What to see in Krakow. Travel itinerary.

krakow poland travel itinerary

Krakow is a beautiful city in Poland. Rich in history and culture, also remembered for its splendid Christmas market. On this trip, I will tell you what to visit in three days, between the castle, the Jewish area, and the salt mines.

krakow poland Square Wawel Castle
Square of Wawel Castle

The Royal Castle of Wawel.

The exhibitions in the castle are divided into permanent and seasonal. The cost varies depending on the exhibits you choose.
It is closed on Mondays and several other days and holidays, so check on the linked⏩ site.
In my case, I could visit the castle only on December 8 with free entry, but only to visit 3 rooms. It's not possible to take pictures inside and to pay in euros.
According to the times and days there are guides in various languages.
Admission to the hill is free.
As for the permanent exhibitions we find:
  • The environments of the Royal Representation.
  • The Royal Private Apartments.
  • The Armory and the Crown Treasure.
  • The Art of the East.
  • The missing Wawel.
Seasonal exhibitions include:

  • The Dragon Cave.
  • The "Sandomierska" rampart.
  • The buildings and gardens of Wawel Hill.

krakow poland castel street
External view of Wawel Castle

Wawel Cathedral.

Located on the hill of the castle, it is considered the sanctuary of Poland.
You can visit the bell towers, the clock tower (with the clock mechanism), the cathedral museum and the royal tombs.
The opening times for paid entry change depending on various holidays.
The "Sandomierska" rampart. The buildings and gardens of Wawel Hill.
 site ⏩

krakow poland cathedral
cathedral complex

The Wieliczka Salt Mines.

To visit the mines, you can buy your ticket online or directly at the counter.
Know that there is also the guide in Italian (in addition to other languages), but only at certain times. So, it's advisable to book your ticket online.
There are several route options. In the case of a tourist route, the visit takes about 3 hours.
WARNING: All year round the internal temperature is 14/16 Celsius degrees (statement made by the guide). So, in summer dress up heavy, in winter get ready to get warm.
You will have to descend about 800 steps (wooden) to a depth of 135 meters.
Go down by foot,  get up by elevator!
There are a bar and a gift shop (first stop), a restaurant, a ballroom and other souvenir shops (second stop).
Know that some souvenirs can also be found at the airport.

krakow Wieliczka poland
Inner chapel of Wieliczka

The old textile market.

krakow poland market street
The old textile market.

The textile market, located in the main square of Krakow, is the headquarters of the Polish Painting Gallery.
It is possible to organize guided tours inside or visit the part of the galleries where there are small shops with souvenirs, jewelry, and typical objects.
Links for travel ⏩

krakow Rynek Glòwny square street
Rynek Glòwny square overlooking the textile market.

Barbarian of Krakow.

The Barbacan, or a fortified outpost dating back to the medieval period, is the third in Europe to have remained intact to this day. Site⏩

The basilica of St. Mary's.
The basilica with its Gothic style is located in the complex of the main market square.
The beauty of its interior and its towers make it a destination to absolutely see.
You can visit it and buy tickets on the website ⏩

krakow Basilica Santa Maria poland
Basilica of Santa Maria

The mall: Galeria Krakowska.

krakow poland Square
Square in front of the shopping center

The Galeria Krakowska shopping center is located near the train station. It contains more than 200 shops, restaurants, and supermarkets.
It is not your typical tourist attraction to visit, BUT if you reach Krakow by train (from the airport) it will be the first thing you will encounter.
I recommend you go upstairs to do the shopping at the Carrefour, as the one on the floor, adjacent to the exit from the station, is much smaller.
Interesting shops: surely if you know the Xiaomi brand and want to see one, you can find it here.
There are also several shops offering souvenirs and Christmas items other than those in the city center.
Food prices are the same both downtown and here.

What to eat in Krakow:

krakow obwarzanek poland

A bit bagel and a little brezel, it has historical origins and ancient legends.
Don't worry: can find them anywhere!
The price is basic of 2 Zloty equal to about 50 cents, except for the airport (placed after the checks), the cost is 3 Zloty. You can taste them with above: salt (and know that they are very salty! 😑), with sesame, poppy seeds, and melted cheese.
The taste is good whether you buy them in a blue stall on the street, in the shops or at the airport.

krakow poland streetfood

The Pieroghi or Pierogi, are half-moon Tortelli stuffed with cheese or meat or sweet jams and also in batter and vegan.
You can eat them in the main square, the Rynek Gowny, where there is a Christmas Market or comfortably at the restaurant.
As far as I'm concerned, the best I could taste were in the restaurant "Introligatornia Smaku", with small details, but keeping the typical tradition.
These sweets, a little like Krapfens, but also like Donuts, are a sin of gluttony that you cannot but taste!
The most typical and recommended is the one with rose jam, but I recommend the caramel one in a late-night open pastry (list at the bottom).

Oscypek is a smoked cheese that smells very reminiscent of an Italian scamorza. I was told (by those who accompanied me) that inside it resembled a bit of an Emmental.
At the Christmas market stalls, you can taste it made on the grill and wrapped in ham.
My lactose intolerance and I preferred to avoid tasting it.

krakow poland Oscypek

Zapiekanka are an open sandwich or slice of bread topped with mushrooms and cheese.
Here I would say I found two versions. The first is a slice of homemade bread toasted and seasoned with things of your choice. The second is a bread that looks almost like a pizza.
Both are good, you can find them at the Christmas market and the price is around 12 Zlotys (about 2.80 euros).

krakow Zapiekanka food

Typical sausage.
Typical sausage with an accompaniment of sauerkraut and various sauces.

krakow typical sausage poland
Typical sausages Christmas market

Soups also called Zurek.
The pickled cucumber soup.

krakow soup cuccumber

Sweets like: Cheesecake, Piernik, Gingerbread, and Paczki.

krakow GóralskiePraliny cake
Góralskie Praliny

How to get to Krakow from the airport.

To reach the center of Krakow when you arrive you have 5 choices:
  1. The train. As mentioned, you will reach the city center near the mall. Site ⏩
  2. The bus. From Google Maps it's about 42 minutes with the 252 bus.
  3. The tram. Also from Google Maps, the tram 52 will take you to the center in 46 minutes.
  4. Car with transfer service.
    Consider that in the city center, where there is a Christmas market (tissue square), it's not possible to pass by car except electric cars and taxis.
    With the GetYourGuide service, you can request an electric car that will take you right downtown. 
  5. Taxi.

How to get around the city.

In the city center, around the Rynek Glòwny, you can move in horse-drawn carriages, electric cars, and cars with permits.
In the rest of the city, there are coaches with 4 ticket formulas: The 20-minute format for the price of 3.40 Zl and reduced version; the 50-minute at 4.60Zl format and reduced version; 90 minutes for the price of 6 Zl and reduced version; in addition to subscription type for all day, two days or three days and 7 days. Site⏩
Tickets are on sale at almost every bus stops or directly on the vehicle for a surcharge.

The Christmas Market is very nice and makes the Christmas spirit, but the decorations for sale at the stalls and nearby shops do not have a great variety.
As prices, a hand-decorated snowball costs about 10 € (in Turin a similar size, at the Christmas market cost about 20 €). Higher prices can be found for all those glass decorations with figures. In that case, the price can be as high as 40 €.

krakow Christmas decoration
Christmas decoration

Espresso in Krakow.

Now I want to specialize in this topic (see how many will copy me!).
However, there are plenty of cafes with different types of cafes including espresso.
For us Italians, lovers of the espresso, it is always a problem abroad, but I must say that the majority of bars in Krakow offer a good espresso very similar to ours.
The price is around 2 €.
The best? In the Jewish quarter at the bakery: Galeria Tortów Artystycznych.

Exchange currency exchange:

Be careful of the exchange sign outside the Exchange, because you can confuse the change of sale with the purchase one and then put it back.
Don't change in the Exchanges on Rynek Główny square as they are not convenient.
In my experience I had a good time with a good chance at Parana Kantor Exchange in Grodzka 61; GRODZKA EXCHANGE / KANTOR WYMIANY WALUT in Grodzka 48 and ROYAL KANTOR Krakow in  Szewska 19.

Conclusions and itinerary.

I visited Krakow right at the highlight of the Christmas Market. Given the timing, I decided to dedicate a post exclusively to my experience for the Market and the Salt Mines.
Briefly, Krakow is a very characteristic and historic city.
Perfect as a tourist destination for the Christmas Markets, to celebrate New Year's Eve, but also during the rest of the year.
Get ready not only for mild temperatures (consider that you are in the east and close in the airline to Prague) but also for the darkness that here comes first.
Actually, at 3.30 pm in December, it was already pitch dark and this could create some problems for you.
In my case, the biggest problem was the desire to dine at 5 pm and I don't think I was the only one.
In fact, in the restaurants, you could find people eating at any time and I honestly don't know if they were having dinner, lunch or making a mix at 4 pm.
Also, most restaurants close at 9 pm and almost everyone needs a reservation.
To organize your visit, you must take into account that it will take half a day only to the Salt Mines, another half day to visit the castle and its exhibitions and at least one day for the rest of the city including the Jewish quarter.
I advise you to read the history of the birth of the Jewish quarter before going there.
The Jewish quarter offers many popular restaurants and also clubs and bars of great interest.
But be careful because in Krakow vegans are at home!

krakow restorant vegab vegan poland

Having said that, I did the opposite, as I first visited the Jewish quarter and then read its history. I would have preferred to document myself earlier.
Why did I also include the "Galeria Krakowska" mall in places to visit?
Around the city, you can find many shops open even 24hours like Carrefour, but to have a wide choice of typical products to take home, I recommend the shopping center.

Don't get me wrong, the city center offers plenty of shops, including shops that only sell typical liquor and beers (and who knows why I had check-in luggage at 21.5kg that was empty at the start), but visiting the mall you'll have more choice also on the packaged pierogi and why not even additional souvenirs.

Present on the top floor of the mall are many restaurants and fast-food chains, but also a vegan fast food restaurant!
There is also a Lego Museum near the mall.
Fun fact: traffic lights, except on the busiest and largest roads, are off.
The curiosity is that motorists stop, when they see a pedestrian in the process of pedestrian strips!
Lots of pastries and chocolate shops around the center. The price for 12 chocolates with assorted tastes of choice is around 6 euros and many locals stay open until 1 a.m.
Thanks to my curiosity to visit supermarkets abroad, I discovered pickled cucumber soup. Discovered because I was intrigued by the soup in a sachet to be heated in the cup in the microwave of a well-known brand also present in Italy.
I also found that they have many beers, but only 2 types of wine and aromas for "weird" sweets that I have yet to try!
Overall: Flight and Transportation - Hotel - Food and Souvenir we stayed on a budget of 500 euros for 3 nights.

krakow itinerary travel poland

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