Krakow is a city that is hard to define. Walking around its Old Town and the nearby Wawel Hill, it seems untouched by recent history as it basks in immaculately preserved medieval buildings, old cobbled streets and a relaxed pace of life. In contrast to this old-world feel, the Kazimierz District is both a reminder of the city’s turbulent history and points to a future of regeneration. This mixture of old and new, the city’s large population of students, and growing numbers of tourists, make Krakow a vibrant, colourful city with a fascinating history for the visitor to discover.


Krakow has a captivating Old Town which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to one of Europe’s largest medieval market squares, Rynek Glowny, with the striking Sukiennice (‘Cloth Hall’), standing at its centre. This impressive building recalls the city’s illustrious medieval past as a centre of commerce, and was once the central meeting place for merchants.

At the edge of the Old Town stands Wawel Hill which boasts as its centre-piece The Royal Castle, Krakow’s former residence of Kings. The Castle is now a fascinating museum and stands beside the golden domed Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Wenceslaus, which displays the Royal Tombs in its crypt.

Kazimierz, Krakow’s old Jewish district, suffered degeneration in WWII and is now undergoing a revival. With its small boutiques and its student crowds, Kazimierz has an alternative feel. Its Jewish heritage still survives and the old synagogue is the area’s focal point. The district reveals stark reminders of Nazi occupation; both at Oskar Schindler’s factory in the Podgórze area, and the Plaszow forced labour camp, only a short drive away.

For visual culture, the Czartoryski Museum houses DaVinci’s Lady with an Ermine, as well as Polish artifacts. The work of Stanislaw Wyspiański, Krakow’s most celebrated Art Nouveau artist, is on display at the Wyspiański Museum. To discover more about Polish Art, head to Krakow’s National Museum.

Do not miss a visit to the salt mines underneath the city and Pope John Paul II’s former residence can be seen at the Archdiocesan Museum.


For traditional Polish crafts, head to the Cloth Hall where you will find handmade lace and dolls. Local artists’ work can be found at the Ulica Florinska. Snap up bargains at the flea market on Navy Kazimierz. For high street shops and designers, go to the new Galleria Kazimierz shopping centre.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Krakow caters for many different tastes, from Asian to Italian, and especially Eastern European. Local dishes include Krupnik (barley soup), Golabki (stuffed cabbage leaves) or Bigos (hunters stew).

Krakow is teaming with bars and pubs which stay open all hours and range from gothic hideaways to chic wine bars.

Tourist Information

Town Hall Tower (Main Market Square)Mon-Sun 9 am-5 pm tel: +48 433 73


Krakow’s local airport is known as Balice, or John Paul II International Airport, and is served by the local bus shuttle service, Radtur, which runs from the centre of the city.