Our trip to Poland was really special; we brought Natalie’s parents along while they were visiting us in London (Natalie’s grandmother was Polish). We first visited Krakow, full of charm and history, and enjoyed the large old town square. St. Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Royal Castle are not to be missed as well as the famous market called The Cloth Hall, where you can buy all kinds of Polish treasures including pottery, amber jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs. After two nights in Krakow, we took the train to Warsaw, a 3.5 hour journey on a comfortable high speed train.
Top Things to do in Krakow
Krakow’s Old Town Square is a great place to spend time when visiting Krakow. It a large square surrounded by some unique architecture as well as the beautiful St. Mary’s Basilica and the well-known market called The Cloth Hall. It is also lined with cafes with outdoor seating, perfect for a mid-morning coffee or afternoon beer and people watching.
The Cloth Hall (Market)
The Cloth Hall market is a must-do when in Krakow. It is a long hall full of different shops, from amber jewelry, Polish pottery, clothing, souvenirs, and more. A great spot to pick up something authentic to take back home.
St. Mary’s Basilica
We were really impressed with the beauty and detail of St. Mary’s Basilica. The interior is simply beautiful and really colorful. It does cost a small amount to get in, but it is definitely worth it.
Tips: Arrive in the morning soon after it opens to the public to watch the reveal of the massive adornment piece above the altar.
Church of St. Wojciech
Also located in the main Market Square, the Church of St. Wojciech is a stone church, and is one of the oldest in Poland. The interior is simple in design, with some ornate details like a pretty dome and oculus.
Tips: They sometimes hold small classical music concerts at this church. Check beforehand or ask when you visit the church.
St. Florian’s Gate
St. Florian’s Gate is one of the most popular examples of Polish Gothic towers and was situated along the city’s massive medieval walls until the 19th century. It was also the beginning point of Krakow’s Royal Road, the route on which royalty such as kings and princes and royal guests would travel on heading to Wawel Castle.
Tips: Walk through the gate and along Planty Park, one of Krakow’s largest parks that encircles old town.
Wawel Royal Castle
From the Old Town square, take the road Grodzka south to the Wawel Royal Castle. The castle dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries and was built by King Casimir III. This old castle residency consists of a main courtyard surrounded by several buildings, including the Wawel Cathedral, that depict the three main European architectural styles (Baroque, Medieval and Renaissance).
Tips: Check out the Smocza Jama, known as the dragon’s den. It is a limestone cave within the Wawel Hill with an connection to the legendary Wawel Dragon. You will see dragon inspired souvenirs all over the city as well - this is where the reference comes from!
Wawel Cathedral is located in the Wawel Castle and is worth visiting (you must purchase a ticket). The exterior is an interesting mix of architecture, some portions older than others, and the interior is impressive with its massive crypt.
Just north of the main Old Town area (through St. Florian’s Gate) is the Stary Kleparz, a large farmer’s market filled with produce, meat, cheese, household items, and some clothing. It is a cool place to visit to be surrounded by locals and experience their culture.
Food and Drink in Krakow
Located near the main square, this cafe sells the most amazing Polish style donuts. They have a window right off the street with the donuts on display. Try the cinnamon… you will not be disappointed!
Located throughout the Old Town, you can find pop-up pretzel carts selling Polish style seedy pretzels.
Old Town Restaurant
This restaurant serves authentic Polish dishes such as perogies, pork knuckle and traditional Polish soup. A great find in Krakow for dinner!
Where to Stay in Krakow
The Hotel Polski is located a few blocks from Old Town Square and is a nice boutique hotel with Polish style and furnishings. It is located in a great location for exploring all of Krakow’s main attractions.
Train from Krakow to Warsaw
Best way to get from Krakow to Warsw? We thought it was very easy via the modern high speed train. You'll want to travel between Kraków Główny and Warszawa Centralna stations. Book tickets in advance via the PKP Intercity website. Ours were booked roughly one month in advance and cost EUR 50 per person in first class.