Thinking of spending a weekend in Krakow, Poland? Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland, located in the south of the country on the Vistula River. It is a beautiful city, full of history and the old town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Krakow is also very well connected. Affordable flights connect the city with most other European countries and a high speed train line can get you from Warsaw to Krakow in a little over 2 hours.
Where to stay in Krakow?
We highly recommend Topolowa Residence. These modern apartments are available at a great price for a western budget and are located within walking distance of the historic centre of Krakow.
We prefer to stay in apartments where possible when we travel. We like to have the option to cook if we want. Isn’t it annoying when you see amazing produce when you’re walking through a local market but can’t buy it because you don’t have access to a kitchen? Having an apartment solves this problem.
With Topolowa Residence they have all of the bases covered as you have access to a kitchen but breakfast is included – so you don’t have to cook if you don’t want to.
Sites to see in Krakow
You could spend a week in Krakow and still have plenty to see. With just one weekend we recommend you focus on the city itself and choose one of the big draws for tourists outside the city – the Wieliczka Salt Mine or Auschwitz – both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
With just a weekend in Krakow if you choose to see both Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz you won’t have any time left to see the city itself. During our weekend in Krakow we chose to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine, this was a fairly easy decision for us as we hadn’t visited a salt mine before – but we had recently visited a concentration camp in Germany and our memories of that experience were still fresh in our minds.
Visiting a concentration camp is a very heavy experience, if you are looking for a light hearted break then a visit to Auschwitz is not for you. However if you are looking to learn about what happened here in Poland during the war, pay your respects to the victims who lost their lives and gain an understanding of what it was like in Europe during WWII then you should visit Auschwitz while in Krakow. Note that if you do choose to tour Auschwitz you will need some downtime afterwards.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
We booked a half day tour of the UNESCO listed Wieliczka Salt Mine through Viator which included pick up and drop off from Krakow city centre. The tour can be as little as £25 per person including transport and takes about 5 hours so not bad value at all.
If you are claustrophobic then this tour might not be for you but it is much bigger than we expected. You don’t have to duck your head or squeeze through passageways. In fact some of the rooms that have been carved out are huge.
At the end of the tour through the mine you have the opportunity to buy souvenirs created from salt from the mine. We can recommend the rock salt from here to take home for your kitchen – it is excellent quality and reasonably priced too.
Krakow City Centre Attractions
The historic centre of Krakow is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Krakow was once the capital city of Poland (it’s now Warsaw). It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it has many sights of historical importance within the city, these are what we would recommend you focus on during your short stay in Krakow.
Rynek Glowny Central Square – Market Square
Krakow has the largest market square in Europe. It is popular with both tourists and locals a like, many meet here for drinks, to do business or to shop. In the centre of the square you will notice an impressive looking arcade building – this is the Cloth Hall. Within the Cloth Hall you will find lots of stalls, independent shops and cafes. Enough to keep you busy for at least a couple of hours.
Within the same square you will find the the basilica of the Virgin Mary, it is recognisable for its two towers which are different heights. The basilica has undergone a lot of work over the centuries. The foundations date back to the 1200s. If you have time it is worth heading inside where it is just as impressive, if not more so than it is from the outside. This is still an active place of worship though and so may not always be accessible for visitors wanting a quick look inside.
Even if you’re only spending the weekend in Krakow plan to spend at least a couple of hours in the Market Square, especially if you get fair weather during your visit!
Podgórze district is an area of Krakow you must not miss during your visit. Situated on the south bank of the Vistula River this area is a short walk from Market Square. In fact you can pass through Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, on your way to Podgórze.
Within Podgórze you will find Oskar Schindler’s factory, now home to two museums, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow and Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. There is also a cafe where you can stop for refreshments after your walk to Podgórze.
Exploring Podgórze further you will find more Jewish history from the time of World War II. Take a walk through the memorial to the victims of the Krakow Ghetto. Ghetto Heroes Square contains 33 empty chairs to remember the Jews who were imprisoned in the Krakow Ghetto during the Second World War, many went on to loose their lives in concentration camps.
Got more time?
If you have more time then definitely consider seeing more of Poland. The public transport around the country is fantastic – particularly the train network. It’s also very reasonably priced, I’d go as far to say that from a western point of view the train is a cheap way to get around while also being reliable.
The Polish capital of Warsaw can be reached in a couple of hours by train from Krakow. You can easily spend a few days around this city which has plenty to offer visitors, from its charming old town which is also UNESCO listed to its bustling city centre.
Enjoy your visit to Krakow! We hope you love the city as much as we did. Let us know in the comments if you have visited Poland, what’s your favourite Polish city?