Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesdays – Things to Do in Krakow

This week’s “Top Ten Tuesdays” post is by Leon Levy, and provides ten things to do in the city of Krakow. Krakow is the capital of Poland, the home to numerous festivals all year round, it is deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is near the location of Auschwitz, a symbol of one of Europe’s darkest times. Here are ten things to do during your visit to Krakow.

Wawel Cathedral
Wawel Hill
The 11th Century Royal Castle and grandiose Wawel Cathedral are revered by Poles and a must-see for any visitor to the country. Poland’s main national treasures are found here as are the priceless art, furniture and commemorations to the Polish Royal Family. Many Polish kings were buries in the Cathedral as well as the national greatest heroes, saints and bishops.

Bar Culture
The nightlife of Poland centres around the main centre of Krakow and is very popular with revellers from other European counties such as Britain, Germany and Russia. Polish bars are friendly and well known for having some of the best draft beers east of Berlin.

Czartoryski Museum
Founded as a “Temple of Memory” in 1796 by Princess Izabela, this incredible museum preserves the cultural heritage of Poland and other curios from across the world. Highlights include Shakespeare’s chair, the ashes of El Cid and the supposed grave of the tragic lovers Romeo and Juliet – as well as numerous books and other treasures.

The Jewish Quarter
Jewish Quarter
The old town of Kazimierz in Krakow is enjoying a cultural resurgence since the Jewish community returned to its traditional home beside its Catholic neighbours. There are quaint traditional houses, historic synagogues and a hub of cafes. Visit during June and you’ll be treated to the Jewish Cultural Festival with concerts, workshops and plays.

These 200 kilometres of salt mine passages, 2,040 caverns and 20 underground chambers include the world’s largest museum to mining. This subterranean wonder is a 135 metre-deep UNESCO world heritage site which began life 900 years ago when some of the carved chapels date were created. Get lost in winding passageways and wonder at the beauty of underground lakes.

This monument to European history’s darkest chapter – the Holocaust – attracts over a million visitors to Poland each year. Tragically an estimated 1.2 million Jews, Romanis, political prisoners, homosexuals and disabled people were killed by the Nazis in this concentration camp during the Second World War.

John Paul II Route
The late John Paul II is certainly the most famous modern Pope and a proud figure in Poland’s still strongly Catholic cultural and religious life. The city of Krakow has a cultural tour where visitors are shown significant places in his life.

Polish Cuisine
Try famous dishes such as zurek soup – really a kind of heavy broth with egg, meat and vegetables – or for the brave, golonka, translated as pork knuckle which is made up of a layer of fat and meat straight off the bone. You can also find the traditional street food – giant pretzels served by ladies from their eye-catching blue trollies.

St. Mary's Cathedral
St. Mary’s Alter
Krakow’s main Square houses this amazing alter to the Virgin – the centre piece being a 13 meter high 15th Century gothic alter-piece. This is the largest gothic sculpture in the world – visit at noon and you’ll catch the sun as it shines through the incredibly detailed stained glass windows.

Krakow Festivals
There are hugely popular festivals almost any time of the year – the Christmas market provides a dose of winter comfort from the end of November until the New Year, when the Old Town comes alive to herald the year to come. Then carnival season begins followed by Lent and All Fool’s Day, in spring. After that there’s St Stanislaw’s Procession, Juwenalia, Corpus Christi Procession and the Enthronement of the Cock King and Garland’s midsummer festival. In autumn enjoy the Andrzejki festival, All Saints Day and Milokaj or St. Nicolas’ Day.

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This post is by Leon Levy. Leon is a British writer specialising in travel, the environment and current affairs. He has a particular interest in the Middle East and South Asia. The content and photos of this post are not the property of but are used with permission.

  1. John D. Wilson

    Cool stuff to see and do in Poland!
    Good post and pictures.
    One day, maybe I will get to Poland and see a few of these beautiful sites.
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

  2. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    Great list of things to do in Krakow! I would love to go and do all of them but I think #1 would be Auschwitz. I really like the pictures you included too! Makes me realize I need to become a better photographer!

    1. Matt

      Yea I think Auschwitz would be pretty high on my list as well.

  3. ewa

    “Krakow … is the location of Auschwitz” – actually it’s Oswiecim not Krakow..

    Nice pic!
    Have fun in Krakow,

    1. Matt

      Ah, good point, I’ll change that around. Should have said “near”

  4. jade

    I’d love to visit during the Christmas markets. From everything we’ve heard, that seems like a great time to visit!

    1. Matt

      That it does!

  5. robin

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Krakow and this post just confirms them!

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