The most popular attractions in Krakow
A quick summary of the most popular things to do and see when visiting Krakow
We could spend all day writing up recommendations on what to do in Krakow. (👈 In fact, we already did.) But if you’re short on time, take a look this list of the most popular attractions in Krakow and why you should visit them.
Main Market Square (Rynek Główny)
Dating back to the mid-13th century, Krakow’s Market Square in the Old Town is the beating heart of the city. At around 40,000 square feet, it’s also the largest market square in Europe. You can easily spend hours sitting down here with a beer or coffee watching life (and horses) go by. There is a reason some tourists never venture out beyond the charm of the square. (Though we highly suggest expanding your horizons!)
Few historical sites tell us as much about war and human atrocity as Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Nazi concentration camp, located about an hour outside Krakow, was where over one million people were murdered during the World War II. Today, the original site has been maintained as an historical commemorative center that provides visitors with guided tours. A tough, difficult, but ultimately necessary visit to make while you’re here in Krakow.
Make sure to allow yourself a full day to visit Auschwitz. This will factor in travel time and the length of the tour itself. Plus, it will allow you valuable time afterward to emotionally decompress.
Schindler’s Factory Museum
When you visit Schindler’s Factory Museum, you’ll learn about the incredible heroism of Oskar Schindler, the entrepreneur and factory owner saved the lives of over 1,000 Jewish people during World War II.
Decades later he deservedly became a household name after Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning 1993 film “Schindler’s List,” which was partly shot in Krakow. Opened in 2010, the museum commemorates Schindler’s heroics while also providing a good historical overview of wartime in Krakow.
Wrapping around Krakow’s Old Town, Planty Park is a gift to those who want a relaxed stroll away from the hubbub of the center. More than just a ring of green in the midst of a built-up area, the peaceful Planty embraces pedestrians in a collection of tree-lined walkways and well-maintained garden beds. Take a slow stroll and lose yourself for an hour.
Pedestrian Bridge (Father Bernatek Footbridge)
Linking the districts of Kazimierz and Podgórze, everyone loves the Pedestrian Bridge. Especially lovers, as it’s a popular place for them to attach “love locks” to the railings. Though the true highlight are the stunning acrobatic sculptures by Jerzy Kędziora. Absolutely worth seeing lit up at night.
Wawel Castle & Cathedral
One of the most important buildings in Poland, Wawel Castle ranks high on the list of the most popular attractions in Krakow. Once the seat of the Polish Royal Family, Wawel Castle was reinvented as a museum in the 20th century.
To tour the castle, you can buy your tickets online. Be warned, there’s lot of options, so we recommend just choosing everything! Alternately, you can simply visit the magnificent outer Courtyard. We also highly recommended a visit to the Cathedral. (Tickets only available on site.)
Ghetto Heroes Square
Located in Krakow’s Podgorze district, the Square is where Nazis piled up the possessions of Jewish citizens of the city before taking them to concentration camps. Today, the Square contains a powerful memorial to this tragic act in the form of 70 larger-than-life bronze chairs haphazardly strewn about. The Square and its sculptures serve as a poignant historical reminder of one of the worst periods in history. It’s a very simple but very powerful place.
Squatting just outside St. Florian’s Gate, the Barbican remains one of the best examples of a medieval defensive fortification. Built in the 15th century to protect Krakow’s Old Town, with its incredible network of turrets, slots and barriers, the Barbican is a hit with kids. You can only visit the interior in spring and summer, but it’s still a stunning site any time of year.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is second only to Auschwitz in terms of its name recognition for popular attractions in Krakow. And for a good reason, as this unique UNESCO site inspires genuine awe among visitors.
The Salt Mine features underground chambers and winding corridors that stretch for miles. In these chambers, visitors will witness manmade feats of structural design and human ingenuity. Located 101 meters underground, the centerpiece is St Kinga’s Chapel, a staggering feat of salt art that must be see to be believed.
St. Mary’s Basilica
St. Mary’s Basilica is one of Krakow’s most recognizable buildings, proudly towering over the city’s Old Town. While the outer facade’s Gothic architecture style makes it a perfect photo op for those who want to announce to their friends where they are, we suggest that you don’t overlook actually going in and exploring the Church itself. And, of course, you don’t want to miss one of the hourly hejnal trumpeter calls. You can actually buy tickets to go up to the trumpeter’s tower.
So that’s the most popular attractions in Krakow!
While this article only hits on the most popular attractions in Krakow, there’s a wide variety things to do in Krakow which we detail elsewhere. So if you haven’t already booked your trip we recommend at least five days, preferably a full week to see everything the city has to offer. And if you are looking for some help in planning your trip, take a look at our Monty Experience package. We can help you plan as well as serve as your host taking care of you while you visit Krakow!