The Polish city of Krakow ticks many boxes – with stunning architecture and romantic cobbled streets, yet cheap pints and fabulous food it’s a city to please all budgets and travel styles. We had 3 days in Krakow and tried our best to tick off as much as possible, sharing our top tips and unmissable highlights in this Krakow itinerary.
Whether you’re backpacking and looking for a budget friendly city or a couple looking for a romantic weekend in Krakow, this itinerary has everything you need to know including the unmissable historical day trips from Krakow which no itinerary should be without. It is difficult to put into words our visit to Auschwitz but we feel it is a vital visit during your 3 days in Krakow as well as the unmissable Wieliczka Salt Mines. We share how to travel from Krakow to Auschwitz as well as a few thoughts on our experience.
Whether you’re visiting during the famous Christmas markets, or exploring in the sunshine, this Krakow itinerary can be adapted regardless of the time of year. Despite us visiting in November we enjoyed crisp blue skies (although chilly temperatures of 3 degrees) but after 2 days in Prague of non-stop rain we were relieved to see some sunshine. In the Summer, Krakow temperatures can hit 23+ degrees yet in summer as low as -5 so make sure to pack accordingly!
HOW MUCH TO BUDGET FOR 3 DAYS IN KRAKOW?
Firstly, the currency in Krakow is Polish Złoty, so no need for Euros!
Generally, it is a very affordable city with the average beer in market square being 7zł, approx. £1.50. A shot of the famous Polish Vodka can be less than £1 in some bars and you can get hostel dorm beds for less than a tenner!
Krakow Itinerary Daily Budget
For our 3 days in Krakow we budgeted £40 a day (between two people) for all meals and drinks and we came in UNDER budget (if you’ve read about our Prague beer spa experience, you’ll know we never come in under budget when alcohol or food is involved!) This was despite us visiting the tourist trap of Hard Rock Café and including a few cake and coffee stops too – so £20 a day per person is a perfect budget for your Krakow itinerary.
We took a bus from Prague to Krakow and although it took 8 hours it did only cost £15 through Flixbus. Pack plenty snacks, download a few movies and don’t forget a portable charger, then you’re good to go.
If you’re flying to Krakow, save even more money by booking your airport transfer here – it’s only £17 for upto a group of 4 people from door to door.
Cost of Krakow Accommodation
Our accommodation for 3 nights in Krakow was £30 a night. This was the average price for a basic hotel and did include breakfast. More about that below.
Auschwitz to Krakow Day trip Cost
Our biggest expense was the Krakow to Auschwitz day trip which also included a visit to the salt mines in the afternoon. We paid £110 for two people (for all the info on what this includes see below.) We feel no Krakow itinerary would be complete without including this day trip – we felt it was worth every penny and one of the most surreal things to do if you’re in the region. More about that below.
WHERE TO STAY IN KRAKOW
As our 3 days in Krakow were on a budget, we paid £30 a night for a double en-suite room and this included a traditional buffet style breakfast with meats, cheeses and cereals. As a sneaky tip to save even more money during your weekend in Krakow, prepare sandwiches from your breakfast buffet to take with you for lunch. Although Krakow is generally very affordable, this tip might save you a few pennies (and time) if you’re trying to squeeze lots in to your Krakow itinerary.
Overall our room was clean, modern and the bed was very comfortable. It is a perfect place to stay for all things to do in Krakow as it is within walking distance of old town, it’s next door to a huge shopping centre and just minutes from the train station.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more exciting to use as your base, or you simply have a little more cash to splash for your Krakow itinerary we recommend using Airbnb. Renting an Airbnb apartment will also give you access to a kitchen to cook your own meals (although the food in Krakow is too good to miss) or by sharing with a local, you’ll learn some hidden gems!
WHERE TO EAT IN KRAKOW
The food in Krakow offers something for all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re looking for a quick caffeine stop or you’re worried about being vegan in Krakow, you will soon be surprised by the city’s diverse foodie scene. If you’re coffee and cake obsessed like us, you will be spoilt for choice with the Krakow cafes. Our favourite was Zarowka Café which was the perfect escape from the chill of Krakow in Winter.
Set in a beautiful courtyard with blankets, heaters and a great selection of herbal teas – what more could you ask for to warm you up after a morning of exploring. Well, cake. The cake was 10/10 too with other traditional lunch and breakfast options available. It was a definite hidden gem, off the main street and away from the hustle and bustle allowing us to rejuvenate and warm up before a climb up Wawel Hill on day 1 of our Krakow itinerary.
There were many Krakow cafes that caught our eye, however Camelot café is particularly unique. Considered a cultural institution as the famous Loch Camelot theatre group perform their quaint and quirky works in the café’s basement. If your 3 days in Krakow fall over a weekend, definitely check out their performance schedule and prices here.
Traditional Food in Krakow
No Krakow itinerary would be complete without trying it’s famous zapiekanki, the most popular Krakow street food. It is essentially a mini baguette imitating a pizza. Usually topped with melted cheese, meat and mushrooms or other vegetables. The best part is they only cost £1- £2 so perfect if on a budget or time limit and can be found very easily across the city. Although the Kazimierz district is rumoured to offer the tastiest – don’t worry you’ll get your chance to try some on day 3 of our Krakow itinerary!
Kazimierz, also known as the Jewish Quarter in Krakow, is an eclectic mix of bohemian themed bars, quirky cafes and indie art galleries. Steeped in history, it was the centre of Jewish life in Kraków for over 500 years, before it was destroyed during World War II. Food is particularly cheap in this trendy neighbourhood and no 3 days in Krakow would be complete without a visit to Hamsa Hummus & Happiness Israeli Restobar. Exactly as the name describes expect to leave with a belly full of hummus and a heart full of happiness. The quirky décor and “Make hummus” wall art are also an Insta-fan favourite and it was the perfect place for lunch on day 3 of our Krakow itinerary.
For the perfect introduction to food in Krakow we recommend this tour. If you fancy sampling 8 traditional Polish foods and learning how they’re made plus street market specialities and a shot of Polish liquor then this is the tour for you... did we mention it’s less than £18 per person?
BEST BARS IN KRAKOW
We’re going to let you on a confession. Admittedly yes, Hard Rock Café is one of the biggest tourist traps however, it has become somewhat a comfort and tradition to visit if we pass one on our travels. From Venice to Vegas, Iceland to Hawaii we have drank and dined in many Hard Rock Cafes and haven’t found one yet we didn’t enjoy.
We are fully aware there are likely cheaper and more atmospheric places in Krakow to enjoy a tipple or two however after a long day it’s often easiest to go with familiarity. Expect super friendly staff and delicious cocktails overlooking the famous market square and Cloth Hall, surrounded by the usual rock & roll memorabilia, including a fab cymbal ceiling. It is also one of the few places that offer a Happy Hour in Krakow (although it starts at 10pm!)
KRAKOW ITINERARY DAY ONE
Morning: Old Town
The first stop in your Krakow itinerary should be a morning spent exploring Old Town. At approximately 40,000m², Krakow offers one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe known as Rynek Główny. Dating back to the 13th century it is lined with stunning pastel coloured townhouses and towering churches. It’s the perfect place to get lost amongst the cobbled streets, people watch from the numerous cafés and make sure to visit Cloth Hall.
Cloth Hall is essentially a marketplace traditionally used to trade cloth back in the 1300s – hence the name. Fast forward to today, it is a souvenir haven packed with quirky trinkets, clothes and jewellery. As we visited Krakow in November, it was the perfect spot to pick up Christmas gifts and other local artisan treats.
St. Mary’s Basilica
One of the first things to do in Krakow is snap that postcard picture of the stunning St Mary’s Basilica which towers over the main square. It is from this striking gothic structure that the hejnał mariacki – the city’s famous bugle call – is played every hour on the hour.
A fascinating tradition, the tune stops mid-melody in honour of the mythical trumpeter who was shot in the neck while belatedly warning the city of Mongol invaders. It is free to enter the church for worship but a small entry fee of 10zł (approx. £2) is requested of tourists wishing to take photos. From April until December you can also access the Mariacki Tower however this will require purchasing a further ticket for 15zł.
St. Florian’s Gate (Brama Floriańska)
Just a 5 minute walk from St. Mary’s Basilica is St Florian’s Gate. It’s towers plus the Barbican are the only architectural survivors of Krakow’s ancient defences, which once upon a time surrounded the old town.
Traditionally the gate was used by royalty en-route to Wavel castle, today Brama Floriańska remains the main entrance to Krakow’s Old Town. We found the local artists selling their abundance of paintings particularly charming to photograph.
If visiting Krakow in April to October then you will be able to access the City Defensive Walls Museum and take the most stunning photos from the balcony overlooking the vibrant Floriańska Street.
Afternoon: Wawel Hill
After a cosy stop at Zarowka Cafe, next up on your Krakow itinerary is a walk up Wawel Hill. It takes just 15 minutes from Żarówka Cafe to Wavel Hill where you can admire the beautiful Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus (what a mouthful.) Also known as Wawel Royal Castle for short. In 1978, it was declared part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why.
We fell in love with the eclectic mix of architecture and if you can bear the queues, it is worth buying a ticket to be equally as enchanted by the interiors. Admission to the Cathedral is free however, admission to Sigismund Bell, the Royal Tombs and Cathedral Museum is a small fee of 12zł (approx. £2.50). You can also pre-book a Wawel Cathedral entry ticket with audio guide tour for only £5.55 here.
Things to do in Krakow at night
Although day one of your Krakow itinerary has been busy, the city truly comes alive in the evening. Below are our top suggestions for things to do in Krakow at night to suit all travel styles, whether you prefer a wild one or a chilled one, here are our top picks.
Krakow nightlife is renowned for it’s fun, party scene so if that’s your cup of tea then a Krakow pub crawl or bar tour would be the perfect way to celebrate day one in the city. This bar crawl lasts 4 hours including 1 hour of unlimited drinks, club entry and shots in each bar included in the ticket price. Book your Bar Crawl Here.
One of the best things to do in Krakow at night is admire the city from the water. Capture the picturesque scenes from a river boat cruise with a glass of wine in hand. More details here.
Electric Car Tour
Explore the enchanting streets of the magnificent Old Town and Jewish Quarter districts from the comfort of an electric car. Better yet, a local guide will share stories from the city and answer any questions you have from day one of your Krakow itinerary. More details here.
Traditional Polish Folk Show
If you are interested in traditional Polish food and music, then this is the evening activity for you! This show is one of the best things to do in Krakow at night as not only does it include a delicious all you can eat dinner of Polish cuisine, but it is followed by a traditional folk show complete with Polish dancers and musicians. Your ticket also includes return bus from Krakow city centre. Book your ticket here.
KRAKOW ITINERARY DAY TWO
We recommend spending day two of your Krakow itinerary on a historical day trip you will never forget. As we travelled on a long bus journey from Prague to Krakow, we probably would have been too tired on day one to truly take it all in, so we are glad we opted for this day trip in the middle. Had we done this on our last day, we would have felt too rushed.
Although 3 days in Krakow is not a long time, we genuinely feel it was worth making the trip from Krakow to Auschwitz. We spent our entire day on an educational journey with Krakow Trip, firstly at Auschwitz & Birkenau concentration camps then the afternoon at Wieliczka Salt Mines.
Other Ways to get to Auschwitz
Take a Local Bus from Krakow to Auschwitz
You can take a bus from Krakow to Auschwitz without a tour guide however it will take longer and be incredibly busy. Buses regularly depart the main bus station in Krakow (Kraków MDA, ul. Bosacka 18) for Oświęcim (Auschwitz.)
As a tip, remember to double check the end destination as not all stop at the Auschwitz museum entrance (called ‘Oświęcim Muzeum’) and instead will drop you off at the bus station which is at the opposite end of town.
The journey is around 90 minutes and costs 14zł (approx. £3) Bus times can be found here.
Take a Train from Krakow to Auschwitz
Trains run pretty much hourly from Krakow to Oświęcim. However, the journey takes around 1 hour 45 upto 2 hours. Although cheap at only 9zł this does mean they are crazily crowded, more so on weekends.
As the Oświęcim station is directly between Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau you will then need to get a bus. Local buses numbered 24-29 all stop at Auschwitz I and a ticket costs 3zł. From there, museum buses regularly shuttle visitors between the two camps, or catch a taxi which will cost around 15zł.
Although entrance to Auschwitz is free, we felt paying for an organised tour with a local guide was far more informative than if we were to walk around on our own.
Also to avoid confusion between switching busses and trains and the extra time public transport would take, for us the private pick up was far more convenient given we only had 3 days in Krakow.
Furthermore, the price also included the Wieliczka Salt Mines which were incredibly fascinating and a definite highlight of things to do in Krakow.
Morning: Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps
During your 3 days in Krakow, we feel making the effort to learn about the tragic treatment of Jews during World War II is essential. Undoubtedly, a profoundly thought-provoking experience, which will not only educate but ultimately make you question your perspective on humanity.
As it is 75km west of the city there are several ways to get to Oświęcim/Auschwitz. The most straightforward (although more expensive) option is to book an organised tour. We chose Krakow Trip as our tour operator and could not recommend them enough. It cost 520zł (approx. £110) for both of us for the whole day tour.
Our tour guide picked us up straight from our hotel lobby and we were joined by 3 other couples in a small comfortable minivan for the drive. During the journey, our guide played a documentary-style video offering a general background into the atrocities we were soon to see for ourselves at Auschwitz.
Upon arrival we joined a much larger group and were given head sets in order to listen as a guide walked us through the horrific daily life of Jewish prisoners and the traumatic events of the holocaust. It was an overwhelming experience particularly significant as we visited Krakow in November and our visit to Auschwitz fell on Remembrance day, November 11th.
We were then picked up again by our guide and taken the short drive to Birkenau. The sheer size of the camp is overwhelming despite the majority of it being ruins. The harrowing train tracks remains intact, alongside an example of the carriages used to transport the victims between camps and thousands of meters of barbed wire fences.
Within the Auschwitz network, Birkenau was the largest of the camps. Estimates are that 90% of the victims at Auschwitz died in Birkenau, which equates to around 1 million people, 9 out of 10 were Jews.
Although you can watch documentaries and films about Auschwitz nothing can truly prepare you for how you feel when you step foot into the camps. It is not only a history lesson, it is reality and one which is hard to imagine as you enter the same yards, rooms and buildings that so many people never left.
Afternoon: Wieliczka Salt Mines
Firstly, if you are at all claustrophobic a Wieliczka Salt Mines tour will prove incredibly challenging. This is because you are immediately faced with over 800 steps underground, initially 64m down and then a further 135m further down – it is not for the faint-hearted.
Expect an astonishing 3km system of tunnels and caves alongside fascinating stories of the salt mining history. In total there are 20 chambers to visit, the “grand finale” as such being the Chapel of St. King which is astonishing and frankly, you forget you are underground when surrounded by such splendour.
Important Travel Tips For Wieliczka Salt Mines
- Tickets are 89zł (around £18) if you’re a foreign visitor, or discounted to 59zł if you are Polish. Prices vary slightly depending on the season, however our ticket price was included within our tour fee.
- The average time to complete the tour of the salt mines and museum is 3 hours (we only did the salt mines.)
- You are asked to pay a fee for a photography permit, even if just using a mobile phone. This however was not policed, and we were confused if it was mandatory (although it states on the museum website there was no manning of this)
- Bearing in mind you are underground so temperatures range between 14° and 16° C so wear suitable clothing. This includes comfortable shoes for the 800 steps down!
- Don’t panic however, you do not need to climb the 800 steps back up. There is a lift which I was incredibly nervous of. In all honesty, it was over in a matter of a minute or two and I’m definitely glad I sucked up my fear and got in it, otherwise I’d probably still be stranded down there!
KRAKOW ITINERARY DAY THREE
Morning: Free Krakow Walking Tour, Explore Kazimierz & Plac Nowy
Spend the final day of your Krakow itinerary immersing yourself in the vibrant neighbourhood of Kazimierz, also known as the Jewish Quarter. For an insightful tour of the area’s fascinating history enjoy one of the many free Krakow walking tours. There are numerous tours depending on your time availability and the time of year you visit.
We recommend the tour that leaves in front of the Old Synagogue on Szeroka 24 Street. Sometimes you need to book (double-check their website) but otherwise, simply look for someone with a yellow umbrella – this will be your guide. Tours leave 3 times daily in March – Oct and twice-daily Nov – Feb. The tour is approx. 2.5 hours but will prove a highlight of any Krakow itinerary as you learn about the years of communism before the cultural outburst that took place in Kazimierz. More info can be found here.
After refuelling in one of the many eclectic eateries in Kazimierz, make sure to visit Plac Nowy, the neighbourhoods main market square. Admittedly, a little off the beaten path as it does lack the postcard perfect splendour of The Old Town. Instead it is more of a shabby chic affair but a staple in Cracovian culture none the less.
Expect a muddled mayhem of market stalls selling fresh produce, local sweets and souvenirs daily from 8 am until early afternoon. However, if your 3 days in Krakow fall over a weekend, Saturday and Sunday’s merchants offer antique bazaars – a guaranteed photography frenzy for any flea market fan. Also, as previously mentioned this is the best spot to try the traditional street food zapiekanki.
Afternoon: Street Art in the Jewish Quarter
Our Krakow itinerary was cut a little short on day 3 as we needed to catch our bus to Gdansk. However, we still had a little time during our afternoon of day three to admire the stunning artwork of the Jewish Quarter. It was the perfect relaxing way to spend the final few hours in the city after a jam-packed 3 days in Krakow.
There are so many quirky photo opportunities within the Jewish Quarter from the eclectic interiors of the numerous bars and cafes to the quaint architecture of this unique neighbourhood. Particularly interesting, is the abundance of murals and street art – ideal backdrops for those insta-worthy street style snaps.
Later we discovered you can get a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter by SEGWAY! We would have loved time to do this and to have a guide talk us through the history properly. The tours are less than £20 per person for 2 hours!
Although we squeezed in so much to our 3 days in Krakow, we feel there is still so much we could have seen and enjoyed. We feel we only scratched the surface on the region’s tragic history and urge anyone visiting the city, to take some time out of the usual sightseeing to make the day trip to Auschwitz and reflect on these devastating events during their Krakow itinerary.
On a lighter note, had we had more time (or more funds!) we would have also enjoyed adding a night out to our Krakow itinerary as we’ve heard from friends the nightlife is legendary, so let us know if you squeeze in that pub crawl to your visit! From the stunning architecture to cosy cafes and a history lesson we’ll never forget, our 3 days in Krakow were certainly memorable and hope yours will be too.