The Ultimate Short Stay in Krakow (2023)

Planning a Krakow itinerary is one of the top things to do when you’re mapping out a trip to Poland. This beautiful city is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, and on a trip to Krakow, it is easy to see why.

Home to striking medieval architecture, countless incredible historic sites, and so much to see and do, every traveller will thoroughly enjoy spending 2, 3 or 4 days in Krakow on a trip to Central Europe.

If you’re planning a trip to this part of the world and wondering how many days in Krakow are necessary in order to experience all it has to offer, look no further. This guide will provide you with an ideal Krakow itinerary to help you structure your trip!

How Many Days in Krakow?

When debating how many days to spend in Krakow, it is important to decide ahead of time what your priorities are and how you will allocate your time.

While 2 days in Krakow is plenty of time to explore the main areas and historic sites within the city itself, planning a 3 days in Krakow itinerary is ideal if you really want to include a day trip to the harrowing Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those who want to see in Krakow in 3 days should plan to visit there.

And if you have the time, 4 days in Krakow is ideal if you also hope to do some of the interesting day trips in the surrounding areas.

Getting To & Around Krakow

Getting to Krakow from many cities in mainland Europe is easy enough, but may require a stopover in another city, depending on where you are travelling from.

The airport in Krakow is relatively small and not many airlines fly directly into it, so in order to ensure you have the most travel options and the best prices, try to book flights to Krakow well in advance in order to avoid exorbitant rates.

Once you’ve arrived at the Krakow airport, travelling the 11 kilometres to the center of Krakow is simple and inexpensive.

You can either opt to take the train that runs frequently and is incredibly affordable, you can take a taxi/rideshare directly into the city for a generally affordable price or organise a private transfer ahead of time. Either way, the journey takes around half an hour.

Krakow is also well connected to other major cities in Poland like Warsaw and Wroclaw and many other destinations in Europe by train and bus – you can browse schedules and availability here.

Once you’re in the city centre itself, you’ll find that it is extremely walkable and you likely will not need to take public transportation from one part of the city to the next, but there are buses and trams available 24 hours a day if you decide to take advantage of them.

Regardless of how you choose to get around, you’ll find the city is easy to navigate, as it is relatively small and compact.

2, 3 or 4 Days in Krakow Itinerary

With two days in Krakow, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the most popular neighbourhoods in the city, visit some incredible historic sights, eat plenty of pierogis, and sample a few handmade vodkas. If you’re wondering what to do in Krakow in 2 days, read on!

Day 1 – Old Town and Wawel Castle

Take a free walking tour

An excellent way to kickstart your adventure in Krakow is to take advantage of the spectacular free walking tours offered in the city. Free walking tours are the perfect way to gather your bearings and get a good idea of the layout of the city, all while learning about its unique history.

Taking a free walking tour on your first day is ideal, as it provides more context and perspective that will enrich your experience in the city. The company Walkative! offers two-and-a-half-hour guided tours multiple times per day for free, but make sure to tip your tour guide!

If the schedule of the free walking tours doesn’t work for you, then there are also a number of paid walking tours available.

Explore the Old Town

After your free walking tour, you’ll be far more prepared for the next few days in Krakow and definitely keen to see more of the beautiful Old Town. Old Town Krakow is the heart of the city, home to many incredible building and churches, and bustling with activity.

Start in the Main Market Square, the sprawling plaza surrounded by cafes, bars and shops. Make sure to check out the Cloth Hall in the centre of the square.

Back in the 15th century, this hall was a major destination for international trade and merchants would come from all over Europe to exchange exotic goods, including spices, leather, salt and, as its name would suggest, cloth. It is still an operable marketplace today, though most merchants sell souvenirs rather than exotic goods.

After browsing the stalls at the Cloth Hall, head across to St. Mary’s Basilica, the stunning church adjacent to the square. This gothic church dates back to the 14th century and is a true testament to the unique style of architecture that developed in Poland around this time.

You can opt to take a tour of the church and the two high tours for a small cost, and it is definitely worth climbing up to the top of the tour. The views you’ll get of the Main Market Square and the entire city from that high up are truly remarkable!

After a visit to St. Mary’s Basilica, stop for a quick lunch at one of the milk bars in the area to sample some traditional Polish cuisine. Milk bars are cafeteria-style eateries that originated as government-subsidized workers canteens in the communist era, and they grew in popularity in the 1930s due to their hearty yet inexpensive cuisine.

Today, milk bars are a fun way to participate in a popular Polish tradition and eating in one os one of the best things to do in Krakow. You also get the opportunity to sample many different speciality dishes for a fraction of the cost of many other restaurants – great if you’re trying to reduce your overall Krakow trip cost.

Wawel Castle

After you’ve fueled up, start heading down to Wawel Castle, the famous landmark just 10 minutes away from the square. On your way, make sure to pass by the Church of St. Peter and Paul for a few photos — the exterior of the church is truly stunning, and oftentimes street musicians perform right in front of it.

Once you’ve arrived on the stunning and expansive grounds of Wawel Castle, take a stroll around to observe all the different structures and their elaborate designs.

Wawel Castle is a must-see landmark when you visit Krakow, not only because of its political and historical importance but also because it is a visual representation of the evolution of architecture and design in Poland dating back to the 14th century.

Additionally, it is home to many incredible exhibits, including one of the most stunning collections of art in Poland. At the castle, you can simply stroll the grounds for free, do a guided tour of the castle’s interior, pay an admission fee to the art exhibitions, or all three! The choice is completely up to you, depending on your interests and budget.

Sample Homemade Vodka

After spending the afternoon at Wawel Castle, head back into Old Town for some much-deserved relaxing.

Many bars in Krakow make homemade flavoured vodkas, so consider stopping into one of them (I’d recommend Wodka Bar a few blocks off the Main Square) to try some interesting and unexpected flavours you won’t find anywhere else, including fig, chocolate, and even horseradish!

Grab dinner at any of the many restaurants in Old Town and enjoy an evening of checking out the nightlife in this bustling area. You can also do a food & vodka tour if you want to learn more from a guide.

Day 2 – Schindler’s Factory & Kazimierz

Stroll Planty Park

Start the morning of your second day with a stroll through Planty Park, situated right where the medieval city walls used to stand. Today, the park is 4 km worth of beautifully designed gardens, fountains and paths.

On your way to the park, stop for coffee and a traditional Polish doughnut (pączki). These pastries are extremely popular and inexpensive and can be found throughout the city. Try the rose-filled pączki from Stara Pączkarnia for a delicious start to the day!

Visit Schindler’s Factory and MOCAK

After seeing the beautiful park, get ready to spend the day in some new neighbourhoods. Embark on a half-hour walk (or take the bus) to Zablocie, an up-and-coming part of town located across the Vistula River.

Zablocie is home to many interesting museums and points of interest for travellers, including the Oskar Schindler Factory, on which the 1993 Steven Spielberg movie Schindler’s List was based. Oskar Schindler was a German businessman who is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Jewish people during the Holocaust by employing them at his factory.

Today, the factory is a historic museum that showcases what life was like in Krakow during World War II and is absolutely worth seeing. The tour of the factory is 90 minutes long and the perfect way to learn more about Krakow’s unique and turbulent history. You can buy entry tickets here.

After visiting Schindler’s factory, pop over to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAK) right next door. The always-changing exhibits of international contemporary art are world-class and extremely interesting. After the long morning of museum-hopping, grab a bite to eat at one of the trendy cafés in Zablocie before taking on the afternoon!

Explore Kazimierz

From Zablocie, embark on the fifteen-minute walk back across the river to the district of Kazimierz, Krakow’s historic Jewish quarter. Kazimierz is known to be the creative and artistic heart of the city, and it has quite a bohemian and indie vibe to it, distinctly different from Old Town Krakow.

Kazimierz was destroyed during World War II but has been rebuilt, and somewhat recently has emerged as one of the most exciting parts of the city — full of new life and plenty to do.

Stroll around the area for a while, stopping in the independent bookshops, boutiques, and art galleries that line the main road, and make sure to visit the Old Synagogue and the Remuh Synagogue, two of the city’s most important synagogues. You can also take a walking tour here.

Finally, check out Plac Nowy, the big square in the heart of this district home to many street-food stalls, bars, restaurants, and a big flea market every Saturday.

Enjoy dinner at one of the authentic Polish restaurants in this neighbourhood (I’d recommend Starka for handmade cheesy pierogi) and spend the evening checking out the nightlife in Kazimierz. Many of the bars are much calmer than those in Old Town and specialize in delicious craft cocktails.

Try Alchemia or Absynt to experience the unique nightlife atmosphere of Kazimierz.

Day 3 – Day Trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Visit Auschwitz-Birkenau

On your third day in Krakow, consider making a day trip to one of the most visited historic sights in Poland, the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. Of course, this day trip is not fun or exciting, but rather very sombre and serious.

It requires you to tour the sights of unspeakable horror and evil that occurred during the Holocaust in order to educate future generations and pay respect to the casualties of the war.

However, if you do decide to visit, it is a rewarding and humanizing experience, and definitely worth doing if you feel you can approach the day with the respect required for a tour such as this.

Visiting the camps will likely take up most of the day, and there are plenty of tours you can book that pick you up in Krakow, and drive you to Auschwitz/Birkenau where you’ll then get very detailed tours of both camps before bringing you back to the city.

The entire day is pretty long, averaging around 7.5-8.

Day 4 – Wieliczka Salt Mine

Explore the Wieliczka Salt Mine

After a very serious day, spend your final day in Krakow in a more light-hearted manner, by visiting one of the world’s oldest operating salt mines and home to the largest underground chapel, the Chapel of St. Kinga, made entirely of salt.

The salt mines are truly mind-blowing and stunning, full of huge natural caverns, intricate statues carved from salt, and light shows that add to the excitement of the entire experience.

The mine is just about an hour from Krakow, and again, there are many tours you can find online that will cover transportation, admission, and tour costs.

The tour is around three hours, but it is definitely worth it. Out of all the things I saw in Krakow I thought the salt mines were the most incredible!  

Where to Stay in Krakow

Wondering where to stay during your 2 – 4 days in Krakow itinerary? There are plenty of great places to stay in Krakow ranging from cool backpacker hostels, trendy boutique hotels and comfortable apartment rentals. If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Poland’s second city, check out these suggestions:

Q Hotel Kraków – A great option for mid-range travellers, this small hotel is centrally located and has a number of clean and comfortable rooms available. There is also a great breakfast included in the nightly rate. Click here to check their availability

PURO Krakow Kazimierz – If you’re after a bit of luxury, then this trendy hotel in Kazimierz is a great option for you. They have a range of plush and chicly decorated rooms available, a great location and a bar and spa on site. Click here to check their availability

Mundo Hostel – An excellent choice for those travelling solo or on a budget, this hostel is centrally located, has a range of private and dorm rooms available, and includes breakfast daily. The staff also organise activities and night’s out, making it a great social hostel. Click here to check their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Krakow!

The Kraków town hall
The Kraków town hall

As you can see, regardless of how much time you decide to spend in Krakow, you’ll find there are so many incredible options of things to do. Krakow is a must-see city in Eastern Europe for travellers of all kinds and anyone with a particular interest in history.

Are you planning on visiting Krakow? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!