Kraków is one of the largest cities in Poland with a population of over 750,000 thousand Cracovians. The city is located on the banks of the beautiful Vistula River in the south of Poland. Although the city is no longer the official capital, it’s still known as Poland’s royal capital.
1. The Vistula River
One of the most enjoyable ways to start your tour of the city is by River Tram. Not only is this a relaxing way to start any holiday, it is also a great way to get a feel for a city that has so much to offer. Boat rides and cruises on the Vistula River usually run from May through to September. The prices are very reasonable and trips usually last two to three hours. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can always rent a kayak or if you don’t feel like slumming it you should check out the twelve-person luxury Bentley catamaran!
2. The Stare Miasto Historic District
A must see when in Kraków has to be the Stare Miasto historic district. It’s the location of the city’s Old Town, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is well worth a visit. The Old Town is the location of the bustling Main Square (Rynek Główny) and is always a lively hub of activity. The Square is the largest medieval square in Europe and is a great place to grab a coffee or something stronger. You should check out the many medieval basement cafés and bars that are located throughout the area as well as the famous Gothic Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). Originally a commercial establishment that traded in cloth, today you are more likely to find great holiday souvenirs here.
3. St. Mary’s Church
To the north-east of the Main Square lies St. Mary’s Church. The church is best known for being the only tower in the world where you can still hear the music of a bugle being played four times a day! The famous Heynal or Hejnał mariacki is the name of the five-note tune that is sounded from the tower by a trumpeter and you will need to climb up 239 steps to reach him! It is well worth the effort and you will be warmly welcomed to the top.
4. The Royal Road
The Royal Road runs right through the Main Square and takes you all the way up to the Gothic Wawel Castle. The castle was the seat of Poland’s royalty and the Royal Road was the route of many coronation processions. The Royal Road is an enjoyable walking tour and there are many landmarks along the way including the Academy of Fine Arts and the Czartoryski Museum and Library.
5. The Kazimierz District
The Kazimierz district is within close range of the Castle and is another must see. The once independent city is probably most well known for being the shooting location of the Oscar winning film, Schindler’s List. The area is now host to the Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków.
Whatever you expect from your trip to Kraków you will not be disappointed. As they say in Poland, miłej podróży!!
Top 3 accommodations in Kraków, Poland
- Royal Hotel – double room from €50/£43/$67
- Hotel Secesja – standard double room from £45/€52/$70
- Hotel Rezydent – double room from €55/£48/$74
Photo of St Andrew’s Church in Krakow, Poland, by smif.