If Krakow is your next destination for a group, family or solo holiday then congratulations you are onto a winner and in luck as I am going to list the top 5 things to do while visiting Krakow below.
Not only is Krakow rich in history that is still extremely raw and emotional today but also an awesome place to explore and enjoy at a perfect relaxed holiday pace.
The food is delicious and affordable, the vodka is smooth as silk and the architecture is as charming as I’ve found. The town square was once voted the most beautiful in the world by Lonely Planet.
Auschwitz Concentration Camp
I’m sure this is one, most if not all, people have on there must do list if visiting Krakow and it will be no surprise to you that it is number one on my top 5 things to do while visiting Krakow. It would be most people’s main reason to visit Krakow in the first place I would almost go as far as saying and with good reason too. It is somewhere that has such an important part in history not just in Poland and Europe but around the world. Plus, the fact it occurred not so long ago makes it a very surreal and moving experience. Some people can’t hold back their emotions while visiting the site and it’s somewhere that has no right or wrong way to react to what you are hearing and witnessing. It’s a place where you can express your emotions in any way you feel the need to without any judgement what so whatsoever. If you are in Krakow this is one thing you simply can’t ignore and is a must to visit.
If you are heading to Krakow or thinking about making it a destination on your next trip I suggest you have a read about “How I spent 72 hours” exploring the city and my “Favourite Food and Drinks” I enjoyed while there
Just outside the town centre of Krakow, approximately 14km, is Wieliczka Salt Mine. It is a popular day trip from Krakow and offers a truly unique experience. It has variety of underground tunnels split over 9 levels with the deepest reaching a depth of 327m.
The section that is open to the public ranges from a depth of around 60m to 135m and everything below has been carved by hand from various sized salt blocks. The grand masterpiece is Chapel of St Kinga, a full-size salt church that is over 50m by 18m in size with a height of some 12m. Every part of this including the altarpieces are made from salt. It was a large operation that took one and his brother some 3000 years to complete.
The tour price includes entrance into the Kraków Saltworks Museum before being let loose back to the outside world via a lift. All up it is around 2km of walking during this tour and I’d suggest taking comfortable walking shoes.
You can combine this tour with the Auschwitz Concentration Camp tour mentioned above to tick of 2 of my top 5 things to do while visiting Krakow in one day if you desire.
As mentioned in my blog when talking about my time in Krakow, which you can find here, this is a fun evening not to be missed and I couldn’t leave it out of the top 5 things to do while visiting Krakow. I’ve done a few pub crawls in various cities, but this is miles apart from any others I’ve experienced. You get real alcohol not watered-down shots and it’s extremely popular with people keen to enjoy a fun evening out in Krakow with the safety of having guides that know their way around the city. You get your monies worth with this tour but be aware that if you opt to enjoy this evening then your next day in Krakow or flying home is certainly going to be a slow and at times painful one. Don’t let that put you off though as this is only temporary whereas the memories will last forever.
Schindlers Factory visit
The fourth item to make my top 5 things to do while visiting Krakow is another important reminder of just what happened in the past at Krakow. It highlights one man, his family and his fellow workers brave efforts to hide several frightened Jews throughout his factory during Hitler’s reign of power.
The museum itself is setup perfectly and you can wander through at your own pace while reading first hand stories of events that took place or take a guided tour and have it all explained to you first hand by one of the knowledgeable guides.
If doing it yourself, I would set aside anywhere from 3 to 6 hours depending on how thorough and particular you are with reading all the information. On the other hand, if you opted for the guided tour be sure to book well in advance as these do sell out.
Entry is around the 10-euro mark to self-guide yourself through and a guided tour has various options that can include different activities throughout Krakow bundled with it. Just the guided tour itself will set you back 20 euros.
Free walking tour of Krakow
The last of my top 5 things to do while visiting Krakow is the free walking tour. For those that are not familiar with the format of the free walking tours, you need to be. They are a fantastic way to get a general idea and feel of a certain city when you first arrive. I suggest doing one on the first morning or afternoon that you arrive in a city, you will get to see the main sites of the area while being guided around by a local, as well as learn some of the important
The tour I done and suggest was the Old Town Tour. It tells the tale of how lucky Krakow was to survive the second world war, how Krakow streets were rivalling London and New York of today with its diversity, exchanging exotic goods and people generating from all different parts of the world, as well as the complete opposite dark days of collapse and trade and visitor decline and visits all of the major sites throughout the Old Town area including Main Market Square with St Mary’s church, Cloth Hall and Townhall Tower, remains of medieval city walls with Barbican and St Florian Gate, St Francis Church, Bishop’s Palace and Papal Window”, Wawel Hill with Cathedral and Wawel Castle, Wawel Dragon.
The tour itself goes for around the 2.5 to 3 hours depending on how large the group is and how many questions guests quiz the guide with. Generally, no reservations are required but if you are travelling in a large group it may be advisable and a kind gesture to email ahead with the number you intend to arrive on the tour with. At the end of the tour even though they are advertised as free it is common good practice to tip your guide a donation of what you think the tour was worth per person. Generally, somewhere around the 5-10 euro is thought to be fair.
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Happy Travels, Brodie