Attractions in Krakow

You probably wonder which places you should visit during your trip to Krakow. Here you can find some important information about most popular places in this wonderful city!

In Krakow:

Wawel Hill

It is the most popular place to visit in Krakow. This natural limestone hill is rising from the plain by the Vistula river, Wawel was the site of Krakow’s earliest settlement in prehistoric times due to its strategic advantages. Legend has it that a rapacious dragon dwelt in a cave under Wawel, terrorising the local populace until an enterprising cobbler named Skuba fooled it into eating a sulphur-stuffed sheep’s carcass with burning consequences. To commemorate this legend, there is a big figure of the dragon which breathes fire. The first stone cathedral was built there in c. 1000 AD and about 300 years later the first coronation of a Polish king was held there. Around this time, work began on building the current cathedral and castle, although many of the most visible distinctions date from the 16th century. Wawel’s place in Poland’s history is assured, as the home of kings and the burial place of many Polish heroes. For the modern visitor, Wawel castle and cathedral are unmissable.


Old Town

Krakow was luckily never destroyed by the German Nazis during World War II (in contradiction to most of the big Polish cities) and today is known as one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. For this reason in 1978 it entered UNESCO World heritage List together with the first twelve sites in the world that were chosen by the UNESCO Committee! Krakow was the former capital of the Polish Kingdom and due to it the political and artistic center. It is often called the Cultural Capital of Poland or the Royal City. The living heart of the city is the Main Market Square, the largest medieval Square in Europe (200m x 200m). Here you can find the beautiful building of the Cloth Hall and St.Mary’s Basilica, a marvelous Gothic church with the largest medieval altar of Europe, made in the 15th c. by the artist Veit Stoss. Along the Royal Way there are numerous medieval and baroque churches. The pearl of Krakow is the Wawel Hill with the renaissance royal castle and the cathedral, the main coronation and the burial church of the Polish kings. Nearby there is also the Old University Quarter with the Gothic building of Collegium Maius (15th c.). Krakow is the seat of the oldest University in Poland. In the center there is also Kazimierz, the old Jewish Town, that has become world famous due to the film the Schindler’s List that was made here by Steven Spielberg.


Jewish District (Kazimierz)

Originally Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz was for centuries where Catholics and Jews existed peacefully side-by-side, having a noticeably different architectural character than the main city. Following the disappearance of virtually all the Jewish population in the Second World War and its aftermath, Kazimierz fell into something of a decline, and it wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the area started to be revitalized. Less overtly touristic than the Old Town, Kazimierz is considered by many residents to be the prime area for nightlife.

Kazimierz has two main points: ul. Szeroka, a long and wide street featuring the Old Synagogue at one end and numerous restaurants along it; and Plac Nowy, a small square with a flea market and numerous bars and cafes and a bustling nightlife. While visiting this place you should definitely try delicious open-faced toasted cheese sandwich. Connecting these two hubs are networks of small streets containing a huge variety of places to eat, drink and talk. But Kazimierz is not just nightlife – Jewish culture is enjoying a resurgence and there is an annual Jewish Culture Festival called ‘Szalom na Szerokiej’ at the end of June. The festival lasts nine days and features all kinds of concerts, lectures, tours and workshops. Traditional Jewish klezmer music is a particular attraction, as are the area’s seven synagogues.


Podgórze district

This district is very unique because you can find many museums there. The most famous one is Oskar Schindler’s Factory. There is one permanent exhibition tittled ‘Kraków During Nazi Occupation 1939-1945.’ and it shows individual histories of Kraków’s wartime inhabitants guide visitors. This exhibition covers the war of 1939, everyday life under occupation, the fate of the Jews, the city’s underground resistance and more, using vast archival documents, photos, radio and film recordings, period artefacts and dynamic multimedia installations. Other exhibits change regularly, while a separate section of the original factory is reserved for film screenings, lectures and other cultural events, and another large part of the factory hosts MOCAK – Kraków’s excellent contemporary art museum which opened in 2011. Another interesting place is Footbridge of Father Bernatka which connects Krakow’s two districts Podgórze and Kazimierz. This footbridge is place for lovers who puts padlocks with their initials and throw the keys into the Vistula River. It’s a a sign that their feelings will remain unbreakable for life.


Sanctuary of Divine Mercy

The Sanctuary is situated in Łagiewniki district in buildings of monastery of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, which was founded in 1891 as A. Lubomirski’s Foundation for girls and women in need of moral renewal. In period between world wars in this Monastery lived and died Saint M. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), through Saint Faustina Lord Christ gave the message of the Divine Mercy to the Church and to the whole world. In 1943 Father J. Andrasz SI the Cracow confessor of Faustina blessed the first Divine Mercy Image painted by A. Hyła, offered as ex-voto, thanksgiving to God for saving his family during war, and initiated solemn masses honoring the Divine Mercy. The image quickly became well-known for many graces, the number of pilgrims has grown each year, considering also the pilgrims visiting the Sister Faustina’s tomb. Very dynamic expansion of worship of the Divine Mercy was launched by the beatification of Sister’s Faustina (18th of April 1993) and her canonisation (30th of April 2000), and also thanks to pilgrimages of John Paul II to Łagiewniki (1997 and 2002). It caused the extension of the Sanctuary i.a. building a new church – basilica, that was consecrated on 17th of August 2002 by Pope John Paul II in 2002. In this place Pope solemnly entrusted the world to the Divine Mercy.


Kościuszko Mound

This mound was completed in November 1823, it stands 34 metres high, 326 metres above sea level, and on a clear day the Tatra Mountains can be seen from the top. In the 1850s the occupying Austrian military authorities built a brick fortress around the Mound, which they used as a strategic lookout point. The Germans later threatened to entirely level the Mound and surrounding fortifications during their WWII occupation as they set about destroying all Polish monuments and national symbols. Though parts of the fortress were destroyed, the complex has been restored and significant engineering improvements have been made to the Mound to ensure its longevity.

Climbing to the peak is tiring work, but the panoramic views of Kraków are a worthwhile reward. The neo-Gothic Chapel of St. Bronisława, which contains a medley of objects connected to Kościuszko’s life, can also be visited and the surrounding fortifications also house two cafes, a radio station, restaurant, wax museum and five additional historical exhibitions. Admission is included with the mound to all exhibits.


Near Krakow:

Wieliczka (Salt Mine)

The Salt Mine in Wieliczka is one of the oldest and the largest salt mines in Europe and definitely one of the Wonders of Poland! It entered UNESCO List together with the first 12 sites in the world that were placed on this privileged list. The mine in Wieliczka nearby Krakow has been operating since the 13th century. Today it is not only the monument to the history of mining but also a great monument to the human work. All the underground chambers, chapels, tunnels were carved in the rock salt by the miners working in the depths. The salt mine in Wieliczka has 9 levels, but only three are available for the visitors. It is 324 m deep and has more than 2000 salt chambers, that all together are about 300 km long! One of the most amazing things under the ground are the chapels with the beautiful decoration: altars, statues, chandeliers that are carved in salt. Among them the most spectacular is the St. Kinga’s Chapel, the largest underground chapel made of salt in the world. Except for the tourist route in the mine there is also the museum of mining and the underground health resort.



Auschwitz-Birkenau is considered to be the symbol of the Holocaust and the Nazi crime, and the largest cemetery in the world. Here, between 1940-45 about 1,5 innocent people, including women and children were perished in the ashes of crematories or killed with the criminal medical experiments, starvation, exhausting work. Most of the victims were Jewish, as Birkenau camp became the center of extermination of the European Jews – almost 1 million was killed here. Except for Jews there were also Poles, Russian, Gypsies and members of other nationalities who were brought to the Nazi camps. In 1940 on the suburbs of the town Oswięcim (in German Auschwitz), only 70 km from Krakow the Nazis established the concentration camp, that later on was turned also into the extermination camp. One year later the second part of the camp was built, known as Auschwitz II or Birkenau. Very soon it became the real Factory of Death with four crematories with the capacity of burning about 5000 corpses a day. Today Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum protects the site of the former concentration and extermination camps. In Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum one can still see the brick and wooden barracks, were the prisoners were kept, the gallows, barbed wires, the crematorium and the gas chamber (in Auschwitz) or their ruins in Birkenau. Auschwitz Birkenau Museum is considered not only the monument to the deliberate Nazi genocide, but also the monument to the strength of the human spirit, who in the appalling conditions of the Nazi camps was still able to show its heroism defending fellow human being and its dignity.



This is the city situated in southern Poland, about 50 km from Krakow. Pope John Paul II was born there in 1920, that’s why you should visit Museum of the Holy Father Family Home in the family home of Pope John Paul II. It collects objects that belonged to Karol Wojtyła and his family. Cultural festival called ‘Days of Wadowice’ is held in this city every year, and because of it you can buy different  regional food and souvenirs. Wadowice city is famous because of the delicious cream-cakes (in Polish kremówka) that are being sold there.