Each month we showcase an exceptional European city – Kraków is our focus in January…
Showcasing a stunning range of architecture – from Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque and art nouveau – Kraków is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
Ringed by Planty Park and what remains of the city’s medieval walls, the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site containing Rynek Glówny market square, St Mary’s Basilica, and the Renaissance-era Cloth Hall.
Kraków is Poland’s leading academic, spiritual/religious, and economic centre, and arguably the cultural capital with a celebrated arts, literature, music, film and food scene to be found.
The city has a dark and sobering past, having been invaded by Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War II. Visitors can now visit the Old Jewish quarter or take a trip to the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp to learn more about this episode of Kraków’s rich history.
Summary: Winning the accolade of European Capital of Culture in 2000, with exceptional architecture, fascinating heritage, leafy parks, and lively nightlife, Kraków is a city with broad appeal and is an excellent destination for:
- Leisure groups
Population of Kraków: 760,000
Annual tourist numbers: 13 million
Location: in southern Poland, on the Vistula River and at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains.
Nearest airport: Kraków airport is 10 kilometres west of the city centre.
Getting around Kraków:
- The city has an integrated bus and tram network.
- Kraków taxis are reliable and affordable.
- Bike rentals are also popular in the summer months.
What to eat and drink in Kraków:
Traditional Polish dishes include kielbasa (sausages served with grilled onions and pickles in bread), bigos (cabbage and sausage stew), pierogies (filled dumplings, containing anything from potato and cheese to spinach, sauerkraut, mushrooms or meat), zapiekanka (a grilled open sandwich), and racuchy (apple pancakes). Krakow has a thriving craft beer scene and flavoured sipping vodkas are also popular.
Weather/seasons in Kraków:
Kraków has a temperate continental climate – the best months to visit are May to October. July is the hottest month, with an average high of 24°C and seven hours of sunshine but it can also receive a lot of rain. Winters (November to February) are cold – the coldest month is January at an average of -4°C.
Kraków’s top 10 attractions:
1. Old Town and Rynek Glówny (market square) – within the UNESCO-status city centre is Europe’s largest medieval market square, including the Cloth Hall and numerous cafes and bars.
2. Wawel Royal Castle – a fusion of Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo and Romanesque architecture with panoramic views, museums and court rooms.
3. Wawel Cathedral – an impressive Baroque and Gothic façade, with soaring belfry and crypts beneath the basilica.
4. Kazimierz, the Old Jewish Quarter – the historic area has been rejuvenated over time. Schindler’s Factory, the original factory and filming location for the film, is now an interactive museum documenting the war in Poland.
5. St Mary’s Basilica – the iconic 14th century twin spires have become symbols of Krakow.
6. Wieliczka Salt Mine – visitors can explore the underground cathedral and carved passageways of the former rock salt mine.
7. Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp – the nearby memorial museum gives an insight into the horrific events of the Holocaust.
8. Planty Park – serving as a green belt arounf the Old Town, the scenic park boasts sculptures and fountains.
9. Florianska Street – a bustling area packed full of vodka and craft beer bars and souvenir shops.
10. Czartoryski Museum – one of Poland’s oldest museums, containing works by da Vinci, Rembrandt, antiquities and sculptures.
Best times to visit Kraków
- March, April and May are good months to visit Kraków: days are sunny and the colours of spring decorate the surrounding landscape.
- The summer months can be busier and temperatures rise but visitors will enjoy a host of lively music festivals and cultural celebrations.
- From September to November, Kraków is still pleasantly warm but tourist numbers will have reduced again.
- The winter months can be very cold but the city looks beautiful under a layer of snow and the Christmas markets are charming.
Our 8-day Poland itinerary combines Kraków with Warsaw, Auschwitz, and Gdansk, or contact our team for a tailor-made European itinerary for your clients.