First time in Krakow? You’re sure to have questions about what there is to see and do and we’re here to help. We could fill the next fifty pages with every detail but we’ll keep it short here and limit ourselves to the essentials. Here are the “musts” for anyone coming to Poland’s Royal City!
Starting Out – Wawel Castle and the Old Town
A natural and easy-to-find starting point for any walk through Krakow’s Old Town is the Barbican and the Florian Gate, what used to be the “front door” of the city when it was surround by a moat and walls. Walking along Florianska Street, you’ll soon find yourself in Krakow’s main square and in the shadow of two of its most famous landmarks – St. Mary’s Church and the Cloth Hall, each of which houses incredible artistic works of world class status. Also in the main square, you’ll find the Underground Museum, which has quickly become one of Krakow’s most famous and popular attractions.
Just across the main square is the university district, where you can find many of the buildings of the Jagiellonion University, the second oldest such institution in Eastern Europe, founded in 1364, as well as the Baroque St. Anne’s Church. Lovers of architecture and religious art can also make another stop on their way to Wawel Castle at the Dominican and Franciscan churches, right next to the Archdiocese of Krakow and its “Pope’s Window”. Continuing along Grodzka Street, you’ll encounter the Baroque Church of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Romanesque Church of St. Andrew from the 11th century.
Just a couple of minutes’ walk will bring you to the very heart of the country, Wawel Castle. Most visitors to Krakow don’t appreciate just how huge it is and what amazing treasures it holds inside. If you don’t have as much as you would like to spend, we recommend that you see the Wawel Cathedral along with a visit to its crypt and bell tower. If time allows, go on one of the many tours of the main complex buildings that focus on a particular aspect of Wawel. Take a look at our site for more information about Wawel and other locations around Krakow at Sightseeing in Krakow.
Sightseeing in Krakow – The Kazimierz District
When it’s time for something a little different, walk ten minutes away from Wawel Castle to the former Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz. From the middle of the 14th century and for the next four hundred years, Kazimierz developed as a separate city from Krakow. The Jewish population of Krakow moved there in the 15th century. Today you can see the seven synagogues of Kazimierz, the first of which was established in the 15th century, as well as two Jewish cemeteries.
Kazimierz has a very unique atmosphere that you have to experience for yourself. Despite its reputation as the Jewish Quarter, its complicated history means that there are actually three important churches located there as well – the church and monastery of St. Michael the Archangel (known locally as “Skalka”), and the Gothic churches of Corpus Christi and St. Catherine. A walk through Kazimierz and its colourful buildings, atmospheric cafes and restaurants and art galleries is at once a relaxing and stimulating way to pass the day.
So there you have it – the bare basics for any stay in Krakow. All you have to do now is choose the dates for your stay – see you then!