Krakow Travel Guide


With the arrival of low-cost airlines and continued expansion of the local airport, the number of visitors to Kraków is increasing. Although tourists now arrive in great numbers all year-round, the peak season to visit Kraków is between May and October. In terms of weather, May and September are probably the most pleasant months to visit the city, but Kraków has something to offer for each season.

Temperatures can get very cold in the winter, down to–20°C (–4°F), and summer days are reliably hot, with temperatures of up to 35°C (95°F). The weather is often unpredictable and can turn very rapidly; therefore, it is advised to bring an umbrella and a jacket even when you are traveling in the summer, just in case.

Krakovians love any opportunity to celebrate, and no matter when you come to town, you are almost sure to stumble upon some kind of cultural festival of music, theater, film, or dance. Some of the most famous include the Shanties sea songs festival in February; the Misteria Paschalia around Easter, a festival dedicated to early music; the Jewish Culture Festival, Street Theatre Festival, and Summer Jazz Festival, all of which are in July; the Music in the Old Kraków festival in August; an Organ Music Festival throughout the summer; Sacrum Profanum in September, combining "sacred" and "profane" musical traditions; and the All Souls' Jazz Festival at the end of October and early November.

If You Have 3 Days

Start Day 1 at the Market Square, the very heart of Kraków. Listen to the bugle call on the hour and explore all the sights within and around the Rynek: Sukiennice, Kościół Mariacki and other churches, the old university quarter with the Collegium Maius.The Muzeum Czartoryskich (in the Arsenał Miejski), also located within the quarter, is closed for renovations at the time of this writing and has no set reopening date. Climb Wawel Hill to visit the Zamek Królewski and cathedral and descend through the dragon's den to the river. For a memorable evening, book opera tickets at the historic Teatr im. Juliusza Słowackiego, catch a classical music concert in the Filharmonia im. Karola Szymanowskiego or a jazz gig in one of the clubs. On Day 2, go out of town to see the medieval Wieliczka Salt Mine, and visit the memorial museum at the former German concentration camp of Auschwitz–Birkenau. Each is half-day trip, or they may be combined into one rather long day of sightseeing. On Day 3, explore the Jewish heritage of the Kazimierz District. Continue to the Christian part of Kazimierz, through the Pauline monastery garden to the river, and across to the Manggha Center for Japanese Art & Technology.

If You Have 5 Days

Again start with the Old Town as in the three-day itinerary, but leave Wawel for the morning of Day 2. In summer, take a boat trip on the Wisła River. On Sunday, the boat will take you all the way to a Benedictine monastery in Tyniec (it can also be reached by road). If you get there in late afternoon, you may be able to catch an organ recital or an evensong. On the way back, stop at the Kościuszko Mound for a view of Kraków at sunset. On Day 3, marvel at the "model socialist town" of Nowa Huta, and then visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Take a trip to Auschwitz on your fourth day, and then go back to the Old Town. Visit Kazimierz on Day 5, and continue to the former ghetto in Podgórze, where Oskar Schindler's factory (today, part of Kraków’s Historical Museum) was memorialized in Steven Spielberg's movie. Enjoy an evening of traditional Yiddish music and the famous nightlife scene of Kazimierz.

If You Have 7 Days

Follow the itinerary above. If you wish to explore more of the region, head for Zakopane, a resort in the Tatra Mountains, where you can stay overnight. Or visit the Ojców National Park with its fantastic rock formations and hidden valleys.

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