What to See in Krakow in 3 Days, First Time Itinerary

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

If you are planning a trip to Poland, most likely Krakow is at the top of your list of cities to visit. What I think Krakow has more than many other cities is that not only is it beautiful to see, but it also has an interesting story to know.

It is a fairly small city and therefore perfect to visit in 3 days and for excursions and tours in the surrounding area. Auschwitz it is located a short distance from here and is unmissable for what it represents.



Le miniere di Wieliczka they are beautiful and evocative, in short, maybe you will come away from Krakow with the feeling of not having seen everything and surely you will.

The only thing is that you have to plan well: 3 days are just enough for the city (however small it is) and buying tickets online for the most famous attractions (the “lady with an ermine” for example) allows you not to waste time in endless long queues.

A purchase that is worthwhile is the Krakow Card which includes in addition to the unlimited public transport, even at 40 free admissions to sites of special interest, such as the underground museum Schindler's factory and Basilica of Santa Maria.

If you want to know more about Krakow and its history, find here some free tours of the historic center with an English guide. You must book in advance, the number of participants is limited.

If you want to visit both Auschwitz and Wieliczka from Krakow the best is to take this combo tour with English guide from Civitatis.


State of God Outstanding tours in Krakow (just read the reviews) including the free ones I mentioned earlier.


You can consult the list of the most important museums and attractions in Krakow included in the Krakow Card directly on card purchase page.

I am convinced that this is the best itinerary for visit Krakow in 3 days and I propose it again here because I am sure that you will come back really satisfied.

  • Day 1 - Morning
    • Wawel Castle
    • Wawel Cathedral
    • Museums
    • Historic Centre
    • Grodzka Street
  • Day 1 - Afternoon
    • Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny)
    • Fabric Palace
    • Basilica of Santa Maria (Kosciol Mariacki)
    • Underground museum
    • Via Florianska
    • National Museum of Krakow and Lady with an Ermine
    • Porta di San Floriano and the ancient walls
  • Day 1 - Evening
  • Day 2 - Morning
    • Jewish quarter and Kazimierz
    • Oskar Schindler factory
    • Square of the "Heroes of the Ghetto"
  • Day 2 - Afternoon
  • Day 2 - Evening
  • 3 day
    • Auschwitz
    • miniere di Wieliczka
  • Accomodation

In SF /

Day 1, Morning

Where to start with the things to see if not from the heart of the city? We are talking about 3 places in particular: the Old City (Stare Miastro), the Wawel Castle and Kazimierz district (Jewish quarter).



If you took the hotel in the center of Krakow, all these neighborhoods are easily reachable on foot, otherwise you can use public transport which is very cheap.

  • Recommended reading: where to sleep in Krakow

Wawel Castle

Cracovi Wawel Castle - Yasonya /

Perched on top of a hill just south of the historic center are the Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral.

Originally made for Casimir the Great the Wawel Castle stands out for its extraordinary Italian-style architecture. Inside, various works of art are exhibited, including tapestries created in the 16th century.

Consiglio: Try to visit Wawel Castle first thing in the morning. Not only because you will find less crowds, but also because tickets are limited, on peak days they sell out quickly and cannot be purchased in advance.

You can walk for free in the gardens of the Castle which are a nice place to take a stroll in the countryside. The castle gardens are open at 6am so if you like to get up early you can take magnificent photographs.

Wawel Cathedral

La Wawel Cathedral it is to Krakow as Westminster Abbey is to London. Buried in the church tombs are some of Poland's most important kings.

It has had a somewhat troubled history to tell the truth: it was a Gothic castle at the beginning, then it was modified in the Renaissance style, then it was abandoned, looted and then it became a fort. In short, it is a rather special castle and one of the most visited sites in all of Poland.



You can enter Wawel Cathedral for free, but you won't be able to visit the paid sites without a ticket.

Cost: About 4,50 euros.

Paid sites include the Pope John Paul II Museum, the small chapels, the crypt and bell tower of Sigismondo.

To reach the top of Sigismund's bell tower, there are 70 steps very steep wooden walls but if you like the views over the city it is worth the effort.

Schedule: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 16:00. On Sundays, the Cathedral Museum is closed and the Cathedral and Sigismund's Bell Tower are not open until 12pm.

Museums

For those who want to know more, there are some museums in Wawel Castle. These include the State Chambers, the Crown Treasury and Armory, the Royal Apartments, the Sandomierska Tower, and more.

Opening Hours: hours vary according to the season. On most weekdays of the year, the ticket offices open at 9 am. On weekends, the ticket office opens at 9.30.

After visiting the Castle and the Cathedral, head to the base of the hill, where there is a cave which, according to legends, was the lair of the formidable Smok Wawelski the Dragon of Krakow! It won't be hard to find thanks to the large dragon statue outside.

Historic Centre

From Wawel Castle, walk up Kanonicza Street, the oldest street in Krakow. You have the chance to visit “Krakow in 15 minutes”, a small museum where you can watch a 15-minute multimedia presentation on the history of Krakow.

If you want to know more about Krakow and its history, Civitatis offers gods free tours of the historic center with an English guide. You must book in advance, the number of participants is limited.

Grodzka Street

Once on off Grodzka, it is worth taking a small detour of a few minutes to visit the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, flanked by marble statues of 11 apostles (Judas is missing), and the church of Sant'Andrea, one of the oldest buildings in Krakow.

By now, it's probably approaching lunchtime. On Grodzka there are 2 restaurants that I found myself very well in.

Miod Malina serves Polish and Italian food. It opens at noon for lunch.

Under the Angels serves traditional Polish dishes and marinated grilled meats.

Day 1, Afternoon

Main Square di Boris Stroujko /

Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny)

Built in the 13th century after the city was demolished by the Tartars, the main market square or Main market it was one of the most important sites in the city for trade.

The square was the largest medieval market square in Europe and alone, it is worth the trip.

Krakow's Old Town, including the town square, was, in fact, the first thing added by UNESCO to the inaugural World Heritage list in 1978 and by seeing it in real life you can really see why.

It's big, that's for sure. Large enough to contain huge monuments such as the 1.000-year-old Church of St. Adalbert, the 13th-century Krakow Cloth Hall - the central monument of the square - the imposing Town Hall Tower and St. Mary's Church overlooking the piazza, both from the XNUMXth century.

The space around it is lined with beautiful historic terraced houses (called kamienice, meaning traditional Polish apartment blocks), making just walking around the square the most beautiful experience of the whole trip.

Fabric Palace

The centerpiece of the Market Square, the Palace of Fabrics today it is full of souvenir shops, but it dates back to the 13th century, when Krakow was a trading center and the Cloth Hall was used by traders (hence the name) to sell their wares.

However, even today the Cloth Hall (Polish: “Sukiennice”) is a beautiful and lively place to visit, mostly filled with colorful Polish souvenirs for gifting to friends back home.

Basilica of Santa Maria (Kosciol Mariacki)

Basilica of Santa Maria di Grisha Bruev /

La Basilica of Santa Maria is one of the most famous sites in Krakow. To enter the church, you will have to pay a ticket, but it is absolutely worth it especially to be able to see the blue ceiling and the Gothic altarpiece.

For the most beautiful panorama of Krakow, climb the 239 steps to the top of the tower.

You can only climb the tower if you make a reservation in advance. Only 10 people can climb the tower every 30 minutes. To book, you must go to the ticket office located in Mariacki Place next to the Basilica of Santa Maria.

Cost: 15 PLN
Hours: 9:10 am - 11:30 am and 1:10 am - 17:30 pm. Closed on Mondays, reduced hours on Sundays and in the months of November, December and March. Closed January and February. Visit the official website for updated timetables.

Consiglio: If you want to climb to the top of the bell tower, I recommend that you go to the ticket office right at the opening time to be able to book tickets that sell out really quickly. If you follow this route you will probably be queuing for castle tickets at this time, so consider visiting the tower later.

Underground museum

Ten years ago, parts of the main market were excavated, unearthing ancient stalls, artifacts and a cemetery. In 2010, these archaeological treasures were transformed into a museum. Now, video displays and digital reconstructions take you back to the Middle Ages in Krakow.

Il Krakow underground museum it covers 4.000 square meters of archaeological finds and is one of the most engaging in the city. Poland's connection with the Hanseatic League is one of the most intriguing parts of the exhibit, while items on display include old weapons and trade items found in the mud.

Up to 30 people are allowed every 15 minutes.

THEadmission is free on Tuesdays, so expect large crowds of tourists.

Via Florianska

Florianska is one of the most famous streets in Krakow. It runs from the main market square to the San Floriano gate. The street is only three blocks long but is filled with boutiques, gift shops, convenience stores, and a few restaurants.

National Museum of Krakow and Lady with an Ermine

By Leonardo da Vinci - https://commons.wikimedia.org/

One of the most important museums in Poland exhibiting works of art, objects such as swords and halberds and Italian, Dutch and Flemish paintings.

Among these is the famous painting by Leonardo "the lady with an ermine”Which is absolutely unmissable and has been exhibited in the main building of the Museum since 2017.

Stra-council of buy your ticket in advance online here  so you can visit it without queuing endlessly.

Porta di San Floriano and the ancient walls

At the top of Florianska Street is St. Florian's Gate and the ancient medieval walls that line part of the old town.

The walls were (and still are) a bulwark of red brick with formidable turrets that helped repel the hordes of the Turks.

You can walk along the walls. It is fast, cheap and offers an interesting view over Florianska Street to St. Mary's Basilica.

Day 1, Evening

Hey guys, we are in Poland and there is a typical dinner!

Cyrano de Bergerac it is a Michelin starred restaurant and if you want a real slightly chic and gourmet experience without bleeding your wallet, it is a great choice. Advance booking is recommended.

The Black Duck (Czarna Kaczka) is another very popular Polish restaurant in the old town.

Actually there are a myriad of restaurants in the old town and in my opinion the best is to pick one at random that inspires you when you walk past. Many are underground and the entrance might be a little hidden, so keep your eyes peeled!

Day 2, Morning

Di mikolajn /

Jewish quarter and Kazimierz

Today we move a short distance from the historic center, al Jewish quarter and Kazimierz.

Even for the Jewish quarter State offre FREE guided tour of the Jewish quarter of Krakow.

The walking distance from the center is not long are about 1,6 km, so easily walkable.

Oskar Schindler factory

Schindler's factory of agsaz /

Even in the terrible periods of our history, and this particularly in Krakow during the Second World War when thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps, there are stories of people doing something beautiful and unconventional, giving hope and worth. worth telling.

If you have seen the famous film ofimmense Steven Spielberg "Schindler's List“You already know this story very well, if you haven't seen it, watch it. If I bought the flights to Krakow, it was mainly for that film.

Attention SPOILER

Oskar Schindler is one of the people who really did in the horror of war something extraordinary. His story begins when he, as an entrepreneur, decides to hire Jews in his enamel factory, I believe that at the beginning he did it because the labor was cheaper. But over time, things change: Oskar Schindler, when he realized the horror of what was happening, spent most of his money bribing officials, buying food for the Jews who work for him and tried in every way to protect them. By the end of the war, Schindler was poor at gunpoint, but he had saved more than 1.000 Jews from Nazi madness.

Today that same enamel factory is an impressive one interactive museum and a touching testament that tells the history of the city from 1939 to 1945.

Visit the real Oskar Schindler factory, where the Jews worked is undoubtedly one of them unmissable things to see in Krakow.

Cost: 24 PLN, free (and busiest) on Mondays

Tickets online: it's better buy Skip the Line tickets here in advance. We arrived practically at opening time and there was already a very long queue.

For the factory and to know its history in detail, it is worth taking part in one guided tour in English which you can book here.

Across the street, on the former workshop site, a neo-modern building was recently built, home to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK)

How to get to Schindler's factory: From the historic center, it is a 2,6 km walk (30 minutes). You can take the tram from Krakow Glowny to Krakow Zablocie and walk 5 minutes to the factory. Or you can take a taxi or Uber which is much cheaper.

Square of the "Heroes of the Ghetto"

From Oskar Schindler's factory, walk to Ghetto Heroes Square, the "Square of the heroes of the ghetto ".

During the period of Krakow ghetto, from 1941 until its "liquidation" in 1943, this was practically the only open space, the place where people were looking for a glimpse from the cramped and suffocating conditions of the overcrowded blocks of flats.

When the square was redesigned in 2005, 70 large metal chairs were installed on the square in memory of the 68.000 victims of the deportations.

On these facts and on this place a writer, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, wrote a book entitled "L'Aquila Pharmacy " in which he himself worked clandestine to help the Jews persecuted by the Nazis. The Pharmacy still exists today e it houses a museum with photographs and artifacts from that terrible period between 1941 and 1943.

Day 2, Afternoon

By Jaroslav Moravcik /

Kazimierz

Crossing the Vistula river you enter a Kazimierz, a neighborhood directly south of the old city.

This neighborhood used to be the heart of Krakow's Jewish community: at the end of the 15th century, in fact, King Jan I Olbracht transferred the entire Jewish population (who took refuge in Krakow when they were sent away from other European countries) to Kazimierz.

Today the neighborhood offers a network of cobbled streets with numerous craft shops and romantic and hipster cafes where you can taste local and non-local wines and delicacies.

The charming character of the neighborhood combined with Yiddish culture makes a walk in Kazimierz a unique experience (many scenes from the film Schindler's List were shot right here).

Try not to miss a visit to the ancient Jewish cemetery in Remu'h Synagogue.

Day 2, Evening

You cannot visit Krakow without attending a Krakow food tour with traditional show.

The tours generally last 3,5 hours and during them you will have a great feast of local dishes: you will surely try the fresh local smoked cheese and the "pierogies", the famous stuffed dumplings stuffed with meat and potatoes

After dinner you could stop at one of the many local pubs hidden along the main market square where you can try a cold Polish beer!

If after dinner (and after beer) you still have the energy to do something, it's a great idea to book one Krakow ghost tour to hear all the myths, stories and legends of the city.

3 day

To finish the list of what to see in Krakow in 3 days there are only two other unmissable places. One, what you absolutely cannot miss, is the Auschwitz concentration camp, the second le miniere di sale in Wieliczka.

If you decide to visit Auschwitz by public transport and independently, you will probably not be able to see both. Auschwitz is located outside Krakow and if you take the train or bus it will take you all day to visit it.

If you want to see both Auschwitz and Wieliczka the best is to take this combo tour with English guide from Civitatis.

State of God Outstanding tours in Krakow (just read the reviews) including the free ones I mentioned earlier.

Day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in katatonia82 /

Auschwitz-Birkenau, also simply called Auschwitz concentration camp, is the largest of the concentration camps and is one of the must-see day trips from Krakow.

Today the camp (it would be better to say the two camps because they are actually two within walking distance of each other) serves as a memorial to the crimes committed against Jews and other minorities during the Second World War, a place where it is possible to really realize and understand what happened in those times.

  • Related articles: Visiting Auschwitz from Krakow

We all know what happened, but visit Auschwitz it is something that will completely change your vision. I assure you. I haven't written anything about it myself because even now I can't find the words to do it.

Depending on the way you decide to go there (tour, organized, bus, rental car), the excursion lasts from 7 to 10 hours.

If you decide to go alone, I recommend you buy the Skip-the-Line Skip-the-Line Skip-the-Line Ticket.

You can get to Auschwitz by bus on your own, but if you want an organized tour (in my opinion it's totally worth it) I recommend this one from Civitatis with English guide

TOUR TRANSPORT AND TICKET INCLUDED

There is a ticket to visit Auschwitz without a guide (but with transport and ticket for the fields included) is you can find it HERE on Get Your Guide.

Krakow Salt Mines

Di Beautiful landscape /

The Wieliczka Salt Mines have been used since the Middle Ages for the production of table salt, one of the largest industries in the city, but since 2007 they are now a museum.

The visit is quite surprising because the miners have created statues, chandeliers, cathedrals and chapels carved in salt!

The visits are scheduled in groups in different languages. So it suits you book a guided tour in English first which also includes round-trip transportation from the city center.

Alternatively:

  • Mine only ticket with skip-the-line admission
  • English-speaking tour of the mines and transport included (Get Your Guide)
  • Related reading: Visit the salt mines in Krakow

Where to sleep in Krakow

Il Old Town or Jewish quarter are the best places to stay in Krakow, but the true ideal location would be somewhere between these two - this would allow for easy access to all attractions, museums, churches, restaurants, bars and the river.

Krakow is a small city where everything is easily accessible on foot and this is a huge plus.

The Vistula River is also a good place to sleep in Krakow, because you have all the points of interest close by and you get there easily by tram from the train station (Krakow Glowny).

Mine favorite hotel and which I recommend is located in Stare Miasto:

Old Town Aparthotel: just see the photos to fall in love with it. A modern and comfortable apar-thotel housed in a historic building and not even a stone's throw from Piazza Vecchia. All possible and imaginable comforts: TV, kitchenette, wifi and air conditioning. All at a super affordable price (from 70 euros / night).

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