Things to do in Krakow: 3-day Itinerarycategories: europe travel
So you’re on your way to Poland! You’ll want to start planning your trip and working out the best things to do in Krakow. In fact, you’re probably thinking, “wouldn’t it be great to have an itinerary of what to see in Krakow in 3 days?” Well, we’ve got exactly that. Read on.
Table of contents: ()
- Things to do in Krakow: Day 1- Get to know the Krakow City Centre
- Things to do in Krakow: Day 2
- Things to do in Krakow: Day 3
Things to do in Krakow: Day 1- Get to know the Krakow City Centre
Krakow is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Did you know it was one of the first cities in the world to be classed as a UNESCO-protected site? Krakow Old Town is majestic and should certainly be your first port of call. After checking in at your hotel of course.
Eat a fancy Krakow Breakfast
Krakow center is mainly pedestrianized, so you’ll be doing plenty of walking if you want to see it properly. Better start with a good breakfast.
Assuming you don’t get breakfast in your hotel, then you’ll be searching for the best breakfast in Krakow – and there are plenty of great options.
Charlotte Bistro in Plac Szczepanski is popular with locals and tourists alike. This fancy French patisserie serves up warm croissants and fresh bread with a selection of fruit jams and homemade chocolate spread.
You can even add a glass of something bubbly to your breakfast order- the perfect way to start off your 3 days in Krakow.
Take a Krakow Old Town Free Walking Tour
Start your first day with a Krakow Old Town Free Walking Tour to get to know the city. Free walking tours are popular all over Europe and are one of the best (and cheapest) ways to familiarize yourself with the main areas of any city.
Some of the most popular Krakow free walking tours are operated by City Walks Krakow.
The company’s Krakow tour guides provide fun and entertaining walks around the city. The free tours give tourists great insight into Poland’s fascinating history and guests just leave tips. During the tour, you’ll tick off all the main sights, including Krakow castle, Wawel cathedral, and the Krakow trumpeter. The guide can also offer you helpful tips on other great things to do in Krakow.
Visit Wawel Cathedral
The Krakow Old Town free walking tour finishes inside Krakow castle (Wawel) meaning you are in the right place if you want to visit one of the city’s most famous churches.
Wawel Cathedral (pronounced va-vel), is Krakow’s royal church. It’s one of the most historical sites in Poland and was the place of the coronations of every Polish king. A ticket gets you entry to the beautiful cathedral, as well as entry to the bell tower and the ‘Tomb of the kings’. The tomb is the final resting place of many of Poland’s most famous historical figures, including royalty and national poets.
Try some Polish Pierogi
There are plenty of great restaurants in Krakow, which are perfect for trying some local Polish food. Poland’s most famous dish is Pierogi. Boiled, fried, or baked dumplings stuffed with cheese and potato, meat, or cabbage. They can be found in restaurants all around Krakow Old Town. Check out U Babci Maliny (meaning at Raspberry Grandma’s) for a unique Krakow dining experience.
Eat Pączki (Polish donuts)
Forget the famous donut brands you think you love and dine on Polish pączki (pronounced pon-shki). These huge, warm donuts are a traditional Polish sweet snack. There’s even a celebratory day dedicated entirely to them every year in February called Tłusty Czwartek, translating to ‘Fat Thursday’ in English. Quite possibly the greatest day in the Polish calendar.
The traditional filling is rose jam, but nowadays, pączki stuffed with sweet favorites like Nutella are just as common. There are several pączki bakeries around Krakow, with the most famous being Dobra Pączkarnia.
Join the Jewish Quarter Krakow free tour
I know what you’re thinking, didn’t we already join one free walking tour? Yes, but hold on, this is a totally different experience.
Krakow Old Town is the most beautiful and most popular part of the city, but it is the charming and historic Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz, where its history really comes to life.
A Jewish Quarter Krakow free walking tour takes you away from the crowded Old Town to the quaint streets of Kazimierz, a once independent royal city. It is here that the tragic events of World War Two in Krakow took place. Memorably depicted in Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List,’ it is the area where the Jewish synagogues and former Krakow ghetto are located.
City Walks Krakow offers a free tour to this area in the afternoons, and it comes highly recommended if you want a thought-provoking insight into Krakow’s tragic past.
So, why not join this tour another day instead of on the same day as the Old Town tour, I hear you ask? Simply put, because there is much more to do the next day!
Visiting Krakow Old Town and Jewish Quarter Krakow on your first full day will mean you have already seen both of the major parts of the city by the end of your first day. You will have learned quite a bit too. Meaning you still have two full days of your Krakow itinerary left, which is just as well as there are plenty more things to do in Krakow to fit in. Especially given that you will be spending your second day outside of the city. More on that to follow.
Eat Zapiekanka at Plac Nowy
If you’re on a strict diet, then you may want to put in one pause while in Krakow. There are some tasty local favorite foods to try, but none are particularly kind on the old waistline. Well, at least you’ll be doing plenty of walking!
In the evening, after your Jewish Quarter Krakow free tour, you’re in the perfect place to rest your legs and get some well-earned dinner. Plac Nowy in Kazimierz is a 17th-century Jewish marketplace that is now a revived hub of buzzing bars and street food.
No street food in Krakow is more famous than the Zapiekanka. These long, pizza-like baguettes were originally sold in the 1970s during Communism in Poland. They were a cheap way for vendors to make money selling these tasty snacks from the windows of Plac Nowy’s octagonal centerpiece, the Okraglak.
Originally topped with mushrooms and cheese, nowadays Zapiekanki (plural form) come with just about any veg or meat topping you can wish for, and they’re still very cheap. A 30cm long baguette will set you back around 12zl (€2.65/ $3.20).
Check out the best bars in Kazimierz.
The former Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, is filled with rustic old bars and candle-lit corners. Some of the most popular are based around Plac Nowy. Finish off your zapiekanka and head for a drink. Alchemia, Eszeweria, and Singer are all close by, and all are popular in their own right. Eszeweria has a beautiful garden, while Alchemia and Singer are known for their atmosphere.
Things to do in Krakow: Day 2
Visit Auschwitz & the Krakow Salt Mines
The two most popular things to do in Krakow, ironically are not actually in Krakow itself, but rather just outside the city. These being a visit to Auschwitz concentration camp and the Krakow salt mines.
Along with Krakow Old Town, both Auschwitz concentration camp and the Krakow Salt Mines are UNESCO world heritage sites. As well as being two of the most popular tourists sites in Poland.
Auschwitz is a museum and memorial at the former World War Two Nazi concentration camp. It is a thought-provoking and harrowing place, that is a must-see if you want to learn about the holocaust – one of the most shocking and important events in history. Booking is essential and a guide strongly recommended.
You might now start to see why on the first day of our ‘what to do in Krakow in 3 days’ itinerary. We recommend taking two walking tours on your first day – one of Krakow Old Town and a second, of Jewish Quarter Krakow, because your second day will be spent away from the city center.
As well as this, a tour of the Krakow Jewish Quarter lays the groundwork for what happened during World War Two in the years before Auschwitz and better prepares you for what will follow when you visit the concentration camp.
Getting to Auschwitz from Krakow
Going by car to Auschwitz
How you get to Auschwitz from Krakow will depend on your mode of transport. The camp itself is around 1.5 hours (about 70km) West of Krakow centre. If you have your own car then it is a simple enough drive.
However, you must register to visit beforehand on the official Auschwitz website. Entry is free, but it is advised to book a guided tour to get the most out of your visit.
Traveling by public bus to Auschwitz from Krakow
A public bus runs regularly (usually every half an hour) from Krakow to Oswiecim- the town where Auschwitz is located. The bus leaves Krakow main bus station (Krakow MDA) and drops off in the town of Oswiecim. From there you can walk around 10 minutes to the camp. The public bus is pretty cheap at around 25zl return. However, the bus can get busy so you should be aiming to leave Krakow at least two hours before your Auschwitz tour is scheduled to begin.
A visit to Auschwitz actually invoices visiting two camps, Auschwitz and Auschwitz- Birkenau Two. To travel between the two you will have to wait for a separate shuttle bus that operates regularly between the camps.
Auschwitz tour- Pick up from Hotel
Many visitors to Auschwitz from Krakow choose to do so by taking a private Auschwitz tour, with pick up from their hotel in Krakow.
This option costs a little more with prices starting from around 160pln (€35/$42) but it’s much more convenient. You will be picked up from Krakow and driven to Auschwitz by mini-bus. Your tour will include entry to the camp and a private guided tour. You will then hop back onto the minibus to be driven between camps one and two. Afterward, you will be driven directly back to Krakow.
The whole trip by private tour takes around 6 hours (3 hours traveling and 3 hours visiting the camps). In the summer months when it can be very busy at Auschwitz, or in the winter months when it can get very cold, a direct option can be much quicker and afford you more time to spend in Krakow. This is particularly important if you’re planning to visit the Krakow Salt mines on the same day. On that note…
Getting to the Krakow Salt Mines
The Krakow Salt Mines are technically in Wieliczka, a small town around 15km outside of Krakow. As well as being centuries old, the Krakow Salt Mines are a UNESCO world heritage site (along with Krakow Old Town and Auschwitz) and are well worth a visit.
They are the result of hundreds of years of salt mining in the area. The main draws are underground chapels and even an underground cathedral, all made out of salt by miners centuries ago. The whole experience is quite unique.
You can reach the mines easily by bus from Krakow MDA bus station. Entry to the mines for non-Polish visitors is 93pln (€21/$25).
A tour of the mines takes around 3 hours and tickets can be booked through the official Krakow Salt Mines site.
However, like with Auschwitz, the Krakow Salt Mines can get very busy. Around 1.5 million people visit every year (and approximately 2 million visit Auschwitz). So you need to book in advance.
The last entry to the Salt Mines isn’t until 5 pm, with the mines closing around 8 pm in summer to allow for the three-hour tour. If you are driving, you could start at Auschwitz in the morning and stop off in Wieliczka at the mines on your way back to Krakow.
If traveling by public transport, you have to return to the Krakow MDA bus station from Auschwitz and then head back out the 15km to the salt mines.
One-day Auschwitz and Krakow Salt Mines tour
If you don’t have a car, but you’re also not on a super-tight budget, then by far the easiest way to see both Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mines on the same day is to book a one-day Auschwitz and Krakow Salt Mines tour.
With prices starting from around 300pln (€67/$80), a one-day tour from Krakow includes all transportation, entry, and a guided tour of both Auschwitz camps, followed by entry and a guided tour of the Krakow Salt Mines. It is a full day’s excursion outside of Krakow and takes around 10 hours.
The advantage of the one-day trip is it’s a great time-saver, particularly when you only have 3 days in Krakow.
The reason we would do it this way is you only spend one day outside of Krakow center. You can see the major parts of the city on day 1, head out of Krakow on day 2, and still have one full day to fit in anything else that you haven’t had a chance to do.
However, the one-day trip can be a long day. If you think it might be too much for you, then visit Auschwitz on day 2 and save the Krakow Salt Mines for the morning of day 3.
If you do opt for the one-day trip, you’ll be pretty exhausted by the time you get back to Krakow. So you’ll most likely just grab a quick dinner and get some well-earned rest ready for day 3.
Things to do in Krakow: Day 3
Visit the best museums in Krakow
Schindler’s Factory Museum
There are plenty of great museums in Krakow. Among the most famous is Schindler’s factory museum (Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory), immortalized in the epic World War Two film Schindler’s List. The story is brought to life here, in one of Krakow’s most visited museums, located on the former site of the factory.
The museum is an excellent insight into World War Two in Krakow. It will also help fill in the gaps in your knowledge of anything that hasn’t already been covered by your Jewish Quarter Krakow free tour or your visit to Auschwitz in the 2 days prior to this.
It should be noted that although the museum is excellent, it is not a tour of the original factory. The original factory no longer survives, but visitors do see Schindler’s original office, which was used as a filming location for the movie.
Entry is free on a Monday morning; however, tickets are limited. General admission to the museum costs 28zl (€6/$7.5). It’s best to book in advance through the official Schindler’s Factory museum site to avoid disappointment.
If by this point in your 3-day Krakow itinerary, you’re already overwhelmed by the somewhat somber topic of World War Two, then there are plenty of other great museums in Krakow you can try.
For art lovers, Krakow has its own Leonardo DaVinci painting, ‘Lady with an Ermine.’ It is housed in the beautiful and newly renovated Czartoryski museum.
If you fancy something a little different, check out the Underground Museum Krakow– one of the most unique museums in the city. Housed beneath the main square, the underground museum is the medieval remains of Krakow from centuries ago.
Eat at a Polish Milk Bar
Harking back to Poland’s Communist days, Bar Mleczny (Milk bars) are a chance to try some Polish cuisine on a budget while also experiencing the culture of Poland’s past.
Once-upon-a-time ‘milk bars’ were workers’ canteens that served up dishes made from dairy when meat became too expensive. Nowadays, they have the full menu of Polish favorites, meat or otherwise, but they’re still the cheapest places to get a good meal and perfect for a quick lunch.
There are plenty of milk bars located around Krakow Old Town, but Milkbar Tomasza and Polakowski are among the most popular.
Visit St. Mary’s Basilica
St. Mary’s Basilica- Krakow is one of the most famous buildings in Poland. Located in Krakow main square, it is the focal point for many of its most important stories and religious events.
Your Krakow Old Town free walking tour on day 1 will tell you all about the history of Krakow’s most famous church, but day 3 of your Krakow itinerary is your chance to take a look inside the majestic 14th-century building.
Housed inside the beautiful basilica is the world’s largest wooden, Gothic altarpiece. It was carved by hand by German artist Weit Stoss in the 15th- century. As well as this, there are magnificent stained glass windows created by local artist Stanisław Wyspianki.
Entry to St. Mary’s basilica costs 12zl. You can also pay a little extra to climb the 182 meters to the top of the church tower, from where you not only get one of the best views in Krakow. You also get a front-row seat when the Krakow trumpeter plays his famous hourly call.
Try Delicious Ice-cream at Good Lood
In Poland, ice cream is popular. In fact, that’s an understatement. Most poles absolutely love ice cream! There are popular ice-cream parlors all over Krakow, but none are more popular than Good Lood.
With branches now located all over the city, Good Lood has taken Krakow by storm in recent years. And with unique flavors, like Himalayan Salted Caramel, Good Lood has become a must-try stop-off for tourists as well as locals.
Join a Krakow Food Tour
By this point in your 3-day Krakow itinerary, you might have tried some Polish cuisine, but there is much more to Polish food than pierogi dumplings.
With tourists often scared to try new dishes, particularly if they don’t know what they’re ordering from a menu, joining a Krakow food tour can be a great way to try some new cuisine.
The great thing about a Krakow food tour is you will get to try lots of different Polish food throughout the night. So even if one dish doesn’t set your taste buds racing, the next course surely will.
Food tours take away the stress and responsibility of trying to find the best restaurants in Krakow to eat in. Meaning tourists can just relax and be led around the city trying new dishes.
The cheaper Krakow food tours tend to be tasting sessions, whereas others offer a full dining experience, complete with local vodkas to try. After all, no trip to Poland should be free of the country’s most famous export!
The Full Polish Dining and Vodka experience is a full-dining evening tour that offers guests a chance to try some of Poland’s most famous dishes without paying through the nose for it. Guests are well-fed from start to finish and get to try different flavored vodkas to wash it down.
Drink a Mad Dog Shot
Many Krakow food tours will include vodka, but not all will include the infamous Wśiekły Pies, Mad Dog! (although the tour above does).
If you haven’t had a chance to try one by this point, duck into one of Krakow’s ‘shot bars.’ Spread across every city in Poland, are bars that serve a very simple purpose- to serve up vodka shots quickly and cheaply. One of the most well-known around Krakow is Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa. Here, you can knock back one of Poland’s most notorious vodka shots, which comes complete with raspberry syrup and Tabasco. It packs quite a punch, but then they do say you should do one thing every day that scares you!
Fortunately, Krakow also serves up some delicious (and very cheap) cold beers, and you can cool down your burning tongue with something a little more refreshing; while toasting to a great 3-days in Krakow.