Krakow is one of Europe's most beautiful and historic cities and a must-see destination for anyone who loves art, architecture, and history.
Krakow was the capital of Poland for over five centuries, and it still preserves its medieval charm and royal splendour. Krakow is also a vibrant and modern city with a rich cultural scene, lively nightlife, and delicious cuisine. Whether looking for ancient monuments, stunning churches, fascinating museums, or scenic parks, Krakow has something for everyone. Here are 10 things you should not miss when visiting Krakow:
Main Market Square
The heart of Krakow and one of the largest medieval squares in Europe, the Main Market Square is a lively and colourful place, surrounded by elegant townhouses and historical landmarks. You can see the Cloth Hall, a Renaissance building that houses a souvenir market and a museum of Polish art, the Town Hall Tower, a Gothic remnant of the former city hall, and the St. Mary's Basilica, a stunning church with a wooden altarpiece and a trumpet call that sounds every hour.
The former Jewish quarter of Krakow, Kazimierz, is a charming and atmospheric district where you can explore the Jewish heritage and culture of the city. You can visit the synagogues, the Jewish cemetery, the Galicia Jewish Museum, and the Oskar Schindler's Factory. This museum tells the story of the Nazi occupation and the fate of the Jews in Krakow. Kazimierz is also a popular place for nightlife, with many bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a remarkable underground attraction where you can see the fantastic sculptures, chapels, and chambers carved out of salt by the miners. You can take a guided tour of the mine and marvel at the Chapel of St. Kinga, a large and ornate sanctuary decorated with salt chandeliers, statues, and paintings. You can also learn about the history and legends of the mine and enjoy the health benefits of the saline microclimate.
Photo by Jan Levinsky (Left) and William Warby
A sobering and moving experience, Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most prominent and notorious Nazi concentration and extermination camp, where more than a million people were killed during the Holocaust. You can take a guided tour of the camp and see the barracks, the gas chambers, the crematoria, and the exhibits of the victims' belongings and photos. You can also pay your respects at the memorials and the museum and learn about this tragic place's history and horror.
Wawel Castle and Cathedral
The symbol of Krakow and the seat of Polish kings for centuries, Wawel Castle is a magnificent complex of buildings, courtyards, and gardens. You can admire the castle's Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles and visit the royal apartments, the treasury, and the armoury. Don't miss the Wawel Cathedral, where you can see the tombs of the kings, the coronation sword, and the famous Sigismund Bell. You can also climb the tower for a panoramic view of the city.
Krakow National Museum
Photo by Krakow National Museum
The largest and oldest museum in Poland, the Krakow National Museum is a great place to discover the art and history of the country. You can see paintings, sculptures, prints, coins, weapons, and more collections from ancient times to the present. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events. It has several branches in the city, such as the Czartoryski Museum, the Sukiennice Museum, and the Princes Czartoryski Library.
A green oasis in the centre of Krakow, Planty Park is a ring of gardens and promenades that encircles the Old Town. You can walk, bike, or relax in the park and enjoy the views of the city walls, the Barbican, the Florian Gate, and the various monuments and fountains. The park also has some cultural attractions, such as the Bunker of Art, a modern art gallery, and the Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest universities in Europe.
A hidden treasure beneath the Main Market Square, Rynek Underground is a modern and interactive museum that reveals the secrets of Krakow's past. You can see the archaeological excavations of the medieval market stalls, the old water system, and the cemetery, as well as the multimedia displays and holograms that recreate the life and events of the city. You can also join the guided tours and the workshops offered by the museum.