to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Located just outside of Krakow, this UNESCO World Heritage Site will take your breath away. The guided tour takes along 3km of tunnels and to a depth of 135 meters!
The tour lasts around two hours and costs PLN 116 (£22) but is worth every penny. You’ll be amazed by the numerous underground churches and underground lakes! You can book tickets online directly on their website. We opted to get an uber to the mine which cost around £7, but you can get there easily enough on the bus.
After visiting the salt mine go for lunch at good morning dumplings. This tiny little restaurant serves traditional Polish food at bargain prices. Make sure you get the potato pancakes, they’re amazing!
St. Mary’s Basilica
After lunch get the bus back to the old town and have a wander inside St. Mary’s Basilica. You can even go to the top and get a panoramic view of the city. The Rynek Underground Museum is a stone’s throw away from the Basilica and explores the history of Krakow. It’s well worth a visit if you’re into history.
Spend the rest of the afternoon getting a real feel for the old town. Wander up to the old city gates then walk around the Planty, 4kw of beautiful; gardens that encircle the old town.
Stop off for dinner at one of the many restaurants in the city. If you fancy a few drinks, Vis a Vis is a cute little bar on the main square. Frequented by locals, it’s got the cheapest beer in the main square!
Get up and make your way to Schindler’s Factory. It can get quite busy, so do your best to get there early. The factory tells the story of the Jewish community in Krakow during World War 2 and Oskar Schindler’s heroic efforts to save the lives of his employees.
Make sure you watch the film towards the start of the museum. It features interviews with some of Schindler’s employees and how he helped them. The museum is located in Podgorze on the south side of the city, just over the river. It’s about a thirty-minute walk from the old town if you fancy a stroll. Failing that, there are plenty of buses and trams that take you very close. The factor also offers free entry on Mondays!
Stop off at Krako Slow Wines for lunch. As well as offering a vast range of wines, they serve light bites like cheese boards, toasted baguettes and homemade hummus.
If you’re an art lover the Museum of Contemporary Art is just behind Schindlers Factory so it may be worth visiting when you’re so close!
If not, head over to the last fragment of the ghetto wall then Plac Bohaterów Getta. This square was the only public space in the old Jewish ghetto and features 70 large metal chairs that symbolise the belongings the Jews were forced to abandon when they were herded off to the concentration camps.
The Pharmacy Under the Eagle
The Pharmacy Under the Eagle was a pharmacy that was located in the Jewish ghetto. Run by Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff who risked their lives to help the Jews that lived there. The pharmacy has now been turned into a museum that tells its poignant story. The museum is small but definitely worth visiting whilst you’re in the area.
Walk along the river, back towards Wawel Castle and the old town. The museum of illusions is a five-minute walk from the castle and offers a fun, interactive exhibit of optical illusions. Stop off at Smakotyki for a traditional Polish dinner before spending the evening enjoying Krakow’s at night. You could visit the below-ground micro brewery at CK Browar or enjoy some jazz at Piano Rouge!
Four or More Days in Krakow
If you’re anything like us and like to get really stuck in and explore the city. Four days or more are the perfect amount of time to visit Krakow. There are still plenty of museums and galleries you won’t have been to yet.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum
Make your way to Auschwitz-Birkenau for a tour. Tours can be booked online on the Auschwitz website and cost PLN 90 (£22). You can also book online with independent tour operators that collect you from Krakow and drop you off later on but this will cost more. We got a bus from Krakow train station which cost about PLN 40 (£8) for two people. Then got the train back later on which was PLN 30 (£6) for two people.
Lasting around 3.5 hours, the tour covers both the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Birkenau extermination camp. It’s a harrowing experience but one that will make you realise the scale of death that happened there.
If you get hungry after your visit there’s a restaurant called Pierogarnia Rodzinna u Mamusi directly opposite the train station. They serve a variety of Perogis that are cheap and delicious! Make sure you try the mashed potato and cottage cheese ones, they might sound weird but they’re so good.
After making your way back to Krakow you could go to the Krakow Philharmonic, one of the top concert halls in Poland, or catch a show at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre. Przstanek Burger is worth trying if you’ve come back with an appetite. Choose from set options or build your own burger, the choice is yours!
Other things to do
Krakow still has plenty of other things that we haven’t been able to fit into our itinerary. Here are a few other things you could add to yours!
- Błonia Park is a large public green area in Krakow, Poland. Just a 25-minute walk from the old town. It’s worth a visit if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
- The famous Old Synagogue and the stunning Tempel Synagogue, both of which attract visitors from all over the world.
- Galicia Jewish Museum is a photo exhibition aiming to commemorate victims of the Holocaust and celebrate Jewish culture in Polish Galicia
- The Museum of Pharmacy in Krakow showcases the history of pharmacy and medicine through a vast collection of pharmaceutical instruments, books, and artworks from various historical periods.
- The Museum of Municipal Engineering in Krakow is a great museum if you’re interested in old cars and transport. There’s an extensive collection of cars, old trams and buses alongside other modes of transport.
We hope this blog post has been helpful in planning your trip to Krakow and helping you decide on how long to stay in Krakow.
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org