Kraków is in many aspects the most Polish of all this great nation’s cities. As ancient seat of kings and intelligentsia, Kraków comes steeped in legend and myth. It evokes the most fanciful of images, from dragons under the catacombs of Wawel, to Tartar hordes repelled at the gates, to pigeon-knights waiting for their king to return. Kraków’s postcard-perfect Old Town fascinates with Europe’s largest medieval market square and even a fairytale castle overlooking the river. 

Architecturally it can easily match any European city arch for arch, spire for spire, monument for monument, gargoyle for gargoyle. In fact, UNESCO set the bar high indeed when it started its inaugural World Heritage List by adding Kraków’s Old Town and Kazimierz districts wholesale in 1978 (from what we can tell, that bar has since been lowered). Miraculously preserved and majestically restored, today the city’s architectural monuments house countless museum collections of priceless art and artefacts, and, if local legend is to be believed, the highest density of bars and clubs in the world. Kraków is also home to one of Europe’s oldest academic centres. Jagiellonian University occupies some of the most historical buildings in the centre, in addition to providing the life blood for the litany of nightlife options we list on our website.

Poland’s most charming city has been charmed indeed, emerging from World War II as the only major Polish city that was not reduced to rubble. As a result, Kraków did not have the downtown real estate to accommodate the enormous concrete apartment blocks that were built during the communist era in so many other Polish cities. Instead, those were consigned to the pre-planned soviet-realist suburb of Nowa Huta, whose concrete conurbations are only a time travelling tram ride away. The district of Kazimierz - once home to one of the most important Jewish communities in the world - is also enjoying a renaissance, while on the other side of the river, once-neglected Podgórze - known as the former site of the Jewish Ghetto and Schindler's Factory - has also become an essential part of the tourist trail. Our meticulously researched and continuously updated website features all the info you could possibly need on what to see and do around the town.

As dusk descends the city becomes a haven for hedonists. As you will no doubt learn for yourself, it is all too easy to descend the stairs into one of the Gothic cellar bars, and emerge at daybreak missing both your memory and friends. On these pages you’ll find everything you need to know about Kraków’s restaurants, pubs, clubs and hotels.
 

TOP 5 ATTRACTIONS

Czartoryski Museum    Jewelled Turkish shields captured at the Siege of Vienna, miniature amber altarpieces from Gdansk, a mural from the tomb of Seti I: this rich collection founded by one of the country’s leading noble families more than 200 years ago is an eclectic delight.  The painting gallery includes Mantegnas, Rembrandts and Bruegels, but the undoubted highlight is Leonardo da Vinci’s compelling Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, which managed to survive being looted by the Nazis. Even the haphazard labelling – in French and Polish if at all – can’t detract from the exhibits.  More information   www.muzeum-czartoryskich.krakow.pl

Czartoryski Museum 

Jewelled Turkish shields captured at the Siege of Vienna, miniature amber altarpieces from Gdansk, a mural from the tomb of Seti I: this rich collection founded by one of the country’s leading noble families more than 200 years ago is an eclectic delight.

The painting gallery includes Mantegnas, Rembrandts and Bruegels, but the undoubted highlight is Leonardo da Vinci’s compelling Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, which managed to survive being looted by the Nazis. Even the haphazard labelling – in French and Polish if at all – can’t detract from the exhibits.

More information
www.muzeum-czartoryskich.krakow.pl

Wawel Hill    No ordinary hill, this limestone outcrop on the banks of the Vistula is the site of both the former home of the Polish kings and the cathedral where they were crowned and buried.  Every part of Wawel Castle’s state rooms and private apartments has painted ceilings, tapestries, fine art and antiques to marvel at. It’s a triumph of the restorers’ art: battered by marauding armies – the Swedes half burnt it and the Austrians used it as barracks – the mainly Renaissance building needed 100 years and some generous donors to get it back to its former good looks. There’s more historical splendour in the next-door 14th-century cathedral, from glittering shrines to intricately carved choir stalls, Baroque side chapels to the Royal Tombs.   More information   www.wawel.krakow.pl

Wawel Hill 

No ordinary hill, this limestone outcrop on the banks of the Vistula is the site of both the former home of the Polish kings and the cathedral where they were crowned and buried.

Every part of Wawel Castle’s state rooms and private apartments has painted ceilings, tapestries, fine art and antiques to marvel at. It’s a triumph of the restorers’ art: battered by marauding armies – the Swedes half burnt it and the Austrians used it as barracks – the mainly Renaissance building needed 100 years and some generous donors to get it back to its former good looks. There’s more historical splendour in the next-door 14th-century cathedral, from glittering shrines to intricately carved choir stalls, Baroque side chapels to the Royal Tombs.


More information

www.wawel.krakow.pl

Rynek Glowny and St Mary’s Basilica   At the heart of the Old Town is Rynek Glowny, the massive medieval market square that is still the city’s social hub. Soak up the atmosphere and the appealing hodgepodge of architectural styles, from one of the many café terraces around its fringes.  On the north-east side is the magnificently over-decorated St Mary’s Basilica, almost 600 years old, with strikingly mismatched brick towers.  There’s a trumpet call every hour from one of them, supposedly to commemorate a bugler who was shot through the throat by a Tartar archer in 1241. Inside, no surface has been left unembellished, from the blue ceiling dotted with gold stars to the colourful stained-glass windows, though the Gothic altarpiece is the real showstopper.  More information   www.bazylika-mariacka.krakow.pl

Rynek Glowny and St Mary’s Basilica

At the heart of the Old Town is Rynek Glowny, the massive medieval market square that is still the city’s social hub. Soak up the atmosphere and the appealing hodgepodge of architectural styles, from one of the many café terraces around its fringes.

On the north-east side is the magnificently over-decorated St Mary’s Basilica, almost 600 years old, with strikingly mismatched brick towers.

There’s a trumpet call every hour from one of them, supposedly to commemorate a bugler who was shot through the throat by a Tartar archer in 1241. Inside, no surface has been left unembellished, from the blue ceiling dotted with gold stars to the colourful stained-glass windows, though the Gothic altarpiece is the real showstopper.

More information

www.bazylika-mariacka.krakow.pl

Kazimierz and the Galicia Jewish Museum    Once an independent town, Kazimierz was Krakow’s vibrant Jewish quarter until the Second World War changed everything. Recently, however, the long-neglected buildings have been restored and the area’s Jewish heritage rescued from near oblivion.  Two disused synagogues have been turned into museums; two others – still in use by the tiny remaining Jewish population – can also be visited. However, the most touching memorials to a vanished community are the photographs at the Galicia Jewish Museum: haunting shots of abandoned cemeteries, derelict synagogues and extermination camps throughout southern Poland.  More information   www.en.galiciajewishmuseum.org

Kazimierz and the Galicia Jewish Museum 

Once an independent town, Kazimierz was Krakow’s vibrant Jewish quarter until the Second World War changed everything. Recently, however, the long-neglected buildings have been restored and the area’s Jewish heritage rescued from near oblivion.

Two disused synagogues have been turned into museums; two others – still in use by the tiny remaining Jewish population – can also be visited. However, the most touching memorials to a vanished community are the photographs at the Galicia Jewish Museum: haunting shots of abandoned cemeteries, derelict synagogues and extermination camps throughout southern Poland.

More information

www.en.galiciajewishmuseum.org

Wieliczka salt mine   Some 14km southeast of Kraków, Wieliczka (vyeh-leech-kah) is famous for its deep salt mine. It’s an eerie world of pits and chambers, and everything within its depths has been carved by hand from salt blocks. The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, about 300km distributed over nine levels, the deepest being 327m underground. A section of the mine, some 22 chambers connected by galleries, from 64m to 135m below ground, is open to the public by guided tour, and it’s a fascinating trip.  The mine is renowned for the preservative qualities of its microclimate, as well as for its health-giving properties. An underground sanatorium has been established at a depth of 135m, where chronic allergic diseases are treated by overnight stays.  The showpiece is the ornamented Chapel of St Kinga (Kaplica sw Kingi), which is actually a fair-sized church measuring 54m by 18m, and 12m high. Every single element here, from chandeliers to altarpieces, is of salt. It took over 30 years (1895) for one man and then his brother to complete this underground temple, and about 20,000 tonnes of rock salt had to be removed. Other highlights are the salt lake in the Erazm Baracz Chamber, whose water contains 320g of salt per litre, and the 36m-high Stanisław Staszic Chamber.  Visitors are guided in groups and the tour takes about two hours. You walk about 2km through the mine, so wear comfortable shoes. The temperature in the mine is 14°C.  More information   www.wieliczka-saltmine.com

Wieliczka salt mine

Some 14km southeast of Kraków, Wieliczka (vyeh-leech-kah) is famous for its deep salt mine. It’s an eerie world of pits and chambers, and everything within its depths has been carved by hand from salt blocks. The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, about 300km distributed over nine levels, the deepest being 327m underground. A section of the mine, some 22 chambers connected by galleries, from 64m to 135m below ground, is open to the public by guided tour, and it’s a fascinating trip.

The mine is renowned for the preservative qualities of its microclimate, as well as for its health-giving properties. An underground sanatorium has been established at a depth of 135m, where chronic allergic diseases are treated by overnight stays.

The showpiece is the ornamented Chapel of St Kinga (Kaplica sw Kingi), which is actually a fair-sized church measuring 54m by 18m, and 12m high. Every single element here, from chandeliers to altarpieces, is of salt. It took over 30 years (1895) for one man and then his brother to complete this underground temple, and about 20,000 tonnes of rock salt had to be removed. Other highlights are the salt lake in the Erazm Baracz Chamber, whose water contains 320g of salt per litre, and the 36m-high Stanisław Staszic Chamber.

Visitors are guided in groups and the tour takes about two hours. You walk about 2km through the mine, so wear comfortable shoes. The temperature in the mine is 14°C.

More information

www.wieliczka-saltmine.com

TOP EVENTS

Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow     The Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków is an annual cultural event organized since 1988 in the once Jewish district of Kazimierz (part of Kraków) by the Jewish Culture Festival Society headed by Janusz Makuch, a self-described meshugeneh, fascinated with all things Jewish. The main goal of the festival is to educate people about Jewish culture, history and faith (Judaism), which flourished in Poland before the Holocaust, as well as to familiarize them with modern Jewish culture developing mostly in the United States and Israel, and finally, to provide entertainment.  Each festival is held in late June or early July and takes nine days, from Saturday to Sunday. During that time concerts, exhibitions, plays, lectures, workshops, tours, etc. are organized. The two most important concerts are: the inaugural concert on the first Sunday, and the final concert on the last Saturday of the festival. The former usually takes place in one of seven synagogues of Kazimierz and features cantoral music; the latter is always held outdoors, in Ulica Szeroka, the main street of the Jewish part of Kazimierz, and features klezmer music. In between there are many more concerts, usually with some variations of klezmer music.

Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow

The Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków is an annual cultural event organized since 1988 in the once Jewish district of Kazimierz (part of Kraków) by the Jewish Culture Festival Society headed by Janusz Makuch, a self-described meshugeneh, fascinated with all things Jewish. The main goal of the festival is to educate people about Jewish culture, history and faith (Judaism), which flourished in Poland before the Holocaust, as well as to familiarize them with modern Jewish culture developing mostly in the United States and Israel, and finally, to provide entertainment.

Each festival is held in late June or early July and takes nine days, from Saturday to Sunday. During that time concerts, exhibitions, plays, lectures, workshops, tours, etc. are organized. The two most important concerts are: the inaugural concert on the first Sunday, and the final concert on the last Saturday of the festival. The former usually takes place in one of seven synagogues of Kazimierz and features cantoral music; the latter is always held outdoors, in Ulica Szeroka, the main street of the Jewish part of Kazimierz, and features klezmer music. In between there are many more concerts, usually with some variations of klezmer music.

Lajkonik   Back in the days when you couldn’t go to draw water from the well without a Tartar tipping your cow, stealing your wife, burning your house down, or all three, the city of Kraków fashioned itself an unlikely hero. While his origins are actually quite complex, the prevailing story goes that in the 13th century a troupe of sneaky, saucy Tartars had crept within striking distance of the city and pitched camp on the river, planning to attack the Polish capital for the umpteenth time come daybreak. The city was so grateful for its apparent salvation that the mayor marked his calendar and made the satirical procession an annual event. Thus ‘Lajkonik’ was born and a celebration in his honour has taken place on the first Thursday after Corpus Christi (June 4th, 2015) ever since, for the last 700-some years. Dressed (to a design by none other than Stanisław Wyspiański) in richly embroidered red robes, a tall, pointed hat that could have been nicked from the Harry Potter costume box, and an embellished black bushy beard and eyebrows, Lajkonik (literally ‘hobby horse’ in Polish) would look ridiculous enough without the wooden horse protruding from his abdomen.

Lajkonik

Back in the days when you couldn’t go to draw water from the well without a Tartar tipping your cow, stealing your wife, burning your house down, or all three, the city of Kraków fashioned itself an unlikely hero. While his origins are actually quite complex, the prevailing story goes that in the 13th century a troupe of sneaky, saucy Tartars had crept within striking distance of the city and pitched camp on the river, planning to attack the Polish capital for the umpteenth time come daybreak. The city was so grateful for its apparent salvation that the mayor marked his calendar and made the satirical procession an annual event. Thus ‘Lajkonik’ was born and a celebration in his honour has taken place on the first Thursday after Corpus Christi (June 4th, 2015) ever since, for the last 700-some years. Dressed (to a design by none other than Stanisław Wyspiański) in richly embroidered red robes, a tall, pointed hat that could have been nicked from the Harry Potter costume box, and an embellished black bushy beard and eyebrows, Lajkonik (literally ‘hobby horse’ in Polish) would look ridiculous enough without the wooden horse protruding from his abdomen.

HOTELS

Metropolitan Boutique Hotel Kraków     The Metropolitan Boutique Hotel invites you to the heart of Kraków, Polish cultural capital and a city full of life.   The hotel is established in a newly renovated 19th century building, perfectly placed between the Old Town Square and  the trendy area of Kazimierz. It is ideally located away from the noise, yet only minutes walk from the city’s main attractions.  The Metropolitan is owner-operated and the diverse experience in 5-star hotel management, corporate and pleasure travel have been combined to create a special and unique place. The fusion of traditional architecture with modern and elegant interiors combined with a great location and perfect service will make a memorable stay in Kraków.  More information   www.hotelmetropolitan.pl

Metropolitan Boutique Hotel Kraków

The Metropolitan Boutique Hotel invites you to the heart of Kraków, Polish cultural capital and a city full of life.

The hotel is established in a newly renovated 19th century building, perfectly placed between the Old Town Square and

the trendy area of Kazimierz. It is ideally located away from the noise, yet only minutes walk from the city’s main attractions.

The Metropolitan is owner-operated and the diverse experience in 5-star hotel management, corporate and pleasure travel have been combined to create a special and unique place. The fusion of traditional architecture with modern and elegant interiors combined with a great location and perfect service will make a memorable stay in Kraków.

More information

www.hotelmetropolitan.pl

Stary Hotel Kraków   There are places where time takes on a completely different dimension.  There are hotels where the exceptional atmosphere and attention to guests will make you feel truly special.  The Stary Hotel is the first price winner of the renowned Paris contest Prix Villégiature as „the most beautiful hotel interior design in Europe”.  The charming atmosphere, elegance and style of the building blend together with the modern surroundings. Proud of the centuries - old history of the tenement, the hotel implements modern, highest quality standards of the hotel industry.  All 53 rooms of the five-star hotel are located on six storeys in two parts of the building: historic and new. Each level is characterized by different colour schemes and decorations.  More information   www.stary.hotel.com.pl

Stary Hotel Kraków

There are places where time takes on a completely different dimension.
There are hotels where the exceptional atmosphere and attention
to guests will make you feel truly special.

The Stary Hotel is the first price winner of the renowned Paris contest Prix Villégiature as „the most beautiful hotel interior design in Europe”.

The charming atmosphere, elegance and style of the building blend together with the modern surroundings. Proud of the centuries - old history of the tenement, the hotel implements modern, highest quality standards of the hotel industry.

All 53 rooms of the five-star hotel are located on six storeys in two parts of the building: historic and new. Each level is characterized by different colour schemes and decorations.

More information

www.stary.hotel.com.pl

CULINARY

Eat with locals - Marta's Meal   She will be cooking a traditional Polish meal for up to 12 guests in your home. She uses absolutely fresh ingredients which come from the local market or directly from the own cottage garden in the countryside outside Kraków. She enjoys taking the time to cook something really special for her guests, and also spending time sharing her experiences of life in Krakow, and finding out about yours! Your favourite flavour has to be that of wild mushrooms. She uses them in many different dishes starting with mushroom carpaccio with truffle oil, mushroom soup with sour cream topped with dry porcini, stuffed cabbage with wild mushrooms and groats, kaszotto (a kind of risotto) with... surprise : ) mushrooms, parsnip and parmesan. Despite working with very seasonal products she always finds a place for forest mushrooms – each time in a different form. Join Marta for a memorable meal. The price of 80 PLN per person includes all drinks.  More information    Marta's Meal

Eat with locals - Marta's Meal

She will be cooking a traditional Polish meal for up to 12 guests in your home. She uses absolutely fresh ingredients which come from the local market or directly from the own cottage garden in the countryside outside Kraków. She enjoys taking the time to cook something really special for her guests, and also spending time sharing her experiences of life in Krakow, and finding out about yours! Your favourite flavour has to be that of wild mushrooms. She uses them in many different dishes starting with mushroom carpaccio with truffle oil, mushroom soup with sour cream topped with dry porcini, stuffed cabbage with wild mushrooms and groats, kaszotto (a kind of risotto) with... surprise : ) mushrooms, parsnip and parmesan. Despite working with very seasonal products she always finds a place for forest mushrooms – each time in a different form. Join Marta for a memorable meal. The price of 80 PLN per person includes all drinks.

More information

Marta's Meal

Od Jajka Do Jablka   Organic vegetables from a market, seasonal fruit, eggs from traditional local hen, chickens from eco-friendly aviculture – in this restaurant everything, from an egg to an apple, is carefully selected before it is put in the pot. That is why the menu in “Od jajka do jabłka” is different every day – it changes depending on what the owners find at the local market.   Care about high quality ingredients is not the only reason why the restaurant attracts lots of healthy food enthusiasts. Ms Marysia’s original cuisine is full of flavours from all over the world, it is mainly related to Polish and European cuisine. Microwaves, ready-made products, frozen food, and frying fat are not used here. Traditional recipes and fresh local ingredients – they guarantee high quality cuisine for a reasonable price.   The restaurant is located in the Old Town, in a nice place right by Planty Park. Cosy and simple interior with distinctive and vivid colours along with aesthetically served delicious dishes will cheer you up for the entire day.   Address:  7 Sw. Gertrudy  Opening hours:  Tuesday - Saturday: 1 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sunday: 1 a.m. - 5 p.m.  Phone:  +48 885 886 000  More information   www.odjajkadojablka.pl

Od Jajka Do Jablka

Organic vegetables from a market, seasonal fruit, eggs from traditional local hen, chickens from eco-friendly aviculture – in this restaurant everything, from an egg to an apple, is carefully selected before it is put in the pot. That is why the menu in “Od jajka do jabłka” is different every day – it changes depending on what the owners find at the local market. 

Care about high quality ingredients is not the only reason why the restaurant attracts lots of healthy food enthusiasts. Ms Marysia’s original cuisine is full of flavours from all over the world, it is mainly related to Polish and European cuisine. Microwaves, ready-made products, frozen food, and frying fat are not used here. Traditional recipes and fresh local ingredients – they guarantee high quality cuisine for a reasonable price. 

The restaurant is located in the Old Town, in a nice place right by Planty Park. Cosy and simple interior with distinctive and vivid colours along with aesthetically served delicious dishes will cheer you up for the entire day. 

Address:

7 Sw. Gertrudy

Opening hours:

Tuesday - Saturday: 1 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Phone:

+48 885 886 000

More information

www.odjajkadojablka.pl