How to see Krakow in a Day

Back in the Spring I headed to Poland for the first time as I visited the stunning city of Krakow.  With it’s fairytale-like architecture and amazing food and drink it’s has become one of my most favourite city breaks to date.  We spent a weekend there but with our first afternoon was spent visiting the famous Salt Mines and our second day exploring Auschwitz so this left us with just one day to explore the city itself.  Krakow is a relatively small city so one day was enough time to see everything I wanted to so I thought I’d share with you the route I devised to catch all the ‘must see’ parts of the city.

Central Krakow is surrounded by a park which makes for a nice walk around the outskirts no matter what direction you come from.  Our Airbnb (affiliate link, you get £25 credit when you sign up with my link) was situated in the right side of the city just outside the centre so we headed to the north city gate to start our walk for the easiest route.  If you take the bus or train into Krakow you will find yourself in the North of the city so it makes for a great introduction to the city.  Our first stop was the Krakow Barbican before which we wanted to see before heading through the city gates into the city itself.

The Krakow Barbican is an old fortress with beautiful red brick architecture that looks just like a miniature castle, you can go inside for just 8 Zloties (around £1.50) but we didn’t think there would be a great deal to see so we chose not to and instead headed towards the city walls.

Once inside the walls you really can appreciate the fairytale-like architecture in its full glory.  Winding through the city towards the town square all the streets look like you are about to come across a lost princess or a knight in shining armour.  It is a stunningly beautiful city.

Before long you will find yourself in the stunning market square.  Make sure you take your time to walk around the square in full, which is surrounded by tourist attractions, shops, restaurants and bars.  One of the most famous sites you will see here is the traditional Krakow horse and carts that really do look beautiful in their full traditional attire.  

As you enter the square to the left hand side you will see St Mary’s Basilica Church.  The architecture if this building is totally really unique while the interior decoration of the church is colourful and truly stunning. It costs 10PLN to enter the church (around £2) with an extra charge to take photos inside.

Walking to the other-side of the market square make sure you pass through the Cloth Hall building where you will see a whole host of different market stalls set up inside selling all kinds of items from home-wear, to gifts, to clothing and more.  

Once at the other side of the Cloth Hall you will be greeted by the Town Hall Tower (8PLN around £1.80).  Climb the steps to gain access to one of the most beautiful aerial views of Krakow you will find.  It’s a fair few steps on the way up (there’s a few rooms you can stop in if you are out of breath like me) and the views are definitely worth it.

Heading back onto the main road through the centre of Krakow you will come across several more truly beautiful buildings and local eating halls (I definitely recommend stopping on one if you want a more authentic eating experience) before you reach one of the most significant tourist attractions in Krakow, the Wawel Castle.  

It’s a fairly easy walk up to the castle and once more the architecture is romantically beautiful.  The courtyard is serene and and a great place to take a rest stop.  From here we headed down the castle towards the river via the ‘Dragon’s Den’ cave which are lit up beautifully to give a magical appearance.  

When you exit the caves at the base of the castle you will see another famous symbol of Krakow, the Wawel dragon which breaths at 15 minute intervals and it sure draws a crowd!

From here we headed along the Vistula River, we took a stop among the grass to watch the world go by in the sun for a while.  You will see several boats and fishermen going to their work along this beautiful stretch of river it’s a great place to unwind of the weather is right.  

We then headed across the Bernatek Footbridge with its famous arabic sculptures before making our way towards Schindler’s factory.  We were aware that It was closed on our day of visit but we still wanted to see with our own eyes.  We found this surprisingly difficult to trace once on the other side of the river, it is definitely more industrial and residential where the museum resides.  We found our way eventually to see this amazing historic building before slowly winding our way back towards the city with just a few vodka stops along the way!

If you are heading to Krakow why not check out this handy map I have made to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Have you been to Krakow?  Let me know if there is anything I missed!

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