10 Things to do in Krakow
Krakow is the cultural and academic hub of Poland, and it has been an important stop on the trade routes between Western Europe and Eastern Europe since at least the 14th century. The city is located in southern Poland on the Vistula River, which flows through a lowland area that had been protected by a network of fortifications built by various rulers over several centuries. Krakow’s Old Town district features some of Europe’s finest examples of medieval architecture; UNESCO has designated this area as a World Heritage Site since 1978 and you definitely take sightseeing tours in Krakow.
Climb the Wawel Castle
The Wawel Castle is a popular tourist destination, and for good reason. It was built in the 14th century as a royal residence and is now one of Poland’s most recognizable landmarks. The castle became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 because of its significance to Polish history, architecture and art.
The castle has been the residence of Polish monarchs since 1038 when King Boleslaw I moved his court there from Gniezno (now part of Poznan). For hundreds of years it served as an important administrative center for Poland; today it houses museums that display artifacts from throughout that period.
Kazimierz is the oldest Jewish quarter of Krakow, and it’s a great place for tourists to visit. However, it’s also popular among locals who want to shop or grab a bite at one of many restaurants or cafes. You can get lost in this historic neighborhood for hours–there are so many things to see!
Study at Jagiellonian University and visit Czartoryski Museum
Visit Czartoryski Museum: The museum contains a collection of historical artifacts and art, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyke. It’s located in the former residence of Princess Izabela Czartoryska who was an avid collector of artworks from all over Europe.
Learn about World War II history at Auschwitz and Birkenau
Auschwitz was the largest Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland, and it was also one of the largest death camps in the world. Located about 80 kilometers west of Krakow, Auschwitz is where some 1.1 million people were murdered during World War II. The complex consists of three main camps: Auschwitz I (which housed prisoners), Auschwitz II-Birkenau (the extermination camp), and Monowitz/Auschwitz III (a labor camp). Birkenau was a satellite camp of Auschwitz, located 3.5 kilometers away from its main site; it housed more than 100 thousand prisoners during its operation from 1940 to 1945.
The Schindler’s List is based on Oskar Schindler’s life story; he saved over 1 thousand Jewish factory workers by employing them in his own enamelware factory during World War II
Enjoy the views of the Old Town from Wawel Hill
If you want to see the Old Town in all its glory, head up Wawel Hill. This hill is a popular tourist destination and is also home to Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle. It’s one of the highest points in Krakow, offering sweeping views over this historic city.
Wawel Hill was named after Vistula River (Wisla), which flows through Krakow into two branches: Wisla Gorna (Upper Vistula) and Wisla Niska (Lower Vistula). In fact, if you’re looking for an interesting side trip from your trip to Poland’s second largest city–and one that doesn’t involve alcohol at all–you could visit one of these riverside towns along their banks: Sandomierz on Upland Watercourse or Biecz on Lower Watercourse!
Walk in the footsteps of the Polish kings at Wawel Cathedral
Wawel Cathedral is a Gothic cathedral located in Krakow, Poland. It’s the best known example of Brick Gothic architecture in Europe. The cathedral was constructed over a period of 200 years, beginning in 1320 and finishing around 1520.
The cathedral is the burial site of Polish monarchs including King Casimir III (the Great), who ruled from 1333 until 1370; King Wladyslaw Jagiello (Jogaila), who ruled from 1386 until 1434; King Sigismund I “the Old”, who ruled from 1507 until 1548; and finally King Jan Kazimierz III., who reigned from 1648 until 1668.
See medieval architecture and artwork in St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church is a popular tourist attraction and it is located in the Old Town. The church has been the site of many important historical events and was built in 1257 by Bishop Lucas. St. Mary’s Church is great place to see medieval architecture, which is why it has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1978.
Get lost in the maze-like streets and tunnels below Krakow’s castle
If you’re looking for something a little different, head underground. The tunnels below Krakow Castle are a maze-like network of dark passageways that were used during World War II as an escape route. Now they’re open to the public and offer guided tours through history and into the depths of darkness. If your child is afraid of the dark (or if you are), this might not be the best option for you!
Take a walk around Oskar Schindler’s Factory Complex
Schindler’s Factory is a museum in Krakow, Poland that commemorates the Holocaust. The museum was founded by Steven Spielberg and opened its doors in 2001. It offers an experience into one of the darkest chapters of human history with moving exhibits on how Nazis used slave labor from all over Europe to create weapons for their military campaigns; how Schindler defied orders from his superiors to save Jewish workers by creating fake shift rosters that enabled them to work outside of Nazi control; and how Schindler’s List was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg himself, who donated proceeds from the film to fund scholarships for students with financial need at USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education (SFI).
Krakow is a beautiful city with so much to see and do. The best part is that there is something for everyone, no matter what your interests are!
Whether it’s history or culture, there are plenty of museums and monuments for those who want an educational experience; adventure seekers can climb the Wawel Castle or explore underground tunnels beneath Krakow’s castle complex; lovers of nature will enjoy walks along the banks of the Vistula River; foodies will delight in sampling local delicacies at one of many restaurants around town; art enthusiasts can visit galleries where paintings depict scenes from medieval times through modern times; families might prefer taking a boat ride downriver while learning about Polish history from their guide who speaks English well enough for non-Polish speakers (also available in German).
Beautiful Hidden Gems in Kraków
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