Krakow, formerly known as the official capital of Poland, illustrates Polish cultural, artistic, economic, and academic ambience with finesse. From Wieliczka Salt Mine to the Polish Aviation Museum, the city opens the door to an unforgettable journey with a blend of different centuries. Whether you want to stroll on its Polish streets at night or lose yourself in the cultural displays at Churches and museums, this UNESCO World Heritage Site will make every moment count. We have curated a list of the 15 best things to do in Krakow, Poland, for you to make the most of your trip to this mesmerising city.
Main Market Square
The Main Market Square is located in the heart of the Old Town. Adorned by majestic views of buildings and historic townhouses, the spot is undoubtedly the largest town square in Europe. Hosting an array of cafes, restaurants, and shops, the Main Market Square invites you to take a break from sightseeing and revel in leisure with good food and shopping. Commercial activities are the essence of the market, but at the same time, it manages to be one of the best places to visit in Krakow for tourists.
St Mary's Basilica
St Mary’s Basilica, one of the most remarkable places in the city, towers right above the main market square. Built-in 1347, it features two towers of different heights bathed in red-brick demeanour. The tallest one introduces you to stunning views of the Old Town. As you traverse inside, the stained-glass windows, gorgeous paintings, and a spectacular Gothic altarpiece captivate you in no time. St Mary’s Basilica is a must-visit place in Krakow, exemplifying the best Polish Gothic art and architecture.
Treat yourself to the consulates of the Second World War at Schindler's Factory. This factory was named after Oskar Schindler, who saved over 1,000 Jews during the war. His story was enacted by Steven Spielberg in the movie Schindler’s List. Today, it is a museum, hosting visitors to learn about the Schindler and the Nazi occupation through various photos and memorabilia.
Kazimierz has spanned most of its past as a Jewish district. There was also a time when it was recognised as a Royal City. While it no longer has the identity of a particular Jewish destination, you will still find it fragrant of that culture - thanks to the Jewish restaurants and buildings. As you map your way through cobbled streets, you’ll find various synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. When you start delving into history, the monuments and museums make things more interesting.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most incredible places in Krakow, Poland. Located 327 meters below, its churches, tunnels, chambers, and passages are exactly what you need for a puzzle-like experience. It is one of the oldest and longest salt mines from the 13th century that came to a complete shutdown in 2007. Today, it has become a tourist attraction where you can witness and even taste the sparkly salt streams. One notable feature of the mine is that the miners sculpted the churches and statues.
When in Krakow, do not miss out on anything the Wawel Cathedral offers. Built-in Gothic fashion and elevated by different Renaissance features, the cathedral is where many of Poland’s kings, queens, and nobles have been crowned and buried. The interior walks you through many tombs, chapels, and crypts dedicated to some of the most influential people in the history of Poland. Give into the arts and architecture at Wawel Cathedral that takes you to a whole different era in a glimpse.
The outside of the Old Town brings you the characteristic red-brick Barbican building. On your way inside, you will be amazed to see the finest displays depicting a lot about the Gothic-style Barbican and its role in defending the city from the Russians, Austrians, and Swedes. The construction of this building dates back to 1498, and it was the time when it used to be a chain of predominant fortifications that protected Krakow. Today, you will find only a gatehouse in its name.
Planty Park is one of the largest parks in the city surrounding the Old Town. It is the location of the old medieval city walls that were demolished in the early 1800s. Decorated with landscapes of gardens and monuments of notable figures in history, such as King Wladyslaw II Jagiello and Copernicus, the park offers a perfect place to take a stroll. With time, a captivating galore of trees, fountains, and flowerbeds finely took the spot, and it couldn’t have looked better.
Franciscan Church, a monastery church, is the reflection of the by-product of the Mongol Invasion. Consecrated during the 13th century, the church exemplifies Krakow's hallmark brick and sandstone architecture. Stanisław Wyspiański, the founder of the Young Poland movement and an artist, breathed new life into the church after it was almost finished by a catastrophic fire in 1850. He aced the apse and choir with eight Art Nouveau-stained glass windows and painted murals using geometric and floral motifs. A slew of traditional paintings by artists Tadeusz Popiel and Władysław Rossowski peppered more beauty on it, and the church is now one of the best places to visit in Krakow.
Basilica of St Francis
The Basilica of St Francis is the perfect place for the explorers of architecture. Built-in the 13th century, it is a place with an incredible Art Nouveau interior. Designed by Stanislaw Wyspianski, the colourful walls and stained-glass windows complement the church most delightfully. Don’t forget to check the iconic centrepiece off the must-see list while you wander around this exquisite site.
Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
Built between 1597 and 1619, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is one of the oldest Baroque buildings in Poland. The Italian architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni gave this beautiful site a face. The most noteworthy features of the church include stuccoes overhead and a Foucault pendulum. The facade is enhanced with statues of many Jesuit saints. Visit the church in the evening, and you will find yourself diving into the classical music concerts.
Polish Aviation Museum
East of the city unveils the Polish Aviation Museum, one of the world's best museums in this segment. It is located where the Krakow-Rakowice-Czyzyny Airport once was. The museum has a captivating collection of over two hundred aircraft and much more that will woo you even if you’re not an aviation fanatic. Brace yourself for a momentous day as you head to the museum, where the world of pre-war Polish planes, fighter jets, bombers, and helicopters await you.
Sukiennice, the Krakow Cloth Hall
The Cloth Hall is one of the remarkable buildings in the city that croons about exquisite Renaissance-style architecture right from its joyful and happening location- the main market square in the Old Town. As you walk through the building, you cannot help but give into the glory of its prominence in Central Europe’s trading network. Today, the place attracts tourists with its extensive collection of souvenirs and arts and crafts. Moving up to the second floor, Sukiennice Museum will host an amalgamation of 19th-century Polish artworks.
Built-in the 14th century, Collegium Maius is the oldest building of Jagiellonian University. Named after the Latin word, Maius means ‘Great College’. It is located right off the main market square in the Old Town of Krakow, and its red-brick facet flaunts lovely Gothic architecture. Then there is an arcaded courtyard that steals the show. The lecture rooms and ceremonial halls translate elegance at best, and the library adds a new world to the interior. It also has a museum where you will find some of the works and manuscripts of Nicolaus Copernicus, the famous Polish astronomer and mathematician who studied here.
Wawel Royal Castle
The Wawel Royal Castle used to be Poland's political and cultural centre. Built-in the 13th and 14th centuries, it emerged as a crown adding to the soothing view of the Vistula River. Tracing your way to a large courtyard, you will find several compelling buildings, including a Gothic crown treasury, a Renaissance palace, and the Wawel Cathedral. Its substantial collection of militaria and artworks make Wawel Royal Castle one of Krakow's best places to visit.
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