Krakow, a picturesque city in southern Poland, captivates travellers with its very very rich history, stunning architecture, and amazing culture. As the former capital of Poland, it boasts a remarkable blend of old and new, offering visitors an unforgettable experience. With so much to see and do, planning a two-day itinerary in Krakow might seem overwhelming. However, this city’s compact size and easily walkable districts make it possible to explore its highlights over a weekend.
The first must-see destination would undoubtedly be the Stare Miasto, or Old Town, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With its well-preserved medieval architecture, lively market square, and the iconic St. Mary’s Basilica, this area is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts and photo opportunities.
Wawel Castle, another essential stop in Krakow, offers a glimpse of Poland’s rich history and is complemented by splendid views of the Vistula River.
Visitors looking for extra cultural experiences should consider including the Bohemian Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz in their itinerary.
Known for its diverse mix of religious and cultural heritage, this district offers intriguing attractions such as historical synagogues, quirky cafes, and unique vintage shops.
By following a thoughtfully planned two-day route, travellers can enjoy the very best of what charming Krakow has to offer.
Table of Contents:
Day 1: Exploring Krakow’s Old Town
Morning: Old Town Walking Tour
Begin your first day in Krakow with a guided walking tour of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The heart of the city lies in its main square, Rynek Główny, one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. While walking through the Old Town, don’t miss out on the St. Mary’s Basilica.
Admire its gothic architecture and catch a glimpse of the extraordinary wooden altarpiece intricately carved by Veit Stoss.
Another essential spot to explore is the Cloth Hall or Sukiennice, originally a centre of international trade.
Today, it houses souvenir stalls and cafes on the ground floor, while the upper floor hosts the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art. To delve deeper into the city’s history, consider a visit to the Rynek Underground museum, located beneath the main square.
Try this Waking Tours and activities:
A stroll around the Planty Park encircling the Old Town adds a touch of natural beauty to your morning agenda.
This greenbelt replaced the medieval walls and fortifications, offering picturesque paths and views of the city’s historic sites.
Afternoon: Visit Wawel Royal Castle
After savouring a delicious local lunch, head towards the iconic Wawel Royal Castle situated on the banks of the Vistula River.
This impressive structure reflects a mix of architectural styles from various eras. Take your time to explore the expansive castle complex by visiting the royal chambers, armoury, and the stunning Wawel Cathedral, a gothic church adorned with centuries of artwork and sculptures.
In afternoon we recommend:
Don’t forget to climb up Sigismund Tower for spectacular views of the town and the river.
Evening: Dining and Nightlife
As the sun sets, make your way back to the main market square, Rynek Główny, to enjoy the vibrant evening atmosphere.
With numerous restaurants surrounding the square, indulge in traditional Polish cuisine that ranges from pierogi and barszcz to placki ziemniaczane and żurek.
After dinner, why not experience some of Krakow’s nightlife? The Old Town is renowned for its lively pubs, clubs, and bars where you can share a few drinks with fellow tourists and locals alike.
Evening and night activities in Krakow:
Enjoy a pint at a local brewery or sip on a cocktail in a sophisticated lounge, immersing yourself in the unique ambiance of this culturally rich city.
Day 2: Kazimierz and Beyond
Morning: Jewish Quarter Tour
Start your day in Kazimierz, the historic Jewish quarter, known for its atmospheric streets, Renaissance architecture, and poignant past.
Take a walking tour of Kazimierz to understand the area’s rich history and Jewish heritage.
Visit the Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery, considered one of the most important religious sites for Krakow’s Jewish community.
Don’t miss the Old Synagogue, showcasing Jewish culture and the oldest standing synagogue in Poland.
Afternoon: Schindler’s Factory and MOCAK
After exploring the Jewish Quarter, head towards Schindler’s Factory. This former enamel factory, owned by Oskar Schindler, was crucial in saving the lives of over 1,000 Jews during World War II.
The factory now houses a museum dedicated to the history of Krakow under Nazi occupation. Make sure to reserve tickets in advance, as they often sell out quickly.
Once you’ve delved into the history at Schindler’s Factory, unwind with a visit to the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK).
This modern museum showcases thought-provoking artworks from Polish and international artists capable of starting interesting conversations.
Evening: Discovering Local Cuisine
End the day by savouring authentic Polish cuisine in Kazimierz. The vibrant neighbourhood offers a diverse gastronomic scene, from traditional dishes to modern fusion options.
Start with a żurek (sour rye soup) followed by pierogi (dumplings) stuffed with various fillings.
For dessert, try a pączek (Polish doughnut) or sernik (cheesecake). You may also want to venture beyond Kazimierz to experience some other exciting nightlife spots in Krakow.
Scheduling a Day Trip
One of the most impactful and important attractions to include in a Krakow two-day itinerary is a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
To make the most of your time, it’s recommended to schedule a day trip to the camp, which is located about 70 km from Krakow.
You can choose to visit as part of a group organised by a Kraków tourist agency, visit independently and join a guided tour at the museum, or visit independently for free without a guide.
It’s advisable to book your visit ahead of time through the official website (visit.auschwitz.org) or by calling the reservation number +48 33 844 81 00 or 80 99.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is open daily from 7:30 am to 7 pm in June, July, and August, with reduced hours during the rest of the year.
Admission is free, but a guided tour with an educator is priced at about 80 PLN in Polish or 90 PLN in other languages, including English.
For more information about Auschwitz read:
Preparing for the Emotional Experience
A visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau can be an emotionally challenging experience, given the history of the camp and its role in the Holocaust.
Prepare yourself mentally by understanding the historical context and knowing that the sites may evoke strong emotions. The main exhibits include the permanent exhibitions, main camp buildings, prisoner barracks, ruined gas chambers, and crematoria at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
While visiting, be respectful of the sensitive nature of the site, where more than a million people lost their lives.
Dress modestly, keep noise to a minimum, and refrain from taking photos where it is not allowed. Keep in mind that this is not only an important historical site but also a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Read also Guide to appropriate behavior at Auschwitz and what not to do there
During your Krakow itinerary, also consider visiting other attractions such as the Wawel Cathedral. But please remember that a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp will play a significant part in understanding the tragic history of this region and will leave a deep and lasting impression.
Where to Stay in Krakow
For those looking for budget accommodations in Krakow, it’s worth considering Atlantis Hostel. This hostel provides travellers with an affordable and comfortable place to rest after a day of exploring the city.
Located within easy access to major attractions, Atlantis Hostel offers a variety of room options, from dormitories to private rooms.
Travellers willing to spend a bit more for comfort can opt for mid-range hotels. One option is Old Town Krakow Apartments.
These well-appointed apartments offer guests the convenience of a central location combined with the comfort of having their own private space.
For a luxurious stay in Krakow, consider booking a room at the Radisson Blu Hotel Krakow. This upscale hotel offers a range of amenities, including an on-site spa, fitness centre, and restaurants.
The stylish rooms and suites at the Radisson Blu ensure guests have a stay to remember.
Overall, there are a wide variety of accommodation options in Krakow, catering to various budgets and preferences. It’s important to choose a place that suits your needs and allows you to easily explore the beautiful city.
Dining and Shopping
Krakow offers a wonderful variety of traditional Polish dishes for visitors to enjoy. For breakfast, visitors can start their day at Milkbar Tomasza, known for its authentic local food.
For lunch, Pod Aniolami is a highly recommended restaurant that serves traditional Polish cuisine in a charming atmosphere.
Krakow is also famous for its pierogis (dumplings), which come in various flavours such as meat, mushroom, and potato. Don’t miss out on trying some pierogis from local cafes and street food stalls.
Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Krakow is increasingly becoming a popular destination for vegetarians and vegans, offering a range of cafes and restaurants catering to different dietary preferences.
Some popular vegetarian and vegan options in the city include:
- Zaczynamy O Dwoch – This cafe offers a delicious selection of vegan breakfast and brunch options.
- Vegab – A top choice for vegan fast food where visitors can enjoy plant-based burgers, hot dogs, and pizza.
- Mihiderka – A vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant with a diverse menu of traditional Polish dishes and international cuisine.
Souvenirs and Shops
Krakow is also a great place for shopping and finding unique souvenirs. Visitors can explore the charming streets and squares filled with local shops, handicraft stores, and art galleries.
The Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) in Rynek Glowny is one of the most famous places to shop for souvenirs, from traditional Polish wooden items to Amber jewellery.
In Kazimierz, the historic Jewish Quarter, you’ll find a range of shops selling Judaica and antiques.
For a more local experience, don’t miss out on the bustling Plac Nowy market, where visitors can find an array of street food and local products like regional honey, sausages, and pierogis.
Transportation and Logistics
Getting to Krakow
Krakow can be reached via various modes of transport. If you’re planning to take a flight, the Krakow-Balice International Airport (also known as John Paul II International Airport) serves as the main hub for domestic and international flights.
Major airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet fly into Krakow regularly, connecting the city to other European destinations.
From the airport, you can either take a cab or use Uber to reach the Krakow Old Town. Read also how to get from Krakow Airport to City Centre
For those travelling within Poland, trains are a popular option. The city is well connected with other prominent cities in the country, including Warsaw. Travellers can easily catch a train from the capital to reach Krakow in a few hours.
Navigating the City
Krakow boasts an efficient and integrated public transportation system. Visitors can choose between buses and trams to travel within the city.
To help you find your way, most buses and trams display real-time maps with information about upcoming stops.
Moreover, tickets can be bought from machines located at major bus and tram stops or onboard the vehicle.
Taxis and Uber are also available in Krakow, offering convenient and comfortable transportation options for those who do not wish to use public transport.
However, it is important to note that prices fror taxi in Krakow may be higher, especially during peak hours and in crowded areas like Krakow’s Old Town.
The best time to visit Krakow largely depends on your weather preferences and tolerance for crowds.
Spring and autumn are generally considered the most favourable seasons to explore the city, due to mild temperatures and fewer tourists.
However, keep in mind that the months of April and May can still be chilly, while September and October could see the occasional rain shower.
Winter is not typically recommended for tourism, as the cold and snowy weather can make sightseeing less enjoyable. However, this season boasts the unique benefit of fewer crowds, allowing for a more peaceful trip and an opportunity to explore the city’s landmarks without the typical rush.
In contrast, summer generally sees an influx of tourists, along with warmer temperatures. While this can make for a lively atmosphere, you may have to navigate busier streets and attractions.
Regardless of when you decide to visit Krakow, it is essential to pack weather-appropriate clothing and be prepared for any changes in the forecast.
Additional Tips for a Two-Day Itinerary
Planning Group Excursions
When planning a two-day itinerary in Krakow, it is essential to consider group excursions. These can provide an efficient way to explore the city and share the experience with others.
To make the most of your two days, consider the following tips:
- Research group excursions in advance to secure your spot and plan your schedule accordingly.
- Choose excursions that cover multiple points of interest, such as walking tours or bus tours, to maximise your time.
- Coordinate with your group members and ensure that everyone is aware of the itinerary and meeting points.
Using Guided Tours
Guided tours are an excellent way to make the most of your two-day itinerary in Krakow. They offer a more in-depth and knowledgeable exploration of the city compared to self-guided tours.
Here are some tips when selecting guided tours:
- Opt for reputable tour operators that offer knowledgeable guides who can provide interesting and accurate information about the sites visited.
- Consider the tour duration and ensure it fits within your two-day schedule.
- Prioritise guided tours that focus on your main interests, such as history, architecture, or food and drink.
- Take advantage of guided tours in specific areas like Wawel Castle, Kazimierz (the historic Jewish Quarter), or the Old Town.
In summary, planning group excursions and using guided tours can enhance your two-day itinerary in Krakow. These options allow a more enriching experience while efficiently covering multiple points of interest.